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Living on minimum wage isn’t something people aspire to do, but many have to throughout the world. However, living on minimum wage doesn’t mean quite the same thing globally.
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In Uzbekistan, for example, spending on food alone is equal to more than 2.5 times the earnings of the minimum wage worker. That’s according to data from a 2020 CEOWORLD magazine report. While Uzbekistan is an extreme example, this ratio is grim in other countries too. In the Philippines, for example, spending on food equates to 75% of the minimum wage worker’s earnings.
While most aim to earn more than minimum wage, it could be your reality, at least for some time. In that case, these countries would leave you feeling better about your situation. We’ll use the same 2020 data to look at the countries where people don’t spend much of their budget on basic food items — like bread, eggs and milk. All numbers below are shown in U.S. dollars.
Here are the nine best countries to live on minimum wage.
The United States’ neighbor to the north might be cold a lot of the time, but you’ll feel a little cozier there if you earn minimum wage. While its gross minimum monthly wage was a somewhat low $1,383 in 2020, minimum wage earners only had to spend 11% of their income on basic food items.
For comparison, minimum wage-earning Americans spent 14.1% of their income on those items in the same year. The minimum wage was up 2.6% in Canada in 2020.
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Luxembourg, a small country surrounded by Germany, Belgium, and France, is not the cheapest place to live. However, it’s more affordable than many U.S. cities, and workers there earn enough to at least keep pace with the costs.
The gross minimum monthly wage in 2020 was $1,989, though that was up just 0.8% year-over-year. Still, minimum wage earners in the country only spent 9.5% of their incomes on basic food items.
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and ranks only behind the U.S., China and Japan in terms of GDP. Despite this, it remains a reasonable place to live on a minimum wage.
In 2020, its gross minimum monthly wage was $1,358, a year-over-year increase of 1.9%. Germans earning minimum wage spent just 9.3% of their income on basic food items.
Spain had a relatively low gross minimum monthly wage of $1,163 in 2020, and its year-over-year wage growth of 1.4% was also nothing special. Nevertheless, minimum wage workers there spent just 9.2% of their income on basic food items, which is still better than almost anywhere in the world.
Saudi Arabia finds itself in an interesting place on this list, ranked higher than Spain, Germany and Canada. That is in part because its year-over-year minimum wage growth was 33%, which was among the highest in the world at the time.
While its gross minimum monthly wage was still somewhat low at $1,067 in 2020, those workers still only spent 9% of their income on basic food items.
People in he Netherlands earn a decent wage, even on the low end The gross minimum monthly wage was $1,655, putting it squarely between Ireland and the U.K.
However, wage growth was just 1.2% year-over-year, but minimum wage workers there spent just 8.3% of their income on basic food items.
While Northern Ireland is part of the U.K., the Republic of Ireland is not, and so the data separates it from the U.K. The gross minimum monthly wage was $1,743 there in 2020, up 2.7% year-over-year.
Just like in the U.K., minimum wage earners in Ireland spend 7.3% of their income on basic food items.
The United Kingdom may be home to the British royal family and plenty of other wealthy people, but you don’t have to be wealthy to get by in the U.K. The gross minimum monthly wage there in 2020 was $1,523 — noticeably lower than the figure for Australia.
However, it was also up 4.2% year-over-year, and people there spend just 7.3% of their income on basic food items.
Australia is known for having a high standard of living, and that makes sense given how little people spend on their trips to the grocery store there. The gross minimum monthly wage in Australia was $1,923 in 2020. That’s up 2.1% year-over-year — a modest increase.
However, the country’s residents only spend 7% of that income on basic food items, which is among the lowest in the world.
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