30 Americans Who Left The US Share How Their Lives Have Changed After Moving To Europe
The American way of life is not always exactly a dream. While many really manage to build their happiness in the country they were born in, others decide to try out what the rest of the world is like. After all, something like questionable work-life balance, flawed healthcare system, or impossible student loan debt is something that can keep you awake at night.
So in order to find out the exact reasons why American citizens bid farewell to their beloved land and moved abroad, we have to ask the people themselves. Thanks to this Reddit thread which asks people who want to or already moved to Europe to tell everyone why, we have some very telling responses.
Scroll down below and if it all feels relatable, be sure to add your experiences in the comment section!
Because practicing medicine here feels dirty. I was never in it for the money or prestige. I’ve already started working on my exams to go to the UK. There are pros and cons to the way healthcare is handled in the UK, but I’d rather be able to treat a patient and sleep peacefully knowing that I haven’t financially crippled someone for life. Medicine as a career is much better in the US than anywhere in the world, but I’d rather make much less money and have a clear conscience.
I moved to Europe 7yrs ago. Our motivation at first was having children without going into debt. After living here a few years we were able to buy a house with property. Live a lifestyle that was once considered the American dream.
I important distinction is that we/I found that life was more basic here. Less materialistic. People still have gardens, walk to places they want to go. Christmas is about family and not about how many gifts you got. I just find it to be a more sustainable environment for my family.
Because I’m so tired of constantly living in fear. Fear of medical debt. Fear of any kind of overwhelming debt. Fear of getting screwed over by a landlord. By a mortgage lender. By a bank. By a corporation. Fear of getting screwed by an employer. Fear of losing my job or getting sick and getting in over my head with expenses. Fear of getting shot. Fear of getting covid due to lax regulations. Fear of getting hurt by a radicalized anti-vaxer. Fear of losing access to civil rights protection (ahem, Texas). Fear of the out of control housing market. Fear of the ramifications of our own civic, economic, and social policies. Fear I’ll finally give in to the despair. Our way of life is… it’s so completely irrational. And it’s seemingly inescapable. I think about this every day.
And generally speaking, I align with contemporary European values more so than contemporary American values (are these even a thing? What are contemporary American values?) Education, culture, a well-rounded life fully lived, travel, prioritizing social good over economic growth. These are the things that I want for myself and everyone. I’ve lived in the US all my life. There are so many things I love about it. Truly. But the older I get, the more it feels like a trap. A trap with a really effective marketing campaign.
Bored Panda spoke with the Redditor Netwelle who moved to Europe 7 years ago. According to his response to the thread, “Our motivation at first was having children without going into debt. After living here a few years, we were able to buy a house with property. Live a lifestyle that was once considered the American dream,” Netwelle wrote. He also added that he found that life was more basic here. “Less materialistic. People still have gardens, walk to places they want to go. Christmas is about family and not about how many gifts you got. I just find it to be a more sustainable environment for my family.”
I live in Berlin. I'm still trying to get used to my five weeks of vacation. All vacation is paid vacation, and it's standard everywhere. I also get a two hour lunch and have a 32 hour work week. This is is literally going to add up to years more with my family. It just makes the quality of life so much better
I moved to Spain from the US 6 years ago (initially through a program to teach English, now I'm married to a Spaniard). As much as I deeply love and miss the US -- the nature, the food, friends, the VIBE -- I have no plans to move back.
Healthcare in America scares the bejeesus out of me, especially as I age. I just had surgery on an injury that cost me nothing -- I still feel like I'm getting away with murder.
And the work-life balance is so insane once you see it from the outside. I stopped being able to understand how my mom was slaving away for a company that really didn't pay much for 2 precious weeks of paid vacation a year (and I would describe my family as privileged). COVID really changed my view, seeing everyone in my city dutifully wear the mask even after it's not required, whereas my state in America devolved into a culture war. "Devolving" is, unfortunately, the best word I have to describe the US in the last decade(s).
