Flats versus Apartments
There's an American dream and a European one. Although they do seem to be growing more and more alike, they will always remain distinctly different in certain respects. While I've always lived in an American bubble, I've always been captivated by the European realm.
The American/European debate is a big one. I'm still contemplating the pros and cons of each aesthetic. For this article, I'm talking about the physical differences between European flats for rent and American rental apartments.
For those that don't know, a British/Euro "flat" is synonymous with the word "apartment" as we use it in the US. If I say I'm looking for a flat in the States, people think I'm trying to be too Euro and sound snotty. If I say "apartment" in England, people immediately know I'm American and think I'm an idiot. You need always to be on your A game and know where you are and to whom you're speaking.
In general, you can get a much bigger apartment in the States than anywhere in Europe. (I'm speaking in general terms. Yes, technically, you could probably get a huge flat on some farm in Romania.) Generally though, there is more space in America and much larger living areas are built for cheaper.
2. Europe Has No Word for "Closet"
Europe has no closets. They seriously do not have closets. What do they use to store (ahem, cram) their belongings and clothes in? IKEA is their God. They've invented every kind of wardrobe in the world: one for shoes, one for pants, another for special socks and underwear (not to mention hats, suits, pullovers, etc.). When you buy an apartment in the States, a closet is always part of the deal. Why? Because it makes sense to create a special place for one's clothes.
In Germany, my parents had their clothes hanging on racks (the ones Americans often use for old clothes in their attics or basements). However, my parents had the racks in their bedrooms, practically on top of one another. It looked awful, and think about the amount of dust, lint, and crap floating around in the air landing on your squished clothing.
3. A Bathroom Cabinet is an American Thing
In my experience, having lived in numerous different European countries, there were no cabinets. You know, like the ones you have under your bathroom sink. Everyone's toiletry kit is either on top of the toilet seat, on some random ledge, or stuffed under their right armpit while they attempt to brush their teeth. In America, bathroom cabinets are a given. Why? Because, again, it just makes sense.
4. In Germany, Nothing is Included
Yeah, I don't get it. When looking for a flat in Germany, many times you'll walk inside an apartment and there is nothing there. Nothing. The people who lived there before took the kitchen cabinets, sinks, toilets, bathtub, curtains, curtain rods, mirrors, and even the freakin' light bulbs! I'm not exaggerating. I know many families, including my own, that would find completely stripped rooms when they looked for apartments. When we asked what happened to the kitchen sink, the response would be, "What do you mean? The previous occupants took it. Just like they took their TV and couch." Yeah.... It's a little different in the US. We don't walk out with the A/C unit or countertops on our back. Then again, it's true we do take the washer/dryer and refrigerators. I guess Europeans take that idea to a whole new level.
5. No Garbage Disposal in the Sink
Most Americans are accustomed to using that most excellent invention called the garbage disposal (or "garborator," as I call it). In Europe? No way. Gutting a chicken? Well, be prepared to take out all of those guts and place them into the trashcan by hand. In Europe, it's magical thinking to assume you'll press a button and grind everything inside the sink and into the sewage drains. Imagine washing dirty dishes every night.
6. Dryers? Are You Kidding Me?
This one absolutely amazes me. Ready? There are no clothes dryers in Europe! Have you been to England? Do you know what the weather is like in London, Paris, Milan, Tirane, Prague, and almost every other European capital? Cold, dark, and rainy. Not every day of the year, but generally, the weather is pretty crappy. Still, you won't find a clothes dryer. Now, the Europeans do this for many reasons. One: The cost of the amount of energy used by a dryer. Two: A dryer is not very environmentally friendly. Three: There's no space to put a dryer, anyway.
So, you may wonder, what do people do in order to dry their clothes? Well, you can try getting the washer/dryer-in-one that is by no means a dryer. It's simply a device that spins the hell out of your clothes, ultimately draining it of water. The main way people dry their clothes is the old-fashioned way: on a clothesline. Now, that makes sense, right? Think again. How will you dry your clothes on a clothesline in a climate that is cold, dark, and rainy? You don't. Instead, you hang these crazy indoor clotheslines in your very small flat with no air circulation and attempt to rotate the clothing every ten hours in order to help the water evaporate. By the end of this one- to three-day process, you'll never want to wash your clothes again. You'll wear your uncomfortable, cardboard jeans and your stretched-out, wrinkly shirt for months until the dirt and smell is so bad that you must attempt this ridiculous process all over again.
7. Carpet? No. But Rugs Everywhere
No carpets in Europe. Yeah, you could special order a company to come in and add some carpet, but generally, no one has it. You buy rugs and live on that smelly, disgusting thing for years. Then, if you're like some Eastern European folk, you beat the hell out of that rug outside on some metal fence next to the bored-looking adolescent kids smoking on the stoop.
I don't care what they say, that American feeling of toeing a fluffy, white carpet after a long day of sweaty work is one of the best feelings on earth. Haven't you seen Die Hard 1 when Bruce Willis toes the carpet in his hotel room? I mean, "Yippee ki-yay mother fu..."! As a kid, I did school projects on the carpet, wrestled with my puppy in a sun-soaked spot on the carpet, and even lay reading the Sunday paper on the carpet. Geez. I might have a carpet fetish.
8. Refrigerator Size = No Comparison
This one is easy. Refrigerators in Europe are similar, if not identical, to the ones Americans had in their college dorms. In Europe, almost every fridge I had (if I even had a fridge) sucked. Small, smelly, and no auto-defrost. Europeans argue it's because they buy food every day at the local market and eat it fresh. Americans buy everything in bulk, buy it big, and, therefore, need space to hold everything. (Note: Can you buy an American-sized fridge in Europe? Of course, but again, most people don't have one.)
9. A/C Units? Ice Machines?
No and no. In Europe, use a fan. Aside from flats, even most places of business don't have air conditioning in their offices. It's bizarre. Sure, the weather is frigid most of the time, but summer can also be pretty damn hot. You can't walk into your flat and cool off. Buy a soda and, for the most part, it will be warm to cool, never American-style ice cold. Even some automobiles don't have air conditioning, but that's a separate issue.
10. Funny Windows with No Screens
Ok, Europeans want to have funny windows that open in many different directions. No problem. That's cool. I can dig that. In Germany, I used to be able to flip my window almost 360 degrees. Only one part of the window was locked, and the rest was completely movable.
Now, what about screens? It's a very simple invention, but a genius one. In the US, if you want some cool air, then open the window. No bugs or mosquitoes will get in because of the lovely screen. I used to play evil tricks on my dog and run inside my house and close the screen fast and watch my dog crash into it. No no, he didn't get hurt. In Europe if you leave a window open, insects and other animals will come in.
Is Europe Worth It?
Again, there are always outliers that don't fit generalizations like this, but I do believe for the most part that these distinctions hold true.
Now, should my list stop you from living in Europe? No way. Living in a coffin next to your IKEA dresser; wearing cardboard jeans and holding a toiletry bag under your armpit; sweating from the heat and fighting off mosquitoes as you stand in front of your college-sized fridge: It's all worth it.
Chris Mitchell from London on May 28, 2020:
Nice article, Perfect differentiate between flats and apartments. I really love to read this article. keep it up and sharing as well.
Caramel Popcorn on November 12, 2019:
I’m Australian, not what some in the comments call a butt-hurt European. I am of European descent.
I’ve been watching the lifestyle channel quite a bit recently. Most shows revolve around American fixer-uppers, moving abroad, moving states, and sheds. The main complaints I see from Americans inspecting homes, even in their own country, include
1) This living room is too small
2) There is only one bathroom!
3) This kitchen is too small
4) This bedroom is too small
5) There is no deck!
6) There is no door for this bathroom!
7) This bathroom is too small
8) There is not enough storage space for my clothing!
9) This house is not “open”’enough. I want open living area, dining area, kitchen etc.
10) I want to host people, there is not space for dining table
11) OMG, the washing machine and dryer are in the laundry
The list goes on. The shows are 85% whinge content.
Also, to the chick below talking about closets not being walk-in closets, we call them built-in wardrobes.
Gina on November 27, 2017:
There a couple of things to take in consideration:
1. Europe differs BIG TIME form one part to another and there is NO WAY you can generalise
2. In general there is less comfort in Europe but this is what makes an average European healthier, more conscious and less spoilt than an average American. I had an American flatmate that could not believe we don't own a microwave. 50% of the people I know have one, is just that many people are conscious and prefer not to use one because it's not healthy and not really necessary. We don't have elevators everywhere and my flatmate could not believe she had to carry her groceries to the third floor (it's just 3 floors). I mean guess why we're skinnier, don't forget humans are made to move. So yes it’s going to be a cultural shock, but because Americans are more spoilt in general.
3. Americans are whey bigger consumers than Europeans and they do have A LOT of unnecessary things. My flatmate used to buy 50 post cards for every place she visited, just like you'll ever look at those things again. Just hording in general. She bought an egg cutter that never used. She bought things for the sake of buying them and she said she is very minimal to the average American.
as to the description
1. Apartments are smaller true, but who wants to be slave of their own living space? You have to clean it, etc. It's nice to have a decent size, but for me American flats for the most part are oversized. The space in European cities is distributed differently and they are not extended.
2. Some people do have them and I'm sorry if your parents had racks. As far as I know only students have racks because they are on a super tight budget. And I prefer not to store my smelly shoes with my underwear.
3. the bathroom cabinet is completely false. We for example don't have one because we have huge drawers just under the sink and a huge mirror that covers the whole wall. But for the rest almost all my friends have them.
4. depends completely on the deal. You have both. All included and all excluded, or just partially included
5. it's not a big deal to take stuff and throw them in a garbage. It's not essential this one at all.
6. 80% of the people have them. If you live in Spain and the weather is always nice, why own one? I don't use mine because it's healthier to dry outside (sun kills bacteria) and they shrink or damage all my clothes.
7. it's a nice feeling but to me feels totally disgusting. You get more dust in general and I could not imagine having a dog and a carpet or laying down on one. If I can’t put the thing in the washing mashine, I’ll not lay on you.
8. our food rottens faster. In USA even organic veggies and fruits last much longer than our conventional food. I guess this is a huge healthy plus
9. Ice machines are not a necessity. Consumerism mentality here. And yes all public places have AC, flats depends, but usually 70% of them. In some places are not needed, some people don't want to spend. Don't forget there are more fat people in the US, for heavier people is essential to have them, because they suffer a lot. I keep mine to the minimum, so just when is super needed, because they are not healthy anyway.
10. It depends where you go again. The population and habits in Europe are super diverse compared to the US
Not having all the comfort I thing keeps European healthier and able to choose what is good over what unables your conscious thinking.
LarryLaffer on June 24, 2017:
1. Space - True. As long as you don't include densely populated USA cities like N.Y. Europe is quite densely populated where ever you go.
2. Closet - Wrong. They exist and there are words them too. E.g German-Wandschrank, French-armoire murale, Italian - armadio incassato, Spanish-armario empotrado, Portugese - armário de parede. Europe != British Isles
3. Bathroom cabinet - Wrong. Found them in Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Poland and yes, also on the British Isles.
4. Nothing included in Germany - Partly true/wrong. It depends on how the appartment is advertized. Some come with a fully equipped kitchen and more.
5. Garbage disposal in sink - True. Yes, we prefer not to feed the rodents and dirty dishes go into the dishwsher. We separate the things we throw away, we recycle lots of stuff.
