Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Europe's Standards of Living Are Overstated...Especially for American Bachelors

I had meant to write more economics pieces during and post my European trip.  Then Asshole Consulting took off, I had to winterize my house in anticipation of the Minnesota winter, and now it's the holiday season.  It wasn't through anything but sheer luck I have a glimpse of time at this moment and I fully intend on using it to write about my most important observation about Europe - that it's standards of living are overstated, and especially so for bachelors.

Admittedly, I did not travel all of Europe.  I visited Switzerland, Italy and a bit of France.  But in sampling those three countries (not to mention practically scouring all of Switzerland and Italy) I can say with reasonable confidence in at least those three countries standards of living are overstated.  Of course in the Eastern European Empire of Roosh things may be different, and northern Europe I left untouched, but I believe even the regional differences aside there are some European wide structural differences that not only puts it at a disadvantage compared to the US, but costs its people a lower standard of living.

The first and most painfully obvious reason was the cost of food.  I know food does not account for anywhere near a significant percentage of GDP, but since it stimulates one of the five senses and is kind of a "necessity," I was shocked how expensive the food was.

In Switzerland a Big Mac (just the burger, not the meal) on average cost $12.  If it cost cheaper somewhere else, I was unaware of it, but I was HONORED to pay "only" $8.50 for a Burger King Big Whopper.  Even that was a "deal" because twice I paid over $120 for dinner for four.  Admittedly once was in Montreaux (and expensive resort town on Lake Geneva), but it was certainly overpriced.

Second, and related, was the quality of food.

I don't know what idiotic 16 year old suburbanite American girl came up with the lie to make her trip to Europe more exotic than it was, but the food absolutely sucks.  The two times I paid $120+ for dinner the food was on par with gas station food, and not even good gas station food.  Mac and Cheese, a panini sandwich so toasted you'd lose a filling, and with a stingy thin slice of "prosciutto" (which I believe is Italian for "one atom-thick slick of pork").  And I think my girlfriend had the leaf sandwhich with three-eye-droplets of Diet Coke.   If you factor in the quality and quantity of food, Europe probably costs quadruple what it does in the US.

Third, gas.

Yes, I know gas is more expensive in Europe.  Yes, I am also aware "well, but tuition and health care are free there!"  That does me no good.  Unless you're old or in college, these offsetting social programs don't benefit the majority of people who have to endure it.  But it is not the mere nominal costs of gas that lowers the standards of living as much as it is when you combine it with the fact 1960's highways were built on the towns' 500AD European infrastructure.  So not only do you get to pay more in gas, you get to use more as you meander through indirect highways and clogged city streets that were designed for cattle.

Fourth, housing.

Unless new construction, the vast majority of housing in Europe is inferior to the US.  This is not an insult to the European peoples or their carpenters as much as it is a result of the majority of their housing being before the US even existed.  A "nice house" is jammed right next to others with roof spines sagging and shared yards.  Every castle I saw looked like a home-owner's fixit nightmare.  And the prices are so high you never own your home as much as just pay the interest on the mortgage.  Simply because the US is/was less densely populated and the majority of its housing stock built with updated technologies, the quality of housing (and thus your living/dwelling experience) is much nicer.

Finally, the hotels.

I was very much looking forward to finding a quiet, hidden Italian village where I promised myself and girlfriend we would "sit and do nothing."  I just wanted to find a nice hotel next to the ocean and get drunk on vino.

Never happened.

Not just because to drive from one town to another in Italy will make you so stressed out and weary you can't enjoy a wine, but because the hotels are really not that nice and neither is the wine.  We stayed at great, high end hotels in Stresa, Bellagio, and Florence and NONE OF THEM beat something as average as the Crowne Plaza in Billings, Montana.  Again, some of this has to do with the outdated technologies these "premier" hotels were built with, but the furniture and fixings are literally no better than a Hotel 8.  In short, even their most luxurious hotel in Bellagio (on Lake Como) comes nowhere near the quality and caliber of the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

There were many other things, but the point is whether it's something basic as food or luxurious as a hotel on Lake Como, the costs are twice that of the US for goods and services that are a fraction of the quality and quantity.

