There is a quote from Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor** that honestly reflects my opinion on the topic of leaving the US (Redford is Joe Turner, running away from the CIA, while Joubert is an assassin-for-hire):
Turner: I'd like to go back to New York.
Joubert: You have not much future there. It will happen this
way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And a
car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know,
maybe even trust, will get out of the car. And he will smile, a
becoming smile. But he will leave open the door of the car and offer to
give you a lift.
Turner: You seem to understand it all so well. What would you suggest?
Joubert: Personally, I prefer Europe.
Joubert: Yes. Well, the fact is, what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay.
Turner: I would find it"¦ tiring.
Joubert: Oh, no "” it's quite restful. It's"¦ almost peaceful.
No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause.
There's only yourself. The belief is in your own precision.
Turner: I was born in the United States, Joubert. I miss it when I'm away too long.
Joubert: A pity.
Turner: I don't think so.
A great line, particularly in a movie steeped in cold war weariness. Anyway, I was listening to some rant on NPR about leaving the US if McCain won the election, and I asked myself if I had to leave the US, what would be my rank order of countries to which I might move. My list is highly influenced by language (at 46 I hardly feel like learning a new language) and by countries of which I am knowledgeable. Here is what I came up with:
- the Netherlands
- Germany / Austria
- Costa Rica
Here are some notes on the list, as well as some explanations of countries left off:
- I have yet to meet an American who did not enjoy living in Australia (and many long to go back). I came within about 5 minutes of living in Bermuda about seven years ago. I have always liked the UK and have spent many summers there.
- Ireland might belong high on the list, but I have never been there and am not that familiar with it. But my sense is that if I really were to research it, Ireland would make the top 5. I could also probably have rattled off a number of other British island colonies, but kept it to Bermuda.
- Canada ... its like a whole other state (this is a line I uttered at business school once, echoing the then-current "Texas ... its like a whole other country" advertising campaign. It was not well-recieved by our northern neighbors. I still think a few Canadians are trying to hunt me down up there
- Been to Singapore a few times. An odd place, but certainly a liveable one. Last gasp of the English speaking choices on the list.
- Netherlands and Switzerland are both fairly capitalist-friendly nations with good support for a displaced English speaker. I have spent more time with the Dutch, so it is a bit higher, but Switzerland is freaking gorgeous.
- Spain is on the list mostly as a language play. Not a huge fan of the Spanish government, but I speak the language well enough to pick it up quickly. Good beaches, and the south coast has many of the appeals of Provence without the prices (and the French). A couple of years ago this probably would have been Argentina. I really loved Argentina when I was there, but I am scared a bit by the current political and economic climate.
- I like Austria, and Germany is OK. Not America but perfectly reasonable places to live.
- If I am really running not just form the US but the first world in general, I might pick Costa Rica. A pretty good government, particularly for Latin America, beautiful, and plenty of places to be secluded (and/or hide, if the need were to arise).
- I considered the Czech Republic. Prague seems to be the white-hot destination for American tourists, and they certainly know their beer. But I suspect that Eastern Europe has several more decades of work before the every day conveniences and creature comforts to which I have become accustomed in the US are prolific there.
- Scandinavia is too freaking cold. Maybe if I were single I might find some appealing reasons to reconsider...
- There may be some country like Monaco that would suit me perfectly but of which I am wholly unfamiliar.
Readers are welcome to propose their own priorities in the comments.
** Postscript: Three Days of the Condor is one of my favorites, for a couple of reasons. First, I always loved Faye Dunaway. Second, and more important, I like thrillers that have a more languid pace. I know that sounds weird to say, and if I were a film critic I might have the right words, but there is something about the music and the editing and the pacing that almost stands in contrast to the urgencies of the plot itself. Despite being on the run through the movie, Redford never actually runs. No car chases either. Sort of the antonym to the shaky rapid-cut camera action of, say, the Bourne movies. Other movies I would put in this same category are LA Confidential (maybe my favorite movie) and perhaps the newer version of the Thomas Crowne Affair. I might put Chinatown on this list too, but then since 3 of the 4 would include Dunaway, one might think my first rather than my second criteria was driving the list.
By the way, even action movies could learn something from this. The first Indiana Jones movie was great in part because the action scenes were interspersed with quiet scenes. The audience gets to rest from time to time, and the action is highlighted by the contrast. You can even have some token character development. Later Indiana Jones movies fell into the trap of going for non-stop adrenalin.