Money

People who live in these cities earn the highest salaries in the world, research shows

San Francisco, California
RICOWde | Getty Images

Average salaries in San Francisco have risen by 31% since 2018, with the city taking the crown for the highest-paying city in the world this year, according to Deutsche Bank research.

In 2019, people in San Francisco can expect to be paid an average of $6,526 per month — that's 42% more than the average New Yorker's income.

Deutsche Bank's analysis, which compared incomes and living costs in 56 cities worldwide, found that average earnings in San Francisco, where residents had the strongest purchasing power in the world, had increased by 88% over the last five years.

Zurich, Switzerland, came in second, offering an average monthly income of $5,896, although it lost the top spot this year after seeing average earnings decline by 18% over the last five years.

New York City, with average monthly earnings hitting $4,612, was the third highest-paying city in the world. Monthly salaries saw a year-on-year increase of 12% in New York, helping the city hold onto the third spot in the ranking.

Boston and Chicago, which both offer monthly incomes in excess of $4,000, were also ranked among the 10 highest paying cities.

The 10 highest paying cities
  1. San Francisco, U.S.
    Monthly salary: $6,526
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
    Monthly salary: $5,896
  3. New York, U.S.
    Monthly salary: $4,612
  4. Boston, U.S.
    Monthly salary: $4,288
  5. Chicago, U.S.
    Monthly salary: $4,062
  6. Sydney, Australia
    Monthly salary: $3,599
  7. Oslo, Norway
    Monthly salary: $3,246
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark
    Monthly salary: $3,190
  9. Melbourne, Australia
    Monthly salary: $3,181
  10. London, U.K.
    Monthly salary: $2,956

A number of the cities paying the highest salaries had seen a decline in earnings, the data showed. Sydney, Australia, was ranked sixth on the list, but its residents' incomes decreased 8% year-on-year and were nearly 20% lower than they were five years ago. Meanwhile earnings in Oslo lost 11% since 2018 and were a third lower than five years previous, and London's incomes were 13% lower than they were last year.

The biggest year-on-year losses were seen in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where a decline of 45% left monthly incomes at $527.

Salaries in Johannesburg, South Africa, fell by 26% and came in at $1,223 per month in 2019, while the Turkish city of Istanbul saw earnings tumble 31%, leaving residents with $433 each month.

Cities offering the lowest monthly incomes were Cairo, Egypt, where residents earned $206, and Lagos, Nigeria, where residents were paid $236 per month, according to Deutsche Bank.

Monthly rent

Hong Kong, which has notoriously high housing costs, was the most expensive city for renting a mid-range two-bedroom apartment. Average earnings came in under $2,500, but rent costs were $3,685 — that's 27% higher than the cost of renting a similar apartment in New York.

San Francisco and New York were the next most expensive cities for apartment rentals, while Cairo, Bangalore and New Delhi were the cheapest.

  1. Hong Kong
    Monthly rent for average 2-bedroom apartment: $3,685
  2. San Francisco, U.S.
    Monthly rent for average 2-bedroom apartment: $3,631
  3. New York, U.S.
    Monthly rent for average 2-bedroom apartment: $2,909
  4. Zurich, Switzerland
    Monthly rent for average 2-bedroom apartment: $2,538
  5. Paris, France
    Monthly rent for average 2-bedroom apartment: $2,455
Disposable income

Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world for housing costs, San Francisco's residents had the most disposable income leftover after paying their rent.

The analysis assumed two working people were sharing a two-bedroom apartment, and calculated disposable income by working out the difference between average monthly earnings and half the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment.

According to the researchers, San Franciscans could have $4,710 left to spend each month after paying their rent, which is 49% more than New Yorkers were expected to have leftover.

Residents of Zurich had the second highest disposable incomes, with $4,626 per month leftover after rent. U.S. cities dominated the top five, with Chicago, Boston and New York rounding out the list.

  1. San Francisco, U.S.
    Disposable income after rent: $4,710
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
    Disposable income after rent: $4,626
  3. Chicago, U.S.
    Disposable income after rent: $3,298
  4. Boston, U.S.
    Disposable income after rent: $3,188
  5. New York City, U.S.
    Disposable income after rent: $3,157
  6. Sydney, Australia
    Disposable income after rent: $2,615
  7. Melbourne, Australia
    Disposable income after rent: $2,485
  8. Oslo, Norway
    Disposable income after rent: $2,342
  9. Copenhagen, Denmark
    Disposable income after rent: $2,285
  10. Wellington, New Zealand
    Disposable income after rent: $2,075

Despite being low down when it came to housing costs, people who live in Cairo, Egypt, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Philippine capital Manila had the least disposable income left after paying rental costs, according to Deutsche Bank.

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Clarification: This story has been updated to add detail on how the disposable income ranking was calculated.

Correction: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the difference between incomes in San Francisco and New York.

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