However, shocking and appalling as the costs and economic lower standards of living were, there was one thing that was even more cumbersome and "standards-of-life-dropping."

The culture.

Not that Europe is "uncultured." It certainly is, and in many regards, more so than the US.  But the European culture is absolutely antithetical to the freedom-loving, American bachelor.

Understand that the American bachelor is arguably the freest person in the entire world.  We can get up when we want.  Do what we want.  Eat when we want.  Go when we want.  And go wherever we want.  This isn't to say that in Europe there are Nazi guards at the borders checking your papers, preventing you from enjoying these freedoms, there isn't.  But it is to say the European culture is not conducive to providing the support structure for this level of freedom.

And it's maddening.

Most obvious is that you do not have the "Freedom to Eat Whenever You Want."


Because every freaking store closes down at siesta for 1-2 hours and then permanently for the day around 7PM.  Yes, there probably is one or two places on the continent that might be open till 10PM, but I didn't see them.  The problem this presents, however, to the American bachelor is that he no longer has the luxury of not worrying about when to eat.  After three days without a host the PRIMARY determinant of where we went, what time we left, and what town we'd get a hotel in, was not determined by our traveling desires, but at what time we could get food, specifically diner.

You may be laughing, but consider the drop in standard of living this presents to a bachelor.  Time and freedom are the only things that matter.  And if you can get food 24-7, a vital and key necessity is taken care of, allowing you to travel wherever, whenever you want.  However, without 24-7 access to food, you are no longer entitled to 100% of your free time.  Some of it, now needs to be dedicated and thus restricted based on the operating hours of food providers.

Closely related to this culture of "close when grandpa goes to bed," is the highway system.  Bachelors like to travel, especially American ones.  And key to this travel is the US interstate system COMBINED WITH gas stations that are not just open, but serving food and other staples of life (toiletries, oil, aspirin, etc.) 24-7.  But without this amazing infrastructure, the concept of taking a midnight road trip on a whim across the country/continent just isn't possible in Europe.  There were times that (despite a much higher density population than Wyoming) I was more worried about running out of gas in Europe than in Wyoming.  Not that there weren't gas stations, but they weren't open.

This meant we had to travel knowing full when and where we'd get gas if we were traveling at night.  It also meant buying food before hitting their "highway" system, but having to wait till it was open...but not too late or we'd hit "siesta."  This may sound "whinny" and "complainy," and it is.  But it is still a dramatic drop in the freedom-go-now-don't-worry standard American bachelors are accustomed to.

Finally, there are no Wal-Marts, Perkins, or any other large 24-7 facilities where you can buy other wares or food.

I remember traveling across the American southwest many years ago and pulling into Alamogordo, New Mexico, where in BRILLIANT and ILLUMINATED glory was a Wal-Mart open and operational at 3AM.  Not only could I buy the food and camping equipment I needed, but

a bottle of Jack Daniels
an X-Box

and everything else that can be found in a Wal-Mart.

Not only does Europe suffer a dramatically lower standard of living because they have no such thing, but the bachelor particularly so.  The bachelor is not only forced to buy from the same overpriced local village "family stores" families are, but they also have to abide by these companies' restrictive hours of operation.

In short, if you go to Europe as an American bachelor prepare for a culture shock.  And not just "oh they wear different clothes or their toilets are funny," or $12 Big Macs.  But for what is going to be a dramatic decrease in your freedom of mobility and the convenience you've grown accustomed to here in the US.  Yes, the US has it's issues, and certainly Europe has it's benefits (somewhere I'm sure), but you will come back infinitely more appreciate of the US, its infrastructure, how it operates 24-7 for its people, and the freedom that allows you to, at the drop of a hat, just get in your car and go.


Anonymous said...


I love your blog, really I do, which is why reading this post makes me sad. As an Aussie who lived in the Italian Alps for over 10 years, you're coming across as the "Ugly American Abroad".