6. Dryers - Wrong. Even as a student I had one of my own and believe me, I was not he only one. However I would strongly advise against putting things made from (cashmere) wool, silk et al in a dryer. It causes extra wear on the garements.
7. Carpets - True. They were quite popular some decades back. They're not pratical. Take on dirt so easily, spill something on it, problematic if you're an allergic.
8. Fridge size - Mostly true. Maybe it's because we don't have to go that far to our supermarkets. Maybe Europeans prefer buying fresh.
9. A/C - Mostly true. Hardly anywhere do you need an A/C. There will be a few hot weeks during July&August. For those few weeks it's not necessary to increase one's ecological footprint.
10. Windows w/o screens - true. If there is no need for it, why buy it? But if one wants to, easy to be found.
khurram on November 11, 2016:
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
10. Windows screens
Again, depends on the climate and location. I'm on the 5th floor and without screens, I sometimes get a house fly or two. When I lived in a house near a body of water, we had pop in screens for the summer season to keep the mosquitoes out.
A little extra: We have little entrance hall/lobby/foyer room which sports the entrance door (this is where you take off your shoes please). you'll never barge into someone's living room right off the street. We usually have basments and older houses will lack a back door. Also in my country garages are disconnected from the main house building ... this annoying I admit.
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
PART ... something
8. Refrigirator size
We really don't need bigger ones. Everything that goes into the fridge is usually in our walking distance, doesn't matter the size or the part of the city you are in. I'd like an ice machine tho.
This really depends where you live geographically, there's a multitude of climates across Europe. Our summers can be pretty hot (110F ~max) so most places have A/Cs, which are turned off most of the time. Why? Well simply put, you can't find a place that's built out of anything side from brick or cinder blocks here. The exterior walls are sometimes 1.5 brick thick or sport a styrofoam jacket insulation before the final finish and exterior facade painting coat. In short. During winter, warmth stays in, during summer, heat stays outside, also less flammable and leaky... Our houses stand strong ;)
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
It really varies. Some people have wall to wall carpets, but they are never glued/stapled to the ground (can be removed for cleaning). Some people prefer rugs or use them only on areas where they want to protect the hardwood floors from chairs, etc. Hardwood parquets are pretty much in every flat and they feel and look amazing all on their own. Laminate flooring is the cheaper alternative. What weirded me out in the US was carpeting in the bathrooms and in the kitchens... that feels filthy man... it's all in tiles here.
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
Some people have 'em, some don't... basically they use power, space and destroy your clothes. 99% of flats here have balconies (like my mid sized flat has 3) and that's where we put the clotheslines which fail only on the most freezing days (then the indoor ones are used). As for the duration of the process, well we simply plan 2 days ahead with our laundry and own more than one piece of any type of clothing that we might need on any given day.
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
4. Kitchen cabinets, fridges, bulbs... etc
Well I do really love how in the US moving is just this very fast simple process cause the place already has almost everything, but you can encounter that in EU too, when it comes to student housing and other ones that are meant to be temporary. But, when it comes to long term housing, we really don't want anyone's stuff in there. We customize everything from our living room to our kitchen and bathroom, and we use only the appliances we deem necessary... otherwise it feels like a hotel room and not our home.
5. Garbage disposal
I don't know, but these make me feel disgusted probably as much as an average US person feels disgusted by throwing leftover food in the trash can.
Arbalest on November 06, 2016:
I'm from mid/eastern Europe, Serbia and I just came back from living in LA for 4 months. Here's my 2 cents.
Yep apartments are these small things in which you hopefully live only temporarily. I live in a pretty spacious flat and I've seen people live in big flats across EU... you can find living space both small and huge, depends where you look (Country, city, city area...)
We have pretty sweet looking modern full wood wardrobes that can fit all your stuff... but why not have this inside a wall ... yea, US wins here.
3. Bath cabinets
Uhm we have 'em... cheap student hostels don't, every other place does. They are usually on the wall or built/designed around the mirror instead of under the sink (yay no bending)
Lissa on October 26, 2016:
Um... I think the target audience was to people in the USA who are debating moving/traveling to Eu. And I'm pretty sure the basic message was "Prepare for culture shock" followed by things OP has personally encountered, not "Eu sucks and here's why. BTW this is applicable to every place you could possibly come across in all of Europe".
As everyone knows, the general population of those here in the US (yes, myself included) are pretty oblivious to the inner workings of things happening outside of their own state, let alone their residing country. This post was just to give ideas on ways Eu *CAN* be different. I believe it goes without saying that things will be different depending on where one stays, what year the building was made, and so on and so forth. Eu is rich with historical sights. Older buildings typically = smaller rooms and less luxuries. That's not an insult, that's just a fact that Americans need to be reminded of because we take said luxuries for granted. In fact, most Americans WANT to go to Eu for the chance of being surrounded by all that charm and history. If OP was truly complaining about Eu, the post would have finished with some variation of "Don't come here, it's not worth it".
GB on October 23, 2016:
Whomever wrote this article is terribly ignorant. For one, apartment buildings in Europe are not built out of tabopan, like in Europe is called the conglomerated wood that they use in the USA, they are built of brick blocks or stone block that are durable and insulating. What here is called a house or apartment, in Europe those are vacation houses by the coast where people only spend 1 or 2 months out of the year. In Europe a house can take up to a whole year to build, compared to a couple of weeks in the USA. This is just the beginning. I was born in Europe and lived there for 30 years of my life. The person that wrote the article was only visiting and obviously didn't have the time to get the correct information. Yes, in most cases the appliances are owned by the person that lives in the apartment, which is not a bad thing, because we all have out preferences for appliances and get to keep what we like instead of having to be stuck with what someone else left behind. Next time do some decent research before you write an article and visit more than one or two apartments. You may actually learn something. The house that I lived in was over 200 years old and in great shape.
ch on September 26, 2016:
US: cheaply built cardboard houses that are constructed to hold only 50 years (wtf), no storage room in a basement or so (because … there is no basement), cheap carpets everywhere, some cheap fake-wood floor in kitchens/bathrooms, windows, that are not closing well or isolating at all, near cities quite pricy aparments that in Switzerland only unemployed, poor people on social security would live in (like, the people that are homeless in the states, because there is not really a thing like "social security" that prevents people from ending up homeless on the street).
I was shocked how low the standards are in the states. Houses that were built 100 years ago in Europe are more energy efficent and practical than newer homes in the US.
Gary on September 09, 2016:
Here in Scotland (and the same for the rest of the UK). We have...
Our fridges have anti frost and everything
Don't need screens on the windows because of climate. Don't need A/C in the house because of climate. Food disposals happen in a lot of new houses that have the right sewage drains to accommodate them.
Don't bundle the whole continent into the one bubble or you'll just sound like a fucking retard. Every country is as different from the next. Eastern European slavic countries are completely different from the likes of Spain or Portugal. Italy is different from Norway.
ELEN on August 21, 2016:
Lol, I have never seen an office or a shop without A/C. Every house has A/C. Try to live in Italy without it.
We do not use rugs or carpets.
The majority of houses have screens. Summers are the kingdom of mosquitos.
Valentia Sedano on June 01, 2016:
Why does everyone assume he means a Walk-In Closet when he says Closet? Walk-In Closets are rare, even in the U.S. When he says Closet, he means a small area hidden behind a wall with a door - when you open the door you are presented with a space that's probably about 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide. This is similar to the size of a Wardrobe, except it goes ALL THE WAY to the ceiling and down the floor.
Imagine putting all your stuff in one place... how convenient would that be?? I can't tell you how nice it is to put your freshly-dried clothes on hangers and place them in the closet. I even put a dresser inside my closet once... Alas, I no longer have a closet - instead I have those bullsh*t wrap-around wardrobes that flank the sides and top of my bed :(
We are buying a dryer this week, though :)
Olga on April 15, 2016:
Love this article! Especially I like the american spirit of the author ,its funny. I am Russian and have been living in the US and in Spain. So,I can not say about the whole Europe. I would add here that buildings in US are made from very cheap material which is dangerous. I was shoked when I was in New Orleans- no property survived after the storm. I am pretty sure that this would not happen in Europe . Its not safe. What could happen in a case of war or terrorist attacks ? Hopefully ,the weather will be always good and life will be safe. Then, I was surprised that in NY people do loundry outside of their homes. In Spain old buildings have vey small kitchen , new ones are more confortable. To conclude with:the best homes are in Russia. ahha
Alba on December 06, 2015:
You forgot to talk about the bathroom...how the toilet is often separated from the sink/sower!
And okay, while a lot of these are true (though modern European flats are changing...), there are things that you get in Europe and don't in the US. History, for example, and charm. I used to live in a flat that was part of a castle built when America was still wearing diapers! My Polish flat had an un-explainable mural that no one knew where it came from (probably dates to Communist era). My French flat looks like it came out of 'Amelie.' My Spanish flat had some cooky wallpaper--and a spiral staircase! My English flat had a hobbit-sized door upstairs that used to connect two houses and now leads to the upstairs bedroom.
Another thing: Access to local everything just downstairs is another cool part of a European flat. Markets in the mornings, bakeries on every corner, local cheese shops, bars serving their own brew using recipes before America existed...etc.
Uniqueness. Gosh, flats in America look ALL THE SAME. Created off a mold or whatever. Because European flats are older, made throughout different centuries/styles, and with very different architects and different cultures, you get a certain uniqueness we don't have in the States.
Proximity. Of course, you could be living in a London or Parisian suburb and need to take a 45 minute train to get downtown, but in general, European cities are smaller and much more compact. They manage space better. Therefore, your flat will most likely be in a much better location, ie closer to the city centre, near businesses and transport, and STILL next to a little park, than its American counterpart!
Price. This is an easy one. Flat prices in Europe vary from country to country, but in my experience, I paid 325€ in Spain for a 2-bedroom (in a small city), €550 in France for a 1 bedroom (in a big city), €300 for a 1-bedroom central flat in Warsaw (Poland). Good luck finding that in American cities...
Greenness (in environmental context). Plugs have off switches, hallway lights have motion sensors, toilets have 2 flushes (full & half, to waste less water), and like said above, we don't waste excessive energy on ACs or other extremely wasteful appliances. Sorry but the US is an enormous polluter; Europe, less so. Maybe we sacrifice a few creature comforts, but it's better for all if us in the long run!
There is a lot of truth to this article, but I would still choose Europe every time...for me, the benefits outweigh the cons! (PS, I'm an American from the DC area who is living in France, and has spent time living in England, Spain and Poland, plus has visited 25 other European countries...)
William on October 19, 2015:
We have 2,3,4,6 and 7 in England. Refrigerators are getting bigger. You go into shops and all it is now is American style ones. Don't need a/c or ice machines because it's cold. Or if it's hot you buy ice from shops and put it in the freezer. And we don't have screens on our windows because it's cold. You only need them when it's hot to stop bugs coming in. So they would be more annoying then any use.
SortingHat on September 30, 2015:
I'm breaking my comment up into three parts to make it easier on the eyes since a lot of people now use cell phones unfortunately now which makes it hard to read long essay style texts.
If you leave AC on between 71 and 72F and leave all the interior doors open with exterior windows closed it will eventually cool the rest of the house down to a reasonable level without any discomfort and not run a high energy bill either.
A lot of people panic and crank down the AC to 69F which that is WAY to cold!!!! Brrrrrrrrrrr! And makes it work way too hard shortening the life span of their AC unit by several years.
The AC has to struggle to cool the rest of the house down to 69F especially if doors are closed preventing some rooms from recieving the colder air making the AC struggle and struggle.
