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How can Europeans afford to live in Europe?

How can Europeans afford to live in Europe?

Jan 27th, 2007, 12:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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That's all true too. At least even the poorest people here don't have to worry about paying for their kids education or braces (retainers) or operations etc etc, so I guess it evens out.

Perhaps we don't feel that we need quite as much as well. I was watching a TV documentary about a family in the US with a 17 acre farm, where the mum nagged the dad into going back into employment (she had 2 part-time jobs) instead of just working on the farm and his own other small business. Why? Because she was worried about money. Yet they had a massive house, a big property, both had huge (to UK eyes) jeep type vehicles and bought both their 18 year old twin boys a new car each -one a pickup truck and one a people carrier (minivan?)and they paid out to have the minivan customised as well. Yet in their eyes they were clearly feeling quite 'hard up'.
nona1 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 01:14 AM
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You are right Nona, I read not long ago that some western countries ie NZ Australia Britain and US have a much stronger buying culture than Europeans who generally tend to be more disciplined and live within their means instead of the eternal credit card culture. What is day to day life in one country seems to another utter excess!
yasron is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 01:14 AM
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I lived and worked in Chicago, I lived and worked in London, now I live and work in a small village in Piedmont, Italy. I earnt and spent a lot more in the first two than I do now.

My experience is that there is little difference between the three locations when it comes to the basic essentials, food (especially fresh food) is certainly cheaper and items that are "local" feel to be good value. Energy price is an issue here, and that gets reflected in a lot of raw material prices and so on. I think we (in Europe) have cut back a lot on "luxury" items or big spend items, although I agree with a previous post about the debt level in Britain, where there is stil a must buy it mentality IMHO.

Mostly I agree with what has been said, exchange rate is the biggest change factor for US visitors, second is the destination and quality of what is chosen - you can travel cheaply, without compromising on the experiece, certainly you should be able to budget a trip close to an equivelent vacation in the US once you take away the tranatlantic costs. These forums can help make this statement true.
Piedmont_Phil is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 01:30 AM
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The europeans complain bitterly of how expensive everything became since the euro was introduced. So prices of everything went up while their salaries are not higher than they used to be. If you have the opportunity to converse with hard working people you'll hear that they completely stopped going out to restaurants, or theatres, they don't go on vacations as they used to, and minimize their shopping. True those people never went to 5 star hotels or posh restaurants, but rather to more modest places. Now they stay at home.
I always wonder when I come across questions of where to shop in Europe. The prices in the U.S. are by far cheaper. Why shop in Europe at all? I never buy anything while traveling in Europe!
eri is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 01:40 AM
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>prices in the U.S. are by far cheaper.
The chinese are dumping their products on the US market. Most of those are havyly taxed in Europe to protect local producers. Did you notice that apart from the bigger cities, you can only buy the same stuff at the same price from the same FEW shopping chains. Prices in the US for many other things are still higher than in Germany at 1.30$/€. Canada was caomparable to German prices a few years ago, but today has become expensive.
logos999 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 03:05 AM
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I don't know how often you travel to Europe, I do quite a lot. And since I am NOT American, but live at least 3 months a year in the U.S., I can assure you that I know what I am talking about. Just take a simple t-shirt, for example for a 10 years old girl, a very simple one. In the States you would pay 4 maybe 5 dollars. The same t-shirt in Italy, France, Germany etc. will cost at least 8 Euros.
Just last month I forgot my Clinique eye shadow at home. In Washington DC I paid 15 dollars for it. Exactly the same eye shadow in Rome cost me 24 euro on sale! Gasoline is more expensive, food, rent. The European have really a hard time. As usual, Americans never knew, and still don't, how good they have it. Learn to appreciate your great country!
eri is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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In Switzerland, we get paid for 13 months and have 4-5 paid holiday on top of it.

Depending where you live, you pay 1 - 2 months of your salary to taxes.

Housing prices are high. Drug store products have high prices. Produce is the same or lower than in the US.

My kids walk to school and I don't worry about them. My kids can play for hours in the neighborhood and I don't worry (too much). Childnapping is not an issue here.

