The purpose of economic emigration is to increase the content of your own wallet. Most Poles working abroad, however, are not convinced of total emigration and return home after 1-2 years of work in a foreign country. How much can you actually earn by working in another country? Is it possible to save a lot by working even for the minimum wages? Below we compare the minimum wages and the approximate costs of living in seven popular European countries. Check the comparison of european countries.

Rada Unii Europejskiej

Country – Minimum monthly salary

The decision to go to work abroad is usually closely related to financial issues, and regular trips have become a quick way for Poles to improve the quality of life or obtain funds for studies, buy a dream home or car. We all realise that when earning money abroad, it is much easier to save, because – in proportion to your salary – life is cheaper there.

Travelling abroad during a pandemic – what has changed?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed literally every sector of the economy. Taking up employment abroad has also become a slightly more complicated process. First of all before travelling, the employee now has to take care of:

  • Covid-19 test (or accommodation provided in case of a 14-day quarantine) 
  • eventually – vaccination evidence 
  • documents confirming employment

It is also worth checking the news from the country to which we are heading to for work, to be able to go there without any additional obstacles.

Below we present a comparison of the most popular European countries in terms of earnings and the cost of living in a specific country. Are high earnings always a reason for high living costs? We’ll find the answers below.

Country – monthly costs of living

Germany is at the top of job destinations among Poles. Over 1 million of countrymen currently live and work in Germany.

Why Germany?

First of all, the deciding factor for many people is the location. Germany is our neighbour and it is not difficult to go to work in “normal” times. A lot of people live right on the German border and move between countries every day. The next and most important reason is higher earnings.

The minimum wage in Germany is currently EUR 1,614 gross (approx. PLN 7300). The minimum hourly rate is EUR 9.5 gross (PLN 43). More about the minimum rates in Germany from 2021 in our previous post. The employment rate in Germany is almost the highest in Europe – over 70% (in some Länder the percentage is around 84%).

Costs of living in Germany

Monthly rent of a studio apartmentEUR 700
Ticket for public transport – 30 days EUR 70
Price for 1 litre of petrol EUR 1.36

The prices for food are as follows:

Product Price 
Eggs – 10 pcs EUR 2.69
Loaf of bread EUR 0.95
Water – 1.5 litre EUR 0.4
Chicken breast – 400g EUR 1.99
Tomatoes – 1kg EUR 1.6
Approximate monthly cost of food EUR 130

Assuming that a person works and lives in Germany while earning the minimum wage, his monthly expenses are around EUR 900, which is over 55% of the salary.

Netherlands – earnings and the cost of living

The Netherlands is in the Top 3 of the most popular job destinations. The possibility of a better income becomes the main reason for emigration. The minimum wage in the Netherlands – EUR 1685 gross, hourly rate – EUR 10.80 gross. The employment rate in the Netherlands is around 80%, which is also a very high level.

Costs of living in the Netherlands

Monthly rent of a studio apartment EUR 800

Ticket for public transport – 30 days 
It is possible to buy an ov-chipkaart and top-up with any amount (cost of 1 trip – approx. 3 euro, card cost – 8 euro)
Price for 1 litre of petrol EUR 1.76

Prices for popular products in the Netherlands:

ProductPrice 
Eggs – 10 pcs EUR 1.50
Loaf of bread EUR 2
Water – 1.5 litre EUR 0.63
Chicken breast – 400g EUR 2 
Tomatoes – 1kg EUR 1.38
Approximate monthly cost of food EUR 130

To sum up, a person who earns the minimum wage in the Netherlands, on average, spends approx. EUR 1000 on a living per month, or approx. 59% of the salary.

France – life and work

Another emigration point is France. The coronavirus pandemic and the partial closure of the borders slightly reduced the demand for departure to this country. The minimum salary is estimated at EUR 1555 gross , and the minimum hourly wage is EUR 10.25 gross. The employment level in France is around 70%. The lower percentage compared to the other European countries described above, is mainly caused by a large influx of immigrants from African countries.

Costs of living in France

Monthly rent of a studio apartment EUR 600
Ticket for public transport – 30 days EUR 75
Price for 1 litre of petrolEUR 1.39

Prices for food in France:

Product Price 
Eggs – 10 pcs EUR 1.45
Loaf of bread EUR 1
Water – 1.5 litre EUR 0.55
Chicken breast – 400g EUR 4
Tomatoes – 1kg EUR 2.33
Approximate monthly cost of food EUR 125

Monthly expenses with a minimum wage in France amount to around EUR 800, which is less than 51%. So far, this is the lowest result among the countries described.