SortingHat on September 30, 2015:
Here in America for example the closer you are to a Hydro source of power the cheaper electricity is which you will find a lot of electric heat in the Pacific North West which don't keep up in the winter when it does get much below freezing.
Interesting true story:
Before I was born when Dad lived in Redding, California in an apartment in Enterprise area due to the city owning Shasta Dam electricity was almost free in the late 70s and Dad was fresh out of medical school looking for work and was poor without a family to support yet had no trouble paying the electricity despite having swamp coolers galore.
In the 1970s portal AC's were called *swamp coolers* which would only be good to about 95F then they just make the apartment more humid.
Don't know if the city still owns the dam but while electricity costs were rising everywhere else it was dirt cheap in Redding despite being one of the hottest cities in California.
Another big part is a lot of people use gas or gas with an electric fan for heating which the costs of heating go way down even if you run it constantly so are able to afford AC much more.
SortingHat on September 30, 2015:
This article is false in a way but also true.
The real reason why Europeans don't use electricity for AC is they don't have a free market that allows electricity to be cheaper.
The USA electric grid was built upon that principal so people were not afraid to invest in new power plants or replace old age ones before they break down.
Now the US Government and Congress don't give a damn on providing the funding needed so it's up to individual states to come up with the money.
Texas has *mini* power plants recently installed which are off line until needed.
Valentia Sedano on September 23, 2015:
I am an American - from a city, not a suburb - who currently lives in Oslo, Norway. May I just say EVERY SINGLE THING stated in this article is true - at least from my experience in Europe (UK, Germany, Norway).
This article is not meant to be offensive, and no one should take offense. The standard of living is simply very different between Europe and America. In America we value home comforts over ALL things, and have multiple sayings that start with "A happy home...". We love the idea of the family gathering together in central locations such as the living and kitchen, and therefore we expect these spaces to be larger than their European counterparts.
Meanwhile, the biggest problem I've found in European flats (and even houses), is the lack of closets. Instead of having an unseen space that fits your belongings, people choose to put MASSIVE wardrobes in small, European bedrooms - these wardrobes are often ugly, covered in mirrors, and sometimes block the doorway. Imagine having a piece of furniture that's 5' wide x 7' tall x 2' deep just sitting in your well-decorated room - it looks horrible. And these are not beautiful, antique armoires, these are huge IKEA monstrosities with no character.
I was also very sad to find there are no dryers. Instead we have what they call a "drying rack" - you have to carefully drape your clothes over each wire, and it takes approximately 2-3 days to dry a sweater (which is obviously mandatory in Norway). Meanwhile, I know dryers wear out clothes quicker, but I REALLY miss having soft towels - crispy towels are simply subpar.
Additionally, the bathrooms here have tile from floor to ceiling, making it impossible to decorate with paint or pictures (and also, nigh on impossible to CHANGE the ugly tiles). And yes, the kitchens are VERY small - most are galley kitchens with 3' of walk space.
I think living in Norway is even more extreme than the rest of Europe, since the people here are very cold and standoffish, and their food is VERY bland - imagine walking into a grocery store and having 30 types of Jarlsberg to choose from, but no cheddar. However, the people are very warm once you get to know them, and welcome your into their homes more graciously than many people across the pond (in the U.S.)
Meanwhile, I moved here to escape the ignorance and politics of the U.S., and plan on staying in Europe for the rest of my life. My solution? Buy a place and add closets and a dryer. :)
Lynn on August 14, 2015:
My cousin was just in England and said there are no bugs there.
Beelzebub on July 31, 2015:
Amaryllis on July 19, 2015:
lol, what is with all the snotty and butthurt euros getting angry about this? It's one thing to say 'things are just different, good luck adjusting,' or even to say 'we LIKE how it is here even if an American doesn't understand it' (such as the whole 'refrigerators not actually being cold' thing), but turning it into a bunch of fat comments (having no idea what the OP looks like), talking about bad habits Americans have (you don't know if the OP has them), or saying things like 'lemme guess, you came here in the 80s and went to one city and now you're an expert?!' just makes you look insecure and whiny, and probably reinforces more stereotypes on your end than any of your bellowing about Americans. Let me tell you, I'm in Zagreb in July 2015 and every thing on this list except for the apartment being stripped is true of the place I'm staying. This doesn't automatically mean that every single dwelling at every income level in every city across all 50-odd countries is exactly the same, but it's all worthwhile stuff to mention, because it's all stuff that can catch you off guard. Even plenty of other more level-headed Europeans are admitting experience with a lot of this stuff, so it's not like it's only the place the OP stayed at and literally nowhere else. Go open a window and get some air, people.
Emma on May 29, 2015:
As a Brit currently residing in Germany for work, I find a lot of this rings true, but not so much for English flats. In Germany, I've noticed the lack of carpets and the reliance on Ikea especially - it's not like that at home!
We also wouldn't take fixtures and fittings with us, and I certainly can't imagine taking the light bulbs. As far as clothes washing goes, you might be right about the dryer situation, but fabric conditioner prevents 'cardboardiness'. I have also been somewhat irritated by the lack of storage space over here but, then again, I find the willingness to leave everything on display in the bathroom, including sanitary ware and cleaning fluids, quite typically German. They're not shy about anything, whereas, at home, I tend to like everything tucked away. Come to think of it, my bedroom in Germany also has a free standing set of shelves, which is very open and seems a bit rickety. It's probably not something I would have chosen myself.
The issue of 'garbage disposal' is an interesting one, I've never seen one in the UK or Germany, but I think they sound like a good idea. What I do find strange here in Germany, though, is that they put everything in the dishwasher without rinsing it, or even scraping the remains into the bin, and they don't wash anything by hand, even glasses. This results in 'washed' items being returned to the cupboards with debris still on them, and the glasses and cloudy and scratched. Additionally, the dishwasher tends to smell a little.
On the other hand, I think this is born of German efficiency. If something's not absolutely necessary, they don't tend to do it. My German friends don't use fabric conditioner, or even sort their laundry into delicates etc.. (or even properly straighten out their clothes before hanging them up, so they dry crispy and misshapen. They don't even ball socks properly).Carpets would have to be cleaned more regularly and items stored behind a closed cupboard door would require you to open the cupboard before accessing them. It seems that this is all too much for the practical, sensible German; hence the minimalist style that they generally favour. It's fine once you get used to it. However, when it comes to proper houses, as opposed to flats - I'm not sure I'll ever warm to the open-plan, wood/laminate floored living room arrangement. It's as if they're determined to avoid cosiness at all costs.
P.S. 'Flat' is the British word, but I'm sure some Europeans learn American English. German students tend to aim for Queen's English, but apartment is probably the correct word to use if you're outside of the UK. Up to you though, if you feel the word flat has certain connotations.
Cristian on September 16, 2014:
4) Cheap bastards. Here in Romania people always sell their appartments with sanitation things like sinks, toilets, bathtubs. (yes, we also call them appartments, not flats)
Many times we leave the old refrigerators, ovens and other stuff included in the appartment's price because we intend to buy new ones at our new appartment.
5) Garbage disposal included in the sink? What are you, lazy? C'mon, you leave your dishes with food on them in the kitchen sink?!? Your mamma hasn't tought you right! That's just bad education. You never leave dishes with food still in them after you finish eating, you always throw what's left in the trash can.
7) Romanians did actually have a tradition (from communism) to have rugs that stretched across the room entirely, but of much better quality than carpets. The trend is to have medium-sized rugs with warm parquet (wood floor). Trust me, having carpets is bad for your health. You can get allergies because of all the dust and things those carpets will retain ... and in time it'll smell so baaaad, like no matter how much you vent the room, the air in the room will still smell heavy ... thick.
Be prepared to completely change the carpets every few years if you don't want any health problems and vacuum them weekly.
9) No A/C units? Are you kidding me? The westerners you've met must have been really cheap ... because even average income romanians do their best to acquire an A/C. It gets really hot here in the summer, much hotter than in many Californian places, up to 107 - 112.
10) Again, no screens? I couldn't stand having no screens ... but I guess it's a matter of how ignorant you are towards the annoying insects around you and how you were raised, in what environment. Many people that respect themselves have screens at their windows, but not most.
La Gallica Belgica on September 11, 2014:
Omg seriously, you must have travelled back in time to europe, that, or you stayed in some really cheap and crappy places. We europeans live in all sort of homes, we just aren't so selfish as to build big and grand as people in America. From the way you describe these european homes, it sounds like the middle ages. We've got icemachines and big refrigerators and window screens, you just gotta buy them if you come live here. They don't come in as a standard here. And certaintly not in rental places.
Try to go to any country in america, in some random persons home, they'll have adapted their homes to their needs and budget and personality.
KNK on August 10, 2014:
You americans are really ignorant people.
And it is not your fault. Your state controls your mind.
Robert on August 07, 2014:
This is all true. I'm Venezuelan and moved to Germany expecting much more, but damn I was disappointed to see Europeans make more money to live like poor people. A lot of things back home in Venezuela I took for granted, like bigger homes, closets, driers, sinks, etc. Only good thing in Europe is it's safer and you can hop from one country to another more easily, but people live very restricted lives in tiny homes with tiny kitchens, tiny cars and tiny everything. I'm used to having a decent sized fridge, decent sized house (with toilets, sinks and closets even if unfurnished), decent sized car, and unlike the US, in Venezuela we have fresh produce and not genetically modified crap. Only bad thing in Venezuela is the crime rates and the corrupt government, which is why I left in the first place. But damn, I'd go back in a heart beat if a decent government takes place. Having said that, Europe has a lot of beautiful things to see that makes it worth living, at least for a while.
Lisa on July 30, 2014:
While much of this is true (I live in Europe, and I've never seen a dryer here), the author is writing from the perspective of an American from a smaller town or suburb. Much of this isn't so much a difference between American and Europe as it is suburban areas and urban ones. Ask someone in New York if they have a garbage disposal or an ice machine, and they probably don't even know what it is. I assure you they'd love to have a closet or an apartment as big as any in Berlin. Good luck finding an apartment in Chicago or San Francisco with carpet, either. Urban rental homes do not have unnecessary appliances like garbage disposals due to expense, and things like carpet must be replaced often (and most renters don't want it--it's quite dated).
tl;dr: You sound like a country bumpkin. Try traveling a little more before writing blog posts comparing two continents that you've only seen a small portion of.
Sarah on July 16, 2014:
I've lived in the states my whole life, and while I love my closets, screens and bathroom cabinets I hate garbage disposals and carpet. I hate reaching down the dark hole to fish out silverware before running the disposal, if you don't use the disposal often it rusts and sticks. Carpet is a real pain. It will never be really clean and someone always spills something on it as soon as you've paid for a cleaning. I like my little rugs. If something gets on it I can toss it in the wash and my lovely wood floors wipe clean with Murphy's oil soap.
TD on July 08, 2014:
A ton of Europeans commenting here that are extremely poor sports. The author's opinion is their opinion. Just because you all have a problem laughing at yourselves doesn't mean their opinion changes. Lighten up, guys. I love Europe, despite all of it's issues. Just like I love my country despite all of our issues.
Mat on June 18, 2014:
Swede here, with experience of both Europe and the US.
In general I'd say what the author writes is true. Actually a bit of a check-list not what I'm about to renovate my house. - thanx!
Embarassing how some get angry or offended from this post.
