10 Surprising Differences Between Living in Europe and the US

Isla Davis

Updated Friday, January 5, 2024 at 12:50 AM CDT

10 Surprising Differences Between Living in Europe and the US

The Cost of Running the AC All Day

In Europe, running the AC all day is unheard of unless it's in the middle of a heatwave, due to the high cost of electricity. Unlike in the US, where air conditioning is a common feature in most households, Europeans are more conscious of their energy consumption and opt for alternative methods to keep cool during hot summers. This difference in approach to cooling reflects the varying attitudes towards energy conservation and sustainability between the two regions.

While Europeans may not rely heavily on air conditioning, they have adapted to alternative methods such as using fans, opening windows strategically, or seeking refuge in shaded areas. This cultural difference highlights the importance of energy efficiency and the impact it has on daily life in Europe.

Limited Space for New Construction

Many desirable places in Europe are in preserved areas due to preservation laws, resulting in limited space for new construction and large properties. Unlike in the US, where sprawling suburban neighborhoods with spacious homes are common, Europeans often live in more compact and densely populated areas.

This limited space for new construction has led to creative architectural solutions, such as multi-story buildings and efficient use of available land. It also contributes to the charm and character of European cities, with their narrow streets and historic buildings. Europeans have learned to make the most of limited space, emphasizing functionality and efficient use of resources.

The Absence of Full-Size Appliances

Full-size appliances such as garbage disposals, full-size fridge/freezers, 36" ranges or oven units, full-sized washers, and dryers are rare in Europe. Unlike in the US, where large appliances are the norm, Europeans have adapted to smaller, more compact versions that fit better in their limited living spaces.

This difference in appliance sizes reflects the varying priorities and lifestyles between the two regions. Europeans prioritize efficiency and practicality, while Americans often value convenience and a surplus of space. Europeans have become adept at optimizing smaller appliances to meet their needs, showcasing their resourcefulness and adaptability.

The Luxury of Large Cars

Americans have access to huge, comfortable, gas-guzzling cars like the Tahoe and mid-large SUVs, which are considered a luxury in Europe. However, tall individuals might struggle with limited legroom in the back seat. In contrast, Europeans tend to favor smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles that are better suited for navigating narrow streets and crowded cities.

The difference in car sizes reflects the varying preferences and priorities when it comes to transportation. Americans value comfort and space, while Europeans prioritize efficiency and maneuverability. This distinction highlights the diverse approaches to transportation and the impact it has on daily life in each region.

The Search for Serenity and Wilderness

Europeans find it difficult to find true serenity or wilderness due to the lack of undeveloped areas for long drives and escape from civilization. Unlike in the US, where vast stretches of untouched nature are more accessible, Europeans often have to travel long distances to experience the tranquility of the great outdoors.

This difference in access to nature reflects the varying landscapes and population densities between the two regions. Americans have the luxury of exploring national parks, forests, and open spaces within a relatively short distance, while Europeans may need to plan longer trips to find similar experiences. Europeans have learned to appreciate and make the most of the natural beauty that is available to them, despite the limitations.

Driving Experience and Traffic

Driving in the US is much more pleasant than in Europe, especially outside of cities, as there is less traffic and open roads. Americans prefer long drives over long train trips. In contrast, Europeans rely heavily on public transportation and are accustomed to navigating congested city streets.

This difference in driving experience highlights the varying transportation infrastructure and preferences between the two regions. Americans have a strong car culture and enjoy the freedom of open roads, while Europeans prioritize efficiency and sustainability through extensive public transportation networks. These differences contribute to the unique experiences and perspectives on transportation in each region.

The Worry of Speed Cameras

Europe has a high number of speed cameras, making drivers constantly worried about their speed, while Americans tend to be less compliant with speed limits. In Europe, strict enforcement of speed limits through automated cameras has resulted in a greater emphasis on adhering to the rules of the road.

This difference in speed enforcement reflects the varying approaches to road safety and traffic regulations between the two regions. Europeans prioritize safety and compliance, while Americans may have a more relaxed attitude towards speed limits. These distinctions influence the driving behaviors and attitudes towards traffic laws in each region.

Limited Hot Water Availability

In Europe, hot water is often limited due to timers and energy conservation measures, particularly in older buildings. Open air cisterns in the attic are used instead of sealed insulated cylinders. Unlike in the US, where hot water is readily available and often taken for granted, Europeans have adapted to more limited hot water resources.

This difference in hot water availability reflects the varying approaches to energy conservation and efficiency between the two regions. Europeans prioritize sustainable practices and have implemented measures to reduce energy consumption, including limited hot water availability. Europeans have become adept at managing their hot water usage efficiently, showcasing their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Limited Storage Space

Garages, closets, and storage space in general are rare in Europe, leading to limited space for home hobbies and storage of items like Christmas decorations. Unlike in the US, where ample storage space is a common feature in homes, Europeans have learned to live with less and make the most of their limited storage options.

This difference in storage space reflects the varying priorities and lifestyles between the two regions. Europeans prioritize functionality and efficiency, while Americans often value convenience and excess. Europeans have become creative in finding alternative storage solutions, showcasing their ability to adapt to limited space.

Outlets in the Bathroom

Outlets in the bathroom are not common in Europe, making it difficult to dry hair or use electrical appliances in that space. Unlike in the US, where outlets in bathrooms are a standard feature, Europeans have adapted to alternative methods for grooming and personal care.

This difference in bathroom outlets reflects the varying electrical safety regulations and cultural norms between the two regions. Europeans prioritize safety and may have stricter regulations regarding electrical outlets in bathrooms. Europeans have become resourceful in finding solutions for their grooming needs, showcasing their ability to adapt to different electrical standards.

living in Europe and the US presents unique experiences and challenges. From differences in energy consumption and transportation preferences to varying attitudes towards space and storage, these contrasting aspects shape the daily lives of individuals in each region. Understanding and appreciating these differences can foster a greater appreciation for the diverse cultures and lifestyles that exist across the globe.

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