Fuel is more expensive but I found NO potholes and the roads were perfect. Also, the distances are less there so the net money out of peoples pockets for auto expenses is the the same or less than here. Paris is a special case as everything is more expensive there but if you don't have to drive for a living you really don't need a car as the transit is great.
As for power costs, yes it is more, but not that much and they aren't as addicted to buying as much power consuming c**p as we are. There are some places in the US with higher costs than France or Germany. They never used to need AC because it seldom got as hot as as here. That has changed with global warming, look it up. Ductless splits are big business there now.