People Discuss The 5 Things That Are Everyday Norms In Europe But Americans Consider Luxuries

Every country has its own pros and cons, but there are a few crucial things that America seems to lack.

healthcare in America, astronomical bill for emergency room visit, pregnant woman returning to work after birth Viktoria Matrosova, DNY59, andresr | Canva

In a now-deleted post to the subreddit r/nostupidquestions, someone posed the following inquiry: “What do Europeans have in everyday life that you consider a luxury in America?” While the original post no longer exists, the answers people gave are still available, and they are illuminating.

5 things that are everyday norms in Europe but luxuries in America



1. Access to affordable healthcare

The answer that came up over and over was “universal, guaranteed healthcare that’s not attached to employment.”


One American stated their hopes in simple terms, noting that “affordable healthcare and maternity leave equally available to everyone” is a luxury in the United States. “I know some people have healthcare and some companies offer paid maternity leave, but it's not the standard,” they continued.

A person commenting from an unnamed European country offered context for how European healthcare works, stating, “Most things healthcare are restricted to low-to-non-profit pricing, and covered by taxes, investments, and various support [and] welfare systems. So it's not literally ‘free,’ but in practice, all essential care is made affordable to everyone.


Another European person gave their perspective, explaining that in their unspecified country of origin, parents receive “a total of 7.5 months of maternal & paternal leave. Usually paid for by [the] employer, and if not then the government.”

Other people explained that it’s entirely normal in Europe to go to the doctor when you need to, and not have to worry that a medical procedure will leave you bankrupt.

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2. Affordable higher education

As one person in the US commented, it seems like a true luxury to “seek higher education if desired without going into life-altering debt.”


A European citizen explained the way schooling differs between the US and European countries, laying out the various elements that make accessing education affordable and inclusive. They stated that “no school itself has a cost, but the materials like books do. The only thing required to become a student is to pass an entrance exam… studying itself is quite literally free.”

They also explained that meals in elementary school and high schools are free, and free transportation is provided if the school is far away.

man reading books Photo : Oladimeji Ajegbile / Pexels 


They noted the significant discounts that students at university receive, including “1 to 2 Euro meals, 50 to 75% off many services across the country, and get their own set of allowances or student loans, which have ultra-low interests, barely more than [the]inflation rate.”

Access to education is becoming increasingly exclusive and expensive in the US. Imagining a world where anyone who wants to seek higher education can do so feels like a nearly radical idea.

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3. Less fear of mass shootings

Several people commented on the lack of gun control laws within the US, which led to devastating and repeated mass shootings. As one person commented, there’s “less likelihood of being gunned down doing mundane, routine things,” like dancing in a nightclub, attending church, buying groceries, or sending your kids to school.


One person commented on the peace of mind that comes with knowing kids are safe from mass shootings, writing that they take solace in “knowing your children will come home from school without a bullet wound.”

While their phrasing is harsh, it captures the extremity of the fear parents and teachers have about their physical safety at school, a location that should be a safe space for everyone.

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4. Better work/life balance and worker protections

As one European person explained, the work/life balance is taken very seriously across the region, noting, “We have 5 paid weeks off per year plus a vacation bonus.” They delineated further, saying, “‘Paid’ means you get full wages for that time and vacation bonus is 50% of normal pay. So if you take 1 month of vacation you will also get 150% of your normal pay for that month.”


Another European person commented on the devastation that lack of support in the workplace can cause, offering a personal story as an example. As they explained, “[I] had to fire someone on my US team, with her newborn on her arm, couldn't even say how wrong it was, for fear of getting sued. Read 3 sentences and put the phone down. Absolutely horrible, apparently the norm in the US.”



A parent in Sweden noted the protections in place for workers who need to take time off, saying,  “If my kid is sick, until they are 12 I stay home from work but still receive 80% of my day's pay. Also, when I call at 6:30 to tell my job… I receive zero attitude whatsoever.”

An ongoing challenge for parents in the US is balancing childcare coverage with their own employment, and they’re often put in a literal lose-lose situation, as in, they could lose their jobs for taking too much time to care for their kids when they’re sick. 


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5. Affordable and easily accessible fresh food

A more lighthearted yet crucial answer was that in Europe, there’s more access to fresh food at affordable prices, available in local stores. One person praised the availability of “fresh-baked bread for reasonable prices that you can get in walking distance of your home, and aren't full of preservatives.”

“I’m just going to assume ‘really good cheese’ is a legitimate answer,” commented someone else. Anyone living in the US right now can attest that prices at the grocery store are astronomical, as the cost of living rises, while wages have yet to catch up.


The overarching theme as to what American luxuries are European normalities comes down to one main thing: A safety net. 

As one American noted about the mundane yet luxurious access points, like going to the doctor and buying fruit,  "I know that those things might not seem like luxuries to many folks, but just imagine how great life in the US could be, but isn't.”

A European had a philosophical sign-off to their take on the differences between American and European life, stating, “My country is far from perfect. We have our issues. But hopefully, we can… hold onto the things that make our countries truly great and worth defending in the first place.”

The hope for a better world for everyone springs eternal. These answers highlight that there are actionable and accessible ways to provide a significantly higher quality of life than the lives we’re living now. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.