It all depends on how you look at things.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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>Learn to appreciate your great country!
That's what I'm doing. There's no better place on the planet than Munich (I'm actually serious about this!!!) Prices for textiles and cosmetics simply reflect the higher taxes imposed on them.
logos999 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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Hi L,

>Hubby won't take me to Europe (we've never been) because we hear horror stories of how expensive it's gotten.<

Pish, tosh.

I live about an hour's drive from Atlanta.

I can spend a week in Paris for less than a week in NYC, airfare included.

ira is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:34 AM
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Most of the travelers who want to shop in Europe are Americans!
Llogos, I haven't analized why everything is more expensive in Europe, when you have to pay for it itsimply is.
Ira, NY is expensive but Europe in general is more. True you can find inexpensive hotels in Paris, and dine at modest places, but you can do the same in NY. But once you shop like the locals do, you'll find that it is much more expensive to live in Europe than in the U.S. Don't forget that the title of this thread was "how can Europeans afford to live in Europe". Believe me, it is very difficult!
eri is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:34 AM
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On the other hand, DIL sold her London flat for sev $M and lives quite well in NYC.
We live in luxury here in Mexico on our savings (alone) in US property taxes, household help, utilities, insurance and home maintenance.
Our US SSC retirement benies pay for lots of international travel.
How could middle and upper middle class Mexicanos live in the US?
mikemo is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:40 AM
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>Believe me, it is very difficult!
Right, for everyone else except logos999 ;-). Sorry, I don't believe you. As everywhere for some it's difficult, for some not so much. Munich is FAR! cheaper for excemple than anywhere in Florida. So how can Floridians survive
logos999 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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Linda8 - Sounds like you have a husband who doesn't want to travel...find someone else and go...you won't regret it and you'll understand why so many of us are addicted!!
travelfan1 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:09 AM
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We have been to the UK and have found the spending power of the pound is approximately the twice that of the dollar. Is the average salary in the UK twice that of the US? Even factoring in the healthcare, mass transit savings,etc., aren't living expenses awfully high for the British, unless they are operating with a higher salery to begin with? We love the UK, but hate the prices.
DDA is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:15 AM
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Count me among those Americans who find travel, once I get to Europe, cheaper than here in the U.S. It may be partly due to my pleasure in "just soaking up the atmosphere" in Europe in a way that I probably wouldn't be willing to do in Boston or Santa Fe. Of course it's gone up in recent years, and England was MUCH more expensive than France or Italy. But there's something about U.S. travel that makes me feel like I'm hemorrhaging money. Not so in Europe.

I appreciated your post Flanner. I wonder if you could elaborate on the differences in the way Europeans approach home-buying as compared to Americans. I do feel sorry for my single friends at the start of the salary scale here in Florida where prices have recently skyrocketed and salaries have not kept up. There are almost no options for them as they try entering the housing market.
Cimbrone is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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Hi Linda, There are many things in Europe that are expensive, but there are many things that are not. I think the biggest question is, How are we going to get you and your husband to Europe, right? I myself have heard horror stories, but for every horror story there is a wonderful, positive story.

So first off, you should sit down with your husband and set a trip budget. Nothing too wild and crazy, but realistic and agreeable. Yes, the perception is- Europe is expensive, but I have found that that comment often comes from people who might not have done their homework. After some research you can surely find a "deal" that fits within your budget.

In your trip planning, you should consider the following:
1- When are you looking to travel? I recommend traveling during low season, this is generally from late September/October to March 31st. For airlines, there are 3 seasons (low, shoulder, and high/peak season). Shoulder season runs from April 1 to approx mid May and then high season is from mid-May thru the end of the summer. If you travel during the "off season" many hotel prices are lower because they are looking to fill their rooms (not enough tourists in the off season) Also, with hotels, try to find something that offers breakfast- most hotels will offer a continental breakfast- expect to have rolls, butter, jelly,(sometimes with cheese) coffee, tea, cereals. At least that's one less meal to buy!

2- where are you looking to go for your first trip? My first European trip, I went to Paris. Many go to London. Maybe you could do both? Both of these cities have wonderful transportation systems-subways! (in London, the tube; in Paris, the metro). Buying tube/metro passes are a great way to get around the cities and to save money. For food- there are hundreds of options. In London, there is a diverse ethnic population, and you can sample food from many different cultures for less than $10 a meal. But, of course, you must not miss the Fish and Chips. In Paris, ham and brie sandwiches, crepes, quiche, etc can be had for lunch from $5-$10 a meal. Of course, there are more expensive meals to be had, but if cost is a factor, be assured that it's doable on just about any budget. For dinners, many restaurants offer set menus (3 courses or so). This tends to be much cheaper than going "a la carte".

