You’ve probably got many reasons for wanting to work abroad, a change of scene, a desire for adventure or a better climate. One reason that won’t be on your list is wanting to be poorer.
So here’s a list of the best countries to work and make more money for high-level and mid-level skilled professionals
Interpreting the numbers and definitions
The median basic net salaries for each country have been converted to euros at the exchange rate on 1 July 2020 to allow for a transparent comparison between countries.
For company relocation salaries, income tax and social contributions have been deducted, and family allowances added for a married employee with two children. The basic pay quoted does not include bonuses, benefits or other cash allowances.
For independent job seekers, pre-tax salaries are given, and after-tax salaries are calculated based on country-specific tax thresholds.
Only pre-tax rates are given for contractors, as after-tax income depends on the total billable hours/days.
A high-level executive is a director or above or a professional who may not oversee other employees but has specialised knowledge. Typically this would mean having an advanced degree and expertise in a particular field with a minimum of 10 years of experience.
Mid-level positions involve managerial responsibility over a group of employees or/and expertise, skills in specific fields with a minimum of 5 years of experience.
Countries with the highest after-tax salaries for executive-level and mid-level positions
The best countries for after-tax income for high-level earners are the ones that don’t impose additional tax rates on the highest incomes. Additional tax rates do not impact mid-level earners as their income doesn’t usually fall into the highest brackets. As a result, the country’s ranking is different for high and mid-level positions.
1. The UAE and Switzerland
The UAE for high-level positions
Regarding after-tax income, the UAE with Dubai, the World’s expat capital city, is a clear winner. There’s no income tax in the emirates.
Executive-level professionals relocated by their company take home, on average €285,000 annually.
Suppose you are a contractor or an independent job seeker. In that case, the UAE is a great destination to build wealth and a career. Engineering (IT, energy, construction, science, etc.), sales, finance and healthcare are the leading industries hiring expats.
For example, a Senior Consultant Doctor can earn over €26,000 a month plus all the perks such as relocation assistance and company pension.
Average daily rates for independent contractors in engineering are over €900, and in sales and business development €670.
Our complete guide to Living In Dubai will help you discover more about Dubai’s opportunities for expats.
Switzerland for mid-level positions
If you are a mid-level professional being relocated by your company to Switzerland, you just hit the lucky pot. You can count, on average, on €119,000 after tax a year.
Permanent employment in software engineering fields can bring you around €100,000 before tax a year for a mid-level position if you have a specific set of skills required by the employer. After-tax numbers depend on which territory you reside in. If you live in Zurich, you will take home around €76,000 a year after tax.
Independent contractors in the desired fields can expect reasonable rates too. For example, a mid-level developer with four years of experience can earn €500-800 a day pre-tax.
Mid-level managerial and consultancy contracts’ daily rates are €300-500.
If you are interested in relocating to Switzerland, our guide to Moving To Switzerland is a great place to start your research.
2. Saudi Arabia and The UAE
Saudi Arabia for high-level positions
Just like in the UAE, there is no income tax in this country. An average expat’s top-level salary is about €280,000 a year.
Senior-level independent job seekers with an engineering background can earn from €150,000 to over €200,000 a year plus a relocation package. On average, project directors take home about €163,000 a year.
If you are in a legal department, you can count on an average of €150,000. Sales and business development executives take home an average of €125,000, and executive managers – €120,000.
Finance directors and CFOs can expect an average of €150,000 and over.
International lawyers and HR directors also command high salaries.
The UAE for mid-level positions
On average, companies relocating their mid-level staff to the UAE offer €108,000 annually.
Law, finance and accounting, oil and gas, IT and real estate are the highest-paying sectors in the UAE. Mid-level IT specialists with 4-6 years of experience can expect a salary of €85,000 yearly.
Independent contractors in in-demand fields such as engineering can expect around €240 a day.
Looking for a job in Dubai? Read this first: Working In Dubai – How to Find A Good Job In The UAE.
3. Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia
Hong Kong for high-level positions
Hong Kong consistently ranks well in terms of expat earnings, with an average value of a typical executive salary package of €270,000 after tax.
Are you looking for a job independently in the banking and finance sector? You can count on an average of €250,000 a year which will reduce to €232,000 after tax.