I was a bachelor for most of those years and it was fricking heaven, mate. I don't have time this morning to take apart every point in your post, but I'll just settle for one.

You say you could only get food at certain times, when in the US you can eat whenever you want. This is not bad, it is good. Firstly, there are far less fat chicks as a result. You don't see Italians walking around Italy stuffing their faces, tourists are another matter). This is why Italians can eat lots of pasta and pizza and not get fat. There is also no forced eating at an office desk while you continue to slave away for the man. Most people go home for lunch, or go to a restaurant. You take your time over your food, you enjoy it. Which means your body is satisfied and doesn't continually crave nourishment. Meals are an event, not a chore to get through.

The end result is you appreciate food more, you eat better, and there are far less fat chicks to wade through.

I told you before you left that I'd lived there for a long time and that I could take care of your culinary needs in many places. Don't start whinging now because in your bedlam trip you only found tourist traps with laminated menus.

If you wish to discuss the other points and hear from an ex-European bachelor, I'm happy to skype it up some time.


Jeff Wood said...

Aaron, much of what you say is fair comment. However, two points.

First, everyone on the planet finds Switzerland appallingly expensive, even compared to the general high cost of living in western Europe. Not entirely their fault: the Swiss Franc has always been overvalued as a refuge currency.

(The US dollar is at the moment, rather undervalued as part of the currency game, so we Yurpans can feel expensive to Americans.)

Second, it was only when you had left that I uploaded a little book on driving in Italy. It explains that at gas stations which are closed, either for lunch or for the night, it is possible to buy fuel with cash or card, using orange machines which work the pumps.

I do hope that, nevertheless, you enjoyed the trip.

pant said...

I usually agree with your opinion, but her you're generalizing too much, it applies for only a small part of europe.

You went to Italy, Switzerland and France (I'll guess it was the part of France near the two other countries). Those are 3 area known to be expensive. They get a lot of tourism, so the prices are high, and they stay high even out of tourist season.

There are many other parts of Europe where food is dirt cheap. And I'm not talking about McDonald's, fast food is american and it will never be as cheap as in the USA, but real food is cheap (meat, vegetables, etc.) in most of europe.

You can also trust what you eat more than in the US, food regulations are far harsher than in America and the products are usually healthier.

As for gas station, I never had gas problem while driving around europe, but you're right about food and asprin, most gas station shops aren't open at night, you can just take gas with a debit card.

Housing really depends on the country, it's expensive in France and a rip off in Switzerland, but it's dirt cheap in Belgium (except for Brussel) for example. Some part of Germany and most of the Netherlands are inexpensive too.

Highways are also far more direct when we aren't talking about areas with many mountains. Where I live, highways are pretty much straight lines from city to city.

As for siesta, it is only in Italy and Spain (I may forget a country, but 95% of europe don't do siesta).

If you live in the city there are also many shops open 24/7, you can't buy guns there but you should find most usual foods. So it's not as complete as Walmart but it's far from what you seem to believe europe is.

I don't think walmart should be the most important thing to consider when choosing a country.

Anonymous said...

Sry for the multiple comment, blogger comment section didn't seem to work at the moment.

To de Plume said...

Hey Cappy. We were in Italy at the same time. Tried to get together for a cocktail or four, but kept missing each other. One thing I noticed, and that was that I did not notice the hospitals. We probably spend too much of our healthcare dollars on the physical building, so many of our medical centers are downright lavish. But the one hospital I did notice was a pediatric hosptial in Rome and it looked like the type they are always demolishing in our own cities. One visit to Italy does not make me an expert on the European healthcare system, but I have to say I have a lot of questions.

Wilco said...

This reminds me of Jeffrey Thomas's work Cap - he also has a way of making you appreciate the sheer audacity, hard work and ingenuity that makes our mundane comforts possible.

Very refreshing to hear a post-travel account that didn't revolve around someone's "amazing experiences with the amazing people of Amazingland".

kurt9 said...