I moved from the US to Europe (Austria) quite some time ago (nearly 20 years). I don't regret it and can't ever see myself moving back to the US. A couple of my friends are still trying to figure out ways to move over where. Just a few things off the top of my head regarding why:
5 weeks of paid vacation
up to 2 years of paid parental leave (including for dads as well)
no such thing as a copay at the doctor
price cap on prescription drugs (like EUR 6)
low crime rate
more well developed social safety net (ie. less poverty)
I once spent 10 days in the hospital and needed emergency surgery. My bill: EUR 0.
Excellent and well-funded public schools
No tuition for college
“I do believe the 'American Dream' is possible,” Netwelle told us in an interview. “The cost of living in many European cities and certainly villages is much lower. Simple necessities are more realistic. Cell phone bill, electricity, food, housing, etc. My monthly living expenses were 3k in the US and here they are about 1k. My house was 100k (my neighbors thought I was crazy to pay so much) the same piece of property in the states would cost 300-400k.”
When asked what he thinks of the decision to move out of the US after 7 years, Netwelle assured us that he is “very happy with my decision. I enjoy the area I live. Travel opportunities are abundant and we have created a family and home here,” the Redditor said.
I moved years ago for marriage. My life is immeasurably better here in so many ways. My children don't know what an active shooter drill is, I don't question taking them to a doctor when they need it, and I don't have to buy school supplies
Because we let idiots storm our own capitol. That was the turning point for me.
Quality of life - I hate having to drive everywhere in the US, city parks are usually way worse, and my friends thought I was crazy for not wanting to default to spending money as a way to hang out (restaurants, bars, concerts, nail salons, shopping). I know that exists in Europe but there still seems to be more appreciation for the slow life. That plus being able to walk more and use public transport, long vacations, better social safety nets…I just feel happier and healthier with that lifestyle.
However, that doesn’t mean the adaptation after first moving to Europe was quick and easy. “It was a challenge,” Netwelle recounted and added that many things are different there. “Business practices are different, finding and becoming friends with people was difficult and my 'American' attitude made it challenging to get started. Americans are driven, work at a fast pace, want things now, and expect fast results. Life here does not move that way. It took time to adjust.”
My partner and I moved to Sweden two years ago. We were both working extremely long hours in the US and it was killing us. We were both making a lot of money, but it was coming at too great a cost. There's also the political and social situation. Society is extremely polarized in the U.S. Now, we have six weeks of vacation, guaranteed healthcare, and a political system that isn't a complete sh*tshow 24/7. There are also a lot more opportunities here. America is actually extremely toxic for non-unicorn small businesses, so industries are getting consolidated into fewer and fewer firms. Stockholm is internationally known as a tech hub, but unlike the Bay area you can actually afford to buy a house here. Hell, for 18 months we were living comfortably on a single income, which would be impossible in the states.
We don't ever want to move back. Hopefully we'll be able to get our citizenship in 3 more years and we'll never have to.
It comes down to the fact that the U.S. does not care about its people — only protecting the capital of the wealthy. There's expensive healthcare, a car-dependent infrastructure, a lack of public transportation, increasing homelessness, etc
What the Redditor really enjoys about the European lifestyle is the sustainability part of it. “If you look at Europe as a whole, it has thousands of years of history. Population density is much higher and land mass smaller. Yet Europe has maintained farm fields and nature. Most families have a garden and share resources with others. Consumer culture has not taken over just yet in the majority of places, and public transportation is fully embraced,” he said and added that “I find these and many other small actions make it a much more sustainable culture.”
Being poor in the US is worse than being poor in Europe.
Less likely to be shot by a crazy person.
Easier access to medical care.
Easier access to education.
Higher quality education.
Most European nations aren't ebbing dangerously close to a civil war.
About half the US is champing at the bit to install a dictator, and usher in a new age of fascism. They might succeed.
Currently looking at moving to Western Europe from America. I can only speak for myself but these are some of my reasons
• Capitalist Greed in our government • No proper medical coverage • Bipartisan outrage • Poor vacation • Poor work expectations
I’m sure I could go on and on but really government bullsh*t, corporate greed and sh*t healthcare have ruined this country. No one looks up to America anymore, they just go along with it because America has guns and bombs.
On the other hand, there are many American things that Netwelle misses. “I miss the pub culture of sitting up at a bar and talking to random people, I miss the friendliness of strangers (even if it is fake), but most of all I miss the food,” he told us.
