I like Europe, I like to travel there, I love its food, its cultures, it’s people and its amazing history.
Many Americans like Europe, especially its many social programs. After all, European countries have universal health care systems, liberal work and time off policies, and government pensions in many cases considerably more generous than Society Security.
So what’s not to like? The only thing is Europe is not America and Europeans are not Americans. There are different expectations, different attitudes, just different. When all is said and done maybe those differences don’t make a difference… but just in case, here are a few to consider.
- European homes are between 500 and 1000 square feet smaller than American homes
- Less than 5% of European homes have air conditioning compared with 90% of American homes
- Gasoline is twice or more expensive than in the U.S. at over $6.00 a gallon.
- All European Union countries have a value added consumption tax (VAT) ranging from 19% to 27% in Hungary.
- The EU has 300 less cars per 1,000 population than the U.S. In the U.S. the most popular vehicles are pickup trucks and SUVs, in Amsterdam they have garages that hold 40,000 bicycles and in Rome your greatest traffic threat is motor scooters. It costs well over $2,000 to obtain a drivers license in Germany including the cost of many hours of required lessons. European cars are small by American standards.
- Buying a car in Europe is not cheap. Several countries have stiff registration fees. In Denmark the fee is up to 150% of the price of the car.
- Total tax revenue in the U.S. is significantly lower than other developed countries, most of which rely on social security payroll taxes and consumption taxes in addition to income taxes.
- European health care is generally universal and they spend less per citizen (for a variety of reasons), but it’s certainly not free. For example in the UK the payroll taxes to fund pension and some NHS costs are high, generally 13.8% for the employer and 12% for the worker. Most NHS funding is general revenue taxes. There are different systems in Europe, but they all use insurance in some manner.