I visted Europe (U.K., Swiss, and Germany) 3 times while living in Asia (Japan and Taiwan) during the 90's. Despite having the reputation of being the most expensive country in the world to live in, I found Japan was actually quite reasonable compared to either U.K, Swiss, or Germany. Eating out in restaurants was cheaper in Japan than any of the aforementioned Europeans countries. The food is better in Japan and Taiwan. Beer is better in UK and Germany.

Housing is reported less expensive in Japan than anywhere in Western Europe. This was true even during Japan's bubble. It is especially true today.

Cappy, your impressions of Europe are similar to mine. It is actually not a particular cheap or convenient place to live. Even Japan is better. the rest of East or South East Asia is far better.

Anonymous said...

Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world overall, and especially for food.

Anonymous said...

I've been to twenty five different countries. AU/UK/EU/ASIA/ME/South/Central America.

I believe that the USA is one of the least expensive places to live in the world when you take into account the cost of food, products, gas, and housing. If you're able to not having crushing student loan debt, and can find affordable medical care. It is one of the safest, most comfortable and convenient places to live. It also has less bureaucracy than any most if not all G8 nations I'm aware of (as unbelievable as it sounds, although YMMV depending on your state).

The UK/AU are giant fucking nanny states, central and south America are corrupt shit holes (though they are beautiful and have the hottest women in the world).

What does EU have that the USA doesnt? Mountains? Beaches? Forest? We got it all in our country, without the crippling cost of living, the insane taxes, and the bureaucracy/nanny state bullshit.

Though I disagree on the food. The food in rome was incredible, although it was expensive.

Tyler said...

Having spent a good chunk of a year in the Netherlands/Germany I can say that it is pretty much the same over there as what you mentioned in Italy/Switz.

The only difference is maybe the housing and the highways where a bit more advanced outside of the "Old Town" districts. That said the housing and Highways being more modern maybe due to the fact that the area I was living in the Netherlands was reclaimed land that they developed in the 1950s, and the areas in Germany were war torn so had to be rebuilt in the 1950s based on necessity.

In regards to transportation the one major benefit I enjoyed over there was trains. So instead of an overnight road trip on a whim you could do an overnight train trip... with the added bonus of being able to get boozed up and not worrying about a DUI or Killing yourself. Not significant enough benefit to outweigh Wal Mart and Interstates though

Jack McOck said...

In Switzerland, we don't have Obamacare.

WompWomp said...

You should see the housing stock (And what it sells for) in the UK.

Seriously, if you get bored look on sites like Rightmove and look at the prices for both older properties in need of maintenance, AND 'built as cheaply as possible, then a bit more' New builds.

Read it, and enjoy the fact you've had your property bubble crash.

When it goes here, it's taking everything with it. They're throwing EVERYTHING they can at it. It would make you die a little inside, as an economist.

Anonymous said...

As an European that has limited travel in the USA, I can but agree with you.

Michael said...

I don't think you'd like most of the UK outside of London, then. And from what I've read from you you're not that keen on cities either. In fact, your writings on your European trip reminded me of a Stewart Lee sketch from a couple years ago ''Quality of life....massive prawns....quality of life...massive prawns....
'', tried to find a link to it, but no dice. Google recognises my search query, but refuses to deliver, it seems like. It's from Carpet Remnant World.

Anonymous said...

From a Tramp Abroad By Mark Twain

It has now been many months, at the present writing, since I have had a nourishing meal, but I shall soon have one—a modest, private affair, all to myself. I have selected a few dishes, and made out a little bill of fare, which will go home in the steamer that precedes me, and be hot when I arrive—as follows:

