5 Ways Europeans Live Better than Americans

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | January 17th, 2012 | 211 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living

Florence, ItalyWhenever I visit Europe — whether to explore a few former Soviet bloc countries or to take a  2,000-mile driving trip through Italy and Switzerland’s Ticino region — I’m always struck upon “re-entry” into the U.S. by how BIG everything is here at home.

We drive big cars, especially here in Colorado, where every other vehicle seems to be an SUV. Our cars have big cup holders for our venti Frappucinos and Big Gulp sodas. We live in big houses that we furnish with stuff we buy at big-box stores. Our big refrigerators – and often an extra freezer – are crammed full of food we purchase at big supermarkets. And, alas, we ourselves are big, and getting bigger: According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight, and of those, nearly 38 percent are obese.

Europeans clearly do things differently from us. Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller. I’ve begun to notice some of those differences that we might do well to consider. Here are five that really struck me:

1. Europeans walk and bike more. Whether in crowded cities like Rome or Budapest, or centuries-old rural villages, more people get around on their own power in Europe. It’s easier than negotiating jammed streets, finding scarce parking and paying twice as much for a gallon for gas. Age has nothing to do with it: You’re as likely to see a wrinkled grandmother toting a wheeled market cart or pedaling her cruiser, a bouquet of baguettes in the handlebar basket, as you are more youthful cyclists, who may be wearing an Armani business suit, or a leopard blouse and platforms, like a couple of stylish Roman commuters I watched pedal down the via Nomentana.

2. Europeans use more public transit and drive more economical cars. If they can get there by train or bus, they usually do. Granted, Europe has a far better rail network than the U.S., and the same is true for buses, especially in small towns and rural areas. But when one must drive, what’s considered acceptable, especially for families, is a drastic contrast to American expectations. The Subaru Outback I own (pretty common in Boulder, Colo.) is considered a modest, practical car here – but in Europe, it’s big. In fact, so are Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas. Those are spacious, family-sized cars in Europe. They dwarf the Toyota Yaris, or the Fiat Panda, or the 2-door Audi A2 hatchback that isn’t even sold in the U.S. While the toy-like Smart Car is still a novelty here, they’re all over the streets of Europe. The Europeans are getting 40, 50, even 60 miles per gallon and aren’t feeling a bit deprived.

3. Europeans eat well, but eat less. Just try ordering a non-fat latte in Italy. You’d be laughed at (and you couldn’t get one). The standard Italian breakfast is a flaky, butter-laden croissant and a rich, foamy, whole-milk 6-oz. cappuccino. No one spares the olive oil on a salad or a plate of fresh pasta. It’s a basic essential of Italian life. But restaurants don’t serve a pound of pasta as a single portion, either. And since everyone walks, the calories are burned off while the calves stay toned for the stylish heels in which Italian women negotiate the ancient cobblestone streets of Florence.

4. Europeans choose community over convenience. Although Britain is becoming an exception, in Europe, you don’t see people dashing off with their coffee in a paper cup. Even Europe’s fast-food stands, like the ubiquitous neighborhood bars in Italy that serve a quick panini, espresso or glass of wine, rarely offer disposable plates or cutlery. When I asked last summer at a casual plaza café in Croatia if I could get an impulsive espresso to go, not wanting to hold up my fellow travelers, the barista made a studied appraisal of me and asked, “Madame, are you really in so much of a hurry?” I tried to explain about delaying my companions, and he said simply, ‘They will wait.” They would, in Croatia. They would sit down together, and chat, and not be in such a rush.

5. Europeans are more relaxed. At times, it was irritating to find so many businesses (outside the main tourist districts, anyway) shuttered between 1 and 4 p.m. And if you didn’t eat lunch by 2:00, you couldn’t find an open restaurant until 7:00 or 7:30. The always-on, always-open nature of American commercial culture is simply not the norm in Europe, even in the sophisticated, modern cities. In the oppressive heat of Rome in late June, it was easy to see the practicality of the ‘siesta’ tradition. A sluggish, heat-induced pall hung over the whole city, and those who were smart retreated behind thick stone walls to rest and rejuvenate. On Sundays, nearly everything is shut. Europeans learn to plan ahead so they can enjoy their culturally mandated – and embraced — leisure time.

None of this is to say that you must pack your bags and apply for a visa to start living life a little closer to the way our European neighbors do. With a little creativity and planning, you can find ways to bring these cultural distinctions home to wherever you live. For instance, maybe your job is too far away to bike every day, but could you walk or ride to your neighborhood farmers’ market on the weekends? And perhaps trading your healthy egg-white omelet for a buttery croissant doesn’t appeal, but could you find a few extra minutes in your day to sit down and savor your breakfast and morning coffee instead of downing them as you rush out the door?

Here’s to enjoying la dolce vita, the sweet life, whether here or abroad. Here’s to living more, with less.

Thoughtful travels,


Soak up more culture with travel videos on GaiamTV.com!

Photo: Oleg Sidorenko


  1. Isn’t that funny that while there standard is50 miles to the gallon overseas, our auto manufactures maintain that this kind of millage is not a practical number.
    This is not about right and wrong, we as Americans choose to live the lifestyle. We take the easy way and blame the suppliers of the things we use to deaden our minds, but in real reality we are the one’s supporting this. We choose to strongly identify with junk that makes us feel good, or more powerful than our mind leads us to believe.
    We live the lifestyle that that we feel on the inside
    Mark Babineaux

    Mark Babineaux | July 10th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. Fantastic article, Wendy! … And so true.
    My family and I just returned from Ireland, and almost everything you noticed…
    we noticed! It was an eye-opening experience for my 8 yr.old son and I. But
    nothing new to my husband, who is from N. Ireland~~~
    Standing on the “Giant’s Causeway”, I felt a connection to the sea, earth and sky that had been lacking at home. I felt more calm, relaxed and safe…
    America has changed alot in my lifetime, and sadly not for the better. We could learn alot from other cultures and countries….the return of manners; healthy, relaxed eating habits; a sense of community; acceptance of self and others as they are; learning to relax again…spend time with your children…and not work 24/7 until you die young! (Well, let’s not look to Japan…).
    Also, we need more greenspace, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds and safe places to exercise….It’s incredibly sad when women can’t walk, run or bike ride alone without their pepper-spray and attack-dog!
    God bless…Peace & Love~~~ CC from NC

    Cynthia Cushinan | July 14th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. We’d be wise to stop and consider why the Europeans live the way they do. Their cultures have been developed for far, far longer than American culture and as a result is more efficient and human friendly than ours. Honestly, the first thing we Americans would have to do would be to get rid of corporate person-hood. Treating big corporations as people is silly and leads to real people being looked down upon.
    Vacations!!?!??? What are you a communist? That refrain is heard all too often in the corporate cubes of this country.
    Also, Europeans have dealt with a lot more tyrants than Americans and thus they are more on guard, pay attention to the news and demand proper respect from their governments. Here in the USA, we’re too brainwashed to realize the holes we’re digging ourselves into. It’s not that Europeans simply live better, it’s that they live while most Americans simply follow their school-home-work path without asking questions. Why are we one of the most productive nations but also waste tons of time being forced to go to our jobs and look busy? Why don’t we demand basic necessities from the government, we sure do give them enough tax money for health care, education and infrastructure.

    Adam Pieniazek | July 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  4. Bonjour Wendy!
    It’s funny, because an european who’s travelling in Africa or Asia, will say the same thing as you; but it’s normal we don’t have the same culture!
    As” western peoples” (i mean european and american) we should not be so different.
    Evrything is big in the US, but the country is big, ….or the us mals love big cars because……you know!!!
    I’m kidding, anyway your county can change fast; you image too, that is not exactly the case in my beautiful France!
    Ich country, or culture have is good part, let’s lurn from ich other.
    PS: in french barak mean “a house” in slang, so I wich you a new house in the White on

    guillaume | July 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  5. Awesome blog post. Less is really more. I wish A LOT of things here were more simple than they are.

    JB | July 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  6. Yes…this is as well in Australia.

    cyberBob | July 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  7. I stumbled upon this blog, and I’m glad I did. Just today, I was telling a European Twitter friend that Americans tend to be so USA-centric, as if no one else lives “right” besides us. I envy Europeans sense of community, something I feel we have lost over the past 40 years.
    Thank you for this post. It’s excellent.

    Buz | July 17th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  8. Thanks for the comments! I love the chance to hear from readers and share conversation. And I agree with our French poster, Guillaume: there are good things we can find and learn from in any culture — as well as those we might not wish to emulate. I am also finding, as I’m spending a week in Washington’s San Juan Islands right now, that the more ‘European’ way of life I resonated so strongly with is prevalent here as well! Look for my next post from Orcas Island, coming up soon.

    Wendy Redal | July 18th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  9. A mistake Americans make is that they think everyone lives in Los Angeles or New York. Thankfully, this is not the case. I have lived in rural, small town America, and smaller cities all of my life. We do have a sense of community, and we are more relaxed. The geography of the land is the excuse for the transportation, I think. As for the rest of it….You’re right.

    oldestgenxer | July 20th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  10. I don’t agree with what you are saying.. I’m Italian and I don’t feel completely comfortable in my body. We can’t eat too much pasta..It’s true, we are not as big as Americans..but we go on diet once a year and we don’t touch pasta, oil, bread, and cappuccino!!! :(
    In any case..80% of your considerations are true..the only problem is that with American colonization (Macdonalds spread in all the peninsula) we are become more and more similar to Americans. :/
    Guillaume is right..we shpould look at Africans or Asian to learn something we tend to forget..

    Lori | July 20th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  11. I live in a little town near Venice. After reading your experience in europe I thought: the differences she found between USA style and European style is the same I feel when I compare my life with the life of always busy, city-leisures addicted people who lve in big cities, like Milan.
    I wonder, but I’m really ready to experience, what will be of me if move to a city like New York (to live and work here, not as a tourist…)

    Stefano | July 21st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  12. These same sentiments I feel when I return from anywhere overseas, especially Europe though. We live in an age and a country where speed, efficiency, and “practicality” are the norm, but are also self imposed tortures. I just got back from 2 weeks in Germany, and it was a true culture shock that there was air conditioning everywhere here in the USA, and in Germany, people loitered into the late, cool evenings over a drink and a small meal at a cafe. We made a habit of it, wish we could maintain that habit back in the US!

    Katherine | July 21st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  13. I had to laugh when you mentioned the Outback. I live in Colorado as well, and I’ve often joked that it is the State car.
    Something else I’ve noticed about Americans versus Europeans is we seem to have more variety in our products, and I’m not so sure that is a good thing. Where they have one or two choices we have ten or twenty for the same item. The cereal aisle in the store actually disgusts me. We aren’t citizens, we are consumers.

    Ayngel | July 22nd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  14. I’m an American living in Europe and I am with you for the most part, all up until the last point of the post. Sure things are closed at these times, but living and working with the people this usually means more time to get stuff done like chores or left over work. Also, as far as food, in Germany they LOVE their sausage and beer. I can’t escape it, theres beer everywhere, everyone drinks it and the portions aren’t tiny food wise without eating fast food more than once a month I’ve put on 30 pounds, compared to always grabbing a sandwich back home and staying on the go. I come from Texas where I grew up in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and after living in Germany I can’t wait to get back to a slow happy life.
    All that said, Europe is a great place…to visit, but don’t toss aside the US. The grass always looks greener on the other side.

    tnk | July 22nd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  15. lived there three years and could not wait to Home

    bill | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  16. Nice to know that Europe is still pretty much the same place it was 35 years ago, when I was living there — more mass transit and bikes, less reliance on cars. I wish to heaven we had more mass transit in this country!!

    Meg | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  17. The unfortunate thing about the North American situation is that the corporations that run our lives won’t allow us to live leisurely. Everyone seems to ignore the root of the issue.

    rootcause | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  18. How about doing an article titled “5 Ways Americans Live Better than Europeans” as well?

    zeek | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  19. “How about doing an article titled .5 Ways Americans Live Better than Europeans. as well?”

    Joe Rogel | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  20. Hi, I also noticed in Belgium, Amsterdam, Puerto Rico even in India, th women look female. There are dresse and long flowing skirts.
    Meals in Belgium were long and gourmet to me. In India, if there was room left in your booth, someoe would ‘fill in’.
    I never felt as if the food was old or overly suced or spiced or preserved.
    Try something new1

    Jill Willett | July 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  21. Insightful observations I concur with to a one. I hail from New Jersey but spent 4 years in Europe. This post reminds me of the main things I miss….

    michael | July 24th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  22. As an American living in Germany for over five years now, it’s nice to see this discussion about improving American “more is better” ideology. I agree with Lori, that Europe is slowly being “colonized” by corporations that bring with them drive-throughs (what happened to the slower “drive-ins” of yore?), plastic shopping bags, huge parking lots and the need to drive to their huge stores, which must be built outside of the small centers of towns. It won’t be long before these town centers start dying out, just like they did in my hometown in Wisconsin, and we’ll all be buying items shipped in from overseas (which we’re doing already) from branded stores and franchises that are not locally owned. Sigh. Is there any way to stop this in Europe? Is there any way to turn it around in the US? Fact is, in the States only very few people can walk or bike to all of the places they need to go to shop, work and do whatever else is required in their lives. Maybe gas prices will change things.

    epapaluap | July 24th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  23. What you describe is pretty much the way it was in the 1940’s and even 50’s in this country. I miss it and the extra time we had when stores, banks and post offices were closed by 5:00 and on weekends. (Yet we had what we needed) More time for family and friends. More time for comtemplation and renewal. Less divorce and violence. We came here from those European countries but how soon we forgot the good that we brought with us. My grandmother used to say, “the faster we go…. the behinder we get.” She was from the old country.
    Gretchen McCormack

    gretchen mccormack | July 24th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  24. I agree that we need to look to another way of living. What puzzles me is that we look only to europe, which is mostly available to those of us who can afford to travel leisurely, as you obviously did. American tourists on a whirlwind tour won’t get the message, especially if they are only going through the “capitals” of europe.
    In this country, many of us who were precursors to the Green movement and “slow food” were advocating localism, natural and organic foods, communal and collective living (precursors to co-housing) and community-building, along with small, cooperatively run and collectively (worker) owned businesses as early as the 70’s. America was not interested. We were accused of “hippie-ism, idealism, even Communism!
    Now we see the results in obesity, degenerative disease, corporate culture, consumerism, and Big everything. We only need to revive (or-better- support ) the alternatives right here. Your food co-ops, local farmers (especially organic), your own family and friends in community. We can turn off the TV’s and computer games for awhile, grow a garden, take a walk, dust off the bike, walk the dog and meet our neighbors. And if we start talking and acting locally, we can become more politically aware (as are many in Europe) and less sheeplike and mesmerized. Good social thinking just might ensue!

    Jenna | July 24th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  25. I agree for the most part. We are conditioned from an early age to operate in this lifestyle without questioning the reasoning behind the motive. it is very difficult to go against the grain in the US.

    Juicer Josh | July 24th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  26. I don’t really agree with you. First of all – you can’t see Europe as a whole country. Europe consists of lots of countries with different languages and different conventions. So people in the South (like in Spain) maybe more relaxed, not so Germans. And even within Germany you’ll find differences. Second it also depends where you live. Germans love there car and use it a lot in rural parts. Cities like NYC or Chicago have much better public transport than any German city I know. And people use it a lot in the US, more than the public transportation system in Cologne for example. Also sad to see, but the “coffee to go” is getting more and more fancy here in Germany.

    Chris | July 25th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  27. Ciao Wendy,
    As an American living here in Europe….I welcome and cheer your beautiful observations of our European way of life…..with a warm smile, a fresh expresso and an hour of catching up! Keep comming back! We will wait for you ;-)

    Dame | July 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  28. Wendy, I couldn’t agree with you more about European vs. North America lifestyles. Although I live in Canada, my ancestry is Croatian and I visit there often. I’m struck by how much people enjoy life there! It’s not a crime to slow down and spend an entire afternoon sipping cappucino with your friends!
    On a side note, since you write about eco-travel I wanted to let you know about my mountain bike adventure company, Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Holidays (www.sacredrides.com). Since 1996, we have offered challenging mountain bike holidays around the world, with a strong focus on social and environmental respoonsibility. This year, we started our own non-profit, Bikes Without Borders (www.bikeswithoutborders.org) bringing bikes and bike-related solutions to marginalized communities.
    I’ve always got room for media on my trips (I figure if you live in Boulder, there must be a good chance you mountain bike), and if you ever feel like doing a profile on us and our non-profit organization for your blog, please contact me. We have won numerous awards, including Top 40 Adventure Companies by National Geographic Adventure.
    I hope you’ll join us one day!
    Mike Brcic, president,
    Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Holidays

    Mike Brcic | July 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  29. and if we knew the symmetry rules
    which merge vibration into dna…
    we get..

    dan winter | July 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  30. I went to England and Ireland last March and fell in love with the way of living over there. I liked that when I wanted a soda, it was in a 20 oz bottle, and there were no soda fountains. I liked that the grocery store had recycling bins in the parking lot. I liked that you could get absolutely everywhere using public transportation, bicycles, and your own two feet. It really made me realize a lot of things about my lifestyle and I’ve really slimmed down how much I have in terms of possessions and what I’m doing in terms of transportation. I full support having a European lifestyle!

