I’m taking the opportunity this week, as I prepare for next week’s Live and Invest in Europe Virtual Conference, to take a step back and reconsider Europe from a broad perspective.
Why should anyone want to live in Europe?
Here are the top 11 reasons I can think of…
1. Café Culture
Most European cities have some sort of café culture, which lends a unique social feeling to a place. It means that most residents stop by a café at least once a day, even if just for a coffee. They usually have a regular haunt and get to know the staff and neighbors this way. Plus, even in cold cities, many cafés have outdoor seating year-round, offering patrons heat lamps and blankets. It’s lovely to be able to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s nippy out, and I think it promotes activity during times of year when you’re otherwise mostly indoors and sedentary.
I admit that I am unusually fond of art, having studied art history, but nearly everyone in Europe has a serious appreciation for the arts. Museums and galleries are plentiful, as are historical sites and monuments. When it comes to theater and music, even small European cities—even small towns—give a decent amount of attention to the arts. Even if you’re not a diehard museum- or opera-goer, you’re likely to appreciate this aspect of European culture, perhaps if only for the architecture that is conceived to house it.
No matter where you base yourself in Europe, the architecture is sure to please. From the steep pitched rooves of the Alps and the wooden beams of the north to the lavish balconies of the Mediterranean… plus the grandiose capital cities… whatever your taste, you’ll find some part of the Continent charming. If you enjoy architecture, there’s nothing better than getting to know Europe through its buildings.
The art and architecture that Europe boasts is, of course, due to its long history… from paleolithic to Roman and from monarchies to the 20th century, every corner of this part of the world has some history to share. You’ll be shocked at how much is packed into even the most seemingly out-of-the-way places.
5. Range of Climates
Whatever kind of climate you find ideal, you’ll be able to find it in Europe. Whether it’s year-round heat, four seasons, or consistently mild temperatures you’re looking for, you can have your new home tailored to your specifications.
6. Diverse Geography
Beaches, mountains, small towns, countryside, cosmopolitan cities, modern cities, historical cities, islands… there’s really no kind of lifestyle you can’t find somewhere on the Continent.
Everything over here is smaller, which means you’ll have to do some serious downsizing to live here comfortably. Personally, I struggle with this, but I also find it more satisfying to be economical with space, purchases, and possessions than to have more space that allows us to get lazy and indulgent on this front.
8. Travel Hub
If regular travel is a goal for you, there’s no better travel base than Europe. Within the Continent, travel is fast, easy, and usually affordable. To get to the rest of the world, connections are plentiful and you’re kind of in the center of things distance-wise.
9. Well-Kept Spaces
This one’s a little particular, but Europe is generally quite regulated and money is spent on maintenance. In practice this means that, for example, you rarely see litter on the ground; streets and sidewalks are well maintained—you don’t expect cracks or potholes, and when they come up, they are swiftly repaired; buildings and facades in cities and many towns are strictly regulated, meaning they must be regularly cleaned and painted (according to the local style); green spaces are typically abundant, and they usually offer amenities, like playgrounds, picnic tables, grills, and fitness equipment.
10. Joie de Vivre
This is a cliché, but Americans live to work and Europeans work to live. It takes living overseas to really understand how unique the American work ethic is in the world. No other culture prizes work so highly, and once you learn to internalize and appreciate this way of life, it’s liberating… and it feels much healthier.
11. Cost of Living
Ok, this one is variable, but your cost of living in some parts of Europe can be drastically more affordable than you might imagine. If you’re looking for a rural or small-town lifestyle, it would be pretty easy to reduce your cost of living, depending on where you’re coming from.
Editor, In Focus Europe