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Relocating? Compare the salaries of 36 common jobs around the world

A business traveler works on her laptop as she covers herself from the sun with the shadow cast of her peer
Reuters/Nacho Doce
Hit the road.
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The pandemic experience has people rethinking how, and where, they want to live.

For some, it’s time for a new routine in a far-off city, where the streets, the food, the language—everything—feels fresh and new. Others are homesick, ready to return to their roots, years after careers took them away from family and familiarity.

Either way, the question of finances will no doubt arise: “But how much can I make there?”

William Russell, a UK-based provider of health insurance for foreign workers, has created a work abroad salary calculator that aims to answer the question.

The company used data from Glassdoor to find the average salary of 36 common jobs—including software developers, psychologists, teachers, nurses, lawyers, and baristas—in all 38 OECD countries. All salaries were converted into US dollars and British pounds. If you’re a nurse, or interested in the profession, you can find out how much you might make in Portugal ($14,000), South Korea ($33,000), New Zealand ($44,000), or the US ($66,000).

Here’s a look at the typical salary for a software developer in select OECD countries, according to William Russell’s figures, with the top-paying salary found Switzerland, followed by the US.

In fact, Switzerland consistently ranks among the countries with the highest salaries, across all 36 professions examined. That’s partly because the cost of living in Switzerland is so high. (Both factors have also contributed to Switzerland’s outlier status as a low-inflation country in Europe this year.) Other top-paying countries include Norway, Iceland, and Japan.

How far will your earnings go in high-paying countries?

Of course, even the highest salaries won’t go far in the world’s most expensive cities. OECD countries with the highest comparative prices include Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland, while those with the best cost of living scores like Turkey, Colombia, and Mexico, according to William Russell’s calculations.

As it turns out, you could earn relatively little as a lawyer in Istanbul—the salary calculator pegs the pay at $5,300 annually in US dollars—but the cost of everyday expenses like rent or healthcare, mean you can stretch your lira further, compared with the US$64,000, you’d make as a lawyer in Reykjavík. (William Russell crunched their numbers in 2021. Glassdoor’s 2022 data shows lawyers make closer to $7,400 per year.)

Then again, Turkey’s baristas make an average $2,600, about half as much as a lawyer in that country. That makes it a better place to pull shots than a pricey country like Switzerland, where baristas make $46,000, or about 34% of an average lawyer there ($135,000).

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