One of the largest employment sectors for expats in Hong Kong is finance. Almost all the highest-paying employers are banks and financial institutions such as Brookfield Investment Management, Goldman Sacks Capital Partners, Jefferies, CIMB, Commerzbank and Takeda.
In the IT sector, a senior engineering manager can earn up to €215,000 a year (€201,000 after tax) and a senior DevOps manager – up to €235,000 (€219,000 after tax).
One of the highest paying positions is Chief Information Security Officer, a highly skilled and experienced senior CISO can earn over €300,000 a year (€275,000 after tax).
Positions of Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Sales, Head of Marketing, Head of Technology, and Legal Counsel are also very lucrative.
Saudi Arabia for mid-level positions
Are you being offered relocation to Saudi Arabia by your company? You can expect an average of €98,000 a year.
Independent job seekers in engineering can expect around the same, with petroleum engineers receiving the highest rates.
Marketing mid-level specialists are also in demand, but the offered pay is lower. Mid-level positions average around €50,000 yearly, depending on your skills and experience. The same is true about Cyber Security, Data, HR, Sales and IT.
4. Costa Rica and the USA
Costa Rica for high-level positions
On average, global companies relocating their senior staff to Costa Rica offer €260,000 annually after tax.
If you are looking for a job independently, senior-level CEOs earn, on average €175,000.
Taxes are pretty high, so expect to retain around €131,000 if employed and about €134,500 if you are a contractor and self-employed.
Getting a job or contract in Costa Rica requires a lot of effort. The government needs to be more encouraging in hiring foreign specialists. You need to have a specific set of skills and experience. As usual, STEM, data analysis, AI, and marketing and communications need more skilled people in key positions.
You can find more information on expat life in Costa Rica, including residence, the cost of living and where to live in our Living In Costa Rica guide.
The USA for mid-level positions
Relocated employees can expect around €97,000 a year after tax in the USA.
Mid-level professionals in highly sought-after areas looking for a freelance job can earn roughly the same as relocated employees, depending on their specific skills.
The most skill-starved areas in the USA are healthcare, IT, data, and finance, where mid-level specialists with specific skills can earn €90,000-€120,000 a year before tax.
After-tax numbers depend on the state you reside in. For example, if you are single, work in San Francisco and earn €120,000 a year, you will take home around €83,300 after tax, while Miami residents will take home €91,000.
Independent contractors’ rates vary depending on required skills, the companies hiring, and where the job is. The same jobs based in New York and San Francisco will pay different rates.
On average, mid-level front-end developers receive €100-€140 per hour before tax. Mid-level back-end developers – €120-€160.
Contracting engineers make €120,000 per year on average before tax. Again, location plays a big role, with New York, Washington, California, New Hampshire, and Maine being the highest-paying areas.
Interested in relocating to the USA as a professional? To start planning your move, read our Living In The USA guide.
5. Singapore and Hong Kong
Singapore for high-level positions
On average, executives relocated by the company are paid €240,000 a year after tax.
Senior professionals in the finance sector looking for a freelance position can earn between €190,000 and €230,000.
C-suite positions in Business Services, Chemicals & Engineering, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Financial Services & Fintech and Healthcare & Life Sciences can earn as much as €360,000 a year before tax.
Senior positions in engineering can see a salary, for example, in the range of €180,000 – 210,000 a year.
The highest-paying employers are Information and Communications, Finance and Insurance, and professional services.
The high-level IT and software development contractors can earn around €400 per day.
Most Singapore expats will likely have to pay the progressive resident tax rates. The income tax rate varies up to a maximum of 22%. If your gross salary is €210,000, you will take home €172,000 after tax.
Hong Kong for mid-level positions
For relocated specialists, an average salary is €96,000 after tax.
Independent mid-level job seekers with highly sought-after skills can expect to earn €70,000 – €90,000 a year (€80,000-€85,500 after tax). Mid-level engineering managers, DevOps architects, infrastructure software engineers, business development managers, PR and product marketers are at the top of the range.
6. Switzerland and Singapore
Switzerland for high-level positions
Exec staff relocated to Switzerland by the company are, on average, paid €190,000 a year after tax.
Independent job seekers of C-suite level can expect good income too. On average, a Chief Financial Officer is paid around €193,000 a year, while a CEO’s salary is north of €220,000 before tax.