3- What do you want to do on your trip (the touristy things?)? If you are looking to visit museums, go on sightseeing tours, I suggest you research before hand. Many tourist guide books offer walking tour options that take you to/past all the major sights. There are many museums that are free on certain nights, or offer discounts if you pre-book the entrance tickets online (sometimes via phone also- check the websites).

Good luck in your trip planning!

freeman0819 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:25 AM
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I certainly don't pretend to be an expert, but I've spent quite a bit of time in Europe and one thing that comes to mind immediately for me is the amount of stuff we Americans have. Stuff, stuff, stuff. Buy more seems to be the American mantra. Yes, we live in larger spaces, and what do we do? We fill them with often unnecessary stuff.

Also, because of the poor public transportation systems here a working couple usually needs 2 cars just to be able to get to work. This is generally not so in Europe.

We never buy anything when in Europe; clothing is terribly high priced and ther aren't the off-price retailers like TJMaxx that I shop at here in the US. All other things that I've been tempted by I can usually find, if I shop around, as comparable prices here at home (with the exception of Birkenstock shoes).

But, Europeans don't have to pay a small fortune to put their children through college as we do. Childcare for working parents is heavily subsidized and affordable. My daugher is expecting her first baby in a few weeks; they are looking at paying $200-$250 per week for childcare here in the US. Healthcare is more widely available and more affordable. Generally they don't need to worry that a catastrophic illness will bankrupt them for life because the way insurance is obtained is different than here in the US. And, finally there is the amount of vacation/holiday time that Europeans get. We'd give anything to live in a place where there are such generous amounts of time off. To me this would more than compensate for higher prices on some things.
julies is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:43 AM
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So, what is Europe?
It seems to me that it varies so much by country and area that any generality is just that. Sweden is not Slovenia---England is not Portugal.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:46 AM
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Well linda, the obvious question is why do you need "hubby" to "take" you to Europe. Send him to Vegas or fishing or whatever and YOU go to Europe.

But if you are for real, and you really want to have a meaningful look at if you and your husband can afford a trip to Europe then all the answers above should convince you that you certainly can travel in Europe for the same or less than you can in the US. You can get a $2 slice of pizza in NYC or Rome, you can also spend $200 for dinner in either place. What do you require for a meal, for lodging? I can easily find an adequate hotel room in Paris, Rome - even in London - for less than I can in NYC. Can I find one for less than I can in the backwoods of Maine in the winter - no, of course not. You can't compare apples or oranges. But overall I find European travel a relative baragin. And I even buy stuff over there, including clothes, because I like the variety better, and I like to have things that remind me of where I've traveled.

So if this was a serious question, do a search here on "budget" travel, on "how can you afford to travel to Europe so often" , etc. There have been lots of interesting threads with good ideas.
isabel is online now  
Jan 27th, 2007, 06:04 AM
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"prices in the U.S. are by far cheaper.
The chinese are dumping their products on the US market. Most of those are havyly taxed in Europe to protect local producers"

Complete and utter nonsense. The TOTAL opposite of the truth.

It's the United States that levies up to 32% import duty on t-shirts. Not just from China, but from practically every other country in the world except Israel, Mexico and a few countries in Africa that have no production capability. The EU's maximimum import duty is 12% - but zero from over 100 countries, including all its neighbours and all the world's poor.

America's quotas on Chinese clothes imports are twice as far-reaching as Europe's and last twice as long. Americans will be prevented from buying what they want till the end of 2008: our idiotic bans on some Chinese clothes come off at the end of 2007.

America's fear of foreign competition is so preposterously obsessive it extends even to banning Mexicans (who are supposed to be in a free trade area with America) from driving their goods to American customers. And to stopping Richard Branson from setting up an airline in America.

True, European counries impose higher sales taxes than American states. But they're imposed equally on all products, irrespective of where they come from.
flanneruk is offline  

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