Using data from the European Values Survey (EVS), we examine the relationship between job and life satisfaction across Europe. We find that for the majority of employees job and life satisfaction are positively correlated, thus supporting the spillover hypothesis, whereby attitudes and practices developed in the life domain spill over into the work domain and vice versa. In contrast, we find little support for the compensation hypothesis, whereby employees who are dissatisfied in one domain seek compensatory rewards in the other domain. However, multivariate analysis reveals that the strength of the interaction between job and life satisfaction is mitigated by cultural values and interpersonal trust, as encapsulated in the ‘traditional versus secular values’ index reported in the EVS data. We thus find that predictors of the job–life satisfaction relationship vary across cultures and that such cross-cultural variations are systematically related to salient cultural values and beliefs. The latter findings raise important questions about the universal application of existing theories in the subjective well-being arena.