Taxes in Switzerland can be a matter of discussion between the authorities and a prospective high-earning resident. Otherwise, a CEO living in Zurich earning €220,00 a year will have €146,500 after tax.
High-end consultant contractors can expect around €1500 a day. Highly-skilled IT contractors with specific skills can command €1000 and onwards a day before tax.
On average, contractors in management and change can expect €850 daily.
Singapore for mid-level positions
Mid-level staff relocated by the company can expect an average salary of €84,000 after tax.
Independent job seekers with mid-level expertise in sought-after fields should expect a little less after tax. However, it depends on their knowledge and experience.
A Market Development Manager, for example, can be offered around €120,000 a year which is €97,000 after tax. Lead Business Analyst and Market Analyst positions can pay around €99,000 yearly (€79,000 after tax).
At this level, you will likely find that jobs in Fintech will pay better than the same positions in big banks and traditional financial institutions.
The base salary range for a mid to senior full-stack Java developer is around €63,000-80,000 a year at a large bank and €67,000-98,000 at a large fintech.
For a product manager at the same level, it’s €75,000-84,000 for a bank and €84,000-98,000 for a fintech.
For a data analyst with one to three years of experience, banks budget €38,000-46,000, and fintech €50,000-67,000.
7. Thailand and Luxemburg
Thailand for high-level positions
High-end employees relocated by the company to Thailand are usually offered €175,000 a year after tax.
Independent job seekers in a C-suite range can count on an average of €150,000 pre-tax. Finance directors with deep experience and the required set of skills can earn up to €170,000 (€161,500 after tax).
Experienced high-end sales and business development professionals can earn €150,000 (€142,400 after tax).
IT and software areas are relatively low paying in Thailand. However, an experienced software engineer with sought-after skills earns €115,000 and higher (109,000 after tax).
Management and Consulting pay well, with salaries on the high end reaching €141,500 and over (€134,400 after tax)
Luxemburg for mid-level positions
Professionals relocated to Luxemburg by their employer can enjoy an average of €83,000 after tax.
If you seek work in financial services, insurance or the science sector and have an in-demand set of skills and experience, you can count on a good income. Technical professionals and IT can earn up to €70,000 pre-tax annually.
A software architect with a minimum of 5 years of experience can earn between €65,000 and €85,000 per year before tax.
Infrastructure and security architect – €80,000-€95,000.
Mid-level IT managers and CISOs can expect between €80,000 and €100,000 a year.
Good news for education specialists: according to OECD’s report, secondary school teacher salaries start at €73,700 a year. Luxembourg is at the top of the earnings list across major developed countries.
Income tax and social security deductions impact your prospective salary substantially. For example, if you earned $100,000 a year gross salary, after-tax, it is $71,393.
Independent contractors in software development with mid-level experience and specific skills can command €500-700 a day.
8. The USA and Japan
The USA for high-end positions
For professional expats in high-level positions, relocation to the USA can result in a benefits package of about €174,000 after tax a year. So if you can get a high-ranking professional posting in the USA, you will be paid well.
Are you looking for a job independently? If you are in the healthcare sector, you have the best opportunities.
High-end specialists in healthcare enjoy the highest incomes. The median pay in this industry is €208,000 pre-tax, which means high-end specialists earn well above this figure. For example, cardiologists and anesthesiologists can command over €300,000 a year before tax.
Moving away from healthcare, corporate chief executives are in the highest-paid profession, with an average pre-tax salary of €191,000 a year.
IT is another field where salaries are high, yet a significant talent shortage exists. Top Computer and Information Systems Managers earn on average €189,000 before tax.
High-end independent IT contractors can command rates of €160 an hour and over, with lead developers pushing through €200 an hour.
If you are a high earner, taxes will decrease your earnings by a minimum of 25%, provided you reside in a state with no income tax, such as Florida. So if you live in Miami and earn €189,000 before tax, your after-tax income will be just over €140,000. In California, you will be taking home around €126,000.
Japan for mid-level positions
Experienced expats still feel lukewarm about Japan. Although the country has changed its approach to foreigners, the perceptions take much longer to change.
