I’ve been a fan of Europe for a long time.
My husband and I met in Ireland, and later moved there together. After seven years, we moved again. This time to Paris, with our children. We still have a home there where we spend part of each year.
So, today I thought I would share with you 9 things I most appreciate about life in Europe…
1. Minimalist Living.
Homes are typically smaller here than in the U.S. and, as a result, you tend to not buy things you don’t need as space is at a premium.
In Paris, we have a small apartment with limited closet space meaning we don’t spend money on things we have no room for. And this helps with keeping costs down, too.
Over the years I’ve heard a lot from readers that one of the biggest challenges they face when planning an overseas move is downsizing. I always tell them: don’t let your stuff be a reason not to move. In fact, make it a reason to move. It’s a liberating exercise and once it’s done, you’ll appreciate it.
2. Café Culture.
In Europe, you don’t just live in your home; you live in your town, or city, or village. Visits to restaurants, parks, and coffee shops become part of your daily life.
Paris is my frame of reference. Our apartment there is 112 square meters (about 1,200 square feet) so there’s not a lot of space, but all of central Paris is on our doorstep. Within a few minutes’ walk we have our pick of parks, gardens, and streets to stroll, to enjoy the outdoors, take a picnic, and to meet with people.
That café culture, where the city is part of your space that you live in every day, is something I really enjoy and it’s found right across Europe. Because so many places here are built around a town square, you’ll often find that to be the heart of the community, too.
Even in small villages you’ll find cafés and restaurants where you can sit outside and watch the world go by. It’s very common after dinner to find the town square full with people… sitting on benches… reading the newspaper… taking a little stroll… It’s a great lifestyle.
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3. Affordable, Easy Transportation Options.
Europe has a great train system and that, coupled with low-cost airlines, means travel to other cities and countries is easy and affordable. You don’t need a car.
From Paris, we’ve taken the train to the South of France, to Geneva, to Chamonix… So, getting around to see other parts of the country you’re in and even other parts of Europe is very straightforward.
In Paris, with the Métro and the RER, you can travel anywhere in the city and its environs for very low cost and the trains run regularly until one o’clock in the morning.
Even in smaller towns and villages you don’t necessarily need to have a car. There’s local buses and a lot of people choose to get around with a bike or just take a taxi when needed.
4. Good, Affordable Licor.
Everyone needs a vice… and mine is champagne. In France, in particular, champagne, prosecco, cava, and wine in general is affordable. You can get a decent, drinkable bottle of wine here for as little as a couple of euros. So it’s not a big splurge to have wine with dinner even on a tighter budget.
5. Healthy Food.
It’s difficult to eat unhealthy food in Europe. In the States, there’s convenience food everywhere you look. But in Paris, if you walk into a little corner shop you won’t find nachos or doughnuts, instead you’ll find meats and cheeses, fresh baguettes, fruit and vegetables… If you want to indulge in sweets, you go to a bakery. It’s a specific stop.
There’s also the farmers’ markets and here they’re a way that you shop regularly, not a special occasion. You can go a couple of times a week and stock up on fresh, locally-grown produce.
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6. Frequent Exercise.
In Europe, you will find yourself walking everywhere. It’s a naturally healthy lifestyle and the close proximity of so many places and the general beauty of Europe make it a pleasant experience.
In Paris, of course the Métro is there but walking is easy. In Portugal, when we spend time on the Algarve, we walk from our apartment to the beach or to a restaurant for dinner. It’s more pleasant and healthier, too.
I know so many people who’ve been so excited after moving to Europe to have lost weight without even trying or thinking about it because they’re eating healthier, walking everywhere, and carrying their own groceries home. It’s low-level, no-stress exercise which becomes part of your daily routine.
7. The Culture.
With all the museums, architecture, bookstores, castles, sports, and history in Europe, you will always have something new to see and learn and hear. It’s something I really appreciate about life here.
If you’re thinking about moving to Europe, ask yourself if a lifestyle where you spend much of your time walking among living history is something you would enjoy because that’s what’s on offer here.
8. The Festivals.
There is always something to do in Europe. Whether a weekend or summer festival, a saint’s day or a parade, you will not run out of things to do here.
Across small towns and villages, festivals roll on week after week, so if you’ve got the time to spend checking them out, it can be a non-stop party.
9. Shopping And The Sense Of Community.
There are versions of the big footprint stores in some parts of Europe, certainly in the big cities, but they haven’t take over the shopping scene completely. There are still lots of niche and boutique shops and artisans at work here and hand-made, high-quality goods abound.
For example, if you need a pair of shoes resoled or are looking for a certain tool, there are specific places in your neighborhood you learn to go. You get to know the person who runs the shop, and you’ll often find these businesses have been run by the same families for generations and they’re masters at their craft.
In our street in Paris, there’s a men’s tailor, a cobbler, a cheese shop, and some boutiques. It creates a small town feel. You get to know the area, the store owners, and your neighbors as they come and go from the shops. It’s a wonderful way of becoming a part of your community.
Until next time,
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter