Best Cities for Working Less and Earning More

We power the world’s most productive economy, but are US workers some of the weariest? A fifth of private employers still don’t offer their employees paid vacation time, and we’re the only developed nation with no legal entitlement to it.

And, while wage growth is flat, we’re apparently busier than ever. 62% of American office workers now say they usually eat their lunch in the same spot they work all day. If that sounds like you, do yourself a favor and don’t read the next part (especially if you’re eating) – scoffing down lunch at your desk can expose you to more bad bacteria than a toilet seat.

There has to be a better way for millennial workers to make a living. Aren’t the French known for taking long lunch breaks and lots of time off? Could moving abroad be the key to earning more while working less?

Inspired by this hunch (and a generous helping of population and wage data, courtesy of Deutsche Bank and UBS), we researched the cities that offer young workers great pay, amazing hours and ample annual leave. You might be surprised by who came out on top.

The Top Ten

RANK City 2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD) Working Hours Per Year Paid Vacation Days Per Year
1 Luxembourg 4292 1,703 32
2 Munich 3180 1,721 29
3 Paris 2583 1,604 29
4 Helsinki 2620 1,659 29
5 Lyon 2269 1,631 29
6 Copenhagen 2958 1,697 25
7 Rome 1791 1,736 32
8 Dublin 2603 1,770 31
9 Oslo 3154 1,744 25
10 London 2776 1,740 25

While Paris performs well, it’s actually another French-speaking locale that tops our rankings. Luxembourg, the pint-sized city state that gives all its citizens universal free healthcare, treats workers especially well. The average employee earns $4,491.50 per month for just 142 hours worked. That translates to an hourly wage of roughly $31.63.

With an enviable 32 days of paid leave per year, Luxembourgians have plenty of disposable income and free time to play with. It’s no surprise they regularly score well in the World Happiness Index.

Munich and Paris round out the top three, with both European cities offering an exceptional work-life balance for ambitious earners. All of the top ten cities are in Europe, which speaks to the widespread continental culture of high salaries and short working weeks.

US cities don’t fare too well though, with New York emerging as the only US city in the top 25. Big Apple employees were paid more generously than most, with an average monthly salary behind only Zurich and Geneva in Switzerland. However, high numbers of hours worked bring the city’s overall ranking down to 13th.

The Bottom Ten

RANK City 2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD) Working Hours Per Year Paid Vacation Days Per Year
69 Jakarta 548 2,102 12
68 Bangkok 812 2,191 9
67 Bogotá 430 2,096 15
66 Mexico City 685 2,261 17
65 Nairobi 340 2,184 22
64 Shanghai 1336 2,051 7
63 Istanbul 683 2,043 18
62 Mumbai 788 2,277 21
61 Santiago de Chile 833 2,082 17
60 Beijing 1322 1,963 10

At the other end of the spectrum sits Jakarta. The Indonesian capital ranks bottom overall, and fourth from bottom for salary, with an average monthly wage of just $548. 12 days paid vacation isn’t the worst by any stretch – that distinction goes to the three days paid leave in Sao Paolo – but it’s not outstanding. Young adults across Asia have little to be happy about in general, with five of the bottom ten cities ranking poorly for pay, holiday time and hours worked.

Check out the full rankings below to see if your city made the cut. And the next time you find yourself in the office at 9pm with a lap full of spreadsheets and sandwich crumbs, remember that you can always ditch the rat race and buy a one way ticket to Luxembourg.

RANK City 2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD) Working Hours Per Year Paid Vacation Days Per Year
1 Luxembourg 4292 1,703 32
2 Munich 3180 1,721 29
3 Paris 2583 1,604 29
4 Helsinki 2620 1,659 29
5 Lyon 2269 1,631 29
6 Copenhagen 2958 1,697 25
7 Rome 1791 1,736 32
8 Dublin 2603 1,770 31
9 Oslo 3154 1,744 25
10 London 2776 1,740 25
11 Vienna 2045 1,678 27
12 Frankfurt 2626 1,757 28
13 New York City 4304 1,847 27
14 Moscow 999 1,647 31
15 Geneva 5817 1,859 27
16 Milan 1737 1,691 26
17 Barcelona 1709 1,731 28
18 Berlin 2216 1,769 29
19 Stockholm 2622 1,770 25
20 Tallinn 1224 1,738 30
21 Sydney 3451 1,829 24
22 Vilnius 877 1,716 30
23 Zurich 5876 1,912 24
24 Madrid 1588 1,731 26
25 Dubai 3526 2,186 30
26 Prague 1033 1,753 28
27 Brussels 2140 1,717 18
28 Warsaw 975 1,757 26
29 Lima 1599 1,957 31
30 Rio de Janeiro 639 1,745 30
31 Doha 3518 2,082 24
32 Sao Paulo 722 1,818 31
33 Montreal 2240 1,783 18
34 Lisbon 964 1,748 23
35 Ljubljana 1348 1,853 25
35 Bratislava 1164 1,845 26
36 Miami 2571 1,854 19
37 Manama 1203 2,076 34
38 Los Angeles 3237 1,928 14
39 Nicosia 1486 1,855 22
40 Johannesburg 1650 1,847 19
41 Chicago 3622 2,030 14
42 Athens 776 1,800 23
43 Seoul 2698 1,934 15
44 Toronto 2560 1,985 19
45 Auckland 2762 1,992 16
46 Bucharest 721 1,807 23
47 Tokyo 2897 2,055 17
48 Budapest 812 1,910 26
49 Kiev 359 1,817 26
50 Riga 816 1,823 20
51 Sofia 718 1,821 22
52 Tel Aviv 2545 2,038 17
53 Hong Kong 2715 2,606 17
54 Buenos Aires 838 1,899 16
55 Kuala Lumpur 987 1,935 15
56 Manila 555 1,951 21
57 Taipei 2050 2,141 13
58 New Delhi 654 2,214 26
59 Cairo 178 2,082 25
60 Beijing 1322 1,963 10
61 Santiago de Chile 833 2,082 17
62 Mumbai 788 2,277 21
63 Istanbul 683 2,043 18
64 Shanghai 1336 2,051 7
65 Nairobi 340 2,184 22
66 Mexico City 685 2,261 17
67 Bogotá 430 2,096 15
68 Bangkok 812 2,191 9
69 Jakarta 548 2,102 12