Which country should you live in?

If you could buy a house anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

If you could buy a house anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? It's your dream home – it can be in any country, in any city. 

That's a question a couple of my friends asked recently during one of our frequent pub-based adventures into travel nerdery. (These sorts of questions are usually followed by things like, "If you could only eat  one country's cuisine, which would it be?" Or, "If you could only travel to one more country, which would you choose?")

So I had to decide on where to situate my dream abode. Anywhere in the world. I was thinking: Berlin. The best city in the world. Wait, no: San Sebastian. The best beaches and bars. Or maybe Buenos Aires for culture. Or one of those stunning wineries in Stellenbosch, in South Africa. Or… a little cottage in the Alps in Switzerland. 

So many options. After a bit more thought, however, I realised that none of those answers  was correct. My dream home wouldn't have to be in a great city, or even surrounded by beautiful countryside. In fact, it could be pretty much anywhere in the world – the only thing I'd ask of my dream city is that all of the friends that I've met while travelling can come to live in that place as well.

Because that's the problem you face when you've done a lot of travelling. You've met all these amazing people from around the world, you've bonded with them, you've  shared experiences with them, and then you've left them. Aside from the odd visit once in a blue moon, they're forever doomed to be little more than updates on your Facebook page. 

That's pretty sad. I'd love to be able to bump into my friend Michele from England at the supermarket. I want to meet Johan from Sweden at the local pub. It'd be nice to walk past Aaron from the US on the street. 

That's the dream for my home. And it will never come true. 

I've met some amazing people while I've been travelling. It's not just the ones whom I've spent months or years with, either – I've met people overseas that I've only hung out with for a day, or even less, and who've still had a huge effect on my life. 

I met an Australian guy called Dave once in India. Dave was spending six months riding an old Enfield motorbike around the whole country, and on the way he'd picked up a passenger: a little dog named Charlie who rode in a pouch strapped to Dave's chest. 

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The guy was pretty inspirational – this was someone who'd chucked in a job he was unhappy with back home to go on a grand adventure. He was risking it all for a dream. I knew Dave (and Charlie) about 12 hours and he changed my life.  

And he wasn't an anomaly. When you travel you meet these sorts of people every day, people who glide through your life and leave their mark with amazing tales of adventure and chance. Some you'll catch up with again and again. Others you'll never see. 

But they're all part of the greatness of the travel experience, the chance you get to meet people not just from the country that you're visiting, but fellow travellers from every country. Adventurous people, interesting people, funny people, optimistic people, crazy people.

And that's not something that seems to happen as regularly at home. When you're in a routine these new people don't crop up nearly as often. Life goes on with your normal group of friends. Things pass you by. 

But if you want to make new friends? You do it when you're travelling. 

A recent survey conducted by tour company Intrepid Travel found that around one in 10 people will forge their closest friendships though travel. That could be just by going on holidays, or living overseas. People in their 30s were the most likely to have made their closest friendships while on holiday. 

And that makes a lot of sense. Once you hit your 30s you begin to run out of opportunities to find new friends. People start having babies and mortgages and shut up shop in the friendship department. 

Travel, however, throws those doors wide open. It's a whole world of people in a similar situation, those who are open to new people, new experiences, new friends. You can't help but wind up with a few extra mates.

The only downside is that those mates, given their international nature, will not live in your home town. They probably won't even live in your country. 

But you'll always have a bond, and maybe, hopefully, you'll see them again. You can only dream.

b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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