Want to Afford an Apartment on Minimum Wage? Move to Europe

Want to Afford an Apartment on Minimum Wage? Move to Europe

The United States is the second-wealthiest country per capita in the world, after Switzerland, and it’s by far the wealthiest country overall, with GDP of about $23 trillion.

With those impressive stats, you’d expect minimum-wage employees to have a nicer life here than in other countries.

One measure of that quality of life is how much of your monthly paycheck you’ll need to make an average rent payment. The ETUC compared minimum wage to monthly rent in 11 European countries. See how the United States stacks up against them.

Malta 20%

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You’ll need just 20% of minimum wage to make rent on this beautiful island in the Mediterranean.

Lithuania 25%

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You can pay rent on the average apartment with a quarter of your minimum wage income in this former Soviet state.

Slovenia 27%

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Slovenia is also ranked in the top 10% of countries for safety and healthcare.

Slovakia 28%

Countries where abortion is legal

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There’s a high standard of living in this landlocked, mountainous nation.

Czechia 29%

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Being able to enjoy lovely Prague on a reasonable budget is just one highlight of living in the Czech Republic.

Germany 30%

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In addition to being able to pay average rent with just 30% of your minimum wage income, Germans also enjoy free college and childcare.

France 32%

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French workers pay about a third of their minimum wage income for rent. No word on what they spend on wine and cheese.

Latvia 32%

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Pricier than neighboring Lithuania, Latvia still enjoys reasonable rent on an entry-level wage.

Netherlands 36%

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The Netherlands is one of Americans’ favorite countries to move to, thanks to easy DAFT (Dutch-American Friendship Treaty) visas.

Romania 41%

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Romanian minimum wage workers need to spend 41% of their income to pay for an average apartment with two bedrooms or less.

Croatia 42%

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In Croatia, people earning minimum wage need to spend 42% of their earnings on rent. Dubrovnik receives the most tourists per capita of any city in Europe, and Airbnbs affect housing prices.

Poland 44%

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In Poland, you’ll need 44% of minimum wage to afford an average apartment. Thankfully food is much less expensive than in other EU countries.

Greece 46%

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In Greece, you’ll need 46% of your minimum wage income to pay for the average apartment. Housing prices may be affected somewhat by golden visa programs, where you can get residency in Greece by buying property. 

Estonia 48%

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Estonians who earn minimum wage need to spend a whopping 48% of their income on rent. They can save by living outside of Tallinn, but they may also consider neighboring Lithuania or Latvia for better ratios.

Ireland 49%

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Minimum wage workers in Ireland need to spend 49% of their income on rent. Ireland is notoriously expensive, and 8% of workers make minimum wage.

Hungary 50%

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In Hungary, there are two types of minimum wage depending on your qualifications. Both have increased significantly since this report was released, which may ease needing 50% of your income for rent.

Portugal 50%

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In Portugal, you need to spend half of your minimum wage income to afford rent. The country is ending two programs that brought in foreigers and drove up rents: the non-habitual residence tax benefits and the golden visa.

Luxembourg 51%

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Minimum wage workers in tiny Luxembourg need to spend slightly more than half of their income on rent, but they’ll save tremendously on the world’s best healthcare. 

Bulgaria 53%

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At €311.89/month (about $330), Bulgaria has the lowest minimum wage in the EU. Some nations have no federal minimum wage at all, so they’re set instead by trade unions or industry standards. Rent costs 53% of a minimum wage income.

Spain 54%

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Spain has the worst ratio in the EU for the cost of rent compared to minimum wage. Spaniards must spend more than half of their income on rent. Currently, Spain still offers attractive visa options for immigrants, including a golden visa. This could change if the ratio doesn’t improve.

United States 143%

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In the United States, you will need more than your entire paycheck to make rent if you’re on minimum wage. In fact, you’d need to earn more than $34/hour to have a rent-to-income ratio of 30%. That’s the ratio most landlords demand before you can rent an apartment. Of course, this also doesn’t include the universal healthcare you’d receive in the EU. Most minimum wage jobs offer no health insurance at all.

Want to Move to Europe? Here Are 16 In-Demand Jobs and How to Apply.

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Can you guess the most in-demand jobs in Europe? At least 15 countries reported shortages in these 16 fields, and there are more than four and a half million jobs listed on this portal.

➤ Want to Move to Europe? Here Are 16 In-Demand Jobs and How to Apply.

10 Countries Where You Can Retire With Just $150,000 in Savings

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In these countries, you can fully retire with $150,000 in savings, or even less if you collect social security payments.

➤ 10 Countries Where You Can Retire With Just $150,000 in Savings

14 Countries with Better Healthcare Than the United States

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In some cases, countries have much better outcomes than the United States, and in others, countries have marginally worse outcomes but much more affordable, accessible care. Learn about 14 countries with better healthcare than the US where you can immigrate.

➤ 14 Countries with Better Healthcare Than the United States

Jen Barnett Expatsi headshot
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen Barnett is an expat influencer and co-founder of Expatsi, a company that's helped thousands of Americans on their moving abroad journeys. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?

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Jen Barnett Expatsi headshot
Co-founder at Expatsi | Website | + posts

Jen Barnett is an expat influencer and co-founder of Expatsi, a company that's helped thousands of Americans on their moving abroad journeys. She created the Expatsi Test, an assessment that recommends countries for aspiring emigrants based on lifestyle data. Jen has an MBA from Emory University with concentrations in marketing and innovation. She's written for BusinessWeek, Health, Cooking Light, and Southern Living. Prior to Expatsi, she created Freshfully and Bottle & Bone—two businesses in the local food space—and spoke at TEDx on being brave. She's moving to Mexico in 2024, along with her husband and co-founder Brett, pitbull mix Squiggy, and three rotten cats. How can she help you move abroad?