Radishes. Baked apples, with cream
Fried oysters; stewed oysters. Frogs.
American coffee, with real cream.
American butter.
Fried chicken, Southern style.
Porter-house steak.
Saratoga potatoes.
Broiled chicken, American style.
Hot biscuits, Southern style.
Hot wheat-bread, Southern style.
Hot buckwheat cakes.
American toast. Clear maple syrup.
Virginia bacon, broiled.
Blue points, on the half shell.
Cherry-stone clams.
San Francisco mussels, steamed.
Oyster soup. Clam Soup.
Philadelphia Terapin soup.
Oysters roasted in shell-Northern style.
Soft-shell crabs. Connecticut shad.
Baltimore perch.
Brook trout, from Sierra Nevadas.
Lake trout, from Tahoe.
Sheep-head and croakers, from New Orleans.
Black bass from the Mississippi.
American roast beef.
Roast turkey, Thanksgiving style.
Cranberry sauce. Celery.
Roast wild turkey. Woodcock.
Canvas-back-duck, from Baltimore.
Prairie liens, from Illinois.
Missouri partridges, broiled.
'Possum. Coon.
Boston bacon and beans.
Bacon and greens, Southern style.
Hominy. Boiled onions. Turnips.
Pumpkin. Squash. Asparagus.
Butter beans. Sweet potatoes.
Lettuce. Succotash. String beans.
Mashed potatoes. Catsup.
Boiled potatoes, in their skins.
New potatoes, minus the skins.
Early rose potatoes, roasted in the ashes, Southern style, served hot.
Sliced tomatoes, with sugar or vinegar. Stewed tomatoes.
Green corn, cut from the ear and served with butter and pepper.
Green corn, on the ear.
Hot corn-pone, with chitlings, Southern style.
Hot hoe-cake, Southern style.
Hot egg-bread, Southern style.
Hot light-bread, Southern style.
Buttermilk. Iced sweet milk.
Apple dumplings, with real cream.
Apple pie. Apple fritters.
Apple puffs, Southern style.
Peach cobbler, Southern style
Peach pie. American mince pie.
Pumpkin pie. Squash pie.
All sorts of American pastry.
Fresh American fruits of all sorts, including strawberries which are not to be doled out as if they were jewelry, but in a more liberal way.
Ice-water—not prepared in the ineffectual goblet, but in the sincere and capable refrigerator.

Adam Selene said...

First: McDonalds? My son worked at a McDonalds when he was in high school. Two weeks into the job he told me that he would never eat at one again. 17 and he knew that only morons eat at McDonalds and in Europe only moron American tourists eat at McDonalds. They saw you coming.

Second: I haven't been to Europe for years so I don't personally know, but my buddy travels to Europe 4 or 5 times a year and he told me a week ago that the food prices were cheaper there. By the way, he is chef/owner of a restaurant here, so he knows food prices. Again, they saw you coming.

Third: Food in Switzerland? Get real, the great Swiss recipe is fondu. MELTED CHEESE. No one goes to Switzerland for the food.

Fourth: Prosciutto like Serrano is for intended for people with taste buds, not for McDonalds devotees. If all you want is a thick slab of pig meat, try Spam.

Fifth: Can't get food whenever you want? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe McDonalds is a step up from the Kwik-E-Mart cuisine that you are used to. Good restaurants aren't open 24 hours a day here either and neither is much of anything else.

There is a lot wrong with Europe, but food isn't on the list.

Anonymous said...

Next time, try Vienna. Food was plentiful, amazing, and relatively inexpensive. They have a flagship Julius Meinl grocery store that blows away anything you'd see in the United States. Also, there was this Scandanavian seafood chain that had delcious offerings, and very reasonably priced. This was about 5 years ago, but I can't imagine things have changed that much.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh - the Crowne Plaza Billings! Just two blocks away is "The Rex," one of the finest steakhouses in the western US. A great wine wine list with reasonable prices too. Should've stayed home ;-)


The First Joe said...

Lol. Switzerland is THE most expensive country in Europe! (Except maybe bits of Scandanavia) and if you were in Northern Italy or the French Alps near the Swiss / Italian border - also super expensive, for Europe... I travelled through that region on my first InterRail way back in 1990, on a serious shoestring - I could barely afford to eat in Switzerland (and I was staying in hostels and camping) - I made one salami type sausage that probs weighed about 1lb last 4 days (rest of my "diet" on that trip was bread, cheese and apples - but hey I got to travel for a month and saw amazing stuff, on £400 that I'd saved from holiday jobs.)... Anyway - if you want cheap, relaxed Europe with great, cheap food and wine - try Malaga, in Andalucia, South of Spain. Fantastic fish and seafood. And yeah there IS siesta (get used to it) but they're real night owls and the shops and supermarkets stay open late. ...