“America is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world. Food influence and variety makes it possible to have different styles of food every day. I find that in Europe, you get stuck with regional food and attempts to provide something different or exotic are lacking,” the Redditor concluded.
I moved from the US to Denmark in 80 and since then have lived in various European countries, for the last 30 in England.
Culture is better. Not saying that some Americans are not cultured (I am American after all) but things are so much more oriented to enjoying music, theatre, and arts. I had relatives in the US that mocked university education, modern art, and pretty much anything that was not simple patriotism and religion.
Also an American that moved to Spain. Healthcare is my #1 reason why I have no interest in moving back to America. Even though I miss the comfort and ease of the place that I grew up, it’s nothing compared to the peace of mind living here. A lot of people complain about “people being lazy” in Spain. I, for the most part, love how relaxed everyone is here. Coming from NY, where everything needs to be finished yesterday and you get yelled at for not giving your order quick enough in a food line… it’s so refreshing to constantly be reminded to take a break. Deep breath. Fresh air. Take a nap. Get around to it later. I’m sure that it’s helped my anxiety and made me happier for it. One more thing… I just returned from a visit to America today after being away for two years. It could be just me being sensitive to things, but the vibe there felt different. It felt very divisive, fearful and angry. It made me sad.
I did about three years ago. I was mentally tired from living in a state of near catastrophe all the time. I had a good job but one medical catastrophe (of which I’d already had a few) could have bankrupted me. I wanted kids but again, it’s one catastrophe away from homelessness WITH kids. And no social support for kids either, like parental leave after the birth, subsidized childcare, subsidized higher education. I hated never having job security despite being excellent at my job.
Basically everything about all of the systems in the US terrified me.
My quality of life is incalculably improved by living in a country that cares about its citizens.
It's easy to get somewhere completely different. In America you have to travel a long way to get to a place with a different culture. In Europe, in just a few hours I can drive to France, the Netherlands, or Germany. And, in a few hours on a plane, I can be in Italy, Greece, Spain, or Portugal.
America is an increasingly dangerous place to live because of right-wing domestic extremism and white supremacy that threatens to undermine democracy.
I would move if I could for the food alone. Not only does the majority of it taste better in Europe, but it's also more nutritious. Food additives that are illegal in Europe are abundant in the US. Crops have been so modified that they have a fraction of the nutrients. Even baking ingredients like flour and sugar are way less healthy here in the US because of how they are processed
American who moved to Europe 15 years ago. There are pros and cons. Lived in Barcelona for 5 years and very much enjoyed the lifestyle. Moved to Gothenburg, Sweden after for 7 years. Actually gained dual citizenship there, which has made being in Europe much easier. A lot of things are great in Sweden, but I couldn’t handle the cold, wet, dark… It gets very hard with the 7 to 9 month long winters (in 2 of my years there summer did not come). I’m back in Spain now, 3 years. Money is much tighter. But life and food suits me better. I always thought I would return to the US, but not so much anymore. Plus, my Italian wife is not interested…
I’m terrified that the 2024 election, or the one after, or the one after that one will be the point that Democracy fully tanks (beyond just gerrymandering) and this country becomes an autocracy.
I moved 5.5 years ago because there are better job opportunities in my field of music here. Also, I'm able to afford living in a nice, big city without working two to three jobs.
You won't be bankrupt for being sick, your kids won't end up with serious student loans (in most of Europe) or be funneled into a for-profit private prison system. Less chance of a maniac shooting you. You aren't afraid of losing health insurance after a layoff/firing.
My SO and I moved to Greece in 2016. I eat mostly vegan and the quality and price of basic raw ingredients are incredible.
The quality of life in terms of healthcare, nutrition, work culture, etc
You can travel to so many different countries so easily and experience different cultures, food and people
Everything just looks pretty and cute: especially in terms of architecture
You don't hear too many bad things about Europeans, mostly just how they don't like Americans, which is very telling about us
I moved as part of a student exchange and then again to teach English. Spent around 2 years total living in France. Honestly, I loved the culture a ton and could see myself moving there again. The food is bomb, I felt so good while I was there because of the lack of shit in the food. Time off was amazing, the general idea that life and its little pleasures are meant to be enjoyed and that hustle culture isn't the way also attracted me.