Japan lags behind other Asian countries regarding its perceived attractiveness for international workers. However, for ambitious budding expats with a sought-after set of professional skills, it’s a great chance to start an international career and build up your wealth.
The average pay for middle managers relocated to Japan is about €70,000 annually after tax.
If you hunt for a job independently, you should have at least some Japanese. If you are a beginner, your best bet is multinational corporations in Japan or Gaishikei. They tend to be more flexible. However, even here, better Japanese often means more accessible routes to higher-paying positions and more opportunities for career progression.
In global finance, business development, sales, investment banking and wealth management, working for a multinational company at the mid-senior level, you can expect an income between €77,000 and €170,000 a year before tax depending on your professional and language skills.
For example, a reputable Global Digital SEO/SEM consultant can earn up to €104,000 yearly pre-tax, resulting in around €77,000 after-tax income.
9. China and Denmark
China for high-end positions
Like many other countries worldwide, China is desperate for a skilled workforce, especially in IT, AI and science. People with expertise in these areas are in huge demand.
The domestic job market cannot fill the vast number of advertised positions. Specialists with over ten years of experience available for employment are a rare commodity, so Chinese companies are looking for such people worldwide.
A high-end level professional relocated to China by the company can expect an average pay of €170,000 after tax.
If you are an independent job seeker, international Chinese companies are the most attractive employers for you. You bring your expertise plus the language of the targeted market, and they pay good money.
Analytics, business intelligence, sales, product management, marketing, data science, IT and engineering are the highest-paying sectors.
A Managing Director of Analytics or a Marketing Director can earn up to €250,000 a year before tax. An e-Commerce Director and Sales Director can expect to earn up to €270,000. Moving to technology, CTOs can expect €350,000 and onwards, while application architects’ salaries are around €245,000.
Taxes in China are progressive and reach 45% at the high level, so as a high earner, you will pay a lot to the taxman. A gross salary of €245,000 will provide €160,000 after tax.
Denmark for mid-level positions
Mid-level staff relocated to Denmark receive, on average €68,000 a year after tax.
Are you seeking a job independently? An in-demand mid-level IT specialist can expect around €80,000 before tax.
Mid-level finance and investment sector positions can bring around €100,000 a year pre-tax, depending on your skills and expertise.
Marketing is also a significant sector, but you do need to be highly skilled and experienced to command a good salary. On average mid-level marketing positions can pay €85,000 a year pre-tax.
If you are an expat employed by a Danish company, you can opt for an Expat Tax Scheme (ETS) with a flat tax rate of 32.84% on all income for up to 7 years. However, you cannot use any tax allowances. Your average monthly salary must be a minimum of DKK 70,400 (just under €9,500).
Most expats in mid-level positions won’t qualify for the ETS. Therefore, if your gross salary is €85,000 a year, depending on where you reside, you will take home €56,000-€57,000.
10. Peru and Australia
Peru for high-level positions
On average, companies relocating their high-level staff to Peru offer €162,000 after tax a year.
For independent job seekers, engineering, construction, marketing, global commerce, finance and investment are the most lucrative areas.
An experienced specialist of C-suite level with ten or more years of experience in these areas can expect a yearly pre-tax salary of €180,000 with international companies. This will result in around €153,000 after tax.
A CEO in gas, oil and mining with specialist skills can expect €200,000 and higher before tax.
Australia for mid-level positions
If you are relocating to Australia with your company, you can earn up to €67,000 a year after tax.
There are ways to immigrate independently as a professional person.
Australia is constantly looking for skilled people in certain professions, and the immigration procedures are straightforward. Here is How to Find a Great Job in Australia and Get an Employer-Sponsored Visa. Just follow the plan, and you will succeed.
IT and cybersecurity are the most prominent sectors with skill shortages. Independent contractors in mid-level management positions with in-demand skills can earn around €400 a day. A cyber security analyst based in Tasmania can charge between €300-€550 daily.
The tax you pay will depend on the total annual income and can be as high as 44%.
The same skill level full-time employee salary can reach €96,000 before tax. The income tax will take 29% off this sum.
The countries that have dropped out of the top 10 in 2023
Canada remains attractive financially for mid-level professionals. It is not such a significant destination for a work reassignment. Still, suppose your company relocates you as a mid-level manager. In that case, you can expect €62,000 before tax.