Paul, Dammit! said...

I travel to all the places tourists don't go- I'm a merchant mariner, so I go to where commerce takes place.

I hate, hate, hate sailing outside the US. Convenience issues aside, and the rampant petty crime that exists virtually everywhere else outside of N. America and northern European coastal cities, visiting Europe is depressing. Our culture is evolved from theirs, whether we like it or not, and we went our own way. I happen to like our way. I'm not a big fan of their filthy, filthy hospitals full of undertrained staff who do their best with limited resources (the UK, every country that lines the Med), the rampant classism and hurdles to private ownership of virtually anything, and their socialistic cultures that place greater emphasis on the collective good and less on the individual's right of self-determination.

Thing is, we're never going to see through to reconcile these things. We're all culturally indoctrinated. Americans, most of us, anyhow, are descended from people who wanted pretty much the opposite of most of what their ancestors were content with (or more of it, for some things). Their ancestors looked at the things they had, and found them sufficient.
I love the accessibility to history that is part of European culture. You really feel the age of things, the connectedness. I'm American, though. I like that stuff, but I love the fact that I'm more easily able to go my own way after having seen what I wish to see.

Jones said...

You obviously didn't try to take a shower after 2200 local time in Switzerland ...


Seriously, fuck Switzerland -- they sold their future to the American government anyway, so they Deserve Their Decline.

Anonymous said...

I could read all you wrote in this post on your face - from the picture you posted on the blog before, when you arrived. I could see how demoralized you became the moment you landed, basically you didn’t look like an American anymore, you looked like Europeans. I’ll want to look at that picture again when I have time.

Why didn’t you come closer to Eastern Europe, come visit Romania, come to the Middle Eve!
At least you will eat organic food from those village families and experience how they live freedom by producing their own food and not depending on the monetary system.

Anonymous said...

Hi.I´m sorry to spoil your rant,but you definitely screwed up in choosing locations. I mean the food part(the gas is taxed as it is and no, the healthcare is not free, enough to check the paycheck).
I am from the Eastern European Empire but I go often to France for business and I have never had a bad meal and I have very much the same(yet limited) experience in Italy. As for Switzerland, the rule of thumb is don´t spend money money there, since it´s the most expensive country south of Scandinavia.
In Champagne I regularly stay at a winemaker´s for 74€ two persons breakfast included.The dinner is 45€ per capita, 4 courses home cuisine(you dine with the owner), a glass (or two if they are in a good mood and you talk with them) different Champagne with each course.
The most expensive dinner I have had was 65€ and that was 7 courses, 7 different wines and a 10 y. o. pear brandy. This is considered better medium class restaurant in an inland touristic and winemaking region.
A normal lunch anywhere in France costs up to 20€, a dinner can be anywhere from 15 to 50€. A dinner means an Hors d´oeuvre + main dish + cheese and/or dessert, coffee, water and wine.
What you describe suggests you fell for a tourist bait. The prejudice about Americans is they have money and they don´t know good food from junk, hence you 120USD dinner experience. I would say that only american and russian tourists sponsor such restaurants, all aothers have the good sense to avoid them. When you go to Europe next time let us know, we´ll give some good addresses.

Andrew said...

I live in Vietnam and much of what you said about quality of housing and the restricted hours of stores and restaurants.

However, what absolutely makes up for this tenfold is everything here is dirt cheap. I can get a big meal for 30000 VND ($1.50 US) very easily, although the western places cost more. It costs about 75000 VND to fill my motorcycle tank. My apartment is $450/month and comes with a maid service.

Mr. Clarey, have you ever been to Southeast Asia? It would be interesting to hear your take on this region.

Doubting Richard said...

As an Englishman who has seen most of Europe (I was a pilot flying light charter, and have visited every country west of the old Iron Curtain and several East thereof) I can confirm that what Mr Clarey says is typical.