    Kate | July 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  31. Travelling in Europe is very different from living and trying to do business there. I lived in Belgium for quite awhile and frankly, living in North America is *so* much better. People talk about the “closeness” of Europe, but that closeness also means that you hear your neighbours having sex at 4 AM, that few people bother to make space for one another (like on the sidewalk) , and that people are nosy beyond belief. Service in Europe is horrible – and I’m not even talking about in restaurants. Even if you’re polite, you nearly have to twist someone’s arm to get anything done. And to be honest, I got tired of dealing with people who were literally incapable of making a decision – even after hours (literally) of discussion. North Americans might come across as pushy, but there is value in efficiency.

    Laura | July 26th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  32. I remember when I was young almost everything was closed on sundays and it seemed this great country we live in was a little more relaxed because there was a day of rest. In the winter I always hope for at least one blizzard that is bad enough to stop everything, I really can feel peace in the atmosphere then.

    susan | July 27th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  33. As a Brit I also despair at how life is lived at too fast a pace for health.
    It’s not our choice, though I believe this could be changed. Having just returned from a short trip to Paris, I was heartened to see more people heading into the park to enjoy the summer weather, and play team sports. It is good to see, as so many look unwell, compared to the Parisiens. They look so atonal.
    As a complementary therapist I like to look and see the world holisticaly. Whilst at the moment things are out of balance, we are still bound to our genetic programming. This indicator shows that the strong will survive, and that if we continue to harm our bodies with low quality, processed foods, we will breed ourselves out of the food chain.
    If it follows that natural selection is innevitable, then it is up to healthy people to try to install a respect for the self, where people have such low self-esteem.
    maybe it’s European culture to be free to express themselves that gives them the emotional capacity to see beyond physical needs, but we are strongly bound to our history. The U.S.A. is still a very young nation. I think that Americans will begin to value and not be scared of change. That will help them accept the frailties of being human and live within physical limitations, away from the bigness that is driving a naieve mentality.

    Patrick Jeavons-Englans | July 27th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  34. Of course Europeans are more relaxed! Their employers allow them more vacation time than ours do. Europeans also have medical coverage and often education is covered as well. In the US we struggle with the basics of life, so we hurry faster and faster trying to get “the good life.” Our employers cut costs by cutting employee benefits, by holding us hostage with the fact that none of the benefits we do have are transferable if we leave the company, by inadequate staffing, so we work harder with longer hours than ever. Then they constantly threaten us by hinting our jobs could go overseas. Most Americans are brainwashed into thinking they are living the good life. Can you imagine a general strike here? I’ve heard so many people say they don’t like the idea of universal health care because they don’t want to foot the bill for others. It hasn’t occurred to them that do foot the bill for the very rich and very poor. I’d much rather pay half my salary in taxes for progressive benefits for all — benefits that I could use even though I’m employed. Instead the incredibly shrinking middle class allows themselves to pitted by the rich against the poor. Guess who wins that game?

    Pamela Y | July 27th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  35. Good post. I live in The Netherlands, I have experienced the “WTF” effect last year when visiting the States. I wanted to comment on some comments.
    Ayngel, the diverseness in the products is not that big at all. You shouldn’t view Europe as a country. Every country has it’s own brands and it is very uncommon to see things like cereals, chips, drinks from other European countries in other ones. Every country has it’s own brands, we have more specialized shops here. Like “food-boutiques” , small shops that specializes in
    products of other countries, other than there you don’t see that stuff in the bigger stores.
    epapaluap, you are totally right, the infrastructure of the US doesn’t allow people to simple bike to their works. But this has never stopped me from biking 8 kilometers to school every morning in the past.
    Some of the things I noticed in the States when visiting the house of some family friends. Is that people buy nearly everything in bulk. It might be cheaper, but if you bulk-buy that unhealthy soda, you will get fat. One thing that basically scared me is the expensiveness of fresh fruits and vegetables. So they bought frozed veggies and canned fruits with loads of sugars in it. Furnitures are huge just like the blogwrites states. I own a fridge that is what 5ft high maybe 2 ft wide and 2 ft deep. It barely consumes electricity. My house is decorated minimalistic á la Ikea. To keep things as efficient yet cozy as possible. I have a public transportation subscription, you pay a montly fee and you can travely freely with the bus/train/tram/metro in a specific zone and when I really have to drive I drive a small 3 doors of the BMW 1 series. It drives 75 miles on 1.5 gallon. Gas prices here are higher than in the states I pay 1.70 euro for a liter. That is 2.70$ . 1 Gallon is I recall 3.5 liters. That is almost $9 for a gallon. I’m glad I don’t own a SUV.

    Murat Ylmz | July 28th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  36. I totally agree! Isn’t Italy, and Europe in general, a wonderful way of life?! I’d love to live there (at least part time) someday!

    Keri | July 28th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  37. I think the real lesson here is that it’s essential to travel, to get out of your own space, and see how life is on the other side of the pond.
    I’m American, but have spent most of my life living in Europe and Latin America. I’ve learned that there are beautiful and negative things in every culture. While I’m painfully aware of some of the atrocious aspects of my own culture, the American culture still has beautiful things to offer. And whle I love my Italian espresso and my German beer, I do wish there wasn’t so much smoke floating around with it.
    Traveling is an amazing way to learn to appreciate what you have at home and to identify things you can do to improve your life and maybe even your own community.
    Happy travels to all!!

    Jennifer | July 28th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  38. I’m Dutch, so I’m a European. European countries are very different to each other. The culture in the Netherlands is entirely different from the culture in say France or the UK.
    Europe only exists as a economical unit, not as a cultural one.
    I can imagine that culture in Florida will be very different from Arizona.
    I have met a lot of Americans in my life, and what never ceases to amaze me is the rather naïve way of looking at the world of a lot US citizens. The average inhabitant of the USA (it that exists) doesn’t seem to have a clue about what is going on outside their borders.
    In Europe we are often rather astonished about the culture in the US. You mentioned already that everything is big and the energy consumption of the USA is about the double per person compared to the Europe.
    And the biggest enigma is your max speed on your roads. You drive the biggest cars on the biggest roads and you drive on them at an incredibly slow speed. Very funny.
    We sometimes really don’t understand the american outlook to life.
    You are so very prudish about everything regarding the human body and sex. You are shocked by two gays kissing each other but at the same time you can buy guns everywhere and extreme violence seems to a normal thing in your big cities. In some parts of your country, you practise a very harsh and unforgiven kind of religion while at the same time, you preach democracy and open values.
    The USA fights for democracy and international laws and at the same time, you arrest people and put them in prisons without a lawsuit. (Guantamo Bay).

    Pieter | July 29th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  39. I loved reading this and being reminded about these things. The article brought up great memories of my own European travels and made me happy to see that in some ways, I do live that life style here. Thanks!

    Laura | July 29th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  40. quit so true what you said Pieter!
    My impression is the balance in europe is easier to get;
    that’s the good side of being ” the old world”!
    in USA you have the better as the worst we can find in this world! So it’s harder to get balanced…., no?
    What hurt me the the most, is the mighty power of MONEY!
    It’s something i never understood! It’s looks like evrything could be for sail!!!

    guillaume | July 30th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  41. I’m living in Ireland…..probably one of the least European countries in Europe!! But, yes, I agree with what Wendy has to say in her article.
    I have always been fascinated with the United States, its a huge country with such diversity. The difference between the east and west coast is huge, and what,s in between is even more diversity.
    However, I believe that there is too much of a ‘blurring of the lines’ that should separate areas such as business and government, media and business/government, health and business, education and business etc. Each should be very distinct entities and separate from one another.

    I believe that everyone should think independently and for themselves, learn to question everything in daily life but be open to an alternative point of view. European people have this ability as Adam Pieniazek above points out.
    To be honest, I think both Europe and the US could learn a hell of a lot from each other, however, we have to learn the right things from each other and learn from each others mistakes.

    PS. Can’t wait to get back to the US to explore some more!!! Love it!

    Austin | July 31st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  42. This is so true, its scary. My wife and I spent a month in Italy and Croatia on 07. They have so much less STUFF, but seem happier. It was the most wonderful trip I have ever experienced. We walked, road the bus or train everywhere.
    I just watched the documentaries, Crude Impact, Crude Awakening and The End of Suburbia. This country wants more and bigger everything, we use up 25% of the worlds oil and we think this is possible, for ever? My wife and I car commute to work, in Sacramento, but we are going back to riding our bikes to work. When gas is $10 a gallon on the USA, the world might change for the better. We will soon have to live locally. Please stop supporting BIG BOX stores. Let’s keep the small neighborhood shops open. We will soon need them more than ever.

    Doug | July 31st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  43. What a wonderful article Wendy… and so true.

    Originally from Sri Lanka and now living in Northern California i must say that the people here in CA are more akin to the European lifestyle than in other places in the US. (I lived in NY for a few years and boy that was a different world all together) but i have to agree with you. It is so much more enriching to live more with less.

    AbraCadabRa | July 31st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  44. Of course travel and life is different in European countries. Their lifestyle is adjusted to their environment. They walk, bike or drive tiny cars because everything is a hop, skip or jump away. They don’t have large anything because they live right on top of each other. It is impractical to suggest that we model our entire country after Europe. The U.S. is BIG. Our country is spread out over miles and miles. Our lifestyle is adjusted to our environment.
    Public transportation and tiny cars work well in New York and Chicago because everything is close together and people live right on top of each other. But who wants to drive one of those puny puddle jumpers on the open highway alongside semi trucks? It is very dangerous!
    My husband is a corn and soybean farmer, so by necessity, we live in rural America. Also, by necessity, we drive everywhere we go (in our truck, Trail Blazer or mid-size hybrid car). We enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables from our garden in summer, but are grateful for grocery stores where we can buy those things in the middle of winter (transported by all those semi trucks).
    When Americans visit other countries or they visit here, we and they only get a small sense of what life is really like. I appreciate the variety our country offers in its landscapes, communities and cultures. I do not appreciate all the petty criticism in some of the posts. Our country is not perfect, but then neither is any other. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all live in Utopia! Until then, I am thrilled to live here.
    Life is what you make of it. No matter where we live, we all make choices that affect our lives. If your lifestyle leaves you feeling stressed, don’t blame the U.S. culture. You are in charge of your own happiness. Take control of what you can and let go of the rest. Find peace where you are.

    P.S. In case some of you are not aware, our country’s government is a representative republic, NOT socialist or communist. I personally do not wish the government to pay for everything. I would rather take care of most of it myself. The more handouts we get, the bigger, more powerful and more dangerous the government becomes.

    Kay | July 31st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  45. I think the ‘Europeans are more relaxed’ bit is more Mediterranean than general European. Not true for The Netherlands I don’t think. But then I’m pretty sure most diners won’t have cups of coffee to go either – except near the high way or something. I mean, if you’re going somewhere, why stay to get the coffee? Sort of defeats the purpose of stopping at a diner anyhow, doesn’t it?

    I’m reminded of the way I was stunned that my companions were harassing the waiter in an American restaurant because things weren’t going fast enough… that’s certainly a ‘not done’ in Dutch restaurants. When you go to a restaurant, you know it’s going to take time. That’s just how it is. Except, again, for places near the trains or the airports.

    katinka hesselink | August 3rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  46. Thank you, Kay, for saying exactly what I wanted to say before I could say it. The United States is a very large country and the individuals inside should not be judged en masse. I am quite aware of what goes on outside of my country’s borders, even if I’ve never traveled abroad – thank you very much.

    I don’t judge other people by the actions of their government, nor do I judge them by the actions of other people I’ve met from their country, it’s not fair of me to do so. Neither should I be judged by the actions of my government or by the actions of a few of the *billions* of people who live here.

    I’m sure that life in European countries is very nice. I’ve heard quite a lot about it from various people who live in several European countries (I work at the ESL center in my university). I’d like to live overseas some day, not because the United States has a horrible way of life, but because I’d like to experience something different. And that’s what life overseas would be – different. Not better, not worse, different.

    BTW, I walk everywhere I can. I always have. At first it was a financial necessity, then I figured it was just better that way. I’ve lived in several environments, from big cities to my current small town in Mississippi. There is no bus system here, so I have to have a car to get anything done, but if I can walk, I do. It’s just that way. I don’t buy in bulk, I don’t drink soda, and hardly ever eat fast food (in answer to one of the comments). I do, however, drink coffee in a paper cup because I am usually going somewhere else. Guess what? so do most of my friends from Europe. That’s what struck me as odd about that statement. They love the idea, and have embraced it readily. I rarely see them without the coffee in a paper cup. I guess we Americans do have a good idea now and again.

    This country, like every country in the world, is made up of individuals. Most of us are just trying to make it from one day to the next. Don’t judge us as a mindless mass. That’s all I ask.

    tomiddes | August 3rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  47. great artik.

    raul | August 3rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  48. great article!
    But don’t forget that Europe is quite small when compared to the USA.
    The whole continent of Europe could fit in the US about 4 times, and there would be room left to spare. A better comparison would be “China” or “Russia” even “India”

    leon | August 5th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  49. Wow, I’m really excited at the scope and range of conversation that this blog post has generated. I have to add that the title, ‘Five Ways Europeans Live Better Than Americans,”
    was actually not mine — it was my editor’s — but it’s more provocative than what I’d originally suggested, which was something like “you have to leave home to see it differentl.” I didn’t intend to set up any sort of competition, and I agree with several posters who have argued for the diversity within both Europe and the U.S., and that we can learn and appreciate various practices from all cultures and settings. That said, however, I find that I am especially grateful during this current Colorado heat wave for a few characteristically American practices: ice in my drinks, free and fast refills on cold tap water at restaurants (I paid $8 for a liter bottle of water in Switzerland in June!), screens on windows for cross-ventilation without inviting a swam of mosquitoes in…and I probably shouldn’t admit this, but in my weather-induced weakness, I will: I’ve really appreciated air conditioning, too (as I think back on Rome a month ago). However, I DO think we use way too much of it, at too-chilly levels, in the U.S., and we would be well served at times to slow down and savor a rest in the shade with a cold drink — in a glass.

    Wendy Redal | August 5th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  50. I went to Austria for a month about 2 years ago and it was AWESOME!!! I loved it there, people there are definitely more relaxed (except for the homesickness, I was!) and everything (almost) closes by about 6 or 7…which means people go home to spend time with their families! And yes, everyone walked, biked or rode the bus. I, along with a couple other people in my group, lost weight while there because we ate a little better and walked everywhere! I rented a bike and it was the best thing ever! I will say this, however: Americans cannot do as much walking/biking or even bus riding because we don’t have the infrastructure. While I was in Austria (Salzburg, btw), everything was within walking distance (took a while, but definitely biking distance) and the city was set up for that. Here, in the US, it’s not quite like that in most places. Shame really.

    Pie | August 6th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  51. Leon: “But don’t forget that Europe is quite small when compared to the USA.
    The whole continent of Europe could fit in the US about 4 times, and there would be room left to spare. A better comparison would be “China” or “Russia” even “India”

    China: appx. 1.3-1.5 inhabitans
    India: appx. inhabitans

    China: 1,330,044,605
    India: 1,132,446,000
    EU: 499,021,851(27 states, actual europe would be higher)
    U.S.: 304,798,000
    Russia: 142,008,838

    Square Miles:
    Russia: 6,592,800 sq mi
    U.S.: 3,794,066 sq mi
    China: 3,700,000 sq mi
    EU: 1,669,807 sq mi(27 states, actual europe would be bigger)
    India: 1,269,346 sq mi

    Peter | August 7th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  52. I found this stumbling and enjoyed it very much. We left a major metropolitan city to live in the middle of nowhere in a close knit rural community. I am often shocked when we go to the “town” for a big shopping trip. Everyone is always in such a hurry!

    Cassie | August 11th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  53. I have to agree that Europeans “get it” when it comes to the best ways to live and enjoy life, and also, to stay healthy.

    I’ve been to Spain and Italy, among others, and both times I thought I’d come back packing a few extra pounds like you usually do on vacations. I came back a few pounds lighter after being in both places!
    The smaller portions, the constant walking around, and also, those siestas where they close down the restaurants from around 3 to 7 surely didn’t hurt!
    I was aghast to not be able to eat 24-7 like you can in the US!

    But it leads to a healthier, more relaxed you. Not a bad way to live!

    The Fitness Diva | August 11th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  54. That’s an interesting comparison. I think the last three points only apply to continental/southern Europe, unfortunately…

    tina | August 13th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  55. The European’s way of life reflects a unique wisdom in living true freedom in life.

    Knowing how to slow down and be less concerned about material acquisition is one of life’s great lesson. It’s probably a lifestyle wisdom that any fast-pace society should learn to appreciate.

    Jordan Cheng | August 13th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  56. I’m a canadian living in Munich for the past for years, and I have to say this article is spot on. I could add so many of things North Americans do to be “environmentally friendly” are just taken for granted here. Every employee sits near a window so they have natural light; lights are not turned on during the day unless it’s very dark out; common areas of office buildings & apartments have lights that are on timers; all toilets are low flow; no buildings are air conditioned, our modern office building is kept cool with air that is circulated over cold water pipes in the ceiling; recycling is just part of daily life; people don’t rely on elevators, in most cases they are just tiny things tucked away behind the stairs somewhere; and I could go on.

    And vacations! They are taken very seriously here. No employer will give an employee extra props for forgoing them; they just think you can’t get your life organized enough to take care of yourself.

