When I entered the 9th grade, I was only 14 years old. I had a choice between learning Spanish or French. Even though Spanish is spoken in Europe, to my mind, French seemed so much more associated with Europe (to be fair, they were teaching "Mexican" Spanish), so I chose it instantly. There was no hesitation because even three decades ago I knew I wanted to be in Europe. It wasn't a well-thought out thing, it was just part of my sense of adventure.

Now that I'm here, it's lovely. I don't sit down laboring over health care plans, trying to figure out which one to accept -- assuming an employer offers one. I'm not trying to figure out how to make the most of my one week off a year.¹ Health care and being allowed to enjoy life are not "perks" here. And I never imagined being able to enjoy my three daily meals in three separate countries, as I did a couple of months ago (breakfast in Germany, lunch in Switzerland and dinner in Italy). Over 200 languages are spoken in London alone, there's fascinating history everywhere, Paris is a couple of hours away by train and recently, it took me longer to get to the airport than it did to fly to Frankfurt.

Why the hell would anyone pass up the chance to live over here? Life is good, there's a great safety net and there's so much to constantly see and do, plus people understand that the world is round, something many Americans don't get. Despite all of this, when I've had American friends who qualify for various positions over here, every single one of them has said "no". Every. Single. One.

So, if you're an American and you would turn down an opportunity to live and work in Europe (or overseas in general), why?

1. For people outside the US: large companies in the US often start you at two weeks vacation, but they're not legally required to offer you any. I worked at one Web company for around 3 or so years, with only one week's holiday a year. I also turned down a job from a database consultancy partly because they offered no holiday a year.
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Yeah, but the coffee's crap, and the weather's rubbish, and eating out is expensive, and it's full of chavs, and we're under surveillance 24 hours a day, and the government is stealing our liberties piece by piece while no-ones watching, and we only get to vote against what they want once every 5 years, and we've got a sinking currency (why were are still not part of the Euro I have no idea...), and, um, I'm sure I'll come up with other things soon.

Not that I would personally want to live anywhere else. America is a *great* place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there unless I had a *lot* of money ;-)
While I'll agree that there are disappointing things about the UK (and in some respects it's going down a worse path than the US), I defy you to name me a country that doesn't have serious problems where people accustomed to a Western lifestyle would generally want to live :)
I'd give it a shot if the job offered to me was paying well enough to allow me to visit home every once in a while. But I'm just too social of a person and not seeing my friends and family for too long would tear me up inside.

Also, I pick up accents in about five seconds. I'd be constantly afraid people would think I was mocking them. :(
I'm sort of here with mageraine. My other reason was that the job I saw that started the enquiry ended up looking like shite.

I'm really tied to Portland... for now. Unlike you, I don't have a solid foundation of work experience to float anywhere. I think in 5-8 years I will. But I need some stability for a bit. After 8 years, I may or may not be playing music, which will help, and M will be out of school in a mere 4 months!

I know that, in Portland, I have a quality of life unmatched by many places. Now that I will be able to afford some of the potential places that may have an even better quality of life, I am willing to investigate; up until now, I've simply been ignorant to the possibilities. From what I've seen/heard, Amsterdam seems to be the most compelling place for me to potentially move to.

Being the numbers geek that I am, though, I factor in vacation (at a greater value than what I'm getting paid) into my matrix for job acceptances. While pay is lower in Britain than it is here, overall benefits are much higher; as you mention, it is hard to put a dollar figure on quality of life, being surrounded by history, etc. etc. I'm releasing myself of some attachments, and actually through this very exchange am realising that if I were to move, I could still easily be in touch with my friends back in the States.

Fortunately for me, I've very little family to deal with whatsoever. M has two sisters that she gets along with, but moving far from them wouldn't be a travesty. I've my mom and dad, and that's it. My dad's planning on moving to Thailand anyway, so what's the difference?

Edited at 2008-12-18 04:50 pm (UTC)
Having lived in Europe before, I understand your attraction. If I had a wife that was open to the opportunity of working/living over there I'd return to Germany or England in a heartbeat. But alas, that big pond would make my wife more home-sick than the 5 hour drive she now has to return home.

Mind you the things bridiep brings up are very valid point.
Pre-children, I would have without hesitation. Now, I'm a bit more bogged down with responsibility - two seven-year-old boys and a mother in assisted living for whom I am the sole caretaker.

Despite that, I think it is in March that my husband is going for a meeting in Paris and I'll be going with him. He'll be working, but it will be similar to when we went to Aruba for his conference. He'll work during the day while I explore/relax. I think I will enjoy exploring the area.

I will let you know when I come into the area so perhaps we can have a drink together at some point.
Really, it's the family aspect that keeps me close. We lived in DC for a year and being cross-country from family got to be pretty hard for my wife and we wound up moving back. Europe is just that much further.

If it were just me, I'd hop on a plane in a heartbeat. Heaven forbid, but if it ever does wind up just being me, I'm going to bug you for job leads even. ;) (This isn't anything you have to worry about, really)
Like the others here, I would move to Europe in an eyeblink, but I have children, grandchildren and my mom here. I cannot bear to be too far from any of them for a long time, they are my connection to the world and they are the ones I hold dearest to my heart. If I could take them all with me (not likely!) then we would be there already.

It is easier for a single, childless person to just pick up and move. The rest of us have other considerations that the ones you mentioned.

