13 Luxurious Things Europeans Freely Have That Americans Envy

Americans have a high standard of living, yet Europeans have access to many beautiful luxuries that are not available to all of us. To a great extent, Europeans are living what Americans dream about.  Our cultures differ in many ways, which can make us envious of the benefits of living abroad that Europeans may take for granted. Here are 13 amenities Europeans enjoy, according to a popular online forum.

1. Generous Vacation Time

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Europeans boast about getting four to six weeks of vacation upon being hired and taking long vacations at once. Employers may give extra pay to employees around holidays. Someone said, “In Austria, paying a whole month extra for vacations and another month for Christmas is mandatory. So you get paid 14 months a year, and the extra months are tax-exempt.”

Things are different in the US  regarding vacations, with one or two weeks of vacation being customary, building up to four weeks over time, but not all at once. According to a recent appeals decision, employers can even take away paid leave when salaried workers don’t meet productivity quotas.

2. Extra Money For Vacations

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Employers in many countries will give extra money to employees for their vacations. Someone said, “In Austria, paying a whole month extra for vacations and another month for Christmas is mandatory. So you get paid 14 months a year, and the extra months are tax-exempt.” That’s not a bad deal,” said this American.

3. Enjoy Inexpensive Wine

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In Southern parts of Europe, patrons can enjoy cheap wine by the glass, cheap coffee, and pastries. One said, “In most of Italy, Portugal, and Spain you can get coffee and a croissant for 3 euros.” In trendy American cafes, the prices are higher, with a pastry and a coffee costing $8-10 or more. Wine is cheaper than bottled water!

4. Public Healthcare is Affordable

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Europeans think it’s amazing that Americans do not have a sound healthcare system despite multiple chances to fix it. Mental health days off, especially for customer-facing jobs, are expected.  In the US, insurance companies and large pharmaceutical companies hold a lot of power over pricing and availability. According to a commenter, “A better healthcare system would be a lot cheaper and save many lives.”

5. Respect Your Time

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One person answered the forum’s question regarding the luxury things that Europeans have, saying, “Time! I spent time abroad in Italy for school, and there was just so much less of a ‘rush’ everywhere. My professors were usually the last people to come to classes.” It’s not just teachers but others who will take their time when necessary. It is customary for shopkeepers to close their doors so that they have their lunches.

6. Union Worker Protections 

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Some countries have strong, centralized unions that protect workers more than the US, notwithstanding the recent strikes. One commenter said, “In Italy, unions are very big like the three predominant ones have millions of members, subdivided by industries and job categories, and a general national strike could be organized rapidly. European workers have significant benefits, including parental family leave, maternity leave, shorter work hours, mental health days, and a healthcare system.

7. Better Work/Life Balance

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Although Americans crave a better work/life balance, European companies have realized for a while that it is not productive for employees to overwork. One person commented, “40-hour weeks are the maximum productive and useful work times. Anything more will be lost. Multiple studies have shown that 32-hour-weeks and 3-day weekends are even better, or 6-hour days. They find that there is no gap in productivity, and time to rest is essential.”

Several piped in on this thread, comparing the European mentality to the American hustle culture, “where workers working more hours and a six-day week means having more tasks to do for the company and less time for themselves.” European employers prioritize work/life balance more than American employers.

8. Affordable Universities

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It’s well known that college tuition costs in the US have been rising well above inflation for decades. Fear of carrying a considerable amount of student loan debt has caused some families to seek cheaper universities. One American mom said, “Our daughter is attending the university in Scotland. Our US friends always respond with shock at the luxury of going overseas for school until I tell them it’s half the cost of the equivalent US college, including travel expenses.”

9. Reliable Public Transportation

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Americans are blown away when traveling in Europe, marveling at its excellent train services, which tend to be excellent flight alternatives. The Eurail Train Pass is a great way to travel to over 30 countries. Train tickets tend to be cheaper and make for an exciting travel experience. Countries like Luxembourg and Malta offer free public transport, including trams, trains, and buses.

Some areas in the US have comprehensive public train systems in larger cities like Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC. Still, they hardly exist between cities or rural areas without a train line.

10. Walkable Cities

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European cities are designed for walking, have outdoor cafes, and appealing historical landmarks. Its cities built their towns well before cars were introduced, similar to America’s older urban markets, and are less dependent on cars. However, many Americans fled to the suburbs, which are not as walkable and require people to drive everywhere: to the malls, supermarkets, and other locations. A commenter said, “People also bike more in Europe because their cities are built differently in ways that are hard to express.”

10. Local Bakeries

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Local bakeries with excellent, fair-priced food are available on their walking commute. As one said, “It’s terrific to get prepared bread that doesn’t have the sugar content of the cake, and all of the offerings are unprocessed food.” Americans have some excellent bakeries that sell sourdough bread, but European countries have among the best-baked goods globally.

11. Bathroom Privacy

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Americans are always surprised to see bathroom stalls that go to the floor and provide more privacy. Most of the thread agreed that there is no reason for someone to see other people’s clothes or shoes, which Europeans believe is “absolute weirdness beyond me.”

12. Fresher Food and Cheese

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Europeans have nearby markets with fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread. Of course, Europeans are blessed with a fantastic variety of cheeses. Compared to the enormous refrigerators Americans are accustomed to, one person commented about the advantage of having smaller refrigerators, saying, “They result in more frequent shopping for fresh items. Some might see this as a handicap, but I love choosing what I eat based on what’s fresh in the market.”  Additionally, the European Union prohibits many of the chemicals used in American food products.

13. More Language Skills

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Many European countries require students to learn at least two languages in primary school, and schools teach younger kids other languages more effectively than in the US. Many Europeans live close to other countries, so there is a natural motivation to speak more languages. Despite the diversity in the states, only about 20% of adults can speak at least one language other than their native tongue, compared to about 65% of Europeans.

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