I lived in Dresden, Germany for 2 years as an expat and spent a summer in Austria for another company. Now as a company sponsored expat, we were a little insulated from "real life", at least at the beginning. The company did the groundwork to get our visas. We had people helping us get a bank account. The apartment was directly billed to the company but we worked with an agent to find it. The company provided a leased car and gave us a gas card. Once we were set up, though, except for paying bills in Germany, we were pretty much on our own. In many countries, though, there are companies and organizations that help expats, if you're on your own. When we were in Austria, though, we were on our own. I had to find a flat, get a long term rental car, etc. But having done the 2 year stint in Dresden years earlier made this so much easier!
My wife and I really enjoyed it and would have stayed even longer if they had let us! We took language classes twice a week and within a few months could get around well enough. My wife really got much better at the language because she lived in the real world all day long. Whereas, all of my German colleagues wanted to speak English at work.
Always smooth? No. The medical system there was quite different. When we had an issue, we had to self-pay and were then reimbursed. But it was so cheap! My wife hurt her hand and the X-ray cost about $5. And she got the head of radiology to review it (he wanted to practice his English skills).
And we used to joke that any time you went to the doctor, you usually got the magic "white cream" no matter what the issue was.
Dentistry was even more different. It seemed that everybody I worked with had some sort of bridgework, no matter how young. They didn't really have the concept of a dental hygienist there - so no teeth cleaning. Their own insurance didn't pay for novacane, so you had to ask for it as most of their patients didn't bother. And I remember the dental chair not having arm rests, of all things to remember.
Overall, life was a little different. Language became less and less a factor the longer we stayed as did just daily life. If you're a reasonably flexible person, you just get accustomed to things. There was always somebody nearby who spoke English if we got hung up. After a while, you just stop saying "wow, that's different than the US". Besides, everybody gets tired of hearing that pretty quickly.
Some of our other expat friends had a tougher time of it. There were several wives who seem to go back to the US once every couple of months to "decompress". Meaning they never really got the hang of life outside of the US, not really. We also had a couple of people who had to leave early for serious health issues. On the other hand, the wife of one of my expat friends had a baby while over there. No complications, but a 10 day hospital stay was the norm. She likened it to "spa time".
At the end of the day, so far it has been the biggest adventure of my life! To be realistic, I think we would have done well in just about any city in Europe. At the end of the day, if you choose to look at it that way, there are a lot of cultural similarities. I can easily see how it might have been more difficult if we had done this somewhere in the far east, but I know people who do that as well.
In short, I think it is well worth it. Hope to have the chance again post-employment!