“I live here now.” Maybe you’ve seen this meme-turned-Instagram caption on a friend’s recent travel photo—the implication being that they don’t live there, but they would if they could.
But some travelers do arrive at a destination, fall in love, and decide to stay forever. When we asked our Facebook audience, “Have you ever traveled someplace—and then decided to stay forever?” many readers shared meet-cutes and romantic tales, while others described a place they simply couldn’t imagine leaving.
Here are some of our favorite stories, plus tips for how you can take that trip yourself.
Why go: There’s more than one reason why everyone is going to Portugal now. “I fell in love with the people, the food, the lifestyle, the architecture, the beaches,” says reader Mazzyff Mff. “Basically everything just seemed to fit perfectly with my way of being.”
Travel tip: Skip the rental car and head down cobblestone streets on foot to enjoy this capital city’s most beloved spots, such as Praça Luís de Camões. Lisbon is easily navigable by an extensive public transport network, including train stops along the beautiful Estoril coastline.
Why go: A historic center of learning, shipbuilding, and trade, Scotland’s most populous city is renowned for its unique dialect and character. Reader Susanne Cagienard moved there for a job that was supposed to be temporary. “[I] ended up marrying the guy who picked me up in the airport more than 14 years ago,” she says. “[I] love Scotland.”
Travel tip: Glasgow is a UNESCO World Heritage “City of Music” and offers a wide variety of entertainment to suit all tastes. Check out Love Music if you’re into records, or see what artists might be gracing The Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, a former 1960s dancehall.
New Hampshire, United States
Why go: More than 90 state parks help conserve the rolling hills and deep forests of New Hampshire. Visiting a friend who’d moved there, reader Kerry Gmack “fell in love with the mountains!”
Travel tip: White Mountain National Forest is a gem for nature lovers, featuring the highest mountains in the northeast United States. Climb Mount Washington on a clear day to be rewarded with views that extend into neighboring Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Maine—even into Quebec.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Why go: The UAE’s largest city has transformed from a bland business center to an ultramodern, international hub. Reader Joanna Aska traveled to Dubai in 1997 and is still there today. “Twenty-three years. I love it. It is amazing how much this place changed,” Aska says.
Travel tip: The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the UAE’s first national park, offers travelers the chance to escape the bustle of the city and appreciate a unique desert ecosystem that supports Arabian flora and fauna including antelopes and reptiles.
Why go: With one of the world’s fastest growing tourism rates, Japan enchants nearly 30 million tourists a year with thriving cities, scenic landscapes, and a unique culture that fuses ancient tradition with modern energy. After three visits, reader Gregory Duffy decided to move: “[I] just loved everything about it. Built a house in the country and couldn’t be happier! I’m here to stay!”
Travel tip: A pair of traditional dishes top the must-have list when it comes to Japanese cuisine: sushi and ramen. Take time to brush up on your chopstick skills, as it’s the only proper way to consume both dishes—except nigiri, which you should happily eat with your hands.
Washington, United States
Why go: “I am so deeply in love with this place,” says reader Lizzi Crystal about the Olympic Peninsula, a rugged, beautiful wilderness partially protected by Olympic National Park. “It took years and so much hard work, but I was finally able to move here permanently last July!”
Travel tip: Shi Shi Beach, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most treasured stretches of coastline, can be hiked in a day—but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to watch the sunset if you decide to camp for the night.
Why go: Sweden is one of the world’s happiest places, and its cities are among the most innovative. Seniha Oktar, who traveled there to study almost six years ago, is no stranger to its charms. “When I got off the bus coming from the airport in the middle of [Gothenburg], I realized that I wanted to stay here,” Oktar says. “It was my first time here in Sweden, but it felt like I have been here before.”
Travel tip: Salmon fan? Head to Goethenburg’s Rosenlund Canal and stop by Fiskekörkan, an indoor fish market, to sample a wide variety of local seafood. The large building dates back to 1874 and its distinctive architecture earned it the nickname “The Fish Church.”
Alor Island, Indonesia
Why go: The world’s fourth most populous country, Indonesia and its 17,508 islands draw more than 15 million tourists a year. “[I] just fell in love with the nature—hot springs, waterfalls, volcanos and amazing underwater life,” says reader Melissa Augustina Situmorang. “The cultures amaze me. [There’s] abundant seafood and organic food, [and the country is] filled with the most sincere people in the world.”
Travel tip: To experience sublime diving, head to the stretch between Alor Island and Pantar Island, where more than 40 dive spots rank among some of the Pantar Strait’s best. Seek out the variety of underwater creatures found among its reef slopes, from multi-hued anemones to octopus and seahorses.