For independent job seekers highly skilled in most in-demand fields, immigrating to Canada through a skilled visa is easy. Check our How to Get a Canada Work Visa.
The UK was in the top 10 highest-paying countries in our previous rating.
The pre-tax salary for high-level staff relocated with their company is still very attractive. However, as high earners, they get hit by higher (40%) and the additional (45%) tax rates. The average after-tax income for high-level relocated staff is around €108,000 a year. At the same time, mid-level positions can expect about €57,000 after tax.
Finance, IT, digital and science innovations, healthcare and AI, are the sectors always looking for high-skilled talent. A top contractor in these sectors can earn £900 a day before tax.
If you are interested in living in the United Kingdom, this is How To Get A Well-Paid Job And A Skilled Worker Visa In The UK.
If you’re job hunting, you may initially focus on London. While this is a great place to start for newcomers, remember dynamic cities like Bristol, with rapid economic growth and a booming tech industry.
Many Bristol-based companies are looking for highly skilled workers to come to the United Kingdom. If you’re unfamiliar with Bristol, look at our popular Best Places To Live In Bristol guide.
France is the last in the top 20 countries for mid-level professionals. If you are being relocated to France by your company, you can expect an average of €57,000 after tax a year.
For independent job seekers within-demand skills and experience, high-end position pay €100,000 and over, but the income tax will take the lion’s share of your earnings. If you are single and have no deductions, you will take home around €60,000 out of your €100,000 gross salary.
All kinds of engineers, including software, are in high demand in France, as are data analysts, business account executives, project managers and sales specialists.
Are you interested in working in France? Please read our detailed article on How to find a job in France with the French Tech Visa programme and Living In France guide to start planning your relocation.
After-tax income, quality of life & cost of living factors
It’s not just your after-tax income to consider when deciding which country is best for building wealth. The living standards and cost of living are also important factors.
As a rule, employers in countries with higher standards of living, which are more desirable, offer fewer perks, such as relocation packages and help with housing. Conversely, countries with lower standards of living offer better relocation packages and perks to global specialists to compensate for lower desirability.
Taxation is one of many factors in determining how much wealth you can build. The critical factor is the cost of living. The high cost of living in countries with no income tax can significantly diminish your ability to grow your wealth. With the cost of living included, the UAE and Saudi Arabia slip to the third and fourth places for high-level positions and Costa Rica and Mexico take the first and second places.
So when considering which country will benefit you financially, look at taxation and the cost of living in different countries.
The European job market, language skills and opportunities
Switzerland and Denmark are the only European countries in our top 10 ratings. According to the Europe Language Jobs team, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries (including Denmark), as a rule, offer the highest pay to in-demand specialists. These countries also have higher living costs. You earn more, and you spend more.
Countries, where multinational companies offer attractive benefits are Portugal, Spain, and Greece. They include financial bonuses, health benefits, insurance, gym memberships, meal vouchers, discounts, relocation packages, travel coverage, extra days off, and more. But the salaries in these countries are lower because the cost of living is cheaper.
For example, the cost of living in Portugal is also considerably lower than in the Netherlands, so the salaries are adjusted accordingly.
Language skills can increase your chances of getting a better-paying job. However, English is no longer considered an asset but a universal skill. German continues to dominate as the most sought-after language internationally. European companies are ready to pay up to 50% more to the job board to advertise German-speaking positions.
Nordic languages (Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish) are also highly demanded.
Employers are willing to provide valuable benefits to speakers of in-demand languages, including visa sponsorship.
The most sought-after specialists have an in-demand language or several languages and expertise in one of the following fields: finance, marketing, sales, customer service, HR, administration, and IT. The positions that require the knowledge of 2 or more languages come with better salaries and benefits. Plus, there’s much less competition.
Best countries to work and make money – summary
Our list of the ten best countries to work in abroad helps you locate the best opportunities to advance your economic and career prospects.
You don’t have to sit idly by and watch your work life going nowhere whilst your savings earn less than inflation-proofing interest rates. There are exciting, well-paid, progressive opportunities waiting for you.
- ECA’s My Expatriate Market Pay Survey
- Emolument Salary Report
- GulfTalent Job Board
- Europe Language Jobs
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics