7 Best Things That Are Affordable in the US but Not in Europe


If you are an American traveling abroad to Europe, you probably already know that it’s best to save up for your trip, because you’ll have some expenses that are higher than when you are at home. It’s not just the travel costs that add up — it’s the price difference of everyday items across the pond that are more expensive.

Here are the best things that are affordable in the United States, but not in most countries in Europe. Be prepared to spend extra on these things.

Jeans

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $43 per pair
  • Average Price in Europe: 61 euros per pair

“I found that, on average, blue jeans cost around $43 in the U.S. On the other hand, in Russia, they are to be purchased at approximately $68, and in Iceland at around $114.50,” said Nikki Jain, the founder and CEO at The Sprout, which represents “global connectors, storytellers and curators of travel experiences,” according to its website.

Jain added, “… The price difference in the U.S. is mainly because of local production, lower import taxes and the large consumer market. If jeans are more expensive in some countries, then this could be a result of multiple reasons, including import duties, smaller markets and increased retail markups.”

Water

  • Average Price in the U.S.: Often free
  • Average Price in Europe: 1-3 euros per bottle

It’s wild to think that a natural resource would be so costly in Europe. It’s not so much bottles of water — which cost roughly the same as in America — but where you buy them, particularly in restaurants.

“Here in the U.S., we are used to being served free water as soon as we take our seats, if not sooner,” said Nausheen Farishta, owner of the travel site Globe Gazers.

Farishta pointed out that at many restaurants in Europe, “you’ll be asked whether you’d like still or sparkling water. Either answer results in a bottle of water being brought to your table, which you will then be charged for.”

However, Farishta said, “It is entirely possible to also receive free water at restaurants in Europe. But a cost remains — that of having to explicitly request tap water!”

Shoes

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $70.00 per pair
  • Average Price in Europe: 154 euros per pair

If you are traveling to Europe and thinking it would be easier to buy shoes overseas instead of packing them in your suitcase, you might want to rethink that strategy. This is especially true for athletic shoes that can help you walk around the various European attractions.

“In the United States, scoring a pair of decent athletic shoes, like Nikes, will cost you around $70,” said Hammer Tsui, co-founder of the travel blog A Fun Couple. “Compared to most countries, where similar shoes are priced dozens of dollars higher, the U.S. offers a wallet-friendly deal.”

Tsui estimated that Americans would be “shelling out about $100 more than in the U.S. for the same kicks.”

Gasoline

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $2.69 per gallon
  • Average Price in Europe: 6.18 euros per gallon

Gas prices back in the Land of the Free are anything but free. Due to inflation, many motorists have noticed prices soaring across the United States. However, they are nothing to scoff at when compared with Europe’s gas prices.

“Being a motorist in the United States is a financial win, with a liter of gas averaging $0.72, or $2.69 per gallon,” Tsui explained. “In contrast, many Europeans face prices of up to $1.81 per liter, equating to a staggering $6.84 per gallon, making the U.S. a more economical destination for motorists.”

Milk

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $3.75 per gallon
  • Average Price in Europe: 9 euros per gallon

The slogan for milk used to be “it does a body good,” but the same cannot be said for what it does to your wallet, particularly if you are an American in Europe.

“Americans enjoy a sweet deal on milk, paying an average of $0.99 for a liter, or about $3.75 for a gallon,” Tsui said, noting that the U.S. stands out for its affordable milk prices and is ranked at 149 out of over 180 countries.

By contrast, Tsui said, “In Europe, one liter of milk can cost anywhere between $1.50 to $2, highlighting the cost disparity in this everyday essential.”

Cars

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $48,301 per car
  • Average Price in Europe: 48,159 euros per car

“Surprisingly, cars are more affordable in the United States compared to most other countries,” Tsui said.

That’s because the average transaction price (ATP) for cars bought in America in August 2022 was $48,301, according to Kelley Blue Book. A record high, but still not as pricey as you’ll find in Europe, which converts to roughly $53,301 in USD.

“Considering an economical model like a VW Golf, the U.S. ranks at No. 117 for the most expensive places to buy a car,” Tsui said. “An economy car in the U.S. costs around $20,000, while the same model could run several thousand more in Europe.”

iPhones

  • Average Price in the U.S.: $1,200 per iPhone
  • Average Price in Europe: 1132 euros per iPhone

If you are an American iPhone user, be careful with your device when in Europe. If it breaks and needs to be replaced, you’ll be paying more for it than you would at home.

“The starting price for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, when converted to euros, stands at a reasonable 1,131.74 euros,” Tsui explained, which is about $50 higher than in America. “However, the scenario changes significantly in European stores, with prices soaring higher than their U.S. counterparts.”

Tsui cited the examples of a few different European nations: “In France, consumers would be looking at a starting price of 1,479 euros; in Germany, it’s 1,449 euros; and in Italy, the cost goes up to 1,489 euros.” 

“This price differential underscores the economic benefit for travelers or tech enthusiasts considering purchasing Apple products in the U.S.,” said Tsui.

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