A Glassdoor report assesses the standard of living in Europe. Image: REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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Europe has a high number of countries that boast some of the highest standards of living in the world.
Standard of living takes into account income, the cost of living, and purchasing power.
However, according to Glassdoor's latest report entitled "Which Countries in Europe Offer The Best Standard of Living?,” Britain languishes in the bottom half of the country rankings due to the huge amount of money Britons spend on housing.
“When it comes to compensation, a larger pay packet isn’t always better. What matters is the ability to afford useful things that enrich our lives,” said Glassdoor’s Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlain in the report.
“Average wages vary considerably from one country to another but the gap between take-home pay and price levels has more relevance to the man on the street. A low cost of living, as you would find in Greece and Portugal, doesn’t count for much if average wages and purchasing power are similarly low.”
Business Insider took a look at the top 17 countries which have the highest standard of living in Europe:
17. Estonia — Glassdoor says in places like Estonia "the cost of living is relatively low [but] average wages and purchasing power are amongst the lowest in the region."
16. Greece — The country is still beset with economic problems where high unemployment and low pay coincide with a period where taxes are rising.
15. Portugal — The country is still going through a raft of austerity measures after receiving a bailout from international creditors so the job market is tight and wages are constrained while taxes remain high.
14. Italy — The country is doing better on the standard of living heatmap that Glassdoor provided in its report, thanks to the relatively low cost of living in cities like Rome.
13. Spain — The country languishes near the bottom of the ranking due to the average wage being near the lowest in Europe.
12. Belgium — Glassdoor says the average wage for people in Belgium is at €41,000 (£31,800, $46,380) but the large amount of their salary being spent on rent pulls it down the charts.
11. France — Annual wages in France are relatively modest and are ranked 6th from the bottom of the average nominal annual wages index provided by Glassdoor.
10. Britain — Glassdoor says the average annual wage in the UK is also at €41,000 (£31,800, £46,380) but it has some of the highest costs to live out of the entire index. London is the third city in the index for having the highest cost of living.
9. Austria — The country scores average for income and living costs but a lower proportion of rent is spent, when compared to Britain, so it just about pulls ahead of the UK.
8. Ireland — The country's wages are highly competitive compared to its European peers and Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) adjusted wages, are almost as high in Ireland as in Switzerland.
7. Norway — "Countries with a high cost of living in their major cities do not necessarily offer the highest standard of living, as can be seen in the case of Norway," says Glassdoor. Basically pay is high at €61,000 but a lot of it goes on rent and local goods.
6. Finland — The Finnish rank near the top because although their income is pretty high, the amount they spend on groceries, restaurants, transportation, utilities, and rent, still leaves them with decent disposable income.
5. Netherlands — Glassdoor says that the average European has lower living costs than those living in New York City.
4. Sweden — The cost of local goods and services (including food, transportation, and rent) is relatively modest when you compare it to take home pay.
3. Germany — Glassdoor says "interestingly, Germany comes in third, despite average nominal wages in the country being relatively low compared to the other countries in the study. This suggests that purchasing power for average earners is high in Germany."
2. Denmark — "What matters ultimately for standard of living is the gap between take-home pay and price levels," says Glassdoor. Despite Denmark being middle-tier for income, the cost of living is a lot lower than some of its European peers, meaning citizens are able to have more disposal income.
1. Switzerland — The Swiss earn a lot but can also afford a lot too. Glassdoor says "in Switzerland, the average city-based worker can afford to buy around twice as much as his or her equivalent in New York City."
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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