When traveling and living outside of North America of course cultural differences and language issues are common.

Here are some of the things we have noticed plus thank you to Meghan Corbett and Chet Pickard for their help with this section.
One of the first things you notice is the difference in prices (good and bad)

Price examples of dining out in Norway or Switzerland

2 Large Pizza’s and 4 beer = could be 150.00 USD

Movie for 2 with a small water and popcorn – 100.00 USD

*** Minimum wage is over 20.00 dollars in most of the above countries

Price examples of dining out in Norway or Switzerland

Meal for 2 and drinks maybe $80.00 USD
4 Star Hotel – no more than $160.00 USD

PEOPLE– Normally people are friendly and if they know English they are very helpful in getting to where you have to go.

WEATHER–Countries like Finland and Denmark and parts of Sweden can be very dark in the winter months. On average the temperatures are not as cold as Western Canada or the Midwest USA.

DINING OUT–Condiments and ice…. oddly enough for some reason getting ice in your drink is a big deal or you really have to ask for it. Finding typical North American brand sauces and condiments is very rare with the exception of ketchup.

TIPPING–not expected in most countries and you won’t even see an option to give a tip when using your credit card

Eating / Dining Out

You always have to pay for still or sparkling water you never just get a glass of water for free
Ice is odd you never get it in your drink unless you ask for it
Condiments like steak sauce – mustard – salsa etc are rare to find most places have ketchup and mayo
Dining out in Sweden – Finland – Denmark – Norway – and Switzerland is very expensive. Czech and Germany overall are reasonable prices
Also tipping is not at all expected but if you leave 2 or 3 dollars it is a very pleasant surprise for your waitress or waiter

Taxi’s and Trains and Cars

  • Taxi’s are three or four times the price of North America in Sweden – Norway – Finland and Switzerland (Swiss is the highest cost)
  • Get to learn the local train system it is very affordable and effective way to get around as to park your car is tough and expensive
  • Learn to drive manual transmission as most cars in Europe have manual transmission
  • Parking is overall difficult so try not to use a car for going downtown in most cities and use the train or bus

Grocery Shopping

Make sure you have the google translate app on your phone so you can tell what is in the product you are buying

You will need to shop three or more times a week because the fridges overall are small and you don’t have much room. Quality of fruits and veggies overall are as good as North America or according to some players even better organic quality In Germany they have a cap for what they can sell fruits and vegetables in the stores for, so it keeps the healthy food cheap and affordable for the lower classes of people. The government subsidizes the farmers so they can do this. The other reason that you have to shop every couple of days is that things just don’t last very long because they are not laced with preservatives or refined sugars to keep them shelf worthy for that long, at least not to the same degree.So don’t be surprised if you were to buy a loaf of bread and have it go moldy in less than a week, or fruit to go bad after a few days on the counter.

Cost of Living

This is always an interesting topic and from my travels, I will try to give you an idea. Normally I like to use Beer – Taxi’s – Coke and McDonalds as a measuring stick for general costs.

From most expensive to least

Switzerland
Sweden
Norway Finland / Denmark basically the same level of prices
Austria / Germany / Italy all roughly the same prices
Russia / Czech / Slovakia / Latvia / Belarus all about the same (St. Petersburg and Moscow are very expensive but the rest of Russia is priced reasonable)
Nice dinner out in Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway (steak and app and glass of wine per person) will be at least 80 dollars per person
Nice dinner out in Prague will maybe cost 20 dollars per person

Language

Norway – Sweden – Finland and Denmark you will find English is overall pretty easy to communicate with Germany is at times difficult. Most Germans have the ability to speak at least some English but do not have the desire to be as helpful. In Germany phrases like “konnen sie helpfen mich?” -can you help me- “enchuldagung (sp) sprechen sie English?” -excuse me, do you speak English? … go a long way in getting some of the older generations or proud germans to lend a hand in communicating. Switzerland has French – German – Italian spoken in different areas of the country and overall English is only spoken in Zurich and larger cities

TV– For sure invest in Kodi, Netflix, Apple TV or Slingbox as you will only find 2 or 3 English channels such as CNN and BBC

Politics-You will find most Euro’s are pretty liberal and social on topics such as soft drugs, escorts, drinking, and abortion.

Misc-Euro’s will feel driving 200 km’s is a long drive but most North American’s feel a 2 hour drive is no big deal
Washing machines normally only have cold water option
Clothes dryers are not normally in all apartments and condos
Things like baby showers and bachelor parties are really North American same with Halloween and Thanksgiving