An exchange on Facebook and finding this blog by repats inspired me to write a list of reasons why I’m happy to be where I am at the moment and why I am enjoying my life in Yerevan, Armenia. Here’s the list (in no particular order):
- Living in a small city means I’m not stuck in a two-hour commute to and from work every day. It takes me 10 minutes to ride my bike or 20 minutes by foot to get to work from my home.
- Bread (baked fresh! Every day!) costs 100 drams (less than 30 cents!) and though produce (and just about everything else) gets more and more expensive each year, I can still buy fresh, local produce for a few dollars a kilo. Highlights this summer included cucumbers at 100 drams/kg and tomatoes at 200 drams/kg (less than 60 cents!).
- The people I meet. I regularly meet amazing locals, repats and expats — all of whom are doing amazing things and, more importantly, are passionate about what they do. Their passion inspires me.
- Going out on a weeknight. In Toronto, if I were to ask friends to go out to a bar or cafe on a weeknight, most likely I’d get the response “It’s late” or “I’m too tired” or “I have work tomorrow.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard such responses in Yerevan. Sure, it doesn’t mean that every time I ask a friend to go out she or he agrees. But the fact that it’s a weeknight has never been an issue.
- The view of the city from the top of the Cascade.
- Not that I’m looking to leave, but if I wanted to take a short trip, Yerevan is only a six-hour drive from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. I couldn’t help but compare this with the six-hour (less if you’re speeding) trip between Toronto and Montreal. That is to say, the same distance between these two cities in Canada (dotted by the same landscape) allows me to visit a different country and experience more of a varied landscape here.
- I have the personal cell phone number of the electrician in my building. He knows me by name (and “You’re the cyclist, right?”) and I can call him anytime if I have a problem. I have heard of others who have the personal cell phone numbers of their doctors, teachers, what-have-you. This is unheard of in Canada.
- No matter where I am in this country if I come across a group of people sharing food and/or drink, I am inevitably invited to join them. And it’s not just me. People share their food (regardless of how little it may be) with total strangers because how can you not? It is good neighborliness that I only wish would be practiced between countries in the region.
- My partner. She lives here and so do I. And I am forever grateful that we can be together in the same place.
- And of course my friends. I have met more people here than in my entire life of living in Canada that I can confidently say will remain my friends for the rest of my life. People who genuinely care about you and who, even if distance were to separate us, would pick up where they left off at our next encounter. Even transient friends (those who come to Armenia regularly but live abroad) are valuable and it means that I now have more friends in different countries than I ever did in Canada.
Compiling this list wasn’t difficult (it took me maybe 20–30 minutes), and I’m sure there are many more reasons that I’ve simply forgotten at the moment (like how I can be 20 minutes late to work and no one will say anything, or how it’s so easy to have things like tables and cupboards handmade — at a fraction of what it would cost in Canada).
But I want to know: What are some of the reasons YOU love living in Yerevan or Armenia? (Please answer in the comments section.)