What was a logical choice on your part becomes an emotional choice for others with more attachments on this continent that you had.
IIRC, you went towards family rather than away when you moved to Europe. The opposite is true for most of the rest of us.

Edited at 2008-12-18 04:40 pm (UTC)
While on the whole I'd jump at a chance to move to Europe, Scandinavia in particular, there are a few things that would give me pause:

- Friends and family in the states.
- I've carried a pocket knife since I was an 8 year old boyscout, but in many western European countries that is illegal. That may seem petty, but I kind of feel naked without one.
- A feeling that I'd be giving up on doing what I can to see the US, or at least the part of it where I live, become as cool as Europe.
You can legally carry a folding, non-locking pocket knife in the UK, so long as the blade is under 3" in length. Not sure about Scandinavia, though I suspect that in rural parts you would be fine with a bigger fixed-blade knife (given the quite strong tradition of knives as outdoors tools there).
One reason and one only...custody.

Otherwise, I'd be there in a friggin heartbeat...but then you'd have your work cut out for you because I'd insist you show me around. Plus, I only speak Spanish; Spanish Spanish but Spanish nonetheless. Wait, I understand a lot of French...and lots of other languages. Hey, I'm kinda cool! LOL.
It all depends on what one wants out of life. Me, I would be all over working in, say, Germany or Scandinavia for a year. Longer than that, or permanently? Unlikely. Museums, art, ancient buildings, taking the train to Paris for the day ;) are all grand, but in the end there's only so long they'll hold my attention. Living in Portland, I have access to stellar "outdoor experiences" within 3 easy hours driving in all directions: the coast, the river valleys, the mountains, your standard PNW rainforest, my beloved Oregon High Desert. It boils down to this: here, I can relatively easily get to places where I would see few (if any) humans other than those I'm traveling with. Sometimes for *days*. And I mean outside - sure, I could hide in the attic, but I need plants, birds, animal tracks in the snow, water, and above all, dirt. (Not soot.) Granted, I haven't been around Europe a whole lot, but my impression is that I wouldn't have the opportunity for solitude there, and the solitude is what keeps me (relatively) sane.

For me, the question is not "am I passing up an opportunity" but rather "is this a compelling reason to leave Portland."

Also, I have that same accent problem as mageraine. It's sort of embarrassing.
I think a lot of it is the difference in culture or being in an unfamiliar area is scary to people. I know moving states for a job can be hard enough on people. I know for me, as much as I welcome the chance to experience a new place, I know I'd have to think pretty hard on it. Change can be scary. As lame as this sounds, I know I have friends oversees who miss even little things like being able to drive through a Taco Bell at 2am after hitting a pub/bar. Even though many of the countries have better quality cultural equivalents or little bistros or restaurants open late to eat, they miss just being able to have some cheap, greasy American food at 2am because it's what they've done their entire life. Make sense?

That's a small thing but sometimes those small things add up, at least what I have heard from friends oversees right now. I know for me, I'd love to live overseas at some point but even little things we take for granted here I know I have to think about. For me one of the things is I could only consider a dog friendly place to live. Which at least in Europe isn't as big of a deal but when looking at overseas opportunities there is a lot to consider as far as culture differences, languages, having to change your life habits,etc. Not to even mention just the normal things you have to deal with starting a new job or moving anyway, like if you don't like the job, commute,etc. :)

I can see it might not be an easy choice for some. As it is I don't know many people who'd move cities or states for a new jo, more less countries. :)
My husband works for Michelin here in the States, so we can make the opportunity happen pretty much whenever we want (France or Japan). Why haven't we? Mainly because we love our home, which we'd have to sell if we moved (no one in the area who can act as a manager if we decided to rent it out). Plus, our six year old son just started school and is blossoming, and we see no reason to mess with that.
I wouldn't turn down the opportunity. But right now, I'm in school which will make me more likely to get a foreign work permit. :) I'm already 2000 miles from my family so what's 3000 miles in the other direction? Not much.

Living overseas is something I want to do.
The UK != Europe
I'd gladly work almost anywhere in Europe. However, I do not feel comfortable traveling or living in the UK.

There are too many things about London (and basically the rest of the UK that I've seen) that make me feel uneasy. Customs is often on par with what I would expect to see in America coming in as a foreigner (treated in a rude manner, the default manner is unfriendly, etc). The idea of a Queen and a society that reveres her as well as the concept of a monarchy. It's insanely expensive. I could go on but I don't mean to insult the UK. I just simply find it perhaps a bit difficult to be comfortable. Being a subject rather than a citizen.

Oh and lets not forget libel. Libel tourism is insane and basically the UK leads the charge on this front.

But all of this really at the same time totally vanishes when I remember that I spend many months of the year living in the United States. It's really hard to knock anywhere else after eight years of Bush. Excepting that I am a citizen, of course. That's really the saving grace of living in America.
Re: The UK != Europe
Regarding your subject, the United Kingdom is most certainly part of Europe. In fact, by virtually every definition of Europe you can find, the UK is part of it. The people who primarily deny this are the British.
Psh. I'd do it in a heartbeat. True, I'd miss my family, but if someone offered me a decent job, they'd understand. And they'd be clamoring to come visit as soon as I got settled!
I own my home and I love my home. I am actually a pretty simplistic and grounded person. I have a good job at a respectible company, a fiance I adore who has no desire to leave here, friends etc etc. I actually have no reason to go to Europe though I am sure it is lovely.