Sarah on April 22, 2014:
Hahaha, when did you go to Europe? No dryers? I am German and every single household has one... ;)
capt.america on April 12, 2014:
Whining, defencive euros. Its an opinion deal with it
Bibo on April 06, 2014:
1- If you gonna miss all your american stuff PLEASE don't move from home. Because, usually american young people are super annoying. They get really drunk (as they've never seen alcholics before) and then SCREAM!!!
It doesn't matter you're in Germany, Italy or everywhere else we all understand what you're saying and WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR THAT, because we don't care about your speech, really keep it silent.
2 - Land is cheap where no one wants to live.. Better a small flat in London (you can rent it for 100 poud at night) instead of a 300 mq hause in nowhere-land. We have smaller hause because everyone want to be in here, so evething worth more.
3 - We don't have all that elettronical stuff first cause we don't NEED that. Then personally because i care a "bit" about the envroiment. Am I wrong or 1 american out 3 is fat? Maybe if you have smaller fridges and more move you'd be a size 0 as i am.
4 - we like to decorate, better empty than with ugly forniture.
5 - You need screens when you have a warm climate/mosquitos, in italy or spain you have screens in germany or sweden you don't..wanna know the reason? Mosquitos die if it is -1 degrees most of the time!
5 - Carpets are terribly dirty smelly and CHEAP, anyone who has a little taste and is not terribly poor can buy a parquet or marble.
6 - I guess when you came in Europe you had a no money because Europe is famous for luxury, art, interior design etc. not smelly fridges...
7 - Least but not less important, i live in a 1450 house how could i possibly have a fucking closet??!?!!???
I have big wardarobe really tidy and i probably have more clothes and shoes than you...
Unfortunally Medici family in 1450 they didn't have closets... and because the hause is so old is not aloud to change room's composition.
I wish i had a huge closet but i should move to a 1920s... Better Medici than closet
Finnally if you buy a new house in Eu im sure you can put in it all you American (fat friendly) stuff in it!
Ps: For which damn reason are you going around with flip flops or trainers? They are not even propper shoes... And why are your hauses are moslty made of wood instead of bricks? They are not even real hauses!
Andy Domonkos on March 31, 2014:
Intresting Hub, and I thought I would throw my 2 cents in here.
I've been planning a move to the U.K for some time now, much to the confusion of everyone I know. The general reaction is "why?" or a cynical grin that simply says "yeah good luck with that pipe-dream."
The English are no better. Their reaction is a mix of "we wont let you in" and "bah, we don't like yanks." (Only on the internet, the English people I've met here are exceptionally friendly and funny and all tell me I would most likely have a blast. )
But for all the reasons they list for me not to go, such as the ones above, I find it all very trite. The trade-off is your living in a completely new place with people you have not become painfully accustomed to. It's not like moving to Somalia. I've lived in southern Florida without AC. I'm pretty sure a hot day in most of Europe wouldn't be that intolerable.
Is your flooring and cabinets really all that important? Couldn't we all stand to have a smaller fridge considering the dinosaur proportions the average american consumes? We got enough XXL people waddling around here.
I, personally, can't wait to get over there, ac or not. I'll get a fan.
Jess on March 12, 2014:
I don't know, America sounds bloody weird! You seem to have an unnecessary number of cupboards...
Also a lot of these things (like no dryer, no screens etc) seem quite specific. If you go to Southern France, for example, screens are fairly common. In regards to AC, in hot countries in Europe houses were traditionally built with thick walls, high windows and so on and didn't need it.
I think finally, these cost money. In America, they seem to just be cheaper but in Europe things (esp in cities) tend to be much more expensive! Flats would cost far too much.
But I see your point, it would be weird to move to USA for me (from the UK!)
A.B Normal on February 06, 2014:
And sad thing is the Communist have slowly taken over both Europe and America and want us to all live like them in China cramped and told what to do and where to go 24/7 as we keep allowing bozos to steal our privacy away.
Guess as the old saying goes if you make your bed you sleep in it and we clearly made ours.
Frustrated in Germany on February 05, 2014:
Oh-my-Gosh. I am living in Germany now after having moved here from FL (and originally from Jamaica). This is SPOT on... more emphasis needed on the 'kitchen debacle' however...like I never knew I had to ask 'is the kitchen staying'? Then also the ridiculous rents, fact that you have to pay commission to some slick realtor who didn't do squat and come up with up to 3 months' deposit all to move into an apartment..with no fixtures and no kitchen (unless of course you want to 'buy' the kitchen from the previous renter). The entire thing is BIZARRE! No wonder they need 30 days holiday.. to spend some of that time going to IKEA to buy all the fixtures for a place that you don't even own.
Kris on January 31, 2014:
This applies to Germany and the Netherlands... I see a lot of Brits on here getting upset but England is quite different. I love Europe, but the wet clothes and toilet that is literally in a closet big enough to put my nose on while sitting down is just too much sometimes!
Really on December 14, 2013:
Sounds like you're one of those typical "I visited Europe in my youth back in the 70s 0r 80s and now I'm an expert" types. I live in Europe and I can tell you that you're full of it.
peterpeter on December 02, 2013:
People like you are the reason Europeans hate Americans.
PS. Close line? Frigerator?
Sherry on November 22, 2013:
and by the way... I do live in the southeastern area of the USA and the climate is very different here than it is in the Northern states. AC and ice are very necessary here as someone above also mentioned.
Sherry on November 22, 2013:
I know there are always exceptions but I spent the summer in England in 2010 and EVERYTHING you mentioned in your article was my experience as well. Our vacation in England was somewhat enjoyable but when we returned home to the states, I had a new appreciation for all the comforts and luxuries that I had taken for granted my whole life. If folks in the UK are offended... so what? The truth is the truth. By the way, it is also unfair for people to weigh in on the subject unless they have spent time in both environments.
Mark on November 21, 2013:
I realise your comments are designed purely for satire but I couldn't help but feel appauled by your sheer inaccuracy and uneducated take on European living standards. It appears as though you take a dim view of our cultural conditioning and what seperates us domestically from our North American counterparts. I have visited Canada/USA on several occasions and marvel at not only the differences but the similarities we all share on every aspect of our social and domestic lifestyles. Your tirade lambaste us Europeans as being an inept and technologically inferior civilisation.
It wouldn't hurt to spend more time over here and revise your opinions, because quite frankly that's what they are, and then perhaps your tongue in cheek look at the world would be greeted with laughter from both sides of the Atlantic.
vlm3289 on November 13, 2013:
In some ways, I've appreciated my move from the US to the UK. I'll create a list like so many above have done:
1) I don't like the mod look, but this seems to be the general design look for affordable furniture. I wanted a beautiful wingback chair with a funky print, which would probably cost me £500 new. Instead, I found a wingback chair for free off of gum tree and bought fabric from the US. I'm in the process of reupholstering the chair myself.
2) For the life of me, I hate clothes horses, I hate air drying, I hate the horrible smell that welcomes me in the winter when I come back from work. It's disgusting. Because of this, when I visit home I could kiss my parents all American dryer. I've discovered that I love dryers in a way that's probably not healthy.
3) Carpeting, you want it? It's all over my flat. I find wood flooring beautiful. Again, I miss this in my American family home. But if I live here long term, I WILL have wood flooring!
4) The bathrooms, yeah they're a little weird for their lack of cabinetry. But, again, if I have a permanent home either I will find a way of custom designing the cabinetry myself or I'll hire a carpenter to figure it out for me.
I identify with what you're saying, and it makes me laugh. I thought exactly like you did when I came over here from big bad US of A. But now I appreciate the expiration dates on EVERYTHING (they don't do this in the US for raw vegetables) and I've gained a taste for Indian food. I like how accessible the rest of Europe is, and even though my little job has ill-afforded me the opportunity to see it all, I hope to do so next year.
One more thing, I love all the of the flowers. The Americans just don't seem to take gardening to passion as much as the Brits do, and I've learned a considerable amount on houseplants and plants that do well on dinky, less-than-a-foot-wide balconies. Spring is gorgeous here, with all of the Japanese cherry trees going into blossom.
Fashion here is fun and adventurous, and nobody cares if you are dolled up to the nines or dressed down to walk in the park. I found it really annoying in the States when I felt like dressing nice or with a weird dress and people had to be informed as to why I was dressed like this or that, it just got really agitating.
Anyway, every country is different. I've lived in South America (where they do have dryers, but they're really weird about drying clothing at certain times of the day) , and all along the East coast of the US. Home is always the US, and I think it's only normal to compare what you've grown up with to this new environment.
rentalmilan from Magnago on November 11, 2013:
I have some funny and less funny apartments in Milan on rent. Some are new and moderns also. If you are interested, just contact me to find out more. Thanks, Ottavia!
Demi on October 22, 2013:
I think the authors definition of europe is only the most backwater part of Germany. I've lived in England my whole life and we have flats AND apartments. Flats are usually owned by the government and are thus badly kempt, cramped and never upgraded.
I've never lived in a house without a washer-(And/or)dryer. Our fridges are on average 6 by two feet. No, we don't use garbage disposers in our sinks as it would increase the cost of water treatment. about 90% of peoples houses I've been in are carpeted.
The author however is right about walk-in closets, AC and a lack of bathroom storage space and here's why:
Walk-in closets are seen as an extremely extravagant investment, telling people you have one will quickly mark you as "more money than sense. This automatically singles you out in a country where the majority of people live paycheck to paycheck. That and why would you need a room for clothes, they're things- they don't need a room of their own. That's wasteful.
AC is a bad idea in England especially due to our schitsophrenic weather system caused by the UK's place on the map- we get the backlash from the tropics, the Arctic and eastern europe. Our weather can change so quickly and dramatically that it's safer not to control the home environment artificially, lest you tempt fate.
As for bathroom storage I'll admit- we don't really have it. Walking into a British bathroom you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd just fallen through a portal into Snape's potion storage room. I think it also doubles as an intimidation tactic: "Look at all my bottles of crap, you don't know what they are or what I use them for, so one wrong move and I'll let you use hair remover instead of mouse!"
In summery, please don't insult my country and my continent by judging our sound decoration decisions and don't insult my continent and it's cultures, as your's is still relatively new. And no, I'm not going to insult America to 'get back' at you. America is still a child, and like a child we shouldn't start slagging you guys off- we should be pointing out what you might misunderstand and hope you notice that our countries aren't in bad shape, their just very very very old and like all old things we need time to adjust to new information and technology.
Author- Please try to learn to love the differences of other countries, not obsess over their faults.
Jordan on October 15, 2013:
I find the article and the comments interesting. I'm an American, but I thought I would post some comments myself. There are a lot of generalizations about Europeans, but also about the American way of life.
Closets: Honestly, most of the closets I've had are small and dinky. I end up having to use dressers anyway. I think having furniture to put my clothes in makes me neater too.
Bathroom Cabinets: Lacking them would be an annoyance. I like putting the bathroom cleaning supplies under there so they are close if you need them. For everything else, I use a hall closet.
Garbage Disposal: I know people either seem to love or hate them. At home, I don't have it and scraps have to go in the trashcan. Unfortunately, when we take the trash bags to the dump we have to pay by the weight. It definitely gets expensive when we have the entire extended family over for the holidays. About the smell, I've always been taught that if it starts to smell grind some orange and lemon peels.
Dryers: At home, we often air dry clothes because it's cheaper and easier if it's a nice day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE sheets that have been air dryed because they smell so good! The only things I won't air dry are jeans. I hate how stiff they become, but everything else is fine. I've even air dryed inside my apartment.
Carpet: Yuck. I much prefer wood flooring, especially if you have pets. Getting animal vomit out of a carpet isn't fun. Wood flooring is also easier to clean, in my opinion.
Refrigerator: I do like our refrigerators, and I grew up having two of them. My mom is a huge baker and usually makes homemade meals for dinner. This means that she stocks up on food. Also, don't forget holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom will have multiple meats available for each holiday and that requires storage. With 4 people in the house, we go through a gallon of milk in about 2 days. You also need food that everyone eats, which is why our refrigerator is always packed.
A/C Units: If I lived in Florida, it would be necessary. I do love AC, but I can definitely live without it. My grandmother doesn't have AC and if you keep the blinds down and the fans up, it isn't so bad. When it gets really hot, then we pull out the window units.
Ice: I don't use much, as long as the refrigerator is cool enough. I usually only put ice in water, but sometimes my mom wants to make something with the blender, so it's useful. My mom also uses it if she has soda because we only keep a couple in the refrigerator for pizza.
Yes, the "European" way may be different. That's all it is. We all tend to love what we grow up with, and there's no right or wrong.
Iris on October 10, 2013:
I've spent some time in Europe. I've spent time in America. I live in America. There are good and bad points about both, and it such a pity that there can't be a decent marriage of details from many of the different countries.
1) Space: Of course there is more "space" in America. It is a bigger country. There is more "space" to be had. I like the airiness of American-style apartments. But, not all of them are like that. There are some very small ones in America. Or bigger ones that don't adequately utilize the space available.
2) I do prefer American closets to European wardrobe-style storage. I like the separation, and option to have things stored lower. But, I'm short, so high shelves are an issue everywhere I go. I can't ever figure out how to store my two long dresses in the few particular wardrobes that were available to me in Europe because of the double bar, which the second level was totally unusable to me--but that is neither here nor there. However, I love the beauty of old-fashioned antique furniture. It is a pity that I didn't see any of those in the places I stayed while in Europe, except in the second hand and antique stores. I wish I could have shipped some of those with me when I went back to America, but couldn't afford the shipping.
(In response to another previous commenter, there are beautiful furniture and decorating designs in America. There are a lot of very, very different styles, and it varies what you will find from place to place. I don't really like a lot of modern and contemporary decorating styles. They have little visual interest to me and seem uninviting, I don't like all the flat lines. I like things with a few carved designs in them.)
3) Bathroom cabinets: I'm not a big fan of pedestal style sinks, because I can't sit on them. Usually, I have to half sit on the cabinet counter-top to use the bathroom mirror to see well enough to put on my make up and things. I guess that's kind of a vain reason, the bathroom in my flat has the best light to see to put on my make up. Sitting down at a dressing table has never worked for me, but, again, this is a personal thing. I cannot speak for anyone else at all on this point. It is a matter of preference, and I can see the advantages of both. I have found that American landlords like to do things cheaply and won't splurge on cabinets.
4.) I have seen evidence of what the writer was talking about with Germans taking much of the furnishings and flat fixtures with them. But, that's neither here nor there to me; it is a cultural thing. THEY designed the things to suit their taste; they bought them; I suppose they have every right to take them when they go. I have actually looked at a place I wanted in America where they previous inhabitants took the kitchen storage. I was shocked.
5) Garbage Disposals? I have never understood, and have always lived in fear of, garbage disposals. I have family who look at me like I've grown another head for commenting upon it. I hate them, hate them, hate them! They don't serve any good use, besides smelling up the house and forcing people to be extra cautious about what they put in the sink. If I am ever afraid anything I put in my kitchen bin will possibly create any kind of smell, I wrap it up first in old newspaper or the old wrappings from something else I've already used, and then throw it away. Wow, that's revolutionary, right?
6) Dryers: I have come to enjoy the convenience of dryers, but half of my clothes (especially tops) specify lay flat or line dry only. I only half dry my jeans and work trousers. They do make my clothes softer--the ones I am able to put in the dryer. I am unable to use most decent American fabric softeners, because their scent is too intense for my sinuses to handle. I do what I have to.
7) Carpet... I do have a fondness for carpet despite my sinus condition. There is just something I find so enjoyable about walking barefoot on carpet. I never wear shoes in my home. And, always ask people to remove their shoes. I don't understand why that bothers people, though. I can get by with wood flooring, when I have to. And, I was once bothered by the echo of one place where I lived that had all wood flooring and inadequate sound dampening. It was good when I wanted to do vocal exercises, but bad for headaches. Oh, and I would never ever walk barefoot in any hotel no matter what kind of flooring it had, ew.
8) Refrigerators: Many American cities are at somewhat of a disadvantage...there is this great distance between American homes and their grocery stores. And, many people must commute great distances between work and home and the grocery store. Right now, I have an hour drive, until I can move into my new flat next month. Many other Americans live in the suburbs or country and work in cities. It is more efficient to buy for the week while you're in town, than for just a one or a few days, because it's so far from the store. In Europe, something I wish America had, is more green markets where you can get fresh produce. I am always amazed by the corner stores and street markets in Europe. They are rarer in America. So, Americans have to store more at a time. Little to nothing goes to waste in my refrigerator. I am not obese, I am rather thin so people say (so, don't call all Americans obese, because they aren't), but I like to have certain ingredients on hand.
9) A/C units and Ice: In the Southern USA, where it gets very hot and humid for most of the summer (5-6 months of the year in Florida, with possible 37/100+ temperatures with 90+% humidity), it is hard to imagine it without air conditioning. I attempted to try just that mid-July, once--nothing helps. Ice barely even helps. And, I'm not a fan of ice in my drinks. I usually only ever take them that way eating out in American restaurants when I forget to ask for no ice. But, I don't see anything wrong with other American's preferences on how they take their drinks. I'm personally fine with ice trays, but I'm not going to take the effort to put down anyone for liking ice in their drinks; that's just silly and people should be just as ashamed of themselves as the writer of the hub article. Though, I do not take offence, I'm past being bothered by that at this point. Ice cold is just too cold for me.
10) Window screens? Again, I think this is a cultural preference. During my time in France, Germany and Italy, comparatively speaking, I saw fewer insects than I have seen in the Southern USA. It is a matter of health to have permanent/semi-permanent window screens. (No, to shed light on another commenter's opinion it does not block light in the slightest...in Florida). It just isn't practical at all. The mosquitoes would eat you alive in Florida during any time of the year, except the "colder" parts of the winter, which is two months. During the nights in Germany and Italy, it was nice to sleep with the windows open in the summer months.
Really, each region in each country of Europe and the USA have their differences. You will find different preferences between the UK, Germany, Italy, just as you will between Liverpool and Surry or Berlin and Munchen or Rome and Venice. And, you are going to find vast differences (possibly huge ones) between regions in the USA: between Seattle and St. Louis or Miami and Phoenix or even New York City and Albany, which are in the same state. And all of those are just large cities, there are differing local preferences and tastes that you will find among the smaller cities and rural towns. It is really hard to make gross generalizations, and the writer of this article did that. It is such a pity that it was handled in such a way, because I was interested in someone else's opinion of the differences between the counties in the two continents.
Which is better is a matter of opinion. What is certain is they are different, and people like what they like. Why can't we just learn about each other and enjoy the differences for what they are? I won't make a whole country change just for me. And, another country can't make someone change their personal preferences; it is up to the individual to adjust or not.
Paula on September 20, 2013:
I wonder how you say you have always been "captivated" by Europe and then write something like this. Perhaps you are trying to be funny, I don't know. You hate the weather (although much of Europe has beautiful weather!) you love your American luxuries and conveniences, large spaces and so much stuff that you need large amounts of storage space. You mentioned dirtiness several times (that's such a cliché!) and lament that you must actually put your food scraps in the trash (horrors!!). Good grief, what DO you like about Europe? The scenery? Most of the world lives differently from Americans, and significantly better in many cases. Sounds like you need to put your American cable tv on the travel channel so you can stay home with your ice-cold Coke in your carpeted, air conditioned apartment! I'll take the world, with or without a CLOTHES line (not close line) or a big REFRIGERATOR (not Frigerator). I suspect most of Europe would prefer it if you would stay at home.
Aloha on September 04, 2013:
I disagree with many of the points, for example, weather sucks, where have you been in Europe? Only England? Do you know that France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary...are also part of Europe? And I even if you were right, this doesn't mean that it's wrong but just different...I guess it all depends where you live and what you like, as an immigrant you probably lived in flats where people change often, hence the quality of the places and the furniture story...If you live here as a European you have proper furniture and all what you want and don't need a huge fridge to store your jumbo coke, because there is no jumbo coke in Europe ;-)
Eva on September 01, 2013:
12 years in US. Slowly got used to it. It was A LOT to get used to. Carpets? The truth is most Americans would LOVE to have hardwood flooring but not everybody can afford it, so cheaper houses use carpets. Which is one of main contribution to multiple allergies Americans have. They never get professionally washed often enough to be considered hygienic. Washers/dryers? Have you ever heard of Bosch? Will take it any time over most American manufactures. Walk-in closets are nice. Not any nicer though than good size European wardrobe with huge mirrored doors. Well organized, clean, and movable to any wall of the room to your pleasure. Again, not every American house has walk -in closets. If it is not a walk-in closet, mmmmmm, what is good about it? Still cant get used to a sloppy wrinkled look of cloth americans wear. Maybe some day irons will make their way into american homes. Huge refrigerators. I guess it's OK if you want to stock your food for a week or more, eat frozen TV dinners or pizza. You have a right to like it. I, personally prefer fresh
products. Ice. Again, you have a right to like it. The same way Europe has a right to drink cold juice from refrigerator undiluted with melted ice.
12 years ago I came to America and for a year I was crying my heart out because nothing was to my liking. Then, I meat a swedish missionary girl, who has travelled all over the world. She told me "when you see something different from what you are used to, it's not necessarily worse, it might be just different. " I taught myself to think this way and I learned to love America.
Maybe you should try to enjoy amazing performance of German cars, while in Germany or get blown away by London theatre while in England.... Whether Americans believe it or not, there is happy and wealthy life outside of America. :)
Kellynyc on August 22, 2013:
I'm an American living in the United States and I love my "European" apartment. It has no disgusting carpet but beautiful, easy-to-clean hardwood floors. I have no closets with tacky sliding doors like you usually find in American apartments but I do have plenty of room for my antique armoires. I have no garbage disposal in my sink and I don't need one because I'm a vegetarian (no maggots). It's absolutely true that dryers are hugely inefficient so I may buy a combo washer/dryer if I get tired of the laundromat. I have collapsing removable screens for my windows so I can hang out on my fire escape. I don't have any hideous laminated built-in cabinets in my bathroom so I was able to install my own glass and solid wood cabinets and shelves. Most American landlords have hideous taste: I don't know why anyone would want these things pre-installed anyways. My favorite past-time isn't eating so I don't need a gigantic American-size fridge sending my electric bill through the roof. Food and drinks have more flavor when they're not tooth-numbing cold - THAT'S why Europeans aren't into the obsession. Don't take this blogger seriously. Americans are jealous of the beauty of European cities. Comments like these are just sour grapes.
new on July 24, 2013:
i am living in the US for 5 years now.
things I absolutely hate :
1. stupid dirty carpets everywhere with the absolute absence of good vacuum cleaners. all vacuums that are sold in the US - have no power, huge, heavy, inconvenient in use, and throw the dust back to the air.I had to buy a huge air-purifier to undust the air after I vacuum my apartment there! I live in a beautiful, very expensive big apartment with an amazing view - and constantly annoyed with the dusty, ugly carpets and all the hell of work to vacuum them with the horrible heavy-huge vacuums that are not going into the corners of the room or anywhere around the furniture.
2. stupid noisy air-heating. lots of noise, no real warmth and heat. those things blow the dusty air into my face at night in the bedroom. how great!
3. i absolutely hate those sink-grinders! never dispose food into it. people who do that - they have such a stink out their sinks! if someone disposes food into my sink - i have to put a bunch of Clorox to unclog it and kill the stink.
4. no good kitchen appliances. nothing compare to Europe. all machines a big, heavy, bulky - and have 2-3 functions maximum( food processors). no excellent European brands on the market, no good powerful meat-grinders, food processors are so bad - no comparison to European brands.
5. ugly furniture, home design. walls, сeilings, colors , surfaces finish, tail - everything - just ugly. no taste, no class. I've been to new fanciest houses here and there - no comparison. quality of materials, design, look , finish - you can't find this for yourself in the US.
yes - generally there is more space in the US. But design, shapes and forms of everything in that space....looks cheaper and doesn't have that style.
6. window curtains....again - almost no choice in the US. no variety, no quality, no stile. Everything dull and puritan. I am bringing those things from Europe to have on my windows.
Do not want to comment that there are no screens in Europe. I need it - i buy it. ( And i have it of course:))) Simple.
7. Dryers- in Europe you can buy it if you need it. simple.
8. food in the US has so many chemicals that are prohibited in Europe. Absence of "genetically-modified" labeling in the US.
7. one thing I have to admit is remarkable in the US - abundance of public toilets. and they are free. whenever you need it - you have it:)))
sdd on July 17, 2013:
So if they do it in Germany, it happens everywhere in Europe.
You must be from the US.
Finnish on July 01, 2013:
Heh.. such generalizations.. the way people live in France, Sweden or Moldova can vary soo much. It's a bit funny to say that "Europeans" live this way.
In FINLAND we do
1) have a LOT of space.. only 17,6 peoples / km2
2) many Finnish apartments do have a walk-in closet. this is a choice.
3) I can guarantee that every Finnish home has a bathroom cabinet
4) Finnish people usually don't take any extra with them when they move.. in fact the previous owners of my house left me lots of stuff; an old phone, lawn mower, some lamps
5) no garbage disposal.. well I admit this might be convenient sometimes
6) some houses have a dryer, some don't. again it's a choice.
7) let me think.. would I like to buy a new carpet or a new rug when it gets dirty by the time. what might be easier and cheeper?
8) refridgerators come in all shapes and sizes.. a choice.
9) A/C units are not needed in Finland. The warm period lasts sometimes only couple weeks. Then again Nordic countries have some of the best built houses to withstand winter. I heard that in China they may wear coats inside the house during, cause they don't have the heating system. Ice machines.. are you kidding me? what a useless thing.
10) At least in Finland we put nets on the smaller windows which are meant for letting the air change. Doesn't a bigger screen block light?
Anyway I think you should show some respect in your writing. I do know this feeling when you go into a new country and face things that just don't make sense. I had a similar experience with tons of things in Asia.. like sleeping on a floor or not drying the floor after taking a shower, but using "bathroom flip flops". But still don't write an article about it with an offensive tone. You made it seem as if Europeans are living in some poor conditions. Oh boy, you are so wrong. What about equality issues in the US? What about schooling? Or social security? Health care system?
Nick MFG on May 23, 2013:
I was not going to write a response until I hit the word Frigerator! Or rather, it hit me. 'Refrigerators' requires the effort of an insect to build from the mauled American/Australian version. So intent are the Americans on destroying anything espoused by the British that they even claim to have the high ground with the word closet, forgetting that the word was originally French, and assumed into the English language a few hundred years before the notion of an American state was considered desirable. 'Coming out of the closet' and 'closet queen' were well trodden sobriquets describing aspects of homosexuality well before the 1939-45 war which hastened the import of genteel and subtle expressions such as 'faggots' or 'fairies'.
eidschun on April 30, 2013:
Having spent much time in Europe, the most important difference is the lack of window screens there. Anyone there who says that they're not worthwhile simply doesn't realize or won't admit that human productivity goes way down when it's hot inside but the windows must be kept shut because of bees, mosquitoes, etc. Not to mention that I've watched countless Europeans try to work while distracted by insects buzzing around them. But hey, productivity is an American invention and so it's probably best avoided. :-)
The real reason why Europeans don't like window screens is because of a psychological hang-up: they simply can't help feeling that a screen would put a barrier between themselves and nature, and so with a window screen in place, they're afraid that they wouldn't "commune" with nature to the extent that they need to do so. Get to know someone over there who is willing to be honest, and you'll here this from the horse's mouth.
Amanda on March 20, 2013:
Great hub! I don't understand why many are upset when he is merely pointing out the differences. Some good, some bad, no big deal. It would be a huge change to move from US to Europe, or vice versa. We adapt to our environment, so it makes sense that Americans enjoy their ICED tea and air-conditioning--Try to understand, the temp reaches 110 Fahrenheit here for months at a time with insane humidity levels. Iced drinks are absolutely wonderful to help beat the heat. And ac is beyond necessary. I read one post above that commented on America's obese level. Right you are, but that has nothing to do with fridge size. Our food here is loaded with artificial junk and corn syrup and unfortunately many are not aware of this concern.We do enjoy our grease, we do, but over here, we prefer to buy refrigerated items maybe once a week and not have to stop by daily. Just a different preference, that's all. I thoroughly envy European's healthy and much more natural and safe diet. See, you win some, you lose some, again, no big deal.
Carpet in the US is becoming a thing of the past, thank goodness. Although I kind of dig that 70s shag carpet trend :)
As for the dryers, we are very spoiled here, and I would hate to live without it. These machines last for years and years, and it's great that I can do laundry and not have to leave the house or set up a clothesline. And the clothes come out completely dry within 30 minutes give or take and wrinkle free. Yes, this is a perk in life but oh what a good one. It's wonderfully convenient.
All this being said, there are MANY advantages to living in Europe that we will never have. The transportation, healthcare, food, scenery, the people in general!
In a sunflower seed shell, if I could pick up my house, backyard and all, and move it to Europe, that would be the most ideal situation :) Cheers! :)
cabaleb on November 08, 2012:
Man, either you're bad faith, retarded, or not really living in Europe (maybe you came in Europe 20 or 30 years ago ?!) ...
Several points here are completely false. I am a native European, lived in many countries out here, France, Ireland, England, Spain, Belgium and Poland, and visited many others, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, and so on ... And you're definitely wrong on many points
Rose on September 25, 2012:
I do not think people from Europe understand why American fridges are so big. It is simply not the custom in the US (generally) to go the grocery store daily. Most families go once a week and "stock up," so the fridges are large for that reason.
I must say, however, that having huge fridge everywhere I have ever lived in the US has always sort of bothered me. I lived alone a lot and I really did not need a large fridge. I have lived in Germany for two years and I prefer the smaller fridge here. It uses less energy, takes up less space, and it is less likely that something gets "lost" in it.
I personally always hated garbage disposals and IMO, they are a gimmick. They really serve no useful purpose, and god forbid you should do something stupid, like accidentally drop a beer cap in the sink. In fact, I must say, I do not personally know anyone in America who cares about having a garbage disposal. Heck, I have had them in three apartments I rented and in ALL three apartments I had to have someone come over at least once to repair the stupid thing. I even once got chastised by the landlady for not using it ENOUGH.
I will defend closets though. They offer better storage than a wardrobe and create a more pleasing lay-out to the bedroom. That is really the only thing I truly miss over here in Germany. I really miss my walk-in closet!
I do not think that many Europeans can get it through their heads how much climate zones can vary in the United States. For all the people here from the UK bitching about how ice machines and AC is unnecessary, I DARE you to go live in South Texas for one summer. You will change your view on that within the week.
Like I said, I have lived in Germany for two years and I honestly feel no need to have and AC in my apartment. There were about 2 weeks this summer when it would have been "nice," but it was not really needed. I also keep ice trays in the (very small) freezer, but I am sure I am one of the only people in my 'hood who uses ice in my drinks all the time.
And finally, one the dryer issue: I am sort of wondering if I am the only American left who does not care if I have a dryer. I just hang them out to dry. What's the big deal? I guess it is nice to have your clothes sort of wrinkle-free from the dryer, but I have to iron my work clothes anyway.
The comments here have been really interesting. First of all, people can get quite nasty over something as simple as the size of a fridge. But I guess it just goes to show how an expectation can get so ingrained in you.
PS - I am from the US and so I can say with accuracy that carpeting is really going out of style. Most new apartments do not have carpeting, and people these days prefer hardwood floors.
Jay on September 13, 2012:
i meant to say i prefer the apartments over there not over here & the homes over there too. the houses & apartments over here are jus shitty. they're pointless.
Jay on September 13, 2012:
I live in the uk. i hate it everything is so weird. Im a british born american. I prefer american tv, more entertainment, i hate british tv. I prefer the apartments over here & the homes, bleurgh so shitty. i like the american style apartments wiv the open space. they have balconies too. nd the city life is sooo much better havin an apartment in the city is better. The indoor walls made of brick i love tht idea. bt it doesn't matter to me. I wish i lived in america & hope to soon enough.
Great! on September 12, 2012:
So true. I was wondering if I made the right choice giving up my London apartment and starting from couchhopping in the US, but thanks for the reminder! Yes, every word of yours is absolutely true!
username01789 on June 15, 2012:
i live in britian and we ALWAYS have carpet, and put rugs on them.
we don't have the space for a fridge because the price we pay for a 3 bed house over their you have a 5 bed house.
ice units... what for thatsa waste of space
we want to take our wardrobes with us, everyone has a different taste in wardrobed.
our houses interior tend to be different from person to person where as you have the same.
stop trying to make our flats sound bad, yours sounds like it has a waste of space and bland and boring
Alex on June 14, 2012:
1. Space? Yeah, the population dencity in North America is 22.9/km2 compared with Europe's 72.5/km2. I'm sure you can see the disparity.
2. Closets? We call them cupboards (in the UK and Ireland atleast) and flats and houses do have them, if it doesn't then one buys one. Simple as, we don't really consider it a chore.
3. Bathroom closets? Again, not every flat/house is the same, if a house doesn't have one - then BUY one!
4. Everything but the bathroom sink? Yes, this is true, not just in Germany. But then you buy a flat unfurnished, it is unfurnished. The word has it's definition.
5. Garbage disposal? Really... this made my laugh. Why on earth do we need a hole in our worktop to feed our leftovers into, we have no problem using a bin. The Garbage disposal aimed to fix a problem that did not exist, and still doesn't.
6. Dryers? My house has a tumble dryer, as does most people I know. A rather inaccurate generalisation.
7. Carpets? What can we say, WE prefer hard floors, thus we predominately use this more hygienic method of flooring our homes.
8. Fridge size? Please remind, me what's America's obesity percentage.
9. AirCon/Ice? This again is presuming all Europe is the same, why in Northern and Western Europe would we need air-con? Heat where it's handy to have one is incredibly rare, we get by. Southern Europe, a different story. Ice Machine.... please, a contraption to make ice for us? When we want ice we use an ice tray. Again since it's not that hot, we don't need our drinks ice cold. I avoid it always because I hate my drink going watery.
10. Screens? Most Europeans consider the prospect of having a prospect of having a screen laughable. They aren't a genius invention, they're weird.
Sorry but your choice of differences are quite simply you complaining that Europe isn't America. No dear it ain't, Asia's different too. Get use to it.
You may claim to have an open mind, but you don't. Someone who did would NOT complain about a smaller fridge, and the lack of a hole for waste disposal.
I'd stay in America if I were you.
Phillip on June 14, 2012:
As an Australian I lived in the US for five years and must admit I was easily seduced by the very things listed in this article: dryer, ice machine, garbage disposals and toilets with lots of water... there are several things that are done so well in the US - leaving your letter in your own letter box for the postman to pick up, drive-thru ATM, drive thru Pharmacy, big fridges and of course the closet.
People from Europe are probably more victim to evolving from their historical pasts and traditions from their families. They do live in smaller spaces and their aesthetics in their houses (like carpet vs hardwood) are more focussed on art/culture (similar to their history) rather than convenience - the American driver.
Australia is halfway between both cultures.
Duhhh on June 10, 2012:
Also using too much ice, is really wasteful of water. As well as ruining people's teeth when they are inclined to chew ice.
Duhhh on June 10, 2012:
Okay, to begin with Europe has a much higher population density than the US. Meaning we have larger spaces to live. The US is also larger.
Second, due to high population densities the demand for goods and services in an area are also higher. Leading to higher energy costs, etc.
Third, there are washer machines that also turn into dryers after washing clothes.
Honestly, carpet is generally unhealthy and difficult to clean.
As for the air conditioning issue you are expressing, there is only a short time of the year that northern Europeans would use it. Again the energy cost issue comes into play.
In southern Europe I have seen air conditioners. As it is more needed there. Think NYC, most homes in NYC that aren't new don't have AC either.
Ricardo on June 10, 2012:
Mate, you really, really have to go in to South Europe. But not for a few days. What you express is more like the standard of living of most foreigns in London. But that is really far from the standard of living in most of Europe.
sunny on June 09, 2012:
OMG somebody else from Malta wrote here! Hello Anon:) to everyone: Malta is a beautiful glittering island in the Med with the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, and the stars at night seem so close its almost like you can touch them! worth a visit!
sunny on June 09, 2012:
An interesting read. Its quite amuzing to compare the different life styles that people share around the world. Things which seem bizarre in one country are completely normal in another. I live in southern Europe, and an AC here is a MUST, doesn't matter how rich or poor you are. We do not have cetral heating since winters are short and with no snow. In winter we use portable plug-in oil heaters or gas heaters (there are incidents of gas heaters exploding:( a negative side effect)...To be honest I never even heard of the whole garbage disposal and I drive a Benz so Im not dirt poor, sounds like some sinister device to me, it's very normal for us to keep a bin under the sink, where we put absolutly everything: chicken guts, plastic wrappings, etc, and we take it out into the street every two days to be picked up by the trash truck. Fridges are tiny, but nobody minds. Even though its hot here I've never seen an ice-machine, we can buy ice at supermarkets. Europeans don't have this obsession with ICE cold drinks, a cool drink will do. Carpeted floors are probably more pleasing to the eye and create a cozy atmosphere however tile floors are so much easier to clean, plus its an amazing feeling to walk barefoot on a cool tile or marble floor in the summer. Yes our apartments are much smaller, everything is smaller, even parking spaces, its hard to fit a sedan into a parallel parking space in Europe, but you get used to it:) Humans can adapt to anything. Europe is an amazing, magical place, with its own story to tell, and the lack of sink cabinets or carpeting shouldn't stop you from experiencing it. We are all different in this world:)
Petr (Czech Republic) on May 31, 2012:
You are just very spoiled and stupid american, wasting everything and living in your us bubble. I've lived in the USA for 10 months and I would never change my home in my city of Pilsen with that american crap. At least, I'm able to live without a car as a student, your public transportation is sooo bad. The USA is stupid. I loved Canada though. USA, "free country" with very stupid rules
Marty on May 30, 2012:
In Which century did you live in Europe?!
My comparison with NYC and Chicago, the only US cities I've been to:
About the refrigerators: they're big... But you don't cook, so they're only full of bottles... Or empty!
No bathroom cabinets: Well, if there is no cabinet (and if the apt is unfurnished), we buy some.
No kitchen cabinets, sinks, etc: if I paid the furniture, because there was nothing at first or because I hated the previous one, then you can make sure I'll take it away for my next apt! But of course, if the furniture belongs to the owner, we're not thiefs, it stays there.
No garbage disposal in the sink: a what?! what for?! So we should use our hands to throw out everything in the trashcan... But what do you use to throw out the guts of the chicken? Does it go magically inside the sink? And BTW, never seen any in NYC...
Dryers: we can buy one if we feel the need to have one. I had one, but used it just for the sheets, the towels, socks, etc... Basically for coton clothes. Other fabrics get damaged faster with the use of a dryer. So now, I use a clothes airer... And guess what, the air makes the job perfectly: on my terrace when it's hot outside, inside my apt when it's cold (with the help of the heating).
So you love carpet........ I haven't seen carpet (or rugs) for years! And last time, it was at my grandmother's friends home! Carpet is for old people here. When you visit an apt with carpeted floor, it says "old" immediately and you want to remove it! So hardwood floor, tiled floor yes yes. Carpet no no! Great hardwood floors in NYC BTW, never seen any carpet...
Ice machine: again, what for? Ice trays are enough, we don't drink everything iced like you do. When it comes out of the refrigerator, it's cold enough.
Sooo! To sum up: you may have window screens, but we have window shutters, not the same use, but convenient as well. Your bathtubs are tiny and I never found a shower handle, only shower pommels... Hello modernism and convenience! Cockroaches, bedbugs.... First time of my life in NYC. You have A/C everywhere, which is great! But now you have to learn how to regulate it! Because it's too damn cold and in summer, the difference of temperature between inside and outside is so big that you get a thermal shock everytime! And in winter, sorry, but A/C doesn't replace a real heating system, it's just a blow of hot air. It gives the impression of heat, that's it. Not to mention the noise...
OK, I could go on and on, and not only with the apartments! But I love NYC and Chicago and I can't live a single year without coming there several times and I could live there with no problem! But I live in Paris, and I also love that.
Tings in Europe are not as you described them, not everywhere! And keep in mind that living in France can be different than in Italy or Germany, or Croatia!
Anon on May 26, 2012:
he sounds like he needs to open his mind up and stop being so superficial. My experience of living abroad is that what a country may lack materially, it compensates culturally. He obviously didn't take in any positive aspects of life in Europe (which i think is far richer intellectually, culturally and historically speaking) but merely compared observed only negative aspects, comparing everything to the United States. This attitude is a recipe doomed to fail.
Anon on May 15, 2012:
When you speak of ALL of Europe being like that NOT TRUE!!!! I was born in Malta, and it's definitely not dark and rainy there, neither is it in Italy. And they do too have dishwashers and the like. You make it sound like they live in the dark ages. They do not. I don't live in Europe now, but I'd rather live in Europe than the US anytime. And who cares if you don't have garbage disposals? omg, talk about spoilt, I don't have a garbage disposal and have never seen one. And Europe is also more environmentally conscious it seems than America, which would in itself deter me from going there!
EU on May 10, 2012:
what about the washing machines in the bathrooms? I hate that!!
Bob on May 07, 2012:
Hes right about almost every comment.
Boybrat on April 25, 2012:
Oh please, give this guy a break. He is nostalgic for a more rural environment, so what?
If you want to live in an urban environment, such as Manhattan or Europe, you'd better prepare for space to be at a premium: your apartment will be smaller. No large closets or private swimming pools, unless you are seriosuly rich. And yes, carpets are socially unacceptable -- aspirational urbanities are too obsessed with cleanlines to tolerate them.
Neverthless, you may think that nobody in their right mind would actually CHOOSE Texas over Manhattan, or the USA over Europe.
But a lot of country folks miss their big houses, which really ARE much cheaper and more comfortable than your average city dwelling.
Sure, there is a price to pay for that. You cannot just take a 5 minute walk to the theatre/ opera and pop into a supermarket on your way back as you can do if you live in Manhattan or almost any city in Europe. If you live in rural Europe or anywhere in America outside Manhattan, you are foced to stock up -- which means you will need a large freezer.
To an extent, this guy is putting on a brave face, trying to present such disadvantages as achievements. :)
But I think the key advantage of country living -- having enough space and a comfortable house -- is still there.
It is only a question of whether for the sake of it you are really prepared to give up almost everything else.
So this whole discussion about the pros & cons of America vs Europe boils down to a simple question: do you want to live in the country or the city?
Jamie Kerlen on April 20, 2012:
Amogha on April 12, 2012:
Looking at your description, I doubt you lived in Europe. Just recheck your passport.
bob on April 12, 2012:
What a bunch of bull...
i live in the netherlands and been to almost all the european countries.
We do have dryers.
We do have closets
We do have airconditioning
We do not have carpets, we have wooden floors. the rugs are just a nice addition
We do have freezers large enough.
JessicaR on March 14, 2012:
The dryers!!! I can handle everything but these worthless dryers! Why even have one when every time I put clothes in them they just heat up my entire house and leave me an hour later with wet clothes???? I miss dryers in the US. Not to mention the dryers in Europe leak water?! Its so irritating. I cant stand doing laundry in Europe - it is the hugest waste of time and so incredibly annoying. Bagh.
Brian on March 10, 2012:
As others have said, neither set of customs is necessarily WRONG; we just have different cultural expectations based on what we're used to.
Also, some of the Europeans' comments about the U.S. must be based on their experiences in New York City, because I've never experienced what they apparently did.
Finally, it's clear that Europeans are generally MUCH more concerned about efficiency and waste than we Americans are. From my perspective, it's borderline obsessive, but that's just based on my upbringing. If we'd quit arguing about what's the most efficient or the least "wasteful," then many of these distinctions wouldn't be nearly such a big deal.
brenda on February 14, 2012:
I live in NYC, also.....so space wise, more here in Germany........You have to talk about the lights also......I have 8 ~ 40 watt lampens, & still can't see in my one room.!! I don't know how to connect the ceiling light. (which previous tenant took) I have more lights in my one room than the whole place. & then there are the keys......& locks!!!!!....doors lock behind you ....& .....you HAve turn key around 4 times.....& bolt also on inside..........(who would steal me!) I live on the top floor of great old building....& you have to hit a light switch on the hall wall, each floor... to get to top to see.....& trying to get bike from courtyard parking lot.....@ night....I have to jump back & forth to the sensor light to see where the bike lock is........forget about delivery of anything! water is great here..but all the heavy soaps & fresh veggies to bring up 5 flights...!! whew!! just as dryers, ~microwaves, against the law sort of. fans be hard to find actually...no fire alarms. In these great old buildings there is not one squared off room!! So why are brooms square here?? & most use the hand broom/dust pan ..so you have to be on your hands & knees to sweep~ I brought from the states the standing "triangle" sort...same with the washing the floor mop things~ I prefer the old fashioned rag mop....to get in corners........vacuumes,,,,,,well I have had to add an American extension to get to the hi ceilings.........~ there be cobwebs here.....I know the germans have their ways....of doing things......~ but why more work???????&&&then I think I have to paint this room when I leave......Jeez....but a fun learning experience!
