Most of us have fantasies about running away from home, but there is a specificity to the fantasy of running to Europe from America.
It’s apparently a move many people have considered, and quite a few have done according to the replies to a question posted by Redditor u/FrozenChair, who asked, “People who want to move from America to Europe, why?”
A lot of people who answered had already made the move, and none of them seemed to regret it. For reasons having to do with healthcare costs, education costs, and just standards of living, they were glad they did it. But it’s important to keep in mind that not just everyone can pick up and leave when things get tough in the U.S. Because they’re already tough as hell, and many folks can’t go anywhere. There are the ties of family, property and other obligations, the cost of moving, and the challenge of finding permanent residency.
But a fantasy isn’t really a fantasy if it’s easy, I guess. Here’s some inspiration if you’re determined to do it anyway:
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… —viptattoo
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. —Netwelle
Still trying to get used to my five weeks of vacation. The three weeks this summer with my family was incredible. Still having two weeks to spend with them at Christmas, is beyond belief. All vacation is paid vacation. And it is standard everywhere. Oh and the two hour lunch, and 32 hour work week. I think this is is literally going to add up to years more with my family. Since I think time with my family is the most important thing, this just makes the quality of life here so much higher. I don’t know if I will ever get used to it. But I love it! Edit: Berlin! —witaji
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 —mejok
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. —wingswednesdays
I can walk to all the amenities I need. People say what they mean. Shit works as intended a lot more. —_Steve_French_
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. —Tzanax
My kids have a better quality of here. We’re fortunate to live in an area with good schools that are walking distance from our house. They have local school friends which I didn’t have. I lived in a rough area and my parents sent me out of the area so I could go to a good school. I don’t need to drive as much, my work/life balance is better, food is cheaper and of course healthcare. —TheYankunian
Because Italy has some of the best food in the world. —stinky_cheese33
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).
But I do want to also stress that fascism is on the rise in parts of Europe too, and issues like racism are still around even though it’s a different flavor. Part of me feels guilty for giving up on America instead of fighting the good fight there. But here I am. —sweetest_oblivion
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. —MimiOlga
Kinda tired of my medication costing $1000 a month tbh. —BlueMysteryWolf
My partner and I moved to Sweden exactly two years ago today. We were both working extremely long hours in the US and it was quite literally killing us. Our hair was falling out, we were gaining weight, we were exhausted all the time, unhappy, and unable to see how it would change. Yes, we were both making a lot of money, but it was coming at too great a cost.
Then there’s also the political and social situation. Even before Covid, it was clear to us that the US had become ungovernable. Society is extremely polarized with no clear way back to the uneasy peace of the 90s. Congress is completely deadlocked with the only meaningful legislation passed in nearly a decade being a massive tax cut for the ultra-rich. Healthcare expenses are still skyrocketing, the safety net is nearly gone, and education is getting both worse and more expensive.
We’re now both working in the same fields as we were before, but we have 6 weeks vacation, guaranteed healthcare, and a political system that isn’t a complete and utter shitshow 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. —hbarSquared
Postdoctoral education. —HoustonCounsel
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. —ingenfara
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. —WorldCitzen99
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 bullshit, corporate greed and shit healthcare have ruined this country. No one looks up to America anymore, they just go along with it because America has guns and bombs. —theymademechoose
I moved 3 years ago from America to Europe for better education and healthcare. I don’t regret it at all. Everyone that thinks America is still as great as it once was is living in a dream instead of reality. —sherbearrrx
Oof, how much time do you have? Could start with Healthcare. But really it’s how over the last 30yrs both parties (Republicans and Democrats) have been in power. Yet, our country is still messed up in so many ways. Nothing is great. Few things are OK, and most things are either so polarizing or triggers to be divisive that no one gives a shit about actual views or progress. It’s simply about ensuring “your” party wins. By a landslide. In a dominant way.
Our political system is broken. Healthcare costs are laughable. Infrastructure still struggles. Ensuring everyone gets a decent education is somehow challenging.
The absolute lack of unity on any topic is impossible because of this perception of necessary (and relentless) loyalty to one’s party.
Opposing parties should seek resolution and equal compromise, not victory at all costs. It’s all about winning and I’m f-cking over it. —BeardedBaxterholic
gestures vaguely —Captain_Billy_Bones