Moving overseas for a new job is exciting, but how much money you make depends on the country’s economy and how your living expenses stack up with your salary.

the National ECA Salary Comparison is a useful tool that compares wages to local purchasing power in 58 countries.

It’s hard to compare salaries if you don’t know what to look for. Here’s a breakdown of salaries offered at popular expat destinations and what you might be left with after taxes, social security and living expenses.

Understanding Expat Salaries

Surely a good salary is a good salary in any country?

Not enough.

The problem is that most expats won’t have a benchmark. For example, if you are paid £50,000 in the UK and are offered an offshore position for €90,000, that might seem like a great proposition.

However, if tax rates are higher than your current rate, you may have less purchasing power.

Purchasing power is important and we are all becoming familiar with it from recent discussions of inflation and soaring utility and fuel bills.

So the value of a currency is relative to what you can buy.

To illustrate, in the UK you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for an average of £938 per month in a central location.

If you move to Switzerland, this same accommodation will cost you £1,370. Even a pint of milk costs 43% more, so you need to earn a significantly higher salary to enjoy the same lifestyle in Geneva or Zurich to match London.

These factors explain why expat salary comparisons are essential, because what may look like an attractive offer on paper may be different in reality.

What expats earn in different countries

Some countries are well known to be high demand destinations.

A middle management position is currently the highest paid in Switzerland, the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Salaries below are converted to pounds sterling to give a clearer picture and present average earnings without bonuses, overtime or commission.

Location Average gross salary of middle managers Average net salary of middle managers
Swiss £119,700 £101,200
UNITED STATES £98,650 £80,900
United Arab Emirates £98,650 £96,000
Denmark £96,100 £57,300
Saudi Arabia £96,100 £80,950
hong kong £84,300 £78,400
Luxemburg £83,500 £67,500
Singapore £82,600 £68,300
Japan £81,800 £59,900
Australia £78,400 £57,300
Germany £78,400 £56,900
Israel £78,000 £55,600
The Netherlands £77,500 £49,700
Austria £75,900 £57,300
Belgium £75,000 £48,900
Ireland £70,000 £53,100
Costa Rica £69,600 £54,800
Canada £68,300 £51,400
Norway £66,600 £48,900
Korea £63,700 £49,700
UK £63,200 £47,200
France £63,200 £49,300
Finland £62,400 £42,150
Sweden £59,000 £42,150

This table shows why knowledge of tax brackets and deductions is crucial when comparing expat salaries with the same currency.

While gross pay averages are the second highest in the world in the United States, your take home pay drops to fourth when you factor in taxes.

In the Netherlands, a salary just £500 less than in Israel means a net salary that is more than 10% lower.

If you are offered a position abroad, it is essential to check your likely tax rate. You must ensure that your net salary will be sufficient to cover living expenses – plus international health insurance, tuition and other expenses.

Relative purchasing power of expatriates

The costs of housing, groceries, fuel, schooling and health care differ greatly from country to country.

Many things are needed, including when calculating your monthly budget:

  • If you move to an English-speaking country and if this means that you will have to pay private tuition fees for your children.
  • What costs are included in your salary package, such as transport and accommodation
  • How many family members are moving? Do you need to replace a second income in the UK with a salary abroad?

And don’t forget the exchange rates. If you need to send money home or keep paying a mortgage in Britain, forex fluctuations can further erode your income.

Here is a comparison of what an expat salary buys in some favorite expat destinations.

Rank Relative purchasing power Country
1 £78,410 United Arab Emirates
2 £75,000 United States
3 £70,000 Saudi Arabia
4 £68,300 Swiss
5 £60,700 Costa Rica
6 £59,800 Luxemburg
7 £59,400 Germany
8 £57,300 Australia
9 £55,600 Canada
ten £50,600 France
11 £50,200 Austria
12 £49,700 Singapore
13 £48,900 UK
14 £48,050 Belgium
15 £47,600 The Netherlands
16 £46,400 Ireland
17 £43,000 Norway
18 £42,150 Denmark
19 £39,600 hong kong
20 £37,900 Sweden
21 £36,250 Finland
22 £35,400 Israel
23 £33,700 Korea
24 £32,800 Japan

Now a different picture of wages is emerging.

Japan seemed to be the top choice, ranking ninth in gross salaries and eighth in the highest net salary.

Including the cost of living and comparative purchasing power for each paycheck, the actual income is the lowest of any country listed.

Money is not everything

Often, expats look at a simple chart or graph showing average salaries for related roles or levels of authority and may be swayed by the numbers at the top of the pile.

Adding context to these comparisons illustrates why these numbers can be misleading and why you shouldn’t plan an international move based solely on the gross salary offered.

Another vital factor is your family and how much you earn together.

If you have more than one income, you should check the salaries associated with the second person role and perform the same exercises to calculate the net salary and determine if your combined income is sufficient.

Expat Salary and Cost of Living Comparison FAQs

What remuneration is included in the expatriate employment packages?

It all depends on the country you are moving to, the position you hold and the employer you work for.

Many multinational companies have exceptional compensation packages, with a range of benefits beyond your gross salary, for example:

  • Private medical care
  • Assistance with moving expenses.
  • School allowances for children.
  • Housing allowances or free housing.
  • Home travel financing.

Of course, this may not be the case, but you will find that large employers, especially in countries with fairly high security concerns, provide accommodation for employees, normally a residential compound.

From there, you need to look at travel times and costs and the distances you need to travel to reach amenities, shops, schools and other places that will be important to your life abroad.

Are expats paid in local currencies?

Yes, your compensation package will normally be in local currency or US Dollars rather than British Pounds.

Most expats expect the salary to be in the primary currency used where they work.

This option is usually the best because you won’t have to account for exchange fees when paying for purchases and bills.

Why do expat salaries always seem higher than UK salaries?

The simple answer is that host countries need to attract talent and often offer the highest salary level they can afford to entice skilled professionals to move.

Most countries have skills shortage lists, which indicate the most in-demand and shortfall careers and roles, which tend to have the most generous pay.

Expat salaries also seem higher when they may not be.

As we have seen in our comparisons of gross and net salaries and relative purchasing power, what might look like an exceptional salary in the UK could have much less impact on your cost of living in a country. more expensive.

Are expats paid more than their local colleagues for the same work?

There is a potential conflict as it is not uncommon for management positions to be better paid when an expatriate rather than a local employee takes on the role.

While the skills and experience may be the same, companies are finding they need to offer higher salaries to convince expats from high-income economies and labor markets to accept a position.

Can you negotiate an expatriate employment package?

You certainly can – and always should if given the opportunity!

The commitment of moving to another country is significant, so the income and comfort you feel while abroad must be good enough to justify the upheaval and inevitable adjustment as you get used to a new culture and community.

If you have competing offers on the table, all the better, even if you have to choose the points that will make the most difference to your lifestyle and your expenses.

Below is a list of related articles that may be of interest to you.