Emily on February 04, 2012:
I think these generalizations are hilarious, and people on each side of this debate are certainly making generalizations. There are a ton of places in the world that I'd love to visit,including various places in Europe, Australia, and South America. I'm an American, and I have no intention of bringing my assumptions about how someone should live with me when I come to visit. My grandmother uses an electic kettle all the time for coffee, which she drinks frequently throughout the day. When I lived in a damp basement apartment in Boone, N.C. I had no AC, no washer/dryer, and the breakers would flip if I plugged my hairdryer into the wrong outlet. I think that finding an apartment or a flat requires deciding what you can and cannot live without and how much money you are willing to spend to get what you want. I could have rented an apartment in any number of really nice apartment complexes in Boone. Some of them even had common areas with swimming pools and gyms, but I was satisfied with my apartment because a) I'm not really used to AC, b)the laundromat was really close to my apartment, and c) I had the cheapest apartment in Boone so I wasn't expecting a life of luxury.
I find discussions like this funny because of how much they reveal about cultural experiences and expectations. If you've enjoyed this debate, you should watch Househunters International. I'm often embarrassed by the expectations of Americans in these situations because I know that these representations are not reflective of how most of us feel, but I'm sure that every culture and society can say the same thing about its members. I know my boyfriend and I sit back and laugh when wealthy people say things like "I love this expensive home with the ocean view, the swimming pool, the vast amounts of space (including a walk-in closet); however, I wish that it was closer to the water." REALLY!? We keep expecting for someone to ask how much it will cost to move the ocean closer to the house. LOL.
Rose on January 26, 2012:
The reason Americans do not have electric kettles is because we do not constantly drink tea. It is not because we do not like kitchen gadgets - we love them in fact. It is because drinking a "cuppa" three or four times a day is simply not done. I prefer the front loader washers too, but your clothes still get clean with the top-loaders. One advantage to the top loader is that you can stop it mid-cycle and take things out or add things in. And your "apartment complex" in Birmingham is most certainly a very new development in England. No doubt people are finally catching on that people prefer a closet to a wardrobe when given the choice. I also prefer the "bounce" of a wood floor. It is way better for your back. After spending one summer living in Sicily in a house with a poured concrete floor, my back was killing me!
And if you think America has too many news channels, then I dare you to come to Germany. Besides awful soap operas, their entire programming is news. Morning, noon and night, it all news talk shows.
Kala on January 20, 2012:
LOL too funny and toooooo true...living in a coffin next to Ikea.haha
Bri on January 19, 2012:
Lol i am reading this and i am thinking to myself isn't it any wonder that when i lived in the states people actually asked me if in Ireland/Britain did we have electricity,cars etc etc because they read this and believe every word.I don't know what parts of Europe you visited....but im writing this from my APARTMENT COMPLEX in Birmingham,UK...yeah that's what its called,from my big tv room with my clothes hanging in a closet that where dried in an erm tumble dryer.When i lived in the states i actually could not believe how backward it was with some things.A washer that said hot warm or cold with an old fashioned timer on it that said 5 10 or 20 minutes and your clothes came out as dirty as they went in,when in Britain we had nice digital,efficient front loaders 20 years before you guys.I remember saying to my roommate,don't you guys have electric showers over here and he just looked at me and said a what?Oh yeah in the states you had to heat a big old tank of water first.Still do i guess.And don't even get me started on the kettle that you actually had to put on the stove to heat the water UGH.When i did buy a kettle there you actually had to unplug it when it boiled and you would get that big old spark from the socket....same with the toaster.As for the weather....hey in Birmingham it rarely drops below 50 in winter and its usually in the 70s in the summer.Just right....not 20 below with four foot of snow then 100 in summer and you cant go outside.Then you have the television...commercials every 7 minutes(mind you that's just as bad here these days) and how much news is on.They all should just become news channels!!
I actually like the US....but my point is,its got its niggly flaws that i hated when i lived there.Just like when Americans come here the UK/Europe will have its flaws for them.
Oh and american chocolate....first time i tried that i just wanted to get on the first flight home UGH UGH UGH!!
GH on January 12, 2012:
It's funny this article is over three years old and people are still hammering away at this guy. I have lived in Finland and spent a lot of time in Russia and elsewhere in Europe and love it, but yes, it is different. The interior of flats and houses just aren't as nice as what is found in the States. But then again, Europeans live in real communities and so many Americans now live on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood without sidewalks or alternative transportation. What we lack in the States, Europeans have and take for granted. I despise the amount of driving that I have to do in the States, as it is very expensive and much more dangerous and stressful than taking the tram, for instance.
So, our American living spaces are nicer on average by a long shot but they are built structurally as cheap as possible. I don't know why we Americans don't notice this. Our houses are too often built of cheap southern yellow pine and covered with plastic siding. I can assure you all, you would NEVER, NEVER find this shoddy shit in Europe, then again, most Americans live in a warmer climate and don't need to build homes with the same commercial standards as Europeans would.
Another ex-pat told me once in helsinki: "Once you've crossed the Atlantic once, you're always on the wrong side.... "
So, so true.
J on January 12, 2012:
One thing that is crap in the United States and not convenient at all is the power outlets. The metal flat connectors are shit and fall out all the time. At least in Europe they are nicely round and actually stay in the contact. Also even in expensive hotels in th US I had the feeling the floor was bouncing when I walked, must be because they are made of wood?
Americans indeed use a lot of ice, which is crap cause all drinks are watery soon. Also it is well know it is better to drink something a bit more warm in the summer to cool down.
Rose on December 23, 2011:
I am from the US and have lived in Germany for a couple of years. I never cared much for garbage disposals or carpeting, but I sure do miss having a closet! Look, I understand that this blog post came across as obnoxious, but I sort of have to agree with the sentiment echoed by the author: it sometimes feels (at least in Germany), that things are built without much thought to comfort or convenience. For example, I have lived in several German apartments and every single one of them had a kitchen which was unnecessarily small. What I mean by that, is that the space in the apartment could have been better utilized and thus made the kitchen a much more pleasant place to cook in. Technically, the kitchen had everything one "needs" but it really could have been just a bit bigger and bit better thought-out. (BTW, these were new apartments and the buildings were orinigally designed to be apartments. I am not complaining about 200 year old building that used to be a factory.) No builder in the US would ever build an apartment with a kitchen like that because they would have a very difficult time getting people to live there. No doubt Germans are used to having cramped kitchens, but I think everyone, no matter what their background, can appreciate more counterspace and room to move around. My current apartment, for example, just does not seem that very well thought-out. There is a TINY kitchen, a bathroom with a tub and a shower hose, but absolutely no way to hang a shower curtain (you just sort of crouch in the tub to shower). There are not cabinets in the bathroom either (fine, I just got some shelves). The place has two bedrooms. One of the bedrooms is MASSIVE and the other one in TINY. The tiny bedroom had two heating units and the massive bedroom has one heating unit. I guess this is something that maybe Europeans would not even think about, but my American eyes noticed it right away!
As to the fridges, I actually prefer the ones in Germany to the ones in the US. Their smaller size uses less energy and encourages buying groceries more often and thus reducing waste. I think large fridges are nice for big families, but for an apartment intended for only one or two people, the smaller fridge is better. However, I think people complaining about this from both sides simply do not understand the different cultures of grocery shopping in the US and Europe. Americans go once a week and "stock up," whereas Europeans go pretty much every day and only buy what they need for a 3 meals or so. I do not personally see how one system is "better" than the other; they're just different.
As to the A/C thing, you don't really need that in Germany. There is maybe about a month in the summer when having an AC would be nice, but it seems sort of stupid to install something that you are not going to use very often. And to you Europeans who think that A/C is wasteful/unnecessary: go spend one summer in south Texas and then get back to me. Same goes for ice machines.
I am totally used to living here now, and luckily I lived in Europe as a teenager too so I sort of knew what to expect, but I have no doubt many Americans are shocked by some of these differences. I think a lot of Europeans simply do not understand how much things in the US are centered around "convenience." I personally like things to be convenient, but I am sure many Americans take the level of convenience one sees in the US for granted and thus are a little put-off by many European customs. The bank account thing is a good example: in the US, opening a bank account is a very simple transaction and only takes a few minutes. In Germany I had to make an appointment, come back a week later, and spend about an hour in some guy's office just to open up a student checking account.
I sort of don't understand much of the hostility on this board. I like things about Europe and the United States and I dislike things about both places too. Although, I do gotta say, once you have had a walk-im closet complete with a make-up table and a folding table, it is pretty hard to make an argument in favor of the Ikea wardrobe ;)
Matt on October 19, 2011:
Thought this was cool, but some of those things are not common in my part of the woods ether, and I live in the USA (well north west washington to be specific) while I don't know any one with out a dryer (kinda needed when its only sunny and warm for like 2months, and rainy damp and cold for the rest of the year) but I don't know any one with A/C, heck most business where I live don't ether about only ones that really do are the movie theaters, even the "big box store" I work in dose not have really A/C. Then again well even in the summer a fan is normally enough and you can also put one in one window in an apartment (or house) and open the bedroom windows and just pull the cool air threw at night (much cheaper then A/C) While most new windows come with screens many older places don't have them, and even many newer one they don't or people simply don't use them.(only reason my family dose is moms from the east coast and obsessed with using them)
I like carpet its nice on a cold day, but you have to have a good vacuum and rug shampooer so that you can keep it clean. wood laminate and vinyl are much easier to keep clean.
Fridges in the US have balloned in size over the years, my family literly had the refigerator sitting outside the kitchen space in the dinning area because on the one before it died we could not find one small enough to fit in the space made for the fridge in the early 70's! It took the kitchen being redune for the fridge to move back into it. although a big fridge is nice when you go shoping/for storing leftovers.
Although an Ice Maker is nice it's definitely not on my have to have at all cost list, ice cube trays work very well. But ice cold drinks are a must, from water to beer, I do want my drinks icy cold.
MrB on August 09, 2011:
Well, I'm living rather poor European country called Poland.
I agree with almost everything, excepting:
- there is a bathroom cabinet in almost every flat (and every house),
- most of the new fridges have ice machines and water dispensers,
- carpets are used mostly by poor people, the rich ones have wooden floors, way nicer than the ones in the UK.
Also, as many folks above mentioned, there are much bigger differences between European countries than between States in the US.
For example American fridges are TINY compared to those in Norway (in fact, many Norwegian folks have 3-4 HUGE fridges next to each other - you know, it's useful when it's snowing heavily for 40 days and the closest market is 20 miles away).
I found driers very popular in Denmark. But you're still totally right, I am thinking about drier, but have not enough space in the bathroom.
BTW what about the quality of major appliances? In Poland 2-3 year old washing machine is often useless and needs repairs that cost more than the washing machine itself. The same rule applies to fridges (even the most expensive ones) etc.
Annie on April 22, 2011:
You sound like a typical arrogant and ignorant American. I am not from the US nor Europe. But I have lived in the US for 11 eleven years and now in Europe for a 1 year. I am asking myself why I didn't come here sooner.
Many facts here are related to Europe's efforts in conserving energy. USA is of course the opposite. Gas/Petrol is almost $4 in the US and people are complaining, well, get used to it. May be one day you'll wake up and wonder what you are doing with those giants cars.
You can get your refrigerators, dryers and all that if you have room for it.
CARPET - It's not even an argument, it's so unhygienic, I don't know why one would want this in their apartment/flat. It's so contradicting especially when you see Americans running around with Antibacterial gel/soaps/wipes/sprays and now having a carpet is a big deal! Even worse because most US apartments/homes are wooden.