American ex-pats are sharing the wild differences between working in the U.S. Vs. the Rrest of the world


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Recently, I asked Americans in the BuzzFeed Community to share their experiences living and working abroad, and how they compared to the US. The replies were thorough, thoughtful, and eye-opening. And TBH, I learned other countries treat their workers muuuuch different. So, let’s hear what everyone had to say.

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“Neat thing about working in the UK…you don’t have to do taxes!!! The government already knows what you make. You can always send in a request for review if something has changed through the year or if you think they calculated it wrong, but it’s just a little note saying, ‘Hey, can you take another look at this?’ It’s AWESOME!”

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While many people don’t have to file their own taxes in the UK, a good number of workers still do, like those that are self-employed or those who make a total taxable income of more than £100,000.


“My sister has lived and taught in China, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam… Her big takeaway is how well she is treated in other countries. The parents of her students treat her with so much respect, and they truly appreciate what she does. She told me she will never teach in the US because of how teachers are treated, the lack of pay, and the district/admin not listening to their teachers. She gets paid slightly more than the average teacher in the US, but the cost of living is much less in these countries, so she is able to travel and save money.”

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“I came to Germany many years ago via the US military as a civilian. After many years, I received my permanent residency. The difference between Germany and the US is night and day”:

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“1. Firstly, it seems it takes an act of God to get fired in Germany. The regulations that protect employees’ rights are much more strenuous here, and I’m not even a union member. Nobody, no matter how badly they’ve messed up, is ever left high and dry with no income. It just doesn’t happen unless you murder your officemate or something really, really extreme. And even in that case, you won’t likely be turned down for unemployment.

2. Not only do I automatically get six weeks of vacation per year, I also get unlimited sick leave. Sick absences do not require proof unless they are more than three days, and I’ve seen doctors write two-week notes for mild colds — wild. I had spinal surgery last year and got nine weeks off work. The company paid my full salary for the first six weeks, then it went down to 75% or so. But the remaining 25% was made up by my health insurance (which is not private). The German mentality is, in my view, ‘If you’re sick, you’re sick. Period.’

3. I’ve never been pregnant, but my colleagues generally take 6–12 months off after giving birth. But if they want more time off, they can have it (fathers, too, by the way). Even if they’re not collecting income during that time, their job must be waiting for them when they return. One colleague of mine had triplets so she got TWO years off.

4. There is no stress when asking for time off. Quality of your overall life is so much more of a priority here. When you want to take a vacation, nobody guilts you, even if you want to take time off at the same time [as] your colleagues. I’ve seen entire, granted smaller, companies shut down for the month of August to accommodate vacations. It’s totally wild. It would never, ever happen in the US. You do not get work calls, emails, or messages while you are on vacation because your time off is RESPECTED by everyone, even your friends!

It is for this reason, and the healthcare situation over here, that I will never return to the United States to live and work. It’s just toooooo good here. I will never go back to being under-appreciated and overworked with very few benefits. This change has also made me a better employee. They give me so much leeway and understanding and chances, so I give them my all and carefully choose my battles when necessary, of which there are few, because I am not disgruntled.”


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