of thing – a feature of distinct individualism – has always been of utmost
importance to me. After loads of years in the land of the long white cloud
– which is another nickname for New Zealand – that trait of mine appears
to be more distinct than ever before.
the term meaningful life, we also have to raise the question of where you
are going to live. In case you are a professional who works for someone
else, in New Zealand you are likely to end up living in Auckland. Whilst
Auckland does very well when compared to similar cities like San Francisco,
Seattle or Munich, it is New Zealand’s biggest city and thus does have
its problems. For example, the traffic in Auckland comes close to a disaster.
In terms of geographical size Auckland is very spread out. Getting from
one end of the city to the other end may take you more than one hour by
car because of the traffic jams. However, there are quite a few upmarket
residential areas in Auckland like Takapuna, Remuera, Mission Bay, Pakuranga
etc. In case you manage to live relatively close to your office, it will
enhance your quality of life there.
Of course the
situation looks a bunch more pleasant if you are self–employed and can
choose the place to live in New Zealand. Go for one of the smaller towns
and you do not have to put up with the hassles of city life. As Taupo and
Rotorua in the North Island as well as Nelson and Queenstown in the South
Island are increasingly turning into tourist traps, rather keep your distance
to them. Instead, go for a place that is a little more low key like Wanganui
in the North Island.
In a nutshell,
when you make wise and informed decisions to arrange things so that they
suit your desired lifestyle, you can definitely lead a meaningful life
in New Zealand. The country is virtually the last train station on the
planet. Samoa and Tonga are rather unlikely to invade the land of the long
white cloud militarily any time soon. For all these reasons, New Zealand
offers more opportunities for a meaningful life than the countries that
I could not resist comparing with cholera and malaria.
So far I have
lived for almost three years in Mexico. You may wonder what my impression
is about Mexico as a place to live a meaningful life. Again, it depends
on a few things.
most likely all other countries in Latin America are characterized by being
distinct class societies. Whilst I have no difficulties relating very well
to the upper class and upper middle class, the rest of the population and
yours truly live in the same town but in different worlds. Fortunately,
ITESM is pretty much the most expensive private college in Mexico, which
means that I lead a rather sheltered life. As modesty does not really deserve
to be called my strength, my attitude is quite frankly that ending up in
my classes is almost the best thing that can happen to students.
particular in smaller places like Colima there appears to be a significant
amount of pressure from society to do what everybody else does instead
of daring to step out of line. The result is – it goes without saying –
that most folks do what everybody else does, which is usually dreadfully
dull. Sometimes people feel called to tell you what they reckon you should
do. They themselves are hardly able to walk straight ahead without stumbling
over their own legs. When you live for more than a decade overseas, you
get very independent. That is presumably the main reason why I do not even
ignore this sort of unsolicited advice. Instead, I just continue to do
things differently or “walk the line” to speak with the words of Johnny
Cash. The key seems to be that you have to create your private sphere and
get the message across, one way or another.
you are independent enough to soar like an eagle instead of mingling with
the turkeys on the ground, life in Mexico can be very pleasant. The climate
– in particular on and near the Pacific Coast – is very pleasant most of
the year. The lifestyle is a bunch slower than in North America and Europe.
After learning to slow down a little in New Zealand and slowing more down
in Colima, I am presumably completely useless for Germany now. Who cares?
I do not.
Of course it
is a matter of taste in what sort of setting you are inclined to live.
However, I do not have the foggiest clue how Mexico City and a meaningful
life can fit together. When you make the decision to shift to Mexico, you
are likely to feel like slowing down a little. How you can do that sort
of thing in the country’s capital – which is a circus in my opinion – it
goes over my head. Do it rather properly and give one of the smaller places
a go. Something like Colima. San Cristobal in Chiapas is worth sussing
out as well. In case you are fond of a place that is a little more cosmopolitan,
Queretaro may fit the bill. In short. living a meaningful life in Mexico
is indeed possible. But, once more, do not be a turkey on the ground. Be
rather a soaring eagle.
and working in South Africa as well, it is no exaggeration to claim that
I know the country very well. Can you lead a meaningful life there? Once
more, it depends. No matter how you define the term meaningful life , you
will certainly agree that the term implies not having to watch your back
all the time. Because of the rampant crime in South Africa, it may be wise
to be a little more cautious there than in more innocent places. Whether
being a little more cautious implies watching your back all the time is
a different story.
I am still up to date, being a little more cautious may imply after sunset
in Johannesburg to accelerate your car in front of a red traffic light
(the thing that South Africans are fond of calling robot) instead of stopping
there. I better leave it open whether that sort of environment is pleasant
enough to raise children. As far as I know, I have no chamacos (informal
Spanish for children). So I do not deserve to be called an expert in this
Rothschild got the credit for the phrase that the best time to invest is
“when there is blood running in the street”. We may add that the worst
time to invest is when there is top notch wine running in the street. By
the way, South African wine is excellent. In case your responsibilities
do not include raising chamacos and you are rather disinclined to invest
when South African wine is running in the street, South Africa may be your
cup of tea for a meaningful life.
At least in
my humble opinion, a meaningful life also implies taking well calculated
risks. When you always do what everybody else does, you are a turkey on
the ground. Being a turkey on the ground amounts to an insignificant life,
not a meaningful life. In summary, South Africa does offer opportunities
for a meaningful life for the right sort of person. I do doubt, however,
that the country still offers a bunch of ground floor opportunities in
tourism. Tourism seems to be a fast growing sector in the South African
To do that
sort of thing in Africa, a country like Mauretania may offer more upward
potential. As far as I understand the situation there, Mauretania has made
all the right noises about opening up its economy. If Mauretania walks
the talk instead of merely talking the talk, getting involved in tourism
there may mean big business. You may wonder how? There are heaps of safaris
on offer in South Africa or Kenya. The equivalent in Mauretania may be
tours through the Sahara, riding camels, visiting oases. Deserts are magical.
I know what I am talking about. There are vast deserts in Mauretania.
Mexico is a
Roman Catholic stronghold. Because of the Roman Catholic influence in Mexico,
all schools and universities in Mexico are closed during Holy Week (in
Spanish semana santa), the week before Eastern. That is the reason why
I could recently enjoy a one week break during the semester.
week, I read the book “Adventure Capitalist” by Jim Rogers. Jim Rogers
made a little money with George Soros. He is a retired hedge fund manager.
In his book “Adventure Capitalist” Jim tells the story of his three year
trip around the world, which he did with his wife Paige in a custom made
Mercedes. They graced one hundred and sixteen countries with their presence
and covered one hundred and fifty thousand miles. Whilst recounting the
story, Jim shares his economic observations.
It does not
matter whether you agree with all his observations and conclusions. Often
I did. Sometimes I did not. I am also a little opinionated. What matters
is that “Adventure Capitalist” broadens your horizon in business and international
affairs. Jim Rogers did this sort of thing before on a motorcycle, which
he tells in his book “Investment Biker”. No doubt, Jim is a soaring eagle,
not a turkey on the ground.
is a list of articles written by Jurgen for the magazine:
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