Scandinavia

We then move on to the Scandinavian countries, which are less popular among Poles, but nevertheless many people are considering emigrating to these countries. At the beginning, it is worth emphasising that earnings in these countries will be even several times higher compared to the rest of the countries. Not only that, the Scandinavian countries are on the list of the richest countries in Europe and its inhabitants are often considered the happiest nations in the world.

Earnings and costs of living in Norway

More than once this country has been recognized as one of the best places to live. As in most Scandinavian countries, in Norway, there is no fixed minimum wage rate. The average minimum wage is approximately NOK 30,000 gross, and the hourly rate is approximately NOK 180 gross.

Employment level is quite high – around 80%

Costs of living in Norway

Monthly rent of a studio apartment NOK 6000
Ticket for public transport – 30 days NOK 750
Price for 1 litre of petrol NOK 15.75

Prices for basic food products:

Product Price 
Eggs – 10 pcs NOK 30
Loaf of bread NOK 25
Water – 1.5 litre NOK 17
Chicken breast – 400g NOK 70
Tomatoes – 1kg NOK 35
Approximate monthly cost of food NOK 1250

In this conversion, a person working in Norway spends about NOK 8,000 per month, which is about 26% of the salary.

Denmark

Similarly as in Norway, Denmark has no fixed minimum rates. The issue of wages is individually agreed with the employer. The average minimum wage in Denmark is estimated at approx. DKK 20,000 gross. The minimum hourly rate cannot be lower than DKK 110 gross.

Employment level – approx. 75%

Costs of living in Denmark

Monthly rent of a studio apartment DKK 7000
Ticket for public transport – 30 days DKK 1330
Price for 1 litre of petrol DKK 12

Prices for food in Denmark:

Product Price 
Eggs – 10 pcs DKK 23
Loaf of bread DKK 18
Water – 1.5 litre DKK 10
Chicken breast – 400g DKK 35
Tomatoes – 1kg DKK 22
Approximate monthly cost of food DKK 670

To sum up, a month’s stay in Denmark is approx. DKK 9,000, as a percentage – approx. 45% of the minimum wage.

Iceland

The first question that is questionable is whether Iceland is a member of the European Union. And the answer is no. On the other hand, Iceland is a member of Schengen and EFTA, which allows EU citizens to enter and work without additional permits. Poles constitute 38% of all migrants in Iceland.

The minimum wage is ISK 351,000, the hourly rate – approx. ISK 2,500. As mentioned above, in Iceland as well, there are no pre-established minimum rates. Employment level in Iceland – over 80%.

Costs of living in Iceland

Monthly rent of a studio apartment ISK 60 000
Ticket for public transport – 30 days ISK 12 800
Price for 1 litre of petrol ISK 235

Prices for food products:

ProductPrice 
Eggs – 10 pcs ISK 500
Loaf of bread ISK 309
Water – 1.5 litre ISK 169
Chicken breast – 400g ISK 1000
Tomatoes – 1kg ISK 829
Approximate monthly cost of food ISK 17 200

A month’s stay in Iceland, is a cost of around ISK 90,000, which is 25% of the basic salary.

Comparison – Costs of living in Europe and minimum rates

Percentage of the minimum wage that is spent on a monthly stay in the country:

Country Minimum monthly wageMonthly costs of maintenance% wages
Germany EUR 1614 EUR 900 56%
Netherlands EUR 1685 EUR 100059%
France EUR 1555 EUR 800 51%
NorwayNOK 30 000NOK 8000 27%
Denmark DKK 20 000 DKK 9000 45%
Iceland ISK 351 000 ISK 90 000 26%

As can already be seen, when deciding to go abroad to work in virtually every country in Western Europe, you should take into account considerable living expenses. The lowest monthly expenses will be in Iceland, Norway, France or Denmark.

In Scandinavian countries (including Denmark, Norway or Iceland), which probably does not surprise anyone, you can earn the most. It is worth going to these countries for a longer stay, because there is a real chance for better earnings.

Wages in Germany or the Netherlands are several times higher than the rates in Poland. At the same time, we have to take into account high expenses. Therefore, it is best to go there for seasonal or short-term work. France is in the middle – with good wages and not too high living expenses.

Everywhere we have to take into account additional costs. And it’s not that high wages equal minimal expenses. The cost ofThe minimum wage in Europe in 2022 living in the West, however, is more proportional to the economic situation in the country and to these earnings.

Related entries:

The minimum wage in Europe in 2022

Minimum Wages in the Netherlands 2022 – What is Age-old?

Current prices and cost of living in Germany – 2022

Wages in Norway 2021 – How much is earned in Norway?

The top 10 best countries to live in – Where is it worth to emigrate?