    I know I will eventually go home, but there are so many things I will miss about living here, especially not needing a car. I’m able to cycle everywhere safely, on dedicated bike paths. North America DEFINITELY can learn a lot from a European city like Munich.

    Sandy | August 14th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  57. Reminders:
    European countries are much smaller than the US with work and home within bicycle distance. Europeans are more relaxed because we in the US put our lives on the line to keep the Russians out of their countries for 50 years. I spent two of my best years as an infantry draftee on the East German border and have never received the slightest thank you from any European I’ve met. Their reaction has been ,” I wasn’t even born then.”
    When there is a disaster somewhere in the world not many Europeans respond the way we do. Unfortyunately we respond better to the world than to our own. cf. Katrina.
    As ugly as our political scene has been in the last eight years I wouldn’t trade it for Italy’s or Spain’s or France’s. Count your blessings !

    Frank de Paola | August 14th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  58. An interesting observation, and I’m sure in many ways true although as a Londoner and frequent European traveller over the past 15-20 years its well documented that the ‘American’ influence has been creeping in, especially in major cities.

    Europe is still growing it would seem & we have so many languages and different indigenous cultures which is exciting but by no means a utopia, Europe has its problems too as I’m sure most of the world does. I don’t think its your country that has the problem I think its more down to individuals who can say no to supersize soda but don’t, who can buy a smaller car but don’t, who can cycle to work but don’t. From here in Europe it looks like Americans just do what comercials & media tell them to, which I’m sure its not true either but it can look that way.

    Phil | August 14th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  59. Its hard for me as an American not to chime in here. I never been to Europe. But I do live in the greatest country in the world. We give more to other countries in food and aid then any other. Plus lets not forget who saved all of you (European) in WWI and WWII. Alot of us Americans died over there so before your too hard on us just keep that in mind. Jp from Ohio

    jp | August 14th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  60. JP – you did nothing until Pearl harbour…
    If not for Pearl Harbour just WHEN would you have “saved all of you”?
    You responded to a direct attack on your own.

    Sorry – that line just does not work well. We remember the war a little differently

    “”In terms of aid given per person, the U.S. is one of the least generous rich countries,” said David Roodman, a CGD Fellow.”

    Hmmmm looks like that depends on how you count it doesn’t it?

    fred | August 15th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  61. I can honestly say that I love traveling to Europe and greatly respect all of the different cultures there. However, I wouldn’t even consider trading life in the US with living in Europe.

    I have always described Europe as a very expensive camping trip.

    1) When camping if you left something at home… you can’t just run down to the store and pick it up. Often times this is the case in Europe, too. Stores close and sometimes they just don’t carry what you need, nor care.

    2) There’s no a/c when camping. As someone mentioned above the a/c is often not to be found. I remember paying $300/night for a hotel with no a/c during the summer. It was total waste of money. I would have been more comfortable on a park bench. Yes, its enviromentally friendly, but not for the 12,000 people who died in France during that heat wave a few years ago.

    3) When camping there’s really no one to wait on you. Much like many of the places I have eaten in Europe. If you don’t need anything that is fine, but if you do you are out of luck.

    4) It’s damp when camping. Much of W. Europe is damp, too.

    I admit the food is often better, but it should be. You pay twice as much, even the you are only getting half the amount.

    Gas is the same way, pay twice as much and get half the gas.

    In general that is how I sum up living in Europe. It’s twice the price at half the value.

    Having said that there are so many things to love about Europe. They are more relaxed and that’s great. They do enjoy life, but they also pay a price for that. For example, I paid it one time when I needed to catch a train at the last minute, but the dry cleaner was out for a few minutes. The sign said be back in a few minutes… it was about 30. I can’t fathom that happening in the US.

    Or if a place says it closes at sundown. Guess what? Anytime after 12pm the sun is going down. That’s burned me twice in Europe.

    Having said that, nothing would make me happier for every American to get to visit Europe. So they can appreciate Europe, but even more so appreciate the US.

    You get less food, but you pay twice the price. Same logic applies to hotels, cars and just about every else.

    Ody | August 15th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  62. First of all, I am so glad i found this page-
    Such an interesting read!

    Ody, In America you may get value for your hard earned dollar, but at what cost -
    What use are all of the goods you are consuming when they have -clearly (above)- just made you dependent on them whilst distracting you from the moments you live. You said “When camping if you left something at home… you can’t just run down to the store and pick it up. ”

    That’s the beauty of ‘camping’ Did you ever consider not running down to the store , and NOT picking it up. How about sitting back, and enjoying the free things in life. You aren’t going to die because you don’t have something, unless it is your health. Your comparing Europe to a camping trip reminded me of what I personally feel is wrong with America these days ;- ‘camping trips’ are about enjoying time with people you love in the elements -ie. without the distractions of the fast-paced ’spend spend spend’ ethic which seems to be consuming your country. If you get twice as much of everything in America for the same price as in Europe – you are going to buy more crap you don’t need – just because you can. Europeans live happier lives, with less. If you are worried about all of the things that would make the moment more like home, you are clinging on to what you have, wherever you go… This naturally lessens how much you can appreciate the beauty of simply living. Corporations have spent billions and billions of dollars to make you think products will lead to a happy life, when here you have proven that they have done nothing but made you so dependent on the comfort they give you, that you can only harbour mostly negative memories from your trip to Europe . Take a look at your complaints and they are no big deal ; so what – you didn’t have air conditioning in your hotel. I would happily go to America and complain about the price of food, but luckily i don’t need to. Instead I might have to complain about a shallowness that has been instilled and is evident in a many of its people.

    I am just speaking my opinion, but I know where I would rather live.

    Vici | August 16th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  63. They are probably going to shoot me for revealing this information, but there is a place in America that exemplifies exactly what you are speaking of. The pacific northwest was a discovery of mine a few years ago. It seems like once you cross over the cascade mountain range, everything comes to a crawl. A good crawl though, There is a sense of community instead of anonimity, which seems to be the goal elsewhere these days. Sadly, I’m sorry to say. But everything, and I mean everything in the Pacific northwest is geared towards being your brothers keeper. It isn’t that they have changed to make it that way, they just never changed to begin with. I wish I could show the rest of america the possiblities if you desire them.

    Peggy Durkop | August 20th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  64. I think it’s very naive to regard “Europe” as one. Different countries in Europe are totally different – There is a huge difference between north & south … As an American who grew up in London very few of your points are true of the U.K – Every 2nd car in London is a Range Rover or Bentley! [Not many smart acrs compared to Continental Europe!] It’s go go go all the time here & is totally unforgiving, public transport is good I guess but it’s also crazily congested with vehicles even though you need to pay $10 / day to drive into the center of town … Your points definitely are more towards Southern Europe.

    The poster that said about American saving Europe. Americans came in at the end of the war! And the person that said about the US being the most generous with aid – I suggest you do some research because the E.U crushes the U.S when it comes to aid & as for the GDP – The European Union [which is classed as a single market] generates 3 TRILLION more annually than the USA – some people should do research before commenting. I’m proud to be American but it’s sad when Americans talk up the U.S when they aren’t even aware of the statistics regarding GDP/Aid etc…

    Me | August 23rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  65. [...] 5 Ways Europeans Live Better than Americans – This is something that has always fascinated me. I would love to spend more time in Europe (I spent a week in Spain in 2001 and have wanted to go back ever since) and learn their culture. Everything seems so much… better there, I guess. This article pinpoints a few good things about the lifestyle there! [...]

  66. As a Brit I fear you would find us too much like you except for the oversized cars & meals

    Bob | November 6th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  67. Yes! Quality is the key to true wealth, not quantity. As someone who was born here but is otherwise 100% Polish, I see myself exuding the let’s go, go, go attitude many times. It is especially apparent when I’m around my friends born in Poland and other European countries, as they are very chill and laid back while I worry and stress too often.

    We need a public mandate here for more leisure time, our over-stressed, over-worked lifestyles are literally killing us!

    Mr. Money | November 7th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  68. [...] see their view over Europe… They have their own POV what they think and see different… 5 Ways Europeans Live Better than Americans ? Gaiam Experts Blog Rick Steves’ Europe: Ugly American Are You the Ugly American? – This Just In – Budget Travel [...]

  69. Well, as a Norwegian I think our culture falls closer to the American way. It is pretty ignorant to speak about Europe as a place with a certain culture, I mean there are so many different countries and cultures.
    Scandinavian countries are the most productive, in terms of work. Life is very stressful, and we prefer to drive SUVs because of the distances, and the climate. Coffee on the go is definitely very common. Portions are small and expensive though.
    I love my own country, it has so many great aspects to it that are remarkable. But I would never claim that it is the best country in the world, like Americans do all the time. Best in terms of what exactly?? I would claim that living in Norway, you have a hell of a lot better opportunities, than being born in the USA.
    I do love America in some senses, but I just think people ignores the outside world in a sad way.

    pilke | November 22nd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  70. i agree with this article. unfortunately, a lot of american cities aren’t set up in a way where this type of lifestyle is possible. i live in LA and it’s really hard to get around without a car. it’s tough when the city is so spread out and getting out of my immediate area is such an ordeal.

    Melissa | December 2nd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  71. Europeans also use Homeopathic Medicine!

    In Holland and Germany, homeopathy is the most popular form of Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM).

    El Cecchetto | December 31st, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  72. I love European life. In my travels, I would see and speak to many of the natives of the European life and lifestyle, and can see so much in their MENTALITY how much better they live than us.

    The problem with many Americans is that we’ve taken the “I want more more MORE!” ideology to a degree that it’s destroyed our chances to really enjoy any “more” we obtain. I remember being in Europe, the average person isn’t out maxing out credit cards to own high end clothes or electronics. I don’t see many households that have big screen HD TVs. They don’t make work and their careers such a priority that they’ll spend every day and night in the office. They work, go home to lunch with the family, relax, then back to work, then out for a cup of coffee with friends. They’re not in the office early and staying late, then heading home to sleep a few hours or out to drink themselves into a stupor.

    I agree with the “eating better, but less” aspect also. I didn’t see many Europeans who took their coffee “to go” or even run to a fast food restaurant at lunchtime because they had to run back to the office. Yes there are some who were busy and had to work all day and late, but even then they told me this is once in a while…not normal as many Americans do.

    I think if Americans really want to live more like Europeans, then we need to SLOW DOWN. We need to stop thinking we’re “missing” something material and only realize we’re missing TIME in our lives. I live in Chicago, and I think about it. I have a grocery store and a drug store 2 blocks from my home. I have a bank 5 blocks from my home. Two cafes 2 blocks from my home, and a big station for buses and trains 2 blocks from my home. I chose my neighborhood because I wanted a more quiet life. I didn’t want to be stuck on the expressway to get downtown to pay money to park. I didn’t want to have that gigantic home that’s so far out in the middle of nowhere that I have to drive 30-45 minutes just to get groceries.

    I also don’t have heavy needs at times for materialistic items…just a need to do more in my free time and not sit on the sofa. I don’t have a HD TV. I don’t even have cable TV. I don’t drive a flashy car, but a small Chevy Malibu. Only time I spend money is when I travel. I just like the idea of a simpler life. Being close to my family, rather than moving far to life a “swinging bachelor” lifestyle.

    I think many Americans could find a happier life if they stop thinking life is all about a bigger paying position, a better car, a bigger home, etc. What good are all those things if you’re in the office 12-14 hours a day? How can you enjoy life if you’re constantly working, just to buy more “stuff”?

    Alex | January 4th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  73. I´m a German and I know America only from reading in the internet and some
    american friends.

    I think that in America many aspects of the “more and bigger” are only a shining facade. American middle class houses are bigger and have (often unused) grass yards, but …

    1. They buy it on stock share or credits and make themselve depend on the finance elite even more than here and when there´s a (i think planted) economy crisis, you experience hard times and aren´t prepared at all.

    2. The quality of the house construction is worse than here. We use solid and stable material, not this plasitc and paper stuff.

    This probably completes the posts about “less can be more”

    But I´m surprised, that nobody in this very interesting discussion have noticed the gap between the rich and the poor in the USA. People living in run down inner cities or trailer parks and more homeless people live in substandard housing and even sometime face hunger … anyway they must struggle with hard work to survive and to give their Chilren access to higher education, better job perspectives and so on.

    And I think that the public service system is more developed here. Not only the transport system, health care and social aid is quite better, but also the town planning. In America abandoned quarters rot and gangs and illegals take posession of it, while the state for years is doing already nothing.
    Public housing has a better reputation in Germany and people with the lowest income don´t have to live in trailers far from the services for the daily needs or even are endangered to live on the street.

    It´s very stressing for a society, when the lower middle class always is experiencing pressure not to fall

    But I don´t like it here, that you are forced to live like the state wants. Here in Germany this is very difficoult. You even aren´t allowed set aside the public infrastructure and services on your own responsibility. The bureaucracy tries to control almost everything. Living like the amish or mormons would be impossible in Germany!

    GermanBoy | January 7th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  74. I think Europeans walk and bike more, use public transit more and drive gas-efficient cars is directly related to the high cost of gas in europe as well as the fact that most of their cities are so old that it was built to be pedestrian friendly. That’s really not the case with a lot of our cities except for older cities like NY, San Francisco, Boston, Philly, for example, which are very pedestrian friendly. The fact that everything is bigger doesn’t mean that it’s bad; it’s a big country so there are longer distances between home and the stores and you need a car and you need to buy bulk in order to cut down on the shopping trips, hence the bigger fridges. We like big cars because they provide comfort. I’ve been to europe and seen those small cars and they look more like golf carts and look uncomfortable not only to sit in but to even drive in for more than ten minutes. As for our diets, yes we do have to cut down but we’re used to abundance and food being cheap hence the big meals; in europe food costs a lot more so they have smaller meals. As for Europe being more relaxed and communitarian, I think that we express these in different ways; we form and join and volunteer in many organizations and form bonds and friendships through the people we meet. It is true that I don’t like to dawdle over my coffee, but then again why dawdle over coffee when I can finish my work which gives me a sense of accomplishment and then go home or meet friends afterwards to relax and enjoy my time with them. Yes we do live with more but we enjoy it as well. Wendy, I think the way you write about our habits shortchanges us and gives people a false sense of how things are here. It sounds as if you have a case of the grass being greener on the other side. Just appreciate the differences.

    Ellen | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  75. Sorry Ellen, but your comment was full of the attitude that people around the world have come associate with Americans.

    “Yes, we drive big cars because we like comfort, and European cars look like golf carts”

    “Yeah, we eat a lot and we should cut back, but we’re used to having a lot of food”

    The fact is that we suffer from an addiction to excess, and to the degree that we make excuses for it.

    riomx | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  76. Well, I realize I am generalizing but if you want to live small in a European fashion go right ahead. It’s harder to live big in Europe than small in the US. And I’m sorry but those small Europeans cars do look like golf carts. I don’t think that we live in excess at all, this is how we live. You shouldn’t being so judgmental, riomx.

    Ellen | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  77. I’m not being judgmental – I simply pointed out the underlying attitude in your comments.

    Also, how am I being judgmental when you are mocking the cars that Europeans drive? That’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Finally, that’s great that you don’t think we live in excess. Facts can tell you exactly the opposite. Here’s a fun one:

    Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy.

    Want more? Go here: http://www.solarenergy.org/resources/energyfacts.html

    I understand that it’s not easy to be on the receiving side of criticism, but the fact is that as Americans, we all have to start making changes and stop forgetting that we enjoy our comforts at the expense of the rest of the world.

    riomx | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  78. Yes riomx, you are being judgmental. You don’t know anything about me except for what I wrote in that post and you made me and all americans out to be excessive…that is a judgment. And I’m not mocking europeans cars. They are small. They do look like golf carts. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings but that is how they look like to me. If americans do consume 26% of the world’s energy so what? We use that energy to be productive. Michael Phelps consumes 10,000 calories a day and he’s a top olympian swimmer, I don’t begrudge him the calories. Do you think if we consume less, that some other country would use more? That’s silly, if another country wants to consumer more energy and they could afford it they can go buy it. I’m sure the energy producers would be happy to sell to them. So we are not enjoying our comforts at other people’s expense.

    Ellen | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  79. “Do you think if we consume less, that some other country would use more? That’s silly, if another country wants to consumer more energy and they could afford it they can go buy it. I’m sure the energy producers would be happy to sell to them.”

    I really honestly don’t know how to make sense of that. I’m not even going to try. In fact, I don’t have the “energy” to do so.

    “If americans do consume 26% of the world’s energy so what?”

    This attitude says it all.

    riomx | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  80. It is not an attitude. It is a difference of opinion.

    Ellen | January 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  81. Good article, but let’s not forget fundamentals. The US has tons of open space and land. Europe is small and cramped so therefore having narrow roads with small cars makes sense. Let’s not bash Americans for living the way they want to live, afterall, that’s what freedom is about.

    common sense | February 7th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  82. I love this article. I tell my boyfriend all the time how much simpler life would be if we all lived by those types of standards. He laughs at me over planning to buy a moped to commute with, but I say “if its good enough for the Italians, its good enough for me.”

