Where do you have the strongest spending power?

  • Disposable income
Published last year

There are some people lucky enough to enjoy a life of luxury abroad, with a seven figure salary and their employer fully funding luxury accommodation and flights. However, we're not all those people, and some of us have to worry about paying our rent and bills, after which we carefully budget how much money we have left to enjoy ourselves with. And who doesn't want that new pair of jeans or iPhone? A recent study by Deutsche Bank maps prices of different goods and services around the world, as well disposable income. Here, we look at where you can find yourself with the most spending power after rent.

Nisha Sawon

Editorial staff

Disposable income

You've just been paid the average salary (after tax) for your chosen city, and you've just paid your monthly rent (based on two people sharing), and you've got some extra cash in the bank... but where will you find yourself with the most left to splurge on dinners, shopping trips and other treats?

If you're in Zurich, you're in luck, with $4,616 sitting in your account after rent, you could go out for a few dinners and put some away for a rainy day. Next up are the US cities of Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and New York, leaving you with $3,210, $3,093, $2,902 and $2,849 dollars, respectively. Given that there are goods and services to meet almost every price point in major US cities, this will likely be more than enough disposable income for the month.

At the other end of the scale, your disposable income in Jakarta it would be $258 and in Manila would be $271. If you are living in Brazil, you will have $212 at the end of the month in Rio de Janiero and $301 in Sao Paolo. Working and renting in India will also leave you with just $419 in New Delhi or $492 in Mumbai. However, it is worth noting that the cost of living in all of these destinations would be far lower than in Switzerland or the US.

Other popular expat cities varied in terms of the amount of disposable income; Singapore would leave you with $2,135 at the end of the month on the average Singaporean salary, living in London would give you $1,468 at the end of the month, and you would have $1,096 in Hong Kong.


Hadrian /

So, you've got your pay cheque, paid your bills, and you've decided it's time to upgrade your slowish phone with its cracked screen to an iPhone 7. It's a costly purchase, but in some countries it will cost you more than others.

The most expensive place you will find an iPhone 7 is in Turkey, where it will cost you $1,200. Given that the monthly disposable income, on average, is $399 a month, you might have to put up with that old phone for a few more months. In Brazil it's a similar story, with the iPhone 7 costing $1,115.

In the US (Apple's home) the iPhone is unsurprisingly the cheapest, at $815, along with Japan where it is the same price. It's not much more in Hong Kong at $821, or in Singapore at $874.

Going to the cinema

It's Sunday afternoon, you're scrolling through your brand new iPhone 7 looking for something to do, and you realise that film you've been wanting to see for ages is on at your local cinema. How much will it cost you (popcorn optional)?

If you're in Zurich, you'll be glad you are left with a reasonable sum after paying rent, because just one ticket will cost a staggering $18. Though cinema prices have steadily been rising in most countries due to the explosion of online streaming platforms producing their own high quality content, that's still fairly steep. In Tokyo it will cost you $15.70 for a trip to the movies, while it's a mere ten cents less for those living in New York. Sydney and London are the third and fourth most expense with prices coming at $15.10 and $14.90, respectively.

On the cheaper end of the scale, you can catch the latest release in Kuala Lumpur for just $3.30, Jakarta for $3.90 and in Mexico City for just $4.10. India again proves to be kind to your pocket with a ticket in Mumbai costing $4.30 and a ticket in New Delhi costing just 30 cents more. Though these cities are hardly at the top end of the list when it comes to disposable income, they are not quite at the bottom, so perhaps your money can go further than first perceived.

Shopping trip

It's the weekend after you've been paid and you decide to treat yourself to a new pair of designer trainers or a nice pair of jeans. You find the perfect pair of each, and, luckily for you, they are the average price for your city. Well done Goldilocks!

When it comes to a nice pair of trainers, they'll cost you the most in Copenhagen at $131.30, and in second is Zurich (which won't come as a surprise, at this point) at $127.70, followed by Oslo (at $122.80) and Helsinki (at $118.20). India's prices, however, are cheap and cheerful, with a pair of brand-name trainers going for $57.30 in Mumbai, $63 in Bangalore and $64.80 in New Delhi. What may come as a surprise is that Brazil again features at towards the top end of rankings for consumer goods with the sports shoes costing $113.60 in Sao Paulo and $109.90 in Rio de Janeiro, on average.

If it's a pair of brand name jeans you're after, Copenhagen again proves itself to be an expensive destination for the fashionista on a budget, coming in at $120.60. Oslo is close behind at $114.10, followed by Moscow at $113.60. Of course, those living in Zurich don't get a break with some cheap jeans either, as they cost an average of $113.30.

Proving to be a budget-friendly country for the keen shopper, India again features at the bottom end of the list. Those jeans with the just-right fit will cost $39.60 in Mumbai, $39.80 in New Delhi and $41.30 in Bangalore. Manila is also good place to live if you are keen on budget-friendly shopping, with a pair of brand-name jeans costing $47.70.


Dining out is a great way of experiencing the culture of a new home abroad and absorbing the atmosphere around you. It's also a great way to catch up with friends or just to take some time to yourself and enjoy some good food (that you didn't have to cook).

If, after a long day's work, you decide to pop into your local neighbourhood pub with a friend for a simple dinner, how much will a meal for two cost? It's starting to seem like the amount of disposable income you have in Zurich is more and more necessary, as it also tops this ranking as well, costing $73.70 for dinner. It's followed by Oslo (also one of the pricier shopping destinations) at $63. In third place comes the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world; Tokyo. Though it will cost you $60.70 for a basic dinner, there are also street food stalls in the country thaty have been awarded the famous Michelin star, so there are a wealth of options (even if most of them are on the pricier side). On the other end of the scale, you can go out for dinner in Jakarta for just $17.40, Manila for $17.8 and for $17.90 in Kuala Lumpur.

Dating on the cheap

You've done the hard part and asked out your crush, but just how much will that date you've been anticipating cost? You have taxi rides, a meal, a trip to the cinema and a couple of beers to pay for.

Zurich once again leads the way in making your dating life a costly endeavour, with your day or evening costing $195.90. Like with going out for dinner, dating will be more of an expenditure in Oslo ($163.60) and Tokyo ($167.30). Again going on a full date on the cheaper end of the list reflects dining out, with Manila ($39.20), Jakarta ($41.90) and Kuala Lumpur ($44.10) taking the bottom spots.


Ultimately, how you perceive your time abroad will depend on how you decide to spend your time, and certainly leisure time is key to that. However, it is important to budget your disposable income accordingly. As the study has shown, sometimes a high disposable income may be proportionate to a high cost of living. Though your income may be lower in one country than another, the price of the things your enjoy may be accordingly low, or perhaps even lower. Certainly, not everything costs, and a day by the beach can cost almost nothing compared to dinner at a pricey restaurant, so you can enjoy your free time without shelling out a fortune. If you are in a country with lots of local markets, you may be able to find non-branded clothing that is to your liking, so it is always worth exploring your new home to the fullest.

10 months ago

I'm surprised there's no mentioned of China, expatriates here are living the dream.

11 months ago

What is this - "monthly rent (based on two people sharing)"?! That is 100% unrealistic, expats pay their own rent (if any) in its entirety.

last year

Great post , Interesting , thank you for share these post.