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Top 10 Countries with the Highest Average Income

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There are many valid reasons why you should consider relocating and working abroad, but, for many, the biggest draw is the chance to significantly increase their earning potential. Of course, earning a higher wage is a good reason to consider upping sticks all by itself, but it's not all about money: relocation can also be beneficial to your career aspirations, too.

To help you pick a destination, we’ve taken a look at the latest data from the OECD, and put together a list of the countries with the highest average salaries.

 


 

10. Australia

Sydney, Australia Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $49,126

Average GDP (2017): $49,882

Minimum wage (2017): $23,374

Average unemployment rate (2018): 5%

Many people are interested in relocating to Australia as the country combines a desirable lifestyle with one of the most resilient and stable economies in the world. It's also home to some of the biggest companies on the planet, while its key industries include mining, agriculture and the service sector. Despite it's enormous geographical landscape, Australia has a relatively small population, and is always looking to encourage immigration for skilled workers.

 

9. Belgium

Bruges, Belgium Vaflya / Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $49,675

Average GDP (2017): $46,301

Minimum wage (2017): $21,309

Average unemployment rate (2018): 6.2%

Belgium is more than just the heart of European politics; it’s also one of the countries with the continent's highest average salaries, a trend made possible by the country’s ever expanding economy. Due to its advantageous location (Belgium shares borders with France, Germany and the Netherlands) the country is a key leader in EU trade. If you choose to relocate to Belgium you’ll find a very competitive labour market while, much like the rest of Europe, consumer prices are generally higher than the UK.

 

8. Austria

Vienna, Austria Stern / Wikipedia Commons

Average annual income (2017): $50,349

Average GDP (2017): $49,247

Minimum Wage (2017): None

Average unemployment rate (2018): 5.1%

Another small European country that has advanced its reputation for financial stability, Austria boasts a highly industrialised and well-developed social market economy. While it has traditionally depended on its cultural and geographical neighbour Germany for trade, its membership of the EU has allowed it to flourish in recent years.

Austrian companies have been particularly active in the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe, and even though many of its private and public institutions suffered in the recent financial crisis, it has still managed to attract significant investment from abroad. Its key industries include manufacturing, communications and tourism.

 

7. Norway

Norway Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $51,212

Average GDP (2017): $70,590

Minimum wage (2017): None

Average unemployment rate (2018): 4%

Norway’s economy is largely reliant on the natural resources of the country, which include petroleum exploration and production, and hydroelectric power. The state also owns many businesses in strategic areas, while favourable labour conditions have resulted in a productive workforce with one of the highest standards of living in the world. While this is downset by high living costs, Norway is a strikingly beautiful place to live and, as with most Scandinavian countries, is run by a socially progressive government.

 

6. Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark Thue / Wikipedia Commons

Average annual income (2017): $51,466

Average GDP (2017): $49,613

Minimum wage (2017): None

Average unemployment rate (2018): 4.8%

Danes enjoy one of the most comfortable living standards in the world and are lucky enough to be home to some of the best companies, too. Their economy depends heavily on foreign trade and is supported by high-tech agriculture and some natural resources; like Norway, Denmark also boasts extensive government welfare measures and has one of the most stable currencies in the world.

 

 

5. The Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands kavalenkava / Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $52,877

Average GDP (2017): $53,582

Minimum wage (2017): $21,276

Average unemployment rate (2018): 3.5%

Despite the fact that the Netherlands is a small country and has a relatively small population, they’ve managed to make their economy one of the biggest in the world. The country has an above-average level of economic growth and an enviably low rate of unemployment, while the Dutch compliment their well-paid jobs with a famously comfortable lifestyle.

 

4. USA

New York City, USA Taiga / Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $60,558

Average GDP (2017): $59,495

Minimum wage (2017): $15,080

Average unemployment rate (2019): 4%

If you’re wondering why you should move to the US, then from a financial perspective, you could end up very well off; after all, the US is one of the largest economies in the world. The US dollar is used in most international transactions and is the world’s foremost reserve currency.

The economy is built upon the country’s abundance of natural resources and its well-developed infrastructure, while it is also a world leader in an array of industries, most notably in technology where many of the world's most powerful companies (such as Facebook, Apple and Google) are headquartered. As the US is such a large country, salary rates may differ drastically depending on where you are based, but you can expect to be well recompensed if you work in one of the US's tech hubs, such as San Francisco, Austin or New York City.

 

3. Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $61,787

Average GDP (2017): $52,150

Minimum wage (2017): None

Average unemployment rate (2018): 2.9%

For an isolated and environmentally hostile island in the middle of the North Atlantic, Iceland has carved out a formidable economic niche for itself in recent decades. Its unique environmental properties make it one of the largest domestic energy producers in the world (per capita), while its traditional exports in the fisheries market have been superseded by recent diversification into the software, finance and manufacturing sectors; with its extensive use in major film and television productions (such as Game of Thrones), Iceland has also experienced a major boom in its tourism sector, too.

Although the winters can be extremely harsh (sunlight can be restricted to just 4 hours per day), salaries - especially in the stylish capital, Reykjavik - can be well worth the lack of vitamin D.

 

2. Switzerland

Switzerland gevision / Shuttestock

Average annual income (2017): $62,283

Average GDP (2017): $61,360

Minimum wage (2017): N/A

Average unemployment rate (2018): 2.4%

Switzerland is considered an especially safe haven, as it has one of the most stable economies in the world; it is the home to many large global institutions as well, such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Red Cross, FIFA, CERN and the World Economic Forum. 

Relocating to Switzerland could mean an extremely high earning potential, especially if you work in finance (although there are well-paid roles across many sectors); be prepared, though, to burn through your earnings. Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe (with Geneva not far behind).

 

1. Luxembourg

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Reinhard Tiburzy / Shutterstock

Average annual income (2017): $63,062

Average GDP (2017): $109,192

Minimum wage (2017): $23,791

Average unemployment rate (2018): 5%

At the top of the pile, though, is one of the world's smallest nations; despite their size, Luxembourgers enjoy one of the best economies - and the third-highest GDP - in the world. Unsurprisingly, their economy is heavily dependent on the banking sector (as well as the steel and industrial sectors), with the country also boasting a reputation as the greenest country in Europe (it is often referred to as ‘the green heart of Europe’).

 


 

Relocating to any country can be a life - and career - changing experience, but if you're main motivation is money, then these countries are the place to go. Keep in mind that you can get by with English in many of these nations, too, although learning the local language can significantly increase your employment opportunities.

Which of these countries would you consider relocating to? Let us know in the comments below.

 

These salaries are adjusted to account for 'purchasing power parity' (PPP), which take the living expenses of each respective country into consideration; this, in turn, produces a more accurate reflection of real earnings. All salaries and GDP/minimum wage figures are converted into USD at the 2017 average conversion rate.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 14 July 2017.

SOURCES
International Monetary Fund
OECD