If you have the opportunity, do consider taking a seven to ten days silent retreat. It's a gateway drug to these practices :)
On a more serious note, I think a lot of it hinges on culture and opportunity. Among cultures with strong Buddhist monastic traditions I surmise it is a lot more acceptable to absent oneself from daily householder responsibilities (job, family) for spiritual reasons. Some occupations are more accommodating of prolonged leave. I'm thinking of ski instructor and tax lawyer, sure there are many others.
That said, among hardcore meditators in the online forums I visit, it is not terribly uncommon for westerners to go for long periods of silent retreat. I have only done several shorter ones, while waiting for the opportunity to go for a month or so.
Also not to forget that practicing in the world presents its own challenges, I wouldn't necessarily think it is easier. It is one thing to offer boundless loving kindness to all living beings during a retreat and another to offer it to the colleague who just backstabbed you, for example.