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15 former Americans explain how different life is in other countries after leaving the US

One of the common themes was that people paid higher taxes but didn't have to worry about healthcare and were generally happier.

15 former Americans explain how different life is in other countries after leaving the US
Image source: Reddit

It's never easy to leave a country, especially when it involves leaving behind your family and friends. Many have, for work reasons or otherwise, crossed borders and forged a living in new countries and continents. It naturally is a sea change for those who have lived their whole lives in America. A Reddit thread has seen many Americans who have left the country speak about their experiences in other countries. Reddit user u/whizzythorne asked, “Ex-Americans of Reddit, how has your life changed since moving out of the US?” and the answers have been an eye-opener for many. One of the common themes in the answers was access to affordable healthcare, housing, and education. Here are some of the answers we came across in the thread.

US passports on an American Stars and Stripes flag/Getty Images

 

1. Less stress

"Moved to Switzerland 5 years ago. The biggest difference is that there is more vacation time and higher salaries. This causes lower stress in general — people are always talking about their next holiday. In fact, it’s hard to get together with friends sometimes because someone is always on holiday! Less road rage and better drivers and public transit goes absolutely everywhere. We drive much less here and didn’t have a car for the first three years. Subsidized pre-school. No school on Wednesdays. Two-hour lunch breaks. All the shops are closed on Sundays and holidays. -u/swiss_baby_questions

2. Life-changing healthcare

I've lived in a few countries outside of the US: Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Georgia (the republic). I haven't had to deal with health stuff much, but when I have, it's awesome and life-changing. For example, I recently partially dislocated my shoulder and am able to afford out-of-pocket service at one of the best physical therapists in my city. In the US, I can't afford insurance and would just not see a doctor since it isn't extremely painful or life-threatening. - Reddit


3. Business-friendly and better quality of life

Still American, been living in Barcelona for 17 years. Mostly as a result of sheer luck I wound up in a place where my shortcomings weren't as big of a problem as they were back in Seattle, and I really came out of my shell. I discovered new talents, started a successful business, met a nice boy, fell in love and got married.

How has my life changed? Well, I have fairly severe ADD, and that kept me from being successful in my chosen IT profession. Here I found a passion for hospitality and opened a burger place that has now become a top-rated mini-chain in the country. Due to the high cost of opening a business like that in the US, I never would have been able to manage it. Here I did. Quality of life is better in general: good free healthcare, public transport everywhere, awesome food and wine, great climate and weather. -u/alaninsitges

4. Happier

Moved [from] the US to Germany. My life is good. I expected the language and culture. Didn't expect that I'd be happier here honestly, but I'm happier and can smile more. - Reddit.


Germany is amazing. They have so many holidays and celebrations my personal favorite being Oktoberfest naturally. I was filming the bars and pubs in Berlin and Cologne and the people are as nice as can be most of the time. - u/Cutsncreeps

5. A government that cares about its people

I'm living in Germany. I never want to live in the US again. Not till they fix the system. Germany has 2 or 3 months of paid sick leave and it's super difficult to fire an employee. I have this ease and peace of mind. I don't have to worry about illness or injury ruining my life. I really miss salsa, fish tacos, and dill pickles but the finest chocolate is cheaper than the US cheap stuff. I'll accept that trade. Oh, other bonus: groceries are subsidized. It's about 20% cheaper to buy good food. Seeing the affordable food prices reminds me I'm living in a government that cares about its people. I can live without a car, I can fly all over Europe for super cheap. We travel once a month now. I feel like I'm living an extravagant lifestyle but our income hasn't increased that much. - u/SparrowsArt

6. More free-time

I have more free time and less stress [in Australia]. Work-life balance is valued more here. No one questions or cares if I take a sick day or need time to go to an appointment. I'm able to pursue hobbies and have a decent social life without other areas of my life being impacted. Life is just more laid back. It took me about five years to adjust to it, but I've fully embraced it now. When I visit the US, I'm always very glad that I no longer live there. - u/PE_class_camp


7. Can afford a home, car on a single income

Left the US years ago. Still an American. I moved to Japan. I was able to buy a house in the countryside that was a decent price. I'm able to afford a house, a car, and a kid on a single income. I can afford to go to the doctor which is cool. Food is crazy-expensive. Like a $1 for a single apple or heaven forbid if I want watermelon. - u/Zidane62.

8. Learned that America is hyper-focused on itself

I'm still American. I'm definitely never giving up my citizenship. I moved to France at the end of 2017. My husband is French, and with Trump getting elected it made more sense for me to move there than for him to come to the US. It has really opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I feel like America is in this weird bubble of being hyper-focused on ourselves. My knowledge of history, politics, and different cultures has jumped considerably. I've met people from so many different countries that it truly amazes me. - u/Bipolar_Pigeon

9. National discourse is healthier

A US citizen and cultural American living abroad. The biggest systemic difference I notice is that people here do not discuss:
1) The cost of studying
2) Medical expenses (at all. At all. Just imagine this.)
3) Whether or not they should see a doctor or dentist for a problem
4) The fear of losing their jobs
5) Getting a third job
6) The sh*t hitting the fan on a personal economic level
7) The guilt of taking two days off work in a row to recover from illness


Instead, people discuss:
1. Politics and economics, on a high, evidence-based, internationally-minded level. 
2. Family and friends
3. Hobbies and travel
4. Books

You get the idea -u/BilobaBaby

 

10. Sensible gun control

Still American, just live in Australia. I am so much happier and less stressed than in America. My employer treats me with respect, no doctor's notes, no guilt trip if I want to see my kid run in the school sports carnival. I went from being the right-wing Republican my parents raised me to be to a huge advocate for universal healthcare and sensible gun control because I live in a country where both have been implemented and both have improved the lives of the people who live here. Everything is a bit more expensive here. That's the biggest downside. -u/Rakshala

11. Everything is not politicized

My wife is a teacher. Back in the US her job was highly politicized and could change with each new president. She felt the public looked down on her and her work and felt little support. As for me, now I get to live in an apartment right on the beach, with amazing views, an awesome and empty gym, and an infinity pool that feels like it's all mine most days. I never have any concerns about crime whatsoever. -u/abudhabidootoyou 

12. Socialized healthcare

Socialized healthcare is still infinitely better than anything in America. I'd rather not sell my left kidney to afford an operation on the right. -u/SyeThunder2

13. More vacation days

I moved to Sweden in 2006. I love it. I get lots of time off, vacation, parental leave, etc. A house close to the city center, that I'd never be able to afford back in California, and my kids have a great life. I love having 25 vacation days. I love the high-quality preschool that is almost free. Sure, I pay lots of taxes, but I feel that I'm getting a lot of benefits from it too. Heck, I'm taking 7 /weeks/ off this coming summer.- u/jaejae_fah

14. Love for people and animals

My quality of life has increased 1,000 fold [in Turkey]. I am surrounded by much more intelligent people who are much more responsible to not only their fellow man but also great lovers of animals. I have never been treated with such respect in my life since I've lived here. I have never before seen people take such good care of their children. I have never before seen a people love and respect animals as I have witnessed here. I'm in love with the west side of Turkey. -u/Reddit

15. Low pay

My salary is half of what it was in the US, and significantly less now than my peers still in the US are making. I enjoy the social benefits - universal health care, partially subsidized childcare. I'd also like to point out the indirect benefits of high taxes and a strong social safety net: the work culture is much better, and your complete f*ck-up of a friend/relative is the government's problem, and not yours. Oh, and at the moment: the competent response to COVID-19. u/danishoilsucks


 

 


 

 

 


 

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