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Do Expats Earn More When Working Abroad?

June 13th, 2017

Do Expats Earn More When Working Abroad

One way to improve your standard of living is by boosting your income. Some people move abroad to realise this dream, but is emigrating always the answer?

In short, it depends on where you’re coming from and where you end up. That’s according to InterNations’ Expat Insider Report, an annual survey exploring various aspects of expat life. We previously referred to this report in a blog post about the best countries for expats to build a career.

In general, the answer is yes. 54% of respondents claimed their income from employment was higher once they emigrated. Some of the countries where expats reported the greatest differences were Luxembourg, Switzerland and Gulf States such as Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia. However, the level of income depends on the country. 54% of expats in Switzerland earn more than $100,000, whereas in Qatar 48% make $50,000 or less (those moving to Qatar tend to come from countries with lower incomes).

But before you book a ticket to one of the destinations listed above, it’s worth taking into consideration the cost of living. Luxembourg and Switzerland rank in the bottom five on InterNations’ Cost of Living Index, meaning they’re among the most expensive countries in the world to live in. So even if you’re earning more, you may still find yourself with less disposable income.

Alternatively, you might consider relocating to a country with a lower cost of living like Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Taiwan, where 20% of respondents claim their income is much more than they need. However, your earning power falls in these countries. In Ukraine, for example, 71% of expats earn less than $50,000 compared with a global average of 52%.

Among the places you may want to avoid are Greece, Portugal and Israel. More than a quarter of respondents in these countries said they make a lot less than they could at home in a similar job. 87% of expats in Greece and 72% in Portugal earn below $50,000. This could be explained by the economic difficulties both countries have experienced in recent years. To make matters worse in Israel, the cost of living is one of the highest in the world.

As we mentioned earlier, where you come from also affects whether or not you earn more when you move abroad. According to the report, Filipinos, Serbs and Hungarians are the expats who have noticed the biggest jump in income after emigrating. On the other hand, expats from advanced economies such as Switzerland, Australia and the US, reported the greatest drop.