In Italy and France (Greece, Spain and Portugal too) if you have time to explore and find the cheap places the older locals use the food is both better and a little cheaper, but even most locals don't frequent them.

Many of the countries Mr Clarey missed are even more expensive, especially Scandinavia, the darlings of the left.

I have visited them all and have worked with Norwegians, Finns and Danes. A basic 20-year-old car will set you back at least Kr 40,000. My friend paid that in Norway for a VW Golf (Rabbit) of that sort of age. This is something that would cost about £3-500 in the UK, but that translates to around £4000 or US$6500. The tax system is such that it is even more expensive to import a used car from Germany for example. A beer is upwards of Kr 60 in a bar for about 12 oz. The shops in Norway cannot sell beer after I think 9 pm, so I have paid about Kr70-80 for a 16 oz can of Carlsberg, a very basic mass-market beer, in a hotel bar (on expenses; I would not spend that much of my money!).

Funny thing is how even the east is getting more expensive if you are not local. I had to renegotiate my expenses which they tried to restrict to £25 a day. I spent it all on one dinner, a fixed menu and two beers, in Hungary! OK I was stuck in the hotel as it was near the airport, and nothing else but this was not even Budapest (can't remember where it was) hence no choice around.

The UK has a reputation for being expensive but nowadays apart from housing it is not really by European standards. Fuel is now about the same as Europe at about $7.25 per US gallon (was about $8 until recently). Food is now about the same as Europe in price, but generally better and in a city available until late at night, even 24 hours if you don't mind a lack of choice. Parts of London don't even get quiet until 3 in the morning, and then the new day starts at about 5. The great thing is that the food can be fantastic: in my smallish town of about 20,000 people there are probably the best Indian, Chinese, Italian and Turkish restaurants I know (and I am typing this in İzmir in Turkey, where my wife was born!) as well as a good pub/restaurant with British food. You can always find a good Indian and Chinese, a good burger place (there are even a few Five Guys!), a good food pub and a decent Italian, often nowadays others like sushi, Japanese noodles or Korean food.

We also have no siesta and 24-hour Tesco superstores or Asda (owned by Walmart but not as good - Tesco is better) although it is infuriating that they can only open for 6 hours on a Sunday.

The take home I would say is that everywhere is expensive for Americans and that the countries with a good reputation for food no longer deserve it unless you can spend time to find a traditional place, the countries with a bad reputation for food generally have better food. Only Britain is getting close to the 24-hour life a pilot on ad-hoc charter needs, and it is not quite there yet.

Anonymous said...

Yeah in Europe you shouldn't live in a small town. Most people flock to the cities since Europe isn't car friendly and people are used to not living in large houses. As for old buildings, I have never heard of someone spending significant time on "winterizing".

With long distance commute out of the way you also have time to cook at home, which means better food at lower cost - unless you grab convenience food which is often bad and expensive. And well even if it costs more it's still better than having to look at grotesquely obese people all the time.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Clarey
I have a friend who is in the seminary in Rome to become a Catholic priest and he says that if you go where the locals go then the food is cheaper. I can not confirm this, but I believe him as he was always good at finding cheap places with good food to eat here in Chicago. I imagine that their housing is crappier and more expensive because who wants to tear down an old house to build a new one unless the old one can't be fixed anymore and the population density of Europe is much higher than the USA. I was in Europe in 1988 and public transportation is more often a better way to go than driving.

It is easier for a man to get sex in Europe. Consider why that is that "GAME" or seduction skills developed first and the most in the Anglosphere especially in North America, USA and Canada, and to a somewhat lesser extent in Britain and Ireland. Australia and New Zealand seem to be in 3rd place. Think about Canadian Eric "Mystery" Marcovic and Neil "Style" Strauss. Why? Part of it is because many European countries have legalized safe inexpensive prostitution. North America with the exception of some counties of Nevada is the biggest Prostitution Prohibition zone in the world. Prostitution in throughout all of New Zealand is lawful and in some of the eastern provinces of Australia where most of the people live it is too. Even the legal Nevada brothels have a reputation for being a lot more expensive than the legal European brothels. There was simply no other choice but to learn GAME or go without one's penis ever feeling a vagina in North America. Although places like Sweden, Norway and Iceland are complete and utter shitholes because of their feminasty prohibition of prostitution with France, Ireland and Britain coming close for being just as bad as the Nordic countries I stated, there are places like Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Spain where it is perfectly legal and there is such a thing called cheap Ryan Airline flights.

