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For my wife and I, there are only 2 direct benefits we obtain by living in the US compared to our previous home in Europe:
- We can jump into the car at a moment’s notice to rush to a loved one’s side, something we have had to do many times since our reinstallation in the US; [ETA in case it’s not clear, this was our sole reason for leaving Europe and moving anew to the US. Second ETA because some people are still finding it difficult to parse: my wife and I were both born in the US where our families still live; while we lived in Europe, many of our loved ones either could not or were not willing to travel to see us and the frequent Transatlantic flights were taking their physical toll on us.
2. We can do our grocery and pharmacy shopping any day of the week and late into the evening.
No, I’m not being snarky, those are really the only 2 benefits we perceive. Here are all the areas where we feel that we have sacrificed:
- My skills and experience were valued more highly in Europe than they are in the US, so I earn less in absolute terms (though I am still relatively well-paid).
- Thanks to extensive public services such as subsidized mass transit and universal healthcare, we had considerably higher disposable income in Europe than we do in the US. (Yes, you read that correctly, despite the prevailing narrative about high-tax “socialist” [sic] Europe.)
- Beyond the pure economic terms, our healthcare was extremely simple in Europe: we needed to see the doctor, we went to the doctor, unlike the US where we have to fight with the insurance process before seeing the doctor and then fight again afterward to get the doctor’s bill paid.
US Dollar and Euro on flags of the United States and the European Union.
- Food in the US consists of two categories: what is affordable and unhealthy, or what is healthy but boring and greatly overpriced.
- We miss being able to walk to useful destinations like doctors, merchants, the train station, etc. In the US we have to walk a full mile (without sidewalks of course) just to reach the outlet of our subdivision, and all that’s there is a small strip mall and some gas stations, with no safe way to even cross the street. The train station (at least we have one!) is 8 miles from home.
- As a result of having to drive more often and much longer distances, and despite the fact that each individual fill-up is less than half the cost as in Europe, we actually spend more per month on gasoline in the US. We dearly miss our 5-passenger “mini-minivan”, a model that doesn’t exist in the US, that got 40 mpg in town and 50+ on the highway while being very comfortable and spacious.
- We miss the social/cultural life — despite living in a small town of 15,000, there was an extremely active network of clubs, associations, and other organizations, all actively promoted by local government, across an extremely wide range of subjects and interests. We have had to work exceptionally hard in the US to find even a few similar activities, some of which we had to initiate ourselves, which was another ordeal, finding a location willing to host them — fortunately, the library in the next town is more open-minded about this sort of event than our local library.