    Jayme | February 26th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  83. Yes I completely agree with this article as I have been all over both Western and Eastern Europe. It is so refreshing not to have to always depend on your own vehicle and practically anyone can get around in cities and the country on either trains or buses. What I still want to know though is like in major cities like Budapest or Bratislava, Slovakia does one need a vehicle to get around in like what we call in the U.S. “suburbs”? I have been to a friend’s house in Bratislava Slovakia and also have been to Budapest and seem like obviously in some places one does need a vehicle. But yet at the same time it seems so walking and biker friendly that if one didn’t have a vehicle and lived in their “suburbs” you could still get around with a bike or easy public transportation. Plus it’s convenient to have a vehicle when one does not want to always depend on the trains or busses.

    But on the other hand Europe has such good modes of public transportation that a person does not have to wait very long for the trains or busses. Where as in the U.S. reliability on public transportation sucks because the U.S. depends so much on people driving their own vehicles. I love Europe where almost all towns and cities are so much more accessible by foot, train or bus and almost everything is almost always within walking distance. The streets are narrow and much closer together than the U.S. I am just so sick of how the U.S. a person almost always has to drive to where they need to go it’s so pathetic that our public transportation is so poor. Even with our public transportation one mostly has to either hail a cab, or some kind of vehicle because the U.S. is not built for walking.

    Also I have always wondered how construction people work in Europe vs. the U.S. Like here in the U.S. we have the big box stores of Lowes and Home Depot. Do Europeans have stores similar to ours? Obviously Europeans also have a lot smaller truck or pickups than the U.S. but was just curious as how European lumber yards work.

    I find it also so fascinating where Europeans can go to the rural areas by train or busses even pretty remote areas and not depend so much on vehicles. One can go to farms by way of train or bus visit the farm, catch the train to a small town and such it’s so convenient.

    I also really like how coffee shops/coffee houses, pubs and restaurants are so comunication friendly, relaxed and people actually talk and have conversations. Here in the U.S. it’s turned into just get your coffee, food, or even sometimes beer and go. Here in the U,S, we are so built on we must always be working and even after working hours in coffee shops, restaurants, bars people have their damn laptops, get their coffee, food, beer and continue to work. I think coffee shops/coffee houses should either put a limit time on how long a person can work on a computer in a coffee shop/coffee house, restaurant or bar or ban laptops for certain times in coffee shops/coffee, restaurants, bars so people here in the U.S. can turn into more a European relaxed feel and actually have conversations. In Europe it’s so relaxed that anyone that goes can start some kind of conversation, get to know someone, get to know about the area. Then when the coffee shops, stores are shut for their time away go visit places or stuff and then in the evening one goes back to the coffee shops/pubs and or restaurants and has a good decent conversation with the locals and travelers.

    Mo | April 5th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  84. I have to add to my commnet. I wanted to comment on some of the other responders that think it’s so nice and convenient the American way where everyone can go to the huge stores always get their stuff like groceries pack their fridge and then stay home for months on end. Where as Europeans to it the right way where they buy smaller items and portions such as in their grocery stores and Europe is more built on communication than just go get stuff and stay home. The U.S. has gotten so use to the idea that everything we need we need a lot of it and that way we can pack our houses full of crap and food and then don’t need to talk to anyone and stay in our own little worlds or our own houses. Where as Europeans use the grocery store, resuatrants, coffee shops/coffee houses and pubs to get out, meet people have conversations. In Europe it’s mostly always an “experience” where as here in the U.S. where not built on experiences where built on rushing where one just needs to get get stuff and then rush back to theri work or home. I absoltuely love the European way to get out have a great conversation meet people while you shop, eat and relax. The U.S. hustle and bustle way is so not the way to go. I wish the “big box” stores would go away and we would turn to smaller type shops and grocery stores. Also I hope with this economy that SUV’s, hummers and big pickups trucks go Bye Bye and people use their heads and go smaller. We don’t need big stuff. Go SMALLER GO EUROPEAN!!

    Mo | April 5th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  85. Thank you Wendy for such a nice blog!!! I like and I really really love it. Now I have some idea about how the life is like in the US and one day i would like to come there but its so big I dont really know which place to visit I mean 50 states??? Yeah life is kind of easy here I mean everything is so cheap, in India for a bread it cost 10 Rupee compared to a One pound twenty nine pence and the traffic; its so smooth here.

    Pema | April 11th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  86. They also have a better health care system than the US

    Psychologist | June 15th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  87. this article is spot on, well done!

    Mark | June 21st, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  88. I lived in Belgium for a little over a year and a half and planned on living there longer but for various reasons had to return to the states.

    Loved it but also loved that fact that the position – my status allowed me to avoid paying the 21% VAT on everything you buy over there.

    I’m sure American’s wouldn’t be want to have to pay that in the US. I’d be happy to pay it, if I thought the money was going to something worthwhile. Like taking care of the elderly, I think about this more and more as I pass 50.

    As for better healthcare – certainly an arguable point – not that I think the US’s is good. I just know, if you are a regular citizen – you have to wait or pay for it yourself.

    I’m not talking hours or days but months. I have a friend whose father died before ever getting to his appointment – if he’d gone private – they could have seen him the next day. But that was the UK so maybe the continent is different.

    There are good and bad reasons for living in US and in Europe.
    During the cold war, the US had the job of protecting the free world.

    I doubt the USSR would have been too frightened of Western Europe not to roll over it if they felt the need – the reason I believe the reason they didn’t is they didn’t want to face down the US. I’m sure we didn’t want to face them down either (USSR).

    OK, you can all flame me now.

    I’m in the US now, but would love to go back to Belgium and maybe spend the rest of my life there – at least the area where I was – Mon’s about 20 minutes from the French border.

    Michael | June 21st, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  89. Reading this really makes me want to visit Europe that much more…

    I think this whole “more is better” attitude IS exactly what’s killing Americans. What’s even funnier is, I’m at a normal healthy weight, yet everyone constantly feels the need to tell me how “skinny” I am…..

    …Folks, wake up, I’m not skinny, most of you are just overweight!

    Travis | September 10th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  90. I am an American who has lived in Europe for the past 3.5 years. You have summed it up nicely. I still haven’t fully adjusted to the shops only being open from 10am to 5pm, but somehow I’m still alive! (that’s sarcasm, by the way. We don’t often NEED the things we think we need and can go very long without them!) I lived here for 2 years without a car at all. I biked everywhere, including to work in the rain. I have a huge culture shock when I come back to the states. But everywhere has their positive points. The space and nature in the US is fantastic (i’m from Seattle originally). Nature that is not planned by humans is hard to find over here. A lot of the beaches have sand shipped in. The mountains have streams that have been redirected or built up to protect the land. We have something special in the states…wilderness. Let’s protect it.

    Maggie | September 14th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  91. I also came across this blog by accident. I’m so glad I did. I now live and work in Dubai, after having lived in the US for a long time. As I grew up in the US I found its culture to be more and more immature and whiny. This coincided with the feminist/socialist takeover of the educational system in the late 70s. Radical feminists believe that the government should provide everything and that no one should have to do anything unpleasant, or be compared to others, or be judged in any way. So, for 30 years the US has been turning into a preschool culture in which teachers can’t talk about right and wrong, or about nutrition, or exercise, or attitude problems, or earning things through hard work. Teachers, unlike when I was a child, can’t discipline students–other than giving them a ‘time out’–and therefore don’t have any control over their students; just ask any inner city teacher in the US. Making money in the US has become paramount, even to the point of ignoring the well fare of its children. Since for 30 years children have been receiving a less and less rigorous education, devoid of not only sound fundamentals like reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, but also life skills training, they now, as adults, lack not only the academic skills needed to compete effectively in the global market, but also the basic life skills that allow citizens to follow mentally and physically healthy lifestyles. In short, Americans are generally becoming fat and stupid. And there is no sign that this will end any time soon, primarily because socialism and feminism have effectively brainwashed Americans into a state of stupor, one in which they cannot even see what they indeed are doing to themselves and worse yet their children. Another way to look at it is that Americans now have their priorities completely in the reverse order. For Americans it’s material things, wealth, power, and vanity–and then a vacation once a year where they pay enormous amounts of money to enjoy a quiet moment or two. For Europeans it’s family, friends, balance, and enjoying the small moments that happen each day. Europe has a balanced culture and happier people because that’s the way they want it, which means, I’m sorry to say, that Americans have the rotting and festering culture that they stupidly allowed members of their own culture to foist
    upon them. A quiet afternoon sipping coffee in an Italian cafe is worth much more than living in the rat race of New York City where a coffee costs you $5, it’s substandard, and you don’t have time to enjoy it. I know, I used to live there. When I moved to NYC in the early 80s it was dirty, but very livable. Now it is sanitized, very expensive, and very unhappy–just like many other places in the US. As the current American generation spawns an even more physically and mentally incapable progeny, it is almost impossible to imagine the US going on as a sovereign nation for more than about 50 more years. The Romans are a perfect example: After 1000 years of almost complete domination, they became fat,lazy, and drunk–thinking that they’d always be number ‘one’. Sound familiar?

    ART | October 16th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  92. It’s funny that now that I’m preparing for a long trip to Lisbon, I’m considering packing a bikini after reading this. I’ll be at my healthy goal weight by then and think my body looks great. I wouldn’t dare strut my stuff on a beach here but in Europe….

    DivaDivine | November 1st, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  93. There are more smart cars in Europe and Europeans take the rail more than Americans? Care to break that down by class and income? How do the upper crust, elite travel? Do they usually take the rail or do they travel when then want to in a nice over sized vehicle? I doubt they travel in smart cars or not many do,anyway. How nice of them to decide how everyone should live. Here in American it is more egalitarian. We nearly always have our own vehicle. We travel the way we choose regardless of class. The rich don’t get to take private transportation while the rest take public transportation.
    Europeans don’t mind taking hours to eat because there is nothing else to do. Going home to a cramped apartment in Europe is no fun either so one might as well dally over lunch.

    Karen | November 29th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  94. [...] temperatures — I still managed to make it for a week with a carry-on. That was all I took to Europe the summer before, too — for 22 [...]

  95. Thank you for the blog Wendy, it was really nice to read it. I´m from Austria, Vienna. I´ve been to the USA (Las Vegas Hollywood and NYC ) in December 2009 the first time and I LOVED IT!!!!
    First of all, yes, North America and Europe are different in many ways, but that makes it so exiting. I love my life here but I have to say we should give Americans time to rest. It is a young nation which developed to a wonderful country where you REALLY can make it – from a dishwasher to a millionar. Europe is too bureaucratic but that gives you a sense of security at the same time. We have a huge middle class whereas it seems not so in the states. We are definitely more open with sex, homosexuality and nudity in public (commercials, newspaper..) It´s interesting though that the US obtain the biggest adult film industries. Yes they do drive big cars, but as some mentioned before its adjusted to their environment. I´ve been to almost every city in Europe and appreciate the culture and history – but I never got so exited about a European city as well as for NYC. It has its own history – just think of that famous picture – workers without security, sitting on a steel girder while having lunch – this picture went around the world. Cities such as NY has got a wonderful modern architecture and parks. In Hollywood you can´t escape that special flair of the filmindustry and the pacific ocean. Las Vegas – wonderful hotels in various styles and attractions and not to forget the beautiful Grand Canyon and the nature which you cannot find in Europe anywhere else. I enjoyed so much travelling by a big car through the middle of nowhere in Arizona, only with a bottle of water and a cinamonbun from starbucks lol
    The only thing that shocked me was almost every food we consumed at places such as food courts or even inside our hotel (casars palace) you have to eat with plastic spoon, knife, fork and paper plates. This is not neccessary and bad for our environment and I think this should be considered to change.
    The US are destined to greatness and we Europeans need a “neigbour” who is different and strong, to share culture and learn from mistakes we ALL make and MADE in the past. It doesn´t matter WHERE you are born, it matters HOW you choose to live your life.
    America you´ll definitely see me again soon!
    Sorry for my English,

    Jasmin | April 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  96. Hello, I am an European and for me is very interesting to hear what is the European lifestyle for one American. I live in Bulgaria on the coast of Black sea. Even with population of almost 800 000 people, my city is not rushing and overload. We have a large city park and we spend the biggest part of the day under the shade of the century old trees. We every day from early April to late October spend our free time in walks, sport and so on outdoor activities. I really like the USA and its cities and I would like to visit it. But I am not sure if i can work in one country, where the people rush every day and minute :)))))). If you have lived a Mediterranean lifestyle could be very difficult to adapt in one so dynamic country as the USA. Best regards from Bulgaria, EU and thank you for your interesting article! Good luck!

    Ivaylo | April 13th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  97. [...] close by, as seen on the map above. Moreover, taking the lower smoking rates of Americans and the better eating habits of Europeans as inspiration seems like the best of both worlds. But where does all this leave the single [...]

  98. Closer communities? WTF? Maybe in the Med region. France, UK, Germany . They don’t know each other for anything. Public transport? Yes in the cities.. More relaxed? Maybe the med people once again; but I call it laziness. Europe is a great place,

    Jennifer | April 15th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  99. I’ve just been back to visit this comment thread, and love how it has kept going, for two years now! Clearly, this post struck a chord. Jasmin, I enjoyed the insights in your recent observations about some of the ironies of American culture – so true! And Ivaylo, I would love to visit Bulgaria one day. It is a European country not yet on too many Americans’ travel radar, which is all the more reason I’d like to get there sooner rather than later!

    Thanks again to everyone for participating in this conversation.


    Wendy Redal | April 15th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  100. americans are cold unfriendly people all they talkk about is how bad everything is and complain like a stupid little brats,
    I moved here to kansas and i have yet to have three friends that come over and want to do thing;s,
    It like they are paranoid and insecure and then if you talk to them all they care about is that your doing your silly job, or acting right like a stuck up little nerd,
    they wouldnt call you if it was the last thing on earth
    and the stupid independance thing here is really stupid too,
    Im 49 yrs old nice lookking down to earth and ni havent found anyone I can talk to thats not in a stupid hurry to go no where,
    shoot man,,, give me an Italian or mexican family anytime they care about each other america is too busy trying to show off for nothing for its non culture or no history,
    this place is totally materialistic toi the point of peopple talk on thier stupid cell phones more than together,

    aggrivated | April 24th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  101. I found your note by chance. I had to laugh. Of course Europeans live differently than we do. They don’t work a 40 hour week – anywhere! They aren’t required to work Sundays. They siesta for 3 hours when it’s hot. We do not have those luxuries (I can’t even spell that) here. We are required to do more for the same pay as people lose their jobs. PushPush is all we get. Better do lunch in 10 and get back to work or someone else will get that job. They also don’t have the expanse of space we do. You can travel all of Europe in hours. We can’t reach our borders in that much time. Don’t compare us to Europe. we are different. If you like it so much you have the choice of living there – permanently. A holiday is not every day life. Why do so many of them come here and take up residence if it is so good. I hate vacation travelers who compare every day living to their holiday. Get real.

    chris | April 25th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  102. mmm ii guess :\

    jasmine :) | May 5th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  103. i agree Wendy in general to your views, but i see that in very short time europe comes more similar esspecially in the quallity of living to USA.

    geojoili | May 6th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  104. I am an expat living in Europe now for just over 6 years. Initially the move was a very difficult adjustment. Having been used to living in the almost always over-accomodating convenience oriented and fast paced North American culture, I never would have thought a day would come when I would get used to no longer using a clothes dryer!
    Today, I can happily say that I live an enriched and healthy life with no dryer in sight! I have come to like the idea that daily living has slowed down. I have to pay when I forget my own shopping basket and cloth bags, but I dont mind (I rarely forget now). I have grown to love the small community spirit which is the driving
    force behind European lifestyle.
    I have been back home to visit twice now to see family and friends. I found myself completely overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of choices we are bombarded with! Oddly, as much fun as it was in the moment, given the choice I dont think I will miss out that much on the incessant consumerism that North American lifestyle has to offer!
    For me the ideal place to live is (naturally) one that includes all my loved ones, but remains a community that is combined with the friendly and open mindedness of the North American culture but also retains the traditional values of the European ways of doing things.
    We could all learn a lot from one and another!

    michaela | May 7th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  105. im so sick of people saying how much better europeans are. “ohhhhh, the men carry handbags, play handball, and swim naked. its soooo much more liberated than the puritanical united states.” stop bashing your own country and show some partiotism, although i do agree with driving smaller cars, it does make alot more sense than driving some hummer or land rover you absolutely don’t need.

    will | July 22nd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  106. I love your article…I have been living in Europe for 5 years and love but now have to move back to America…

    This makes me so sad…

    I was wondering if you can make any suggestions on American states that might have a similar European Esq like lifestyle :)

    Sky | August 22nd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  107. you havent been to every country in europe so your information isnt really that legit, in a lot of european countries they live way less healthy lifestyles than americans and dont bike or walk anywhere…..europe is very cool though, especially the abundance of quality nightlife

    2dishLASTBITE | September 22nd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  108. I saw Europe, but read mainly about Italy?? Italy is a very tiny part of Europe and not necessarily the best…
    If you write about Europe, WRITE ABOUT EUROPE for heaven’s sake!!!

    Anja | October 11th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  109. I came to the USA in 2002 when my son was eight y.o. Now he’s 16 and I don’t even know what happened in these eight years because all I did was working. It makes me very sad knowing that I would have to spend more of my life at work then with my son. I came here for my sons future but I’m disappointed now. We are all robots here. Christmas became a day of gift giving, no more. We need to stop and look around. I’m considering moving to Europe. Thanks.

