25 Everyday European Things That Seem Like Luxuries To Americans
We all know that one country differs from another quite significantly. But what things would a person from America visiting Europe find luxurious even though it’s standard practice in that part of the world?
This was the question posted on the ‘No Stupid Questions’ subreddit recently, which sparked quite an interesting thread of discussions. Folks shared everything from hiring habits to windows. As surprising as that one particular point might be, scroll to find out why it was worthy of mention as shared in the list below.
#1 Peace of mind that we won’t receive a medical bill that might bankrupt us.
Bernd Herbert: On BP I learned that some US Americans won’t call an Ambulance because of the price tag. What a frightening thought that is!
#2 Time. Time to eat in a restaurant without being shoved out. Time to sip coffee at a cafe. Time to spend with new children. Time to go on vacation. Seems like an unattainable luxury to this American.
Bernd Herbert: One of my favorite examples: In Europe you ASK for the check.
#3 Ability to not require a personal motorised vehicle for literally every single thing in ones life.
#4 This might seem a little weird, but I really liked the windows when I was in Germany. Turn the handle up and it tilted back, turn it to the side and it opened like a door, turn it down and it was locked. I’ve never seen windows like that installed in the US. I’ve googled and they’re available but just not in common use it seems. At least not in the parts of the US I’ve been to.
#5 I’m just going to assume “Really good cheese” is a legitimate answer.
#6 4-6 weeks of vacation at time of hire.
Bernd Herbert: In my company you get 5 weeks. And that’s for everyone.
#7 Food that doesn’t have a ton of artificial additives and non-food ingredients that makes you sick. I never realized that was what was causing my stomach problems until I went on vacation in Europe and within a day had no problems at all. And it came back a day after I returned. They can make great food, even packaged junk food, with just real food ingredients. Why can’t we?
#8 Those towel warmer racks, and heated bathroom floors.
James016: We have one of these but it is tied into the central heating so it does not operate independently
#9 No gaps in bathroom stall doors. Not the bottom gap, that’s fine, they could be lower for sure, but I mean the ones between the door.
Groundcontroltomajortom (edited):Yeah this one is just weird, I was so self conscious when I went over the pond! Do not make eye contact!!!! Lol
#10 Can’t believe it’s not more prominent, but the right to privacy, and recently digital privacy. GDPR was an excellent piece of legislation.
Image source: Gregor_the_headless
Christos Arvanitis: Funny that they show a camera. Pretty sure e.g. London has more cameras than anywhere in the US. It might be changing but the Brits (and others) are way ahead of the US with regard to cameras being everywhere run by a government entity. Ring and other cameras are everywhere here though.
#11 Fresh baked bread for reasonable prices that you can get in walking distance of your home, and aren’t full of preservatives. Also, affordable health care.
Marcia Konings Goedegebuure: The healthcare in Holland is getting more and more non affordable..
#12 Can’t speak for all of Europe, but workers rights. Wtf is “getting fired on the day”? Or quitting, for that matter? You get 3 months here
Bernd Herbert: Or more. I’ve been with my company for 15+ years now. I’d get 6 months. Have colleagues in the US. Sometimes people get laid off and have like 20minutes to pack their things and say goodbye.
#13 Solid walls in their house.
Zoey Bear: Ironically, the tornado capital in the U.S. is also the capital of tent quality houses. :(
#14 Work-Life balance. Paid time off. The ability to receive healthcare without going bankrupt. The ability to seek higher education if desired without going into life-altering debt. Public transportation. Maternal and paternal rights. Kindness.
#15 You might enjoy the documentary Where to Invade Next by Michael Moore. It’s about how just as Europe has looked to America, America should look to Europe.
He covers these topics. Summarized with chat gpt.
Education system in Finland.
Workers’ rights and work-life balance in Italy.
Healthcare system in France.
Drug policy in Portugal.
Prison reform in Norway.
Gender equality in Iceland.
School meals in Slovenia.
I would put environmental and consumer protection up there e.g. EU banned ingredients in food and consumer goods.
#16 Decent quality chocolate available in almost any random corner shop.
Apachebathmat: Part of my walk to school was through… yes through the Cadbury factory in bournville, my school was built by George Cadbury, this was back in the day when everything was black and white, I’m old
#17 Maternity leave and healthcare come to mind.
Affordable healthcare and maternity leave equally available to everyone. I know some people have healthcare and some companies offer paid maternity leave, but it’s not the standard.
I know someone who works 50+ hours a week,, makes just enough to support his small family (child with special needs) and he can’t afford to treat his hepatitis C because of the treatment (12 weeks of pills) costing more than he earns in 18 months. He can’t afford to pay for health insurance.. (before a-holes start judging, he was born with it).
#18 Not having to hand over your credit card to a server who then disappears with it. In Europe, the machine comes to you and you just tap it with your card/phone/watch.
Alexandra: I would never, ever, give my credit card so someone else.
#19 Good public transport outside of main cities. Germans in particular love to complain about Deutsche Bahn (and rightfully so) but compared to USA it’s just so much more versatile.
#20 Universal healthcare (in most countries). A family member in Italy needed an MRI of the brain. if she waited a few weeks it would be free. She didn’t want to wait so she paid out of pocket: $120. That would be a few thousand dollars in the US. Practically free higher education. They pay fees, not tuition. Minor costs.
#21 Schools that are not used as target practice
Gustav Gallifrey: American tourists mistake Edinburgh Castle for a high school, because there’s gunfire there every day.
#22 No high fructose corn syrup in everything!!!! Like you don’t even need to check the label for it.
#23 Unlimited sick days. Or just sick days, because it’s just not a concept. If your are sick, you are sick and stay at home with full pay until you aren’t anymore. Can’t get fired for it too.
Alexandra: Just to add. If you’ve been sick for longer than 2 years, your employer does have the right to fire you. You will then have the right to apply for benefits.
A safety net. It is incredibly stressful to work in America as an American. You bust your a*s for decades and could still lose everything you’ve worked to maintain at the drop of a hat. One slip, one positive test result, one broken bone, one genetic disorder, one sudden chronic pain… that’s it. No more job. No more paycheck. Savings gone in under a year. House (if you could afford one at all) gone. Suddenly you’re homeless.
It doesn’t even take a medical issue. Anything that could get you fired (because employers can fire you for any reason without any waiting period) can ruin your life forever. Maybe you missed some court date and you went to jail for two days. Maybe your kid is sick and you had to stay home. Your car broke down. You went to the hospital. Your loved one died.
Fired. Now you have no healthcare. You dip into your savings (if you have them). You keep dipping until there is nothing left. The only place hiring is a grocery store that offers $7.5 an hour. You can’t even rent a 1bd apartment in your city. You rent outside the city. Now your commute is 1.5 hours. You can’t pick up your kids from school anymore so you have to hire a babysitter. How do you get ahead? How can you get out of this hole?
F**k the American system. It’s s**t. Most people never get a chance at a good life and those that have one could lose it all through no fault of their own.
And we are all too terrified to fight back because our survival is directly tied to employment.
And to make matters worse, capitalism had completely decimated our built in support systems, like family and community, but that’s a bigger conversation.
#25 No tipping.