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

RANKCity2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD)Working Hours Per YearPaid Vacation Days Per Year
1Luxembourg42921,70332
2Munich31801,72129
3Paris25831,60429
4Helsinki26201,65929
5Lyon22691,63129
6Copenhagen29581,69725
7Rome17911,73632
8Dublin26031,77031
9Oslo31541,74425
10London27761,74025

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

RANKCity2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD)Working Hours Per YearPaid Vacation Days Per Year
69Jakarta5482,10212
68Bangkok8122,1919
67Bogotá4302,09615
66Mexico City6852,26117
65Nairobi3402,18422
64Shanghai13362,0517
63Istanbul6832,04318
62Mumbai7882,27721
61Santiago de Chile8332,08217
60Beijing13221,96310

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 8pm 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.

RANKCity2017 Monthly Net Salary (USD)Working Hours Per YearPaid Vacation Days Per Year
1Luxembourg42921,70332
2Munich31801,72129
3Paris25831,60429
4Helsinki26201,65929
5Lyon22691,63129
6Copenhagen29581,69725
7Rome17911,73632
8Dublin26031,77031
9Oslo31541,74425
10London27761,74025
11Vienna20451,67827
12Frankfurt26261,75728
13New York City43041,84727
14Moscow9991,64731
15Geneva58171,85927
16Milan17371,69126
17Barcelona17091,73128
18Berlin22161,76929
19Stockholm26221,77025
20Tallinn12241,73830
21Sydney34511,82924
22Vilnius8771,71630
23Zurich58761,91224
24Madrid15881,73126
25Dubai35262,18630
26Prague10331,75328
27Brussels21401,71718
28Warsaw9751,75726
29Lima15991,95731
30Rio de Janeiro6391,74530
31Doha35182,08224
32Sao Paulo7221,81831
33Montreal22401,78318
34Lisbon9641,74823
35Ljubljana13481,85325
35Bratislava11641,84526
36Miami25711,85419
37Manama12032,07634
38Los Angeles32371,92814
39Nicosia14861,85522
40Johannesburg16501,84719
41Chicago36222,03014
42Athens7761,80023
43Seoul26981,93415
44Toronto25601,98519
45Auckland27621,99216
46Bucharest7211,80723
47Tokyo28972,05517
48Budapest8121,91026
49Kiev3591,81726
50Riga8161,82320
51Sofia7181,82122
52Tel Aviv25452,03817
53Hong Kong27152,60617
54Buenos Aires8381,89916
55Kuala Lumpur9871,93515
56Manila5551,95121
57Taipei20502,14113
58New Delhi6542,21426
59Cairo1782,08225
60Beijing13221,96310
61Santiago de Chile8332,08217
62Mumbai7882,27721
63Istanbul6832,04318
64Shanghai13362,0517
65Nairobi3402,18422
66Mexico City6852,26117
67Bogotá4302,09615
68Bangkok8122,1919
69Jakarta5482,10212

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