Having been fortunate enough to have seen quite a few parts of the world, and having been in Singapore for 6 years now — I’ve been able to start comparing places and looking at the “where next” question.
With Ila on the way, both as a parent and if I were a kid still — where would I want to grow up?
Growing up wasn’t a fan of Grimbergen because it was quite dull (but then again, it was very close to Brussels, and easily connected to Antwerp): I wanted a city, and that’s why I moved to Antwerp (and later Singapore).
Yet, now that I also value quality of life, Singapore is not very high on that list either. There’s an insane pressure on kids to be top of class and to perform, limited to no safe outdoor activities unless you live in a place with a pool/tennis court (everything else feels fake, you can’t get dirty as a kid), the lack of ownself transport methods (bike, skateboard, etc) to go to school/friends (public transport rocks, but that’s never as convenient as a bike for short distances).
I’m currently having mixed feelings between the big house in a quiet neighbourhood (not Suburbia, but something more like Finland/Norway outside of cities, with a forest, next to your home) vs. being in a city like Copenhagen.
While I would love to being closer to nature, I’d probably miss the benefits of the city life (like being close to an airport — we need to visit Belgium and Singapore after all, take-away food, quick and easy shopping, more friends/school options, a cinema, etc).
By the way, Johan has a good blog about living off-grid — which is a bit too extreme for me.
A city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen is probably a safer choice: less green, but easy and safe to get around as a pedestrian/biker, while still being in relative distance of nature or an escape out of the city.
And no, I won’t head back to Brussels; it’s a terrible for kids. It’s the wild west, where cars rule and the police won’t act.
Ghent and Antwerp are investing in car-free zones and making it pedestrian friendly, but I hate Antwerp’s lack of greenery (many beautiful trees are cut, everything is stone and concrete and feels like death. Moreover, it’s one big traffic jam due to lack of a sustainable solution to keep the cars out).
Oh, and I got myself a Halfbike. So I’ll definitely be looking at places with biking lanes. 😉