    Aza | December 14th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  110. Indians are best……..

    many people eat nothing because they have no food to eat…

    Shaktiman | December 30th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  111. I must say Americans traveling in Europe obtain the “Tourist” version. Of course Europeans take more public transit, it is too expensive to drive. And the bikes – they simply cannot afford a car, or the gas to place in it. Also America was designed with your road network to drive it not to take a bus across it.
    I have lived in America for 20 years originally from Germany, and Europe is not all that you think. And taxes. You have not seen tax in America like there is in Europe, and you still get nothing for it.
    As for some Europeans I have met in America that do not like it here, it is because for one time in their life they actually had to work for their existence, instead of the government affording one for them.
    Also a lot of fat Europeans too, you are just not looking in the right places. I love America here you can be something, in Europe you will be what your luck will give you. I think Americans need to begin to embrace more of who they are and less of who they are not, because I can tell you europeans do not wish they are more like Americans, so why American want to be more like europeans? Strange very strange

    stefen | January 15th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  112. I love Europe, But I’d much rather live and stay in America… I think we have it the best on earth :)

    Mario | January 18th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  113. I lived in rural Ireland for 3 yrs and was so happy to return to my country. The Irish love their holidays here because stores and restaurants are always open; there is a wonderful selection of goods and services in all price ranges; if something doesn’t work right you can RETURN IT! Try that in Ireland.

    Yes, they have small cars in Europe, which correspond to their tiny twisty little roads and their gasoline by the litre prices. You simply cannot compare driving across Europe to driving across the US. Our country is so vast and varied, and it is as breathtaking as any country on earth. I love Germany and I love Ireland, but living overseas made me appreciate my country and realize how American I am. No, I’m not proud of everything our country does, but for the size and the number of people here I think we are fantastic.

    Martha Federle | January 20th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  114. Excellent post, Wendy. There is a myth that the standard of living in America is better than in Europe. I have spent a lot of time in Europe, and the clothes, the food, the architecture, the design are all vastly superior to the US. Europeans, I have to say, are smarter: they read more and watch less TV than Americans and they are much MUCH more aware of world affairs. That’s not strictly our fault: America is a long way from anywhere else, but that means we should make more of an effort. Sure you pay more for stuff in Europe, but Europeans earn more. The houses are much more substantial and solidly built (one British friend referred to American wooden houses as big ’sheds’). Everything is cleaner, classier, nicer looking. As for the poster who referred to Euro cars as ‘golf carts’: would those be Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Range Rover, Mercedes or Volvo golf carts’? I spent a year in the north of France and found the people to be incredibly open, friendly and warm. I never once was subjected to any kind of anti-Americanism. The British too are polite and friendly, but can be a little snotty with Americans (believe it or not, the largest number of ‘illegals’ in the UK are young US citizens overstaying their visas and working in bars and stuff illegally). I love my home (West Virginia) and there is a lot about American life I would find hard to give up, but given the chance, I’d move to Europe, just for the lifestyle and the way people interact with each other.

    Julie P | January 25th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  115. The grass is always greener …
    It is true that Western Europeans in general take the time to enjoy life more than Americans with all the time off, non-24hr society etc. However that comes with a price just as American society has its price. For example did you know that in the Netherlands there are not any 24 hour emergency anesthesiologist, surgeons, etc at hospitals. They do not work past midnight. In America you are lucky to have a vacation, maternity leave etc and the general idea is your job is your life and your personal life is second. However the progress in America is huge compared to such old cultures. All has a price.
    The grass is not always better, greener etc. and to lump all of Europe in a one go is a bit silly Italy is much different than Germany for example.
    Different yes better not really. Both have their good and bad.
    I know this after living in the USA and Europe not just visiting. Everyone ask which do you like better and i say it depends but the truth is my family is where I am happy and the rest is the icing on the cake :)

    RedPony | January 25th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  116. That’s bullshit. The US ranks 4th highest in human development, which includes standards of living, income, and employment. We rank higher than most European countries, so many people here actually have good lives.

    Conq | January 31st, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  117. The houses are much more substantial and solidly built (one British friend referred to American wooden houses as big ’sheds’). Everything is cleaner, classier, nicer looking.

    Anonymous | April 3rd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  118. The grass is greener on the other side… I’m European, and Everything mentioned in this article is exactly what I hate about Europe and I so much miss the American way, more space and convenience.. I mean do you really want to be forced to bike, because gas is 2 euros per liter?… But still I guess the grass is just greener the other side, when you have one, you want the other…too bad we can’t just trade passports..

    Jurgen | April 3rd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  119. this is an amazing aticle, america should not even be a county any more!!!!! because in 1945 the nuked hiroshima and nagasaki killed over 350,000 people!! then they seperated soviet union because of jealousy and then the separted yugoslavia because they were jelouse too!!! by the way i a from yugoslavia and i hate america and they started wars with afgan because they got mad because people over there have different laws and deferent culture and beliefs, and now with libya they came in to steal the oil but instead they started a war becaus libya needed the oil and not america!! u.s.a should be off the map!!! and europe is the best place in the whole world!!!!!!

    european!!!!!!!!!! | April 20th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  120. It’s a very interesting article to read and true in it’s points. Bit do not judge Europe as a whole because one country couldn’t be more different from it’s closest neighbour. I’m Portuguese and I live in Portugal and from what I’ve read above there’s a serious mistake being made besides considering Europe way of life as a whole that is judging Souther Europe as a whole too. There’s no siesta in Portugal unless you’re unemployed or work in some lost village in Alentejo (our kind of desert if I can say that). People generally has 1h to lunch and in the case of some retail workers 2h. I work 9 to 5 but the majority of full-time workers work 9 to 6 so the 40h dilemma of a post I’ve read is not true, Plus many of us work long after that just to have our job done with no extra-payment. Even in Spain not everybody has the siesta. I’ve got nothing else to say because considering all the previous posts together somewhere lies the truth about what the two sides of the Atlantic could learn with each other.

    Rita | April 20th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  121. I was born and raised in Germany (near Cologne), but have lived in the U.S. since my early twenties. Of course the two countries are different like day and night, there is no doubt about it. However, there are always pluses and minuses regarding Europe/Germany versus America, and in the end, they even out. Trust me. Yeah, the Germans have a pretty safe and cozy lifestyle, especially when it comes to their jobs and healthcare, but you are totally “boxed in” in that country. Starting a business, taking advantage of a talent or writing a book is almost impossible. You are kept in your place in a caste-type system, red-tape is exorbitant, and without good connections you won’t get anywhere and you stay a nobody. No all that glitters is gold. Trust me folks. Yeah, the pace is slower, but it also slows your brain. The people there are oftentimes lazy. Do they live longer than the people in the US? I don’t have the statistics on that. So again, after proper comparisons have been made, the differences are probably not that big.

    The girl who has lived in both worlds…

    Sherry Lorenz | May 24th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  122. After a 3-week trip to Europe to visit 3 of our exchange daughters, I totally agree with you! I loved it. It’s not that they don’t work hard, when it’s time to work, rather, life is more than just work. Friends family, the appreciation of life, your community, are more important. “Things” matter much less. It’s not perfect of course, but the positives out weigh the negatives for me. I’m tired of the rat race, and appreciate the difference. I realize life in a small village in Thuringia, and a dairy farm in Austria probably don’t represent the big picture there, but it certainly was fine for me.

    chuck weikel | June 7th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  123. The reason Europeans don’t “really” feel robbed about the gas price is because we’re used to it and the fact that we know our healthcare and social support is solid (atleast in The Netherlands).

    I find it interesting to read other people’s thoughts about Europe, but for west-europe i kinda feel like its just people living like ants , Finish your school -> work -> work >work.

    Then again it’s different then Eastern Europe and down south…

    I do think that the USA is a better country to really achieve goals in whatever you wanna do , there’s a big enough audience for alot of stuff! Where as in Netherlands for example , being in a good band or being on TV won’t really get you that far or even inventing stuff and releasing it here on the market. Wouldn’t lift-off like it could in other countries.

    Thomas | June 15th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  124. Europe is a continent of different countries. Not a nation like the US. Each country is different! I am European( French) to be exact, living in the American South. I thought when I was transfered here, I would hate it. Ignorant, lazy and uneducated people. Well, I was wrong. The weather is lovely most of the days, and people are so friendly you almost die. Yes, I had to get a car, because it was 26 miles from my home to my job!! This state is huge!!

    They have public transport for the big to medium cities but I like my car. I can go to 3 farmers markets on my way to work or natural health food store or Publix.

    I even teach a French cooking class at the local centre. Guess what, people are happy, cheerful and polite all of the time. My standard of living has raised as well. I have to buy my own healthcare ”yes” but in France health care is not free ”they tax” you for it regardless if you choose it or not.

    Have I gained weight since I moved here, No.. Its too hot! One more thing they are more equality minded than most Europeans. They encourage you, help you and try to support you.

    France is great but I like the South just fine..


    Aimee | June 15th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  125. The British too are polite and friendly, but can be a little snotty with Americans (believe it or not, the largest number of ‘illegals’ in the UK are young US citizens overstaying their visas and working in bars and stuff illegally)–

    — That is bullshit! The Pakistani/African illegals far outweigh any American student over-stayer.

    Everything is cleaner, classier, nicer looking. As for the poster who referred to Euro cars as ‘golf carts’: would those be Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Range Rover, Mercedes or Volvo golf carts’? —

    That is crap as well, where do u get this.. Maybe Austria/Germany but no-one else is cleaner than the USA and very few people actually can afford to run sports cars.

    They may earn more money, but they take home on average 20% less of it..


    There houses are made of brick because they don’t have severe weather like they do in the USA..– Cheaper to rebuild if it gets destroyed by a hurricane or tornado.

    I am British and I work in the statistics unit for the Home Office and trust me mate, US visa over-stayers are not a concern at all for any EU nation.

    The other commentator about the huge wealth gap in America.. Yes, it because Yanks don’t make others pay for someone else’s lazy/illegal ass.

    Claire | June 15th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  126. You are so superficial. I live in europe and do not know europe the way you descripe it. Europe is not a single country, it is a continent! What I know is similuar to what you describe in america, we are not that different…

    From europe | July 20th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  127. What has irritated me is that a lot of the American commentators complain about being generalised and then do exactly the same with Europe.
    Europe is a large place with many countries and cultures and visiting one country doesn’t mean all of Europe is like that. Plus someone you said could drove through Europe in hours, no you cant that is incredibly stupid, I couldn’t drive through the UK in hours. Europe stretches from the tip of the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal) to the Ural mountains in Russia and that is roughly length of US.
    Also just because the US is large country doesn’t mean it has to be spread out, you could have a job that isn’t miles away, for example a job in your town centre which you could cycle or walk to every morning and the applies to your shops.
    Also gun laws are stupid, you say you need guns to protect yourselves but it is isn’t 200 years ago when there was the frontier and native threats and so on and guns being so easily accessible cause more crime than they stop with the US having more murders than anywhere else in the world.
    Plus the EU’s GDP is higher than the US’s and the quality of life risen largely in Europe with more funding in national health services and free education that rivals private education in America and many other countries. All this means most European countries actually have better standard of life than the US does now and therefore the highest in the world.

    Huk | August 1st, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  128. Its funny that americans don’t understand how they live…and they like to argue that they think they live better than us just becouse they have everything bigger..sound like some complex of size..

    switz | August 23rd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  129. ellen, you are an idiot. You make us all look bad

    sara | December 17th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  130. Yes, I called that girl an idiot, that is because I have a bad attitude, and that is because I am a jaded American. I would just like to live somewhere that is safe. I am nearing $100,000 in debt all because I wanted to get a degree. I live in a tiny one room apartment, and I work full time and go to school full time. I don’t drive a car, and I can’t remember the last time I had a paid vacation. I have been fired for getting sick and using up more than my two day a year sick leave. My father has type one diabetes, he weighs 140 pounds and has a cancerous growth in his intestines, but can’t see a doctor because his two, that’s right two insurance policies won’t cover pre-exsisting conditions, (the diabetes makes him a bad candidate for all insurance companies) so it’s likely that his cancer will grow and he will die. All the better for insurance companies who find it cheaper and easier if we drop dead. Where can I go and live where a. M.A. in English and International studies is something of value. How about medical care so I won’t be forced to watch a loved one die? Oh yeah, America great place to live, if they let you.

    sara | December 17th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  131. I would also like to throw in that I don’t generalize Europe as one place. I understand that Germany is different than France, just like our east coast is different than the west coast, then there is everything in between. As far as a prevailing myth that we are lazy and/or ignorant, I would like to point out that we are the most overworked developed nation in the world, and has been since the brief period in the 1970’s when we worked a little less than others. I digress…does anyone else have any ideas as to why it is so difficult to obtain information or news about ANYTHING that goes on outside the U.S.? We have been surrounded by a giant invisible wall, which is why we have the reputation of being “ignorant”. We are because news from outside the U.S. is not only few and far between, but it is also tampered with by a guy named Rupert Murdoch…ah capitalism at it’s best. Where you can even buy up the mindset of an entire nation.

    sara | December 17th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  132. @Finnish No I dont agree wirh you. What she described is everything right. I didnt mentioned yet because its my everyday life. Bit when somebody points at it, you can see it.

    Maybe its not the fact in northern europe but it really fits for central and south europe.

    GermanMan | December 24th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  133. Okay… I can see continental Europe being all of that; but Great Britain’s probably more similar to America in the fast-paced Anglophone lifestyle. We ARE similar to other Europeans in that we prefer welfare for healthcare. However, I could take ’some’ parts of the more developed culture. Europe’s had many wars, then two WORLD WARS to top off. We’re more group-for-the-greater-good-minded than the more individualistic mindset of the Americans. Not to say it as an insult, but it’s hard to iterate. Some people consider the USA backwards in it’s heavily consumerist-capitalist system. Admittedly, there are shopping centres all over GB, but in comparison of healthcare, the USA is the only major developed country without universal healthcare.

    British Bulldog | February 27th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  134. I absolutely love this post! 2 years ago i worked pt at pizza hut and you can really see the difference in how Europeans eat when they come to the store. A family of 4 came in once and ordered one medium cheese pizza to feed them all. I asked “is that it” and the father responded that is more than enough. Needless to say they all looked to be in great shape. Whereas the average american is ordering 2 large pizzas to feed 3 people.

    No exaggerating…i have never seen an overweight european. Never underweight either. Just right.

    simplyamazing | March 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  135. The “drive through” is a perfect example, although I can’t seem to see myself
    savoring a Big Mac for a couple of hours while enjoying the ambiance. The attitude that our way of life is second to none is what prevents us from experiencing la joie de vivre. We could talk about this ad infinitum. I found the best way to get a point across is by power of example. There are great things in Europe and this country. We have to slow down and enjoy them. If we can keep an open mind, try new foods, experience cultural diversity and just talk to each other, we might enjoy life a little more.

  136. west europe, germany =First world
    japan, rest europe, North america =second world
    others =third world

    THE EU IS RICHER THAN NORTH AMERICA | March 18th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
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    Valerie Gleaton | March 26th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  139. I have lived on both continents. I like the like the feeling that you can do anything in America, and the vastness of the continent; the mythology of the cross country road trip, and the the particular charms of the various parts of the country. I don’t like the corporate domination, a general feeling of corruption and not knowing what to believe, and the market dominated culture in general which reduces people to slaves who work/buy/work/buy and spend their lives drowning in debt.

    I think you can avoid this trap somewhat in the US if you’re mindful and resist following the crowd/worrying about what others think. However, there is always something. Many people go to college and find themselves saddled with $50,000 to $100,000 in student loans, which doubles with interest in a very corrupt system, for example.

    European life is more humanistic and enjoyable in many ways. I feel content there, and find life less of a struggle. It doesn’t have the feeling of endless possibility, nor the abundance of choices the US has. But as someone said, there is no perfect place.

    Cate | March 27th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  140. Those are really good points. thanks

    energy careers uk | March 28th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  141. As a European I do not believe the European way is better. Although I agree on the fact that Europeans have a stronger sense of community and that the quality of what is offered in supermarkets and eating habits (no superized fast food portions and that kind of noinsense) are probably indeed way better in Europe, it is not all sunshine here.

    Europe is full of public transport as distances are short.

    Europeans walk an bike more because distances from and to work are peanuts. Distances to everything are peanuts. For many Americans walking to their work would probably be insane. One would probably arrive by the time one is supposed to leave.

    Europe is full of small cars and, believe me, one will start understanding why when trying to park a bulky SUV somewhere in a cramp medieval city centre. Had it been spaceous, it would have had big cars.

    Europe is car country. It is full of high tec, state of the art cars. Very fuel efficient cars. That is because the high taxation on gas making for high gas prices. Had gas been lowly priced noboday would probably have ever given a damn about fuel efficiency.

    Europeans on the one hand seem relaxed and have a lot of vacation as compared to Americans. On the other hand, however, stress level is higher as Europeans work their butts off in less time. Dont forget, the EU competes the hell out of the US economically and is a very successful place (e.g. is the largest investor in the US, has more Fortune 500 companies than the US and China combined, has more small business percentagewise, etc.). This was not achieved with a welfare mentality but by means of hard work. I am pretty convinced that most Americans when visiting Europe happen to see all those “relaxed” Europeans sipping their cappucino in cafes for hours when they just happen to be there. They dont see the same Europeans during the remaining 99,9% percent of their lives when they are sipping bad coffee from a machine…. at work. In general one can say that a good job comes with good conditions and an average job with less good conditions. I assume this will be exactly the same in both Europe and the US.