I only bring this up because the ability to get laid with relative ease and safety should be considered when one is talking about what is good for bachelors. Now, don't get me wrong because I have always supported GAME over pursuing prostitutes"WHORE MONGERING". However, not all men will get good at GAME because many do not have it within them no matter how much they try and even more will give up in disgust at their failure. When a man knows he can get pussy, he has much better frame when dealing with women. Yes, good GAME is better than Prostitution for fucking women, but Prostitution is better than desperation which a higher percentage of North American men feel than Western European men even though I think the men who are good at GAME is a higher percentage in North America than Western Europe. Please feel free to respond.


Anonymous said...

Dude, how old are you??

You just PERFECTLY described traveling anywhere in the United States back in the 70's and early 80's!

Thanks for the article, gave me a god LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for discussing the reality and mentioning the downside instead of romanticising everything about the place especially it's old ness and history. Hearing about what you'd have to put up with over there is refreshing...a friend who visited Rome said there are so many pickpockets blatantly groping you that you literally must strap your wallet or purse on. Your post makes me appreciate the good ol USA so let the butthurt come on here and inform us how gauche we are. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Wow America sounds amazing, All those open stores. I think I've been reading too many far right articles which sounds all doom and gloom.

In Norway nearly everything is shut on a Sunday, like Western Australia used to be in 2010. Alcohol a beer costs about $3.40USD at the supermarket and can only be brought untill 8pm max alcohol content 4.7%. For everything stronger you have to go to the state owned alcohol store which closes at 5pm (Or is it 6) Monday to Friday. There are some benefits of that system, like if you are starting a brewing company in Norway then your product will get free distribution up and down the country, OTHERWISE you have to pay for shelf space in the supermarket. YES the company has to pay for shelf space in the supermarket up and down the country so there is a very big monopoly by the big companies on food products and the alcohol corporations want to do that to the alcohol sector.

I like this article and your article on capitalism on returnofkings. I really liked the bit about the black economy in operation under communism it was that bit that you realise that communism only works in books and faery tales. Haha I used to be a staunch communist/socialist when I was younger, So glad I grew out of that phase.

Keep up the good work :)

Herr Nei Navn

B Dailey said...

Great article.

It's funny however, how many of the features you see as bad about Europe I see as good.

I don't give a rats ass about being able to go to some crappy big box mart at 1:30am to buy cheap GMO food stuffed with hydrolized fats and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

In the small shops you can actually get to *know* the people, and it's a *community*, better than some corporate bollocks employing minimum wage morons.

In Europe you are never more than a few 100 miles away from the Ocean (80 miles max in UK for example). I'd hate to live in the middle of the US surrounded by fucking malls and parking lots, even if they are open 24/7

I've seen a fair few US cities and hotels, and they are full of cheap made in China garbage. FOr example instead of *real brass knobs* made in 19C, there's a lot of fake painted plastic trash passing off as being high class - I guess most Americans can't see it.

I like high culture, I can visit HIll forts from the Bronze age, Megalithic ruins, Roman ruins, Normal castles etc. It's a feeling of blood and soil that you cannot pick up in a few weeks travel.

If I had to stay i the USA for an extended period I'd likely feel cut-off and depressed. ALso in Europe places like Athens and the Pyramids are only a short trip away.

YOu actually think super-highways are a good thing? THe list goes on. Even the Casinos here are better, one zero, instead of double zero you get at tacky "Vegas". As a US citizen you can enjoy paying Federal taxes no matter where you live in the World. Finally we can shagg the same Eastern European hookers for half the price and they take it up the ass!