    Naah, although I prefer the European way (the North Western European way :-)), this is due to the fact me being European. To me Europe will always be “the best place” on earth, but inreality I believe in reality Europe and the US cannot be compared. Neither is “better” or “worse”. Both are jusf different. And there is no good or bad. And that is good because what would you travel for otherwise? To see and enjoy the same you have at home? Could just as well have stayed then.

    Naaah, the difference betwee the Americans and Europeans can probably best be described as:

    To Americans 100 years are a looooooooooooooooooong time.
    To Europeans 100 miles are a looooooooooooooooooong way.

    See? Not better or worse. Just different.

    Kasper | March 28th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  142. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you Nonetheless I’m experiencing situation with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting an identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

    Isidra Sulipizio | April 11th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  143. Hi Isidra,

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    Valerie Gleaton | April 13th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  144. Hi Valentina,

    Unfortunately that’s not something we can control on our end. Do the email notifications you receive have an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom? If not, you might also try deleting your original comment, or let me know and I can do it for you and see if that does the trick.

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    Valerie Gleaton | April 13th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  145. I agree. Comparison cannot be done between European vs American lifestyle. However European lifestyle is better for people who are content and want to live life to the full and enjoy finer things in life, whereas American lifestyle is better if someone is growth oriented and restless..

    I found a similar discussion here as well : http://europetravelanswers.com/why-europeans-are-so-slow/

    Preeti | April 21st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  146. I am from Sweden, Stockholm and have been living in California SF Bay Area for 5 years and enjoyed it a lot the first 2-3 years and been to most US states before I even moved here. Now I live in India for some time.

    It is true that there is no perfect place; there are always pros and cons with everything.

    Also, whether we like it or not, US was a European colony long time ago and was populated with European immigrants before its in-dependence.
    So of course there are more similarities than differences, and we all have the western values.

    Generalizing is always risky, even within US you see lots of differences from state to state as well as between city vs. suburbs and/or rural areas. The same goes for europe.

    Many of my US friends living in the suburbs do not want to put their foot in the cities and the same goes for the friends living in the city that do not want to live in the suburbs since very little going on there.
    It is all about personal preferences and I think the same is true when comparing US vs. Europeans lifestyle.

    I would say that people in SF, NY, Boston, and Chicago live closer to a European city lifestyle with public transportation etc than the rest of US.

    Even Europe/EU with its different states are as diverse as US and it states. You cannot compare the north European states with the south Europeans even if there are lots of commonalities and differences.

    When comparing my experience between San Jose (and also wider SF area) to Stockholm:
    1) The same opening hours on stores Mon-Sun, but Safeway had 24-hour open, which is nice when working late.
    2) In SJ, you live in this AC bubble Home-Car-Office where you do not meet so many new people as you might do in subways, busses and walking etc in Stockholm.
    3) Cheaper cars, gas, electronics and clothes in SJ than Stockholm
    4) Faster and cheaper Fiber based Internet in Stockholm (100MB/S or 1000MB/S) than SJ.
    5) Less choice and competition (resulting in more expensive) in CA than Sweden when it comes to Electricity, Water, Telecommunication, TV.
    6) Less vacation (~3w) in US and you have to spend almost 1day also doing your taxes etc. In Sweden it is 5 or 6 weeks and most people travel to different places in asia, Europe, US, Caribbean. Doing your Swedish taxes takes in most cases 10min online.
    7) The US is a mix of ’state of the art things’ and of very old and resistant to change. US is the only country left (except one in Africa and one in Asian) in the world to not adopt the metric system for example.
    8) Everything related to the government seems very old and not efficient, the US Tax code is one example. Also the lobbyist and all special interests groups’ influence on lawmakers seem not so democratic in my eyes.
    9) The media in US seems not so strong and independent and does not scrutinize the government, companies and society as I have seen in Sweden and other parts of Europe. The government in europe is afraid of the people and in the US the people are afraid of the government
    9) The weather is much better for sure in CA than Sweden except the Swedish summer in the archipelago that is absolutely fantastic.
    10) The party night life is very short in SJ, everything closes at 1:30 in SJ/CA compared to 03:00 or some places 05:00 in Stockholm. On the other hand go to Vegas, and then it is similar to Stockholm.

    Magnus | May 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  147. Very nice article. I moved to Europe from the States for many of the reasons you pointed out. No more stress about healthcare, and ridiculas property taxes.

    mark | May 6th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  148. Well hello!

    I’m a young European woman. I live in Belgium (between France and Germany). I just want to clear out that we do not all drive those little cars. That is just typical for the Italian culture. Also the ’siesta’ is only typical for the southern countries. But we do not drive your ‘big’ cars either.

    Greets from Belgium

    Nele | May 13th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  149. Living in Belgium is fantastic by the way!

    But I guess you Americans don’t understand. We Belgians have a difficult history of repression and revolt. We pay a lot of taxes, but we get a good pension, extra money for vacation. We have on of the greatest health-systems in the world. The education is very good in schools. And going to school is pretty cheap. For 1 year university you pay 500-600 euros registration fee and a 500 euros for your books. All the rest is payed by the government.
    And about the 21% VAT.. our salaries go up when there is a rise in prices in the market. By the way, our country rebuilt the economy from scratch in 50 years time after World War 2.

    We work heard, we want to work heard. So we can go to our families at home on a pleasant hour of the day.

    Don’t think we are lazy! Because we are not!

    Nele | May 13th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  150. I wish we had siestas in the US. It just seems unnatural and wrong to spend a beautiful day trapped indoors working, when one could enjoy the mid day outdoors the way mankind was meant to enjoy it.

    Erica | May 15th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  151. Amen to folks who know how to live. NOt that everything is perfect in Europe and awful here.

    The biggest complaint I have with living in the US is the absolute necessity forr cars once you leave the East coast. ONe reason aging is so traumatic here is that once you can’t drive your freedom to go places is gone if you don’t have reliable and willing family or friends to help out .
    If more time is spent walking and staying in shape it’s more likely older people can still manage to ride a bike and walk to the store. They can keep their independence so much longer than you can in this car dependent place.

    Bridget | May 23rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  152. What you say is mostly true, but it must be taken in context. Having lived in Europe for years I’ll agree they walk more and take more time in all they do. But don’t beat up American cars. The difference between here and there is distances. You live in Colorado. Try a smart car if you want to take a quick trip to Phoenix. You could put several Europes inside America and there lies the rub. We travel 30 miles and don’t give it a thought. Europeans do all that they do within a mile or so. That’s why bikes are common and walking is normal. The size of your average American city simply won’t allow European habits. That’s why their trains work so well – very short distances between cities.
    But you are correct about food. I never gained a pound over there. Eat, walk, enjoy.

    Rick | May 27th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  153. Hello everyone,
    I am from Albania (some where in east of Italy or North of Greece).
    This post looks very international and I like it.
    I am an engineer and I work usually from 9am ~ 6pm, from Mo to Fri.
    I have been working in Italy, Austria, South Korea and the last Japan in Kawasaki city.

    Many eu people tent to study the language of the country where we go.
    Me personally I can speak very well Albanian,English,Italian,Japanese (my wife is Japanese),German and understandable Korean and Spanish.

    What I have seen mostly from Korean, Japanese and USA people is that they ask us what we eat or what we do for living. (that’s not so important to me personally because everyone has his/her own taste)

    I wanted to say that we like to learn the culture from studying the language of the country and ask the local people about their history. When we understand many histories from reading and hearing then we decide how to make our life style.

    I hope to go in USA, my boss promised to me and surely I will go to New York maybe in December. I am very exited about that.

    Please do not misunderstand from above is just what makes me think about.

    Jon Gala | May 27th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  154. I lived in England and travelled in several countries in Europe. Loved the experience but couldn’t wait to get back to the U.S. (California). Lots of friendly people throughout the U.S. and better food!

    Vicki | May 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  155. Very interesting read. You are an open-minded person. As a European (Greek) myself, if I can contribute a little to the discussion, there are big differences between western-central Europe and the southern Mediterranean Europe. Even in the South there are big differences between the Italian peninsula and the Balcanic countries. Differences in terms of economic power, which affects the way of life. Anyway.
    These five subjects that you put are indeed more or less the way you described. Personally I don’t drive a car and I do all my businesses on foot, or with the bus. To have a car is surely more comfortable, than the bus, but I don’t like to have such a burden as to maintain a car. Plus I think I’m an idiot and I can’t drive, and at the same time shift the gears, talk, hear the radio, watch the road, watch out for cats crossing carelessly the streets, children, or old ladies. (lol)
    Generally I eat home-made food, but once in a while I eat “junk food”, because dirty things tend to be more tasty…
    When we go out for a coffee we sit for two hours there at least, but maybe we are the exception, most Europeans sit for half an hour, or one hour at most.
    Small shops close between 2 and 5.30 pm reopen and stay until 8.00 pm. Services as banks, post and public services in general close at 2.30 and don’t reopen. Of course in private sector things are different. Super-markets are open from 8.00 pm to 8.00 am. And also some multinational chains like Media Markt, and every economically healthy enterprice with many employees.

    Konstantinos | June 16th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  156. Your comments are true. I would like to point out some other areas, namely, urban living, which in some ways has disappeared in the US; no, I’m not talking about a few good cities like NYC or Chicago. But, the US is too full of stupid shopping centers, surburbs, and exurbia communities which offer nothing in the way of cultural vibrancy. Conclusion, from ancient Greece onwards, the US is woefully backward culturally; bad inner cities, trash architecture, simply no cultivation of beauty, and make no mistake about it, North America is a beautiful spot; but our esthetic values are making the country ugly. Time to shape up.

    Lee Paxton | July 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  157. I am a Southern European (Italian) and think that the famous siesta is more a myth than an actual way of life. in facts only those few people who run their own small shop in a small town enjoy a three hours break every day, while most people with a normal job have just one hour for lunch and they can’t leave the office at all.

    Alessandra | July 10th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  158. Wendy,
    I think you are missing many things. I have worked off and on in Europe for many years.

    1. Europeans walk and bike more. Yes, in cities designed 400 years ago the streets are impossible compared to modern freeways and highways in the US. Yes I do love those ancient cites with narrow streets anyway.

    2. They use more public transport. The US is massive and could never use public transport effectively. Also, cars and gas are super expensive loaded with monstrous taxes and many Europeans are poorer than Americans and often can’t afford the kind of cars Americans buy.

    3. Food is better. Yes, I agree food is wonderful however it is again incredibly expensive and that is the main reason why portions are small. Europeans would use doggy bags if the portions were bigger. I paid $37 for a hamburger in Norway that was at best a $5 burger in the US.

    4. Your example in Croatia is classic of the horrible customer service in Europe which I experienced many times. Could you imagine telling a customer in the US well ” tell your friends to wait.” The US gives you a choice of fast food or sit down. BTW many Europeans rave about American service.

    5. Europeans are more relaxed. You then list Less hours open and closed on Sundays. When I was in Greece, I tried for hours to get an anti-biotic for a throat infection, it was horrible. This is a two edged sword.

    I am not anti-European, I really do love Europe but your list are in reality negatives.

    gary | July 15th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  159. Wendy, if I may say I found your article inaccurate, not completely but in many aspects, yes. Europeans DO NOT LEAVE MORE RELAXED THAN AMERICANS, thats a fact. Have you ever worked here? Have you ever tried to deal with a European business man in Czec Republic? File for a government document in France? Do not go to far, ask for something extra (eg ketchup, tabasco sauce, whatever….) at a cafe in Paris? You will loooooooooove customer service in the US, here (beacause I live here and I am American) that just does not exit. Customer service is the worst ever!!! You have No idea, at all! They live under such a stressful life (in the middle of an economic crisis) they have to plan everything in far advance (which adds more stress to their lives) in order to survive, not to “embrace leisure life”, trust me!
    As a tourist, you might have found everything nice and cute, the truth is Europe is not a friendly continent, things here take much more effort than in North America, space is very limited thus quality of life is comprimised many times…rents are expensive…Did you ask how much is the rent for a flat in Rome, Milano a, Florence? and whats the average income?? You will find stress on the math result!

    Read the previous post of the Italian person, I live in France and it’s a never-ending live in a rush to keep up with the everyday expenses….

    Gustavo | July 16th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  160. Just got back from a trip to Deutschland (3 weeks). Previously lived there for 7 years.

    Germany is still some 70 to 80 percent forested if I’m not mistaken. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are allowed to be sold but not cultivated (except GMO potatoes for making paper products). Fresh bread and meats every morning from the local bakery and butcher. Labor still has a prominent voice in Germany and most firms all have a labor rep on the board so corporations can’t treat you as they wish, i.e., decide to ship your job away without even consulting the workers. Germans are starting to become an overweight society as well but extreme cases are rare. Beer is considered food (usually Weiss bier-wheat beer) because of the B vitamins that are replenished as the alcohol takes them away. Just FYI, BMW,Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, and VW are German and do you honestly think the only place they sell these are the states? Try driving on the autobahn at 130 mph (the US interstate system was modeled after the autobahn…the most advanced highway system in the world—their highways are built to last and usually are twice as thick as us highways (and no potholes!))

    I am seriously contemplating moving back. If I were to stay in the states I would have to own a ranch and have to be almost entirely self sufficient from the system as we are no longer a constitutional republic as the founders intended. We were usurped by London’s intl bankers in 1913. As Europe is also in the grip of said bankers, socialism is better than corporatism-(fascism) which is where we are in the states now. With fascism comes concentration camps and massive disarming of the citizenry (not in that order). Germany still has a sizable manufacturing base and social protections. 6 weeks vaca, if you are sick you are sick–not “you can only be sick two weeks max” usually always get a work contract and trade schools are payed for because you don’t get accepted unless there is an open position- (you go to school for two days and the rest of the 3 days is job. Germany is still the second biggest exporter in the world (after China) with some of the highest labor costs in the world…. Explain that (smile). The best and brightest go into politics or eng./science. Ex: Angela Merle has a doctorate in chemistry NOT law! These people can talk you out of anything…your job,your pension etc. Bottom line it is socialist but is that still not better than letting companies do ANYTHING they please to you? The Anglo American empire was built on slavery, drugs and perpetual warfare—and very cheap labor because that’s the only way they can compete—(by cheap labor I am not talking about the few very well-paid superheros). The real world is about science and engineering, not finance capital—the most ruthless force on the planet. Economic engineering/warfare is bringing all of humanity to the cusp of another world war. Neo… The matrix has you! Another very interesting note is that china puts engineers and scientists before financiers—after all, all they have to offer the world is paper—at interest to all individuals and governments that succumb to their power.

    Rominger | July 23rd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  161. Correction: forested area in Germany is 31.8 percent and 46.8 percent is used for agriculture…. Which is still a lot of green! Whoever employs the best German scientists wins. Thank you Germany for making Americas middle class possible with your inventions. Thank you also for your devotion, dedication and hard work and loyalty. 24 percent of the American population can trace their roots back to Deutschland. Thank you for your hard work, dedication and never flinching loyalty to your new fatherland. Signed… Swedish/ Icelandic American Indian

    Rominger | July 24th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  162. It was really funny to read this article and most of the comments. But I don’t know if I can agree with all of it.
    I live in Vienna, and yes people here use public transport and bikes, but still people love their cars, and use them though the gas price is high. Also I don’t have the feeling that people are extremely relaxed and the coffee to go is becoming more and more popular. The sitting around with a coffee and having a siesta every day seems to be the romantic picture tourists get when they are in southern countries like Italy, Spain or Greece, but this is not reality. People there also work for their living and are not financed by the state (though luckily we get help from the state if we should get unemployed).
    For sure there are some things in Europe that make your working life easier. As employee you have rights and they can’t just fire you, at least not immediately, we have more vaccation days and public holidays and we get an extra bonus twice a year . But still I think there are a lot of people in Europe that work 24/7 to make career or because they are simply forced to do so. I also read in one post that no one in Europe works 40 hours a week, that’s wrong, count me one of them :-).

    What IMO makes living in Europe really better is:
    - We have a working healthcare system. I know that it is also becoming more of a 2-class system in the last years but still I never heard of a person that had to die because therapy was denied.
    - We have strict weapons laws. I will never understand what kind of freedom it is when I am allowed to carry a weapon e.g. an automatic gun that is only produced to kill as many people as possible in a short time.
    - We have a strict seperation between the state and religion. I can’t imagine that something like the tea party movement could be possible in Europe.
    - People won’t sue you because of everything. When I hear (from my college from the US) that people are afraid to perform first aid because they might the sued if they do something wrong e.g. breaking a rib when they reanimate someone, then I don’t understand the world anymore.
    - Double moral standards: It’s a big scandal if you see a blank breast (nipplegate) on TV or if someone runs around naked in his garden but on the other hand many US movies/series/commercials show nudity and the porn industry is big. In Europe people are more relaxed about nudity in general which is somehow natural.

    seratia123 | July 29th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  163. We Americans do work harder and our employers are bullies. We do like to eat good food and drink until we pass out. We drive big cars, tend to be really extreme Christians (especially in the southern region of the US) but yet everyone always tries to imitate us or come here to gain what used to be the American dream….

    Shantel | August 18th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  164. Germany does not care for African Americans!

    Shantel | August 18th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  165. Oh my gosh , have none of you Americans been to New Jersey ? Where there’s a downtown area in every town along with friendliness from like everyone? Where I live I could walk to my downtown area(I don’t live in a city,just a small town) which has bakeries,grocery stores,cafes,a movie theater,an icecream parlor,cute restaurants,wonderful public transportation(u could easily get a bus to like anywhere,ny too :),GREAT bagels,an arcade,thrift stores,other clothing stores ,parks,and pizzerias. :) new jersey and a lot of the east coast has these kind of places. I can’t believe no one has mentioned this yet! :0 some of u guys make the us sound like a horrible place. And I live in a quiet suburb place with a wonderful downtown , not a city. Some of u guys need to look for more European esche places in the U.S. , the U.S. is huge don’t paint it all the same color!

    Jadecocacola :) | September 8th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  166. Thanks for the article, Wendy!
    I totally agree with you! I’m an 18 year old girl living in Chicago and i have visited Spain many times. Ive also been to France and Italy. The way Europeans live is so much healthier and calm. They don’t worry as much about being late or having to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to work because most of the businesses there open closer to 9am. Europeans have better morals and to me, they seem smarter than we are. They mature more quickly and they just seem to enjoy their lives alot more than Americans. Of course with alot of European countries going through a recession now, their lives arent as care-free as they used to be. But i would trade everything just to be able to live the European culture. If i could wake up and walk down the street for coffee with a friend, i would! I feel like when i go, i have alot more freedom, which is why everyone i’ve met in Europe have been so laid back.
    Thank you once again!

    Marie Casablancas | December 12th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  167. North American and European culture is sooooo different. For one north Americans live to work. What are we always doing? Work. High school and university kids have part time jobs. Practically everyone is always working. Everyone is always in a hurry- to get to work. We’re always stressed out. Why? Because we work and go to school. 24 hour stores are everywhere in north America. Money matters in NA. People waste their precious time working for minimum wage. hospitality is key in NA, not so much in Europe (talking from my personal experience.) NA is the land of wide roads, huge vehicles, huge people, high strung lifestyles, free public washrooms, 24 hour stores and the customer is always right attitude. Europeans on the other hand work to live. They really live the dolce vita. My relatives in Serbia go on holidays all the time for months on end and guess what none of them work except for one of my relatives and even he doesn’t work very much. In italy we tourists wanted to get a snack in the middle of the day. Not one store was open. Hello? We called out as a tumbledweed blew by. This was inconceivable in north America. How could they pass up dollars for free time? But that’s exactly what they do in Europe. (btw they were having a siesta) poor babies… Europeans don’t care if you’re inconvenienced.. Wanna use a washroom- hand over a euro. Europeans wanna live the good life and who can blame them? We’re the suckers. Europe is also the land of quality and NA is the land of quantity. Whatever floats your boat. Better to live in Europe and to be a tourist in NA.

    Mkat | February 5th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  168. Hi, I am European exactly from Slovenia former northern Yugoslavia, you probably won’t see it on the map because it’s extremely small(Size: 21000 square kilometers) :D.

    I see that a lot of Americans write on this forum that life in USA is stressful, completely different in comparison with life in most of European countries.
    But for info we gained our rights(free education for everyone, free medical treatment, only 1% of unemployed … ) SFRJ(Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia). I don’t want to make any promotion or advertisement for socialism because it had bad things as well.

    But now when we are finally independent for 22 years and we are slowly but surely loosing these rights because capitalists want profit and they are ready to sacrifice what we gained only for them to have even more money and they don’t care if we like it or not. Specially now during the economical crisis.
    Currently in Slovenia employes are protesting for over 3 months to keep their rights.

    All I want to tell you is that we fought for our rights and we will have to fight even harder to keep them. So try to fight out what you miss nobody will give you freely what you wish.

    I apologize for mistakes in my text.
    Greetings from Eu

    Martinus | February 8th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  169. I’m German and I like the more relaxed way of living people in the Balkans, Romania or Northern Africa enjoy.

    You need a decent warm and dry home, good food, education, health care and a bit of money left for your personal dreams. That’s it. The rest of the life is about enjoying it, about community.

    Life is not just about working, shopping, working, watching TV, working and shopping…

    The good thing is that I have the choice and I use it. I still do work 40h/work but at least it is work that I like and I enjoy the rest of my life and the 8-10 weeks of vacation.

    I never visted the US, just a little part of it.

    I think the nature is great over there, also the low population density could be a positive thing, I also envy the sunnier climate (I don’t mind the winter itself, but we really could do with less of those grey rainy days).

    I hope that you still have choices over there in US. If people really like to work 70h/week and own three cars, let it be (not discussing the limited resources here), but I hope that it is possible to chose a lifestyle working 20h/week and commuting by bike, too.

    In the end it’s about quality of life!

    I’m quite interesting in the development of China, too. They make huge progress on one side, but I hope that they will not become to enslaved in their ultracapitalism.
    On the other hand you have that Tibetan lifestyle. If you think the average(?) European is relaxed come and visit Tibet…

    Ceph | February 8th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  170. I’ve always wanted to travel to every continent, but really, Europe is the only one that I want to live in. Not just because I think that some of it’s countries are less rushed or more “community over convenience”, but because it is just so pretty, or so easy to go a beautiful place to “get away from it all.” I really hope that Europe and all the other continents are able to stop the gradual Americanization of their culture.

    John | February 9th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  171. I agree with pretty much all of this. Unfortunately, most american towns… the suburbs… were built during or after the industrial revolution. Our advances in technology, and the mindset that came along with it (the drive and ambition to have everything bigger and better) directly resulted in the planning and building of and endless suburban sprawl, and they were designed to be driven around, not walked. Everything is spread out, unlike in old european towns where most things are within a reasonable walking distance, and where pedestrians have been a part of the culture so long that walkways and bike paths are built in. In fact most of the towns in europe that I have visited have been so small and compact that it would really be highly impractical and uncomfortable if everybody drove large SUVs. They drive small cars because you kind of have to. The roads are old and narrow and they were there long before Suburbans and Navigators were invented. I think we ought to really petition our mayors and city planners to consider bicyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation. It should become a priority in our country not only for the environment but for the health of our people. Of course, once you take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes in regards to “the institution” and their regard for public health… well you’ll find out, “they” are far more interested in a healthy bank account than a healthy people.

    Maribelle | February 26th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  172. I’m pretty sure I should’ve been a European…sheesh Americans!?!

    Shelly | February 26th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  173. Part of its true but the relaxed part surprised me, I find Europeans to be uptight esp. In comparison to W coast USA.

    Rome | March 7th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  174. Maribelle is correct in her description and one reason is as stated, Europe was built in the days of horses and carriages. That’s why their cities all have the ridiculous tiny narrow cobbled streets that fit one tin can Fiat in its entire width, and why many of the buildings have no elevators. Or have an elevator that require you to manually pull open a shutter door from a century ago.

    The other reason which nobody has thought of is the dead obvious fact that European countries are small and have no land. Even the large European country is smaller than any of our top 3 biggest states, so what do you think? Have you guys looked up the mind blowing population density figures of European countries compared to the USA?

    I think you guys easily lose sight of the best things the USA was blessed with by God be state you were born here.

    Anonymous | March 8th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  175. I read your article but was more fascinated with the comments. I cannot believe the amount of people dumping on the U.S. The only two cents I can add is that I’ve been to Europe once. I went to Budapest which is my wife’s native country. I could not imagine living there. It was and is boring. America is fast and exciting. You can take your bikes and economy cars and shove it. Couldn’t even find a pharmacy easily in Budapest. I think most of the posts on here are from people who are jealous of America. Why is it that most Europeans want to visit America but not most Americans want to visit or live in Europe. Sure you get some Americans who want to visit Europe on vacation but most want to go back home. Why do many Europeans want to come to America. Why? I think it’s just because America is more exciting. That’s all.

    Kevin | April 26th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  176. Hello Kevin. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy Budapest. If you wanted ‘fast and exciting’ then you probably chose the wrong city, and to then make a judgement about the entirety of Europe based on this one experience is poor reasoning.
    I would recommend you travel extensively around the EU before you write it off.
    It’s by no means perfect but who knows, you might even discover something that would cause to reassess. Try London, Madrid, Monte Carlo, Paris. You’ll find fast and exciting there. They even have McDonalds.

    The ‘jealous of America’ is a nice troll. The people I know really aren’t jealous, more accurately curious about what drives the US to behave the way it does.

    Dan B | May 13th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  177. It’s funny, my niece married a German citizen and moved to Germany for several years. She was very young, barely 21 and she enjoyed living there, to a point. She said that it’s very hard to find any over the counter medication such as Nyquil. We kept hearing requests for pain medications and cold medications because Germany literally has none. Another thing, she got pregnant and gave birth to a little girl. Wow, everybody looked down on her for having a child at such a young age, and in some cases having a child at all. In her husband’s family everybody looked down their nose at her for want a child. Also, the medical establishments were horrible thanks to the socialized medicine. Finally, it got to the point of here desperately wanting to come back to America which she finally did. Her husband was very excited to come and live in America but finally left her and went back home. One complaint he had was that you actually had to pay for college. Yeah, that’s right you work over here for what you’ve got. I’m from the south and we are very laid back and relaxed but at the same time we know when it’s time to go back to work. I’m afraid I would hate living in Europe, I wouldn’t mind visiting but I would hate living there.

    Sorry, but your little blog post hasn’t convinced me it’s better in Europe, only that people are more lazy over there.

    John Uglyman | May 24th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  178. I’m French and married to an American. We first met in France and lived there for 3 months together, she visited again several times after that. I finally moved to the US through a fiancé visa and we got married here in the US.

    We’ve been living here for almost a year now and we both agree that we want to go back to France for pretty much all the reasons that were mentioned in this article. We both felt like we had way more time to spend together over there than we do here in the US. When I was working in France, I was getting paid more (minimum wage in France is way higher), I had free health insurance, I had nearly 12 weeks of paid vacation a year (I used to work in the school system). Here it’s work work work work 24/7. My wife has 5 days of vacation a year….we cannot afford to pay medical bills when we need to and most importantly we miss that sense of “relaxed” lifestyle and freedom that we had in France. We actually had time to LIVE and enjoy life. I’m not even going to go into the fact that we both felt a lot safer in France too. I guess it all comes down to what you want in life. Sure it is easier to get rich in the US, but at what cost? Having a giant house that you don’t even need and three big cars to drive to work everyday….if it works for you, fine, but we made the decision that we feel is best for our relationship.

    We often find oursleves with “nothing to do” here in the US. There’s no beautiful medieval cities that are hundreds of years old, there’s no cities like Paris, no cafés where you can sit down at a terrace and enjoy the day. We felt so much happier and healthier in France. We would eat good food, walk a lot more and just enjoy our everyday life for the little things.

    And stop the B.S. with the “american freedom”! What freedom?? The freedom to not be able to pay for you healthcare, the freedom of not being able to drink before 21 but be able to buy guns at 18? I’ve never felt more “free” in Europe! There are so many ridiculous restrictions in the country, it’s not even funny!

    We both know we want to raise a family in France and we can’t wait to be back!

    Jay | June 3rd, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  179. I am sorry buy Europe sucks…I am from Croatia and I have also been to Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France, Hungary..etc.
    Everything is smaller and crappier. Including the salaries.
    Why would you want to have to walk or bicycle for long? Live without air conditioning? Is that supposed to be attractive? The problem is third world countries who multiply too much that way we don’t have enough “resources” supposedly.

    You can walk and bicycle in U.S. too. You just move to downtown Boston or Manhattan if you are into an inferior way of life.

    Life in U.S. is ridiculously better than Europe I would NEVER go back.
    I hate traveling to crowded cities in America like Boston or Cambridge where the streets are narrow and a lot of weirdoes on bicycles drive around.
    Thank God for the suburbs.

    Also some of you mention how Croatia and Italy are so great. What’s great about Croatia is the clear Adriatic. But then again I can also get that in my pool in the gym. The water is even cleaner and there are no pointy rocks all over the place and mentally retarded peasants who I have to hide my sexuality from.

    I guess the only thing Europe…well Germany….has is sexier people. When I went to Munich most of the Germans were tall and manly. I wish I could import them. I’m actually trying to import a 6′8 one right now.

    Beeyatch Slutovska | June 3rd, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  180. I am American and I lived in Germany for 3 years. My opinion there are 4 things America is better at 1 bigger selection of material goods 2 better prices especially clothing 3 returning merchandise 4 taxes especially if you live in upper class. Other than that Europe is better in every other way .

    andrew | July 6th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  181. Great review, summarized it well.

    Antonio | August 6th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  182. I have traveled extensively for many years in Europe and live in Germany. The lifestyles in each country, though different, return greater value for the effort. America for the most part is orchestrated by profit driven corporations. Including our government. We must re-evaluate our core values and hold our representatives accountable.

    Louie Houghton-Germelman | August 14th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  183. How funny to come across this article/blog. I have personally lived in the US for over 30 years and love America, and Americans. But all the subjects this article addresses, are the very reason I plan to return to Europe. Corperate America is relentless and I want to get off the merry go around of swimming up-stream. When common coutesy like saying please and thank you, take a back seat to ‘getting things done’ then i’m googling air tickets.

    Terry | August 23rd, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  184. Thanks for the article. Yes, there’s good & bad anywhere you go, but…many of us Americans want to work but can’t find a job, so we aren’t able to be productive or contribute–even though we want to. There are few safety nets available for most of us, so we end up just suffering, which wears down our mental and physical health, causing some of us to become disabled & unable to work anymore… How does that benefit our society?

    But the average American doesn’t understand any of this. Americans don’t want to help each other, so if you can’t find a good-paying job, you’re just screwed. A lg number of Amers. end up homeless due to medical bills, unemployment or underemployment but anytime you talk about helping your fellow human you get called a “socialist.”

    I don’t know whether Europe is much better than the USA, as Europeans have embraced fascism & imperialism throughout history. However, the ability to access communities & form relationships w/others is very important for a society to remain healthy and democratic & that’s something Europe has that the US lacks.

    One main reason why the US is falling is Amers. are so disconnected from ea. other. We’ve lost the ability to come together, support each other (why so many don’t want to pay taxes), cooperate, work together, etc. It’s easy to make ppl fearful when they’re isolated & alienated rugged individualists, and fear leads a nation to fascism. People are more empowered when they sense a strong community will stand behind them. Most of us Amers. don’t have that anymore and those who are struggling remain marginalized and alone.

    How odd that so many Americans who are struggling financial feel lonely and marginalized when their experience is shared by so many? Ah, but that’s what happens in undemocratic, unfree societies…

    mbl | September 16th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  185. BTW, in the last paragraph I meant to write “struggling financially”

    Also someone commented above that it’s easy to get rich in the US. I suppose if you come from a wealthy family in the first place. Poor Americans often live in dangerous, high crime areas. Their kids learn how to deal drugs or prostitute themselves as a means of earning a living. The schools in poor neighborhoods provide an inferior education so even the child who works extra hard will have a tough time getting into a college. The few kids who do manage to get into college in spite of the obstacles (and I’m one of them) end up taking out loans as a form of “financial aid.” So then we graduate with massive debt and face an economy in which employees with fewer skills and less education are preferred over those of us with skills and experience. American employers don’t want to pay their employees a decent, living wage, so your college degree can work against you and you find yourself not earning much of a living yet immersed in debt.

    Europeans are lucky because they can obtain a university-level education even if their families are poor. That, IMHO, creates social mobility and a more democratic society. If you get sick, your life isn’t ruined and you don’t end up homeless as you would in the US. Access to health care and education is a human right and only wealthy Americans have it. Poor people and sometimes middle class people do not.

    The US is a better country for rich white guys. Europe is better for everyone else, IMO.

    mbl | September 16th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  186. When I lived in Italy I was frustrated on Sundays and from 1 to 4 pm I found myself eating at kabobs or places ran by foreign immigrants. I hope Italians dont change

    Monica | November 16th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  187. Google…

    Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated information, nonetheless definitely worth taking a look, whoa did 1 understand about Mid East has got much more problerms at the same time…

    Google | November 28th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  188. I find the comparison quite wrong for one thing.
    This doesn’t compare USA with Europe but the suburbs of USA with the tourists centers of Europe.
    A living vs a tourist view.
    When you visit a country, you just see a small part of country and not necessarily how people live.

    Here in France, most people live outside the urban centers and have very few access to the efficient public transports.
    They drive cars, go shopping in big store stores and in malls and work in suburban office parks.
    The historic town centers is often mostly for tourists and bit of the saturday shopping.

    The idea of using transportation to work is only true in a limited number of big and medium cities.
    Infact in France, the only city where the majority of trip are done without cars is Paris. (some other major cities of France are aproching but are still a long way from Paris).
    Paris is kind like New York City, high density inhabitants, high density of jobs. Most of France isn’t like this.

    A lot of tourists visit Avignon by example but they stay in the old walled center and see almost nothing of the rest of the city where live the majority of the population.
    Outside the old wall, it is no longer pedestrian friendly, there is no longer small quaint shopping streets but suburban box shopping and malls.

    Vincent | December 3rd, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  189. It’s a well-known fact that Americans love to work. We endure long shifts, often without breaks, and carry work home with us in the evenings. Where do we fit in leisure time and relaxation?

    Karen | April 12th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  190. @ Karen
    It’s a well-known fact that Americans love to work. We endure long shifts, often without breaks, and carry work home with us in the evenings. Where do we fit in leisure time and relaxation?

    Really? Really? Really?

    I’ve worked with Americans for many years and, believe me, they hated working and were pretty lazy in general. They loved to call all those that weren’t with them retards, idiots, etc. And whenever it came to discussing Europe it was “if it weren’t for us Americans….” blah blah blah. Well, if it weren’t for the French you’d all be having tea with biscuits and sing God Save the Queen. Pretty weird that such facts are either unknown or conveniently ignored.

    Life is not about working only but about living. Living is about enjoying your life, spending time with your family, friends. Time to do what you like to do. Life is about turning off the robot in you and become human.

    Did the US save Europe during WWI and WWI? The last time I checked it was the Allied Forces. Look at Iraq…again, the Allied Forces. Of course, the Americans had to take the credit and, once again, ignore the Allied Forces.

    Americans like to blame the Europeans for the genocide of the Native American. Yes, they were responsible but so were you. Once you gained independence and became a nation the genocide didn’t stop at all. Treaties were broken by the US Government.

    And, yes, Europe in general, is a much better place to live than the US. We don’t need a lifetime to pay for our college degrees. We may have less choice in the consumer market buy who needs 200 different brands of cereal? And most go those abundant choices are processed crap. Give me fresh produce any day, even if it means less choice.

    The idea that one needs a car to get around in the US is ludicrous. It’s not like you’re all driving cross country. Isn’t it weird that all of a sudden all those American choices come down to only ONE?

    As for the American Dream? Every country has its dream. You can make it anywhere. You’ll find people in every country that “made” it.

    It’s also pathetic when reading some posts here that complain about the attitude towards Americans. Welcome to the other side. We have to listen to this kind of attitude all the time. Yet, we are supposed to enjoy the constant criticism by Americans. And it’s always stupid remarks. Heck, it’s useless to argue with someone that thinks Brussels is a country or doesn’t know what language they speak in Amsterdam. Maybe your lack of international news on American TV is because they’re scared for Americans to find out that they’re not the best at everything. There’s not best country. There’s no greatest nation. Just remember this, the US with all its wealth also has the largest percentage of poverty of all industrial nations. And it’s certainly because of the Mexicans! But we all know that they’re the ones that get the blame!

    RKM | April 26th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  191. [...] medical culture doesn’t support this concept, which is why burnout is becoming an epidemic. Our European counterparts seem to be more relaxed living by the mantra ‘work to live’ not ‘live to work’. In fact, [...]

  192. thank you for share!

  193. Having had lived in the EU, and now in Colorado. I see this quite a bit. People are very impatient where I live (affluent smaller town, growing quickly). I miss how people planned for things, and not expected everything to be open nearly all the time. We say efficiency as a buzz word, and ignore effectiveness.

    It also happens to be because of recessions, and much like the one we’re currently in now, companies want to make sales and get us to buy as much as we can. The companies are looking for rapid super short term growth to appease shareholders and the B.o.D.

    I think we can do things which consume less, but there’s so much marketing here telling people that they don’t have enough, and generally disrupting their equilibriums so that they buy more to attempt a more balanced feeling – and it rarely comes.

    I miss living over there, and the lack of pure consumerism. Consumerism exists everywhere, you must buy things in order to live, but you don’t need to buy things simply to buy them. I walk into stores now and ask myself when I see a product or service if that thing will truly provide a positive benefit to my life, or just be some other thing setting in my house, collecting dust, which I’ll inevitably donate to a charity store, or throw to a landfill.

    Another thing I miss are great quality clothes. Profit is such a huge thing these days that the clothing is made of lower and lower quality fabrics and thread causing it to break much more quickly and as a result, you purchase more. Repair doesn’t cause companies to make money, replacements do.

    Arielle | July 2nd, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  194. “Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller”

    This line hit a nerve. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Europe twice in my life. Once in 1995, the trip where I asked my wife to marry me and again in 2005. The first trip, was a bit of a whirlwind, and found us visiting six countries in two weeks. Jumping on and off trains and packing as much in as possible. We were both in our early 20s, so we could get away with that pace.
    In 2005, we were focused on Paris with side trips to Normandy and Mont Saint- Michele. A (slightly) slower pace and easier to really soak up the culture.
    So, I have experienced some of the things mentioned in the piece. Enjoying life, taking your time and being focused on the journey. Europe tends to fit my personality better than the US, at least now that I’ve matured beyond the “Art of the Deal” and the “Always Be Closing” mentality that I was presented with in the 80’s and 90’s. More power to you. But that’s not who I am anymore. There is a great benefit to being connected to a community and live in a place where it isn’t always “winner take all.”

    JR | August 6th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  195. Well shared some of the amazing facts which makes Europeans Live Better than Americans. Every person, every country, every continent have their own life style and their own way to live life. In some ways its better than other but sometimes in other way they are better than us. But it doesn’t matter what matters our behavior for other, how we deal, we talk etc. As I think don’t compare yourself, because you are the best.
    Eco-friendly and non-electric refrigerators for the cold North Europe http://www.designcot.com/2014/08/eco-friendly-and-non-electric-refrigerators-for-the-cold-north-europe/

    Thanks for sharing beautiful stuff.

    Mks Stieve | August 20th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  196. I love good people all over the world, respect their culture and customs, but there is nowhere better than living in my country Serbia and it would be better just to give us a higher economic standard of 40%.

    Sasa | January 11th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  197. I’m British and I’ve visited the USA twice, the first time in 1965 when I travelled around most of the country for a couple of months when I was a student and more recently for a fortnight in 2012 when my son got married to an American girl.
    I like Americans; they are friendly and generous, much more so than us Brits.
    Another positive feature is that in many rural areas there is a culture of self-help such as the fire service being manned by volunteers.
    It’s difficult to generalise because the US is such a large country and there is much variation between and within States.
    When we visited Omaha we noticed no one seemed to walk or cycle and the city centre was dead but Chicago which was different with lots of people walking and cycling and a vibrant city centre.
    I don’t think we saw more than a few people walking in the centre of Omaha. We bought a sweater from a shop about 400 yards from our hotel and the owner wanted to get us a taxi to get back to our hotel!
    I have never seen fatter or more unfit people.
    We visited a friend who lived in a lovely house only about half a mile from the local shop; the only way he could get to it was to drive because there were no sidewalks or cycle ways.
    We had to ask for smaller portions at the hotel. Much of the food was high in fat and sugar.
    Spraying everything with cheese from an aerosol seemed to be popular.
    My wife and I had to arrange a Rehearsal Dinner, which is an American custom I had never heard of.
    The food was excellent and we were very pleased with the event. The service we received was excellent but we had to insist that a fish course was available and that at least two types of vegetable were served with the main course.
    We could learn a lot from Americans such as being more self-reliant and working harder.
    But I suggest that the US needs to try and reduce its dependence on cars, walk and cycle more, eat less, especially fatty sugary foods.
    The Brits are much healthier than Americans yet we spend only about 9% of our GDP on health care compared with about 20% in the USA.
    And the Brits are by no means the fittest and healthiest of Europeans.

    Alan Johnston | January 16th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  198. I am American, and I have travelled to Europe many times, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and Netherlands. Currently my boyfriend is from Netherlands. I have visited or 2 months at a time. I do have to say that it is easier for people to commute in Netherlands. Everything is close by. Other forms of transportation are bus, tram and train. I own an SUV myself, and having to rely on public transportation, biking or walking was a new experience for me. I don’t mind the walking or biking, but it is so time consuming relying on Public transportation. Here in the U.S. everything is spread out and biking or walking would not be ideal. Some cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston… are better suited for biking and walking, but I’m from Texas and as you might know, Texas alone is bigger than France. We measure travel in hours in my state. Dallas is 12 hours away by car. Houston is 14 hours away. To reach the opposite end of Texas (border to the next state is 16 hours). In this aspect, yes Europeans are much healthier. On the subject of work, yes, our work week is 40 hours long and anything over 40 hours is called overtime you get paid time and a half. We Americans work hard for what we have and we enjoy what we have. We have a work ethic and believe that with hard work, the sky is the limit. Our cars are big, our homes and furniture are big…It is about comfort and about giving our children a better life.On the subject of healthcare, everyone must now have healthcare…well, sorry to say but to me, that SUCKS!!! Being a new concept I am still not in agreement that my government should force me to purchase insurance by force. I understand the necessity, but being a very healthy individual, it is but a waste for me. Just an added expense. I have 2 daughters in College…very expensive indeed. My oldest lives in Boston, her tuition is 19K per semester, living expenses included. She works part time and yes, she rides a bike and walks everywhere or takes the tube (tram) My youngest attends a local University, her father’s military benefit pays for her tuition in full. She drives, it takes her 30 minutes by car. Regarding choices in buying, yes, we have a bigger choice of cereals, clothes, sodas, milk, organic and non organic fruits and vegetables. So what??? One buys what one can afford, at least we have the choice and option. Upon visiting the Netherlands, I saw supermarkets were very small, not many choices, but still have everything I needed. It is a beautiful country, the people were friendly, but DAMN everyone is so nosy, into everyone’s business. I am a private person and I don’t invite people into my business, nor do I wish to discuss everything with everyone. GRRRRRR. I was surprised to hear that if I hurt a burglar in my house, I can be sent to Jail !!!! I have to have proof that it was in self defense. Ridiculous. Here in Texas we have the right to protect our property, our home, our family from harm… If someone breaks into your home, you can warn them and then shoot. If they had a weapon on them, it shows they had intent to harm, the law will protect the homeowner. Shoot first, ask questions later. I believe all countries have a positive and all have a negative. I love my country and though I might be moving to Netherlands within the next year. Papers are already being processed, I am still thinking…I would miss going to the store or pharmacy at 2 am if I had an emergency (sick child). We have all sorts of stores/ restaurants open 24/7. Every convenience you can think of we have at any moment. If I move, I do not intend on staying there for more than 5 years. I am returning to America. On the subject of sex, yes we are a country with Puritanical views. We are a country of immigrants, who came and believed that there was a better life and future. A country where religious freedom offered a better life, where a rich man and a poor man have the same opportunity to work hard and make it….Like it has always been said, the land of milk and honey. The only ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t try. It is not a perfect country, but the opportunities are endless…your life will be what you make it and what you want it to be. God bless America, land of the free and home of the brave. Celebrate our differences…there is a place for everyone in this world.

    Elva | June 13th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  199. I’m British and driving a car will impove your quality-of-life

    Robert Paul Hingston | June 28th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  200. As an American I have traveled to Europe 6-7 times.
    I have been stating for years Europeans know how to live and are so much happier than most Americans. For them, smaller is better, they are content with themselves and not out to impress others with all the material nothingness Americans think they need to be happy.
    Europeans take the time to enjoy life, while Americans work to support their insatiable appetite for more and big, bigger and bigger whatever?
    Dining out in Europe is a real treat, as they know how to prepare and appreciate good food, taking the time to enjoy it. As well the pace of life is slower, consequently they take the time to “smell the roses.”
    I truly enjoyed your article on the” 5 Reasons Europeans Live Better Than Americans.” You expressed my sentiments, which I have been stating for years.
    Whenever I think of taking a vacation, Europe always comes to my mind first.

    Ed Groff | July 31st, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  201. I am European, I have lived in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden and even Poland during communist times.

    Thank you for this vacation report. When you are on vacation, you relax and feel great, in return your surroundings appear more positive and you tend to ignore the negative things. This is great.

    But I can tell you that Europe has pretty much the same decadent decline that you describe when you write about the USA. Many people in Europe want to be exactly as you Americans. They want to listen to the same cool gangsta Rap, dress they way some Hollywood stars do and they watch American TV Serials. In Paris there are massive traffic jams every day and almost all day long. Have you ever been sitting in a traffic Jam at 11p.m.? In Paris you can. You can find at least one McDonnalds in every town with a population of 10.000.
    The cars are getting bigger and bigger, the people too. In my point of view Europe is just a few decades late, but we are closing up with you.

    I agree with the Americans complain about costumer care and service. There is basically none. I have seen French bakeries running out of their Croissants on a Sunday at 10 a.m. (Croissant is what many French eat for breakfast on a Sunday). They don’t evey apology.

    You could say now: “Oh great, I will open my bakery and smash down this concurrence.” But here is the biggest flaw in Europe: YOU CAN’T
    Everything is complicated. Getting a job is complicated, finding a flat is complicated.
    Because it is almost impossible to get fired or thrown out of a flat (even if you dont’pay), they prefer not to hire.

    They only look at your diploma, they don’t care about your work experience. You could have been working for 10 years as an mechanical engineer in the US. If you apply for a job in Europe, you won’t get it because you have studied, let’s say Material Science.

    Yiannel | August 6th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  202. The good thing about driving if the city is designed right is that you can go at your own schedule and have more privacy too since it’s illegal for someone to enter your car if it’ s locked. *Hope they don’t change that law to fit some society utopia view*

    Reno Nevada actually has a cool design where they have this blvd that makes a circle all the way around the city connecting to Sparks Nevada and you can connect to the circle at many points and save yourself a freeway trip.

    Here in Salem Oregon has poor planning with the exits not in the right places. Market street is packed being the only exit where one exit should be on Silverton Road which connects to downtown and Silverton Oregon to the east
    and on/off ramps just for the Lancaster Mall for that traffic to not clog up Lancaster Drive.

    Salem tried to do a cloverleaf but only half finished it so it has a bunch of stop lights making the whole thing totally useless as a cloverleaf and might as well be just ramps.

    Look on Google Maps to see the cluster that is Salem Oregon and how NOT to design a large town and look at Reno which despite being bigger has much better planning.

    I don’t know if Las Vegas does planning very well because I haven’t and never will go there.

    SortingHat | August 13th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  203. Please socialists quit trying to force us to imitate Europe. If we want to we will on our own terms. Government never does things for us they do things TO us.

    SortingHat | August 13th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  204. I’m wondering how the author makes such bold assertions as “Europeans choose community over convenience.” Huh? That’s a broad conclusion based on a Croatian suggesting friends wait outside while the author drinks a coffee. It also seems to ignore the recent history of Croatian “community.”

    Doubtful | August 29th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  205. My family and I moved to Belgium three years ago and I would say that was the best decision for us. My children suffered from multiple allergies while we were living in the US, my son has allergic asthma and it was hard to control the attacks. Our family doctor recommended us to change the climate and there came the offer from my husband’s company to move to Europe. Few months later we landed in Antwerp, Belgium and started our new healthier life. And it’s much better for us here. Greets!

    Nadine Roberts | September 23rd, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  206. Walking or biking to local farmers market on weekends ? No honey , not in the US. Unless you want to be run over by a big ole SUV. Only bike trails will do here . Too to dangerous.

    jillxz | September 28th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  207. LOL Love your article! You made my day! Ordering a non-fat latte in Italy is impossible indeed. Europe is really different place. Culture shock could strike you. Greetings!

    Billie Fields | October 29th, 2015 | Comment Permalink
  208. I came here wondering why Europeans prefer smaller pillows (Euro pillow).

    pressite | May 10th, 2016 | Comment Permalink
  209. Europeans, as a whole, are also more likely to be literate in at least one language; they read more than Americans. Because they are from way smaller (geographically) countries they are also way more to carry a passport than Americans, and use that as their primary ID instead of a driver’s license. In fact that “more likely to have a passport and take it for granted as their “real” ID (a concept that’s alien to most Americans especially here in “the Heartland” as evidenced by the plethora of times I’ve presented my passport when asked for ID and got it handed back to me and told ‘no we meant your REAL ID” after which I usually threaten to sue for document abuse and then really “get into it,”) applies to most of the rest of the world, not just Europe.

    More Americans and Quebecers are illiterate than Europeans.

    Phoebe | May 23rd, 2016 | Comment Permalink
  210. Because it is the Europeans that created the Great Americas. Here in Europe, we are more influenced by our culture, history, classical music, and generally THE PAST. Our values have been tested in time, we have passed through hard times and learnt from our mistakes. At least that’s what we like to say. Unfortunately this cannot be applied in the US. Just look at the way their external policy works – it is like Europe in the 1400s. They seek to conquer others, to have colonies using modern tools. They try to turn the entire world into a big corporation. It’s exactly like Europe in 1400s when armies of greed were killing each other everywhere here. Anyway.. No offence to beautiful American people which I salute and whom they should know that I love them. I think I as a European too have many things to learn from the Americans – regardless south or north. Besides, they are more technologically advanced that Europe. But that doesn’t improve humanity. If one day we’d realize we must live in peace, that will be the day when humankind would’ve really evolved. Until that day comes, we’d be nothing more but unevolved egoistic animals. I want peace, regardless colour, sex or birthplace. Greetings from Europe, Romania.

    Alexandros | May 28th, 2016 | Comment Permalink
  211. Golf has many more benefits than other sports, it’s a sport that can last a lifetime instructs children on the core values of honesty, courtesy towards others, on strategy and smart decisions both on and off the golf course – all positive attributes that will help in leadership roles and throughout their careers. As mentioned by a local Houston-based developer, “Golf is math, golf is English. You must calculate the break of the ball in degrees. It’s just another avenue of learning.”
    In my view everyone should enjoy the game they are playing. Fun element should be there. Find my golf buddy.com helps you to connect with your compatible buddy to play round of golf so you can enjoy the game more.

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