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Why you need to have a happy workforce

Best Global Cities to Work in data

If you are like many people in the world right now, you may be in a time of flux when it comes to your career. Some were furloughed, many were let go, and others have decided to make a career shift with their eyes open to new priorities following the pandemic. Now that the UK has fully scrapped the Amber List and the world is opening back up, travel is back on the menu. So if you’re looking for a guide to working in some of the best cities across the globe, you’ve come to the right place. We cannot, of course, tell you where you want to live – much of it will come down to personal preference. What kind of work environment do you enjoy? Do you know another language, or are you willing to learn? What sector do you hope to work in? Do you like the big city life, or is being close to nature important to you? We cannot answer these questions for you, but we can provide the information needed to make an informed decision.

It is impossible to capture all of the diverse characteristics of these cities in relatively brief profiles, and that is not our aim. Rather, the main purpose to this list is to give our readers a starting point which considers specific crucial factors when considering where to work around the world. We mostly chose capital cities to profile, however there are a number of other cities which are not capitals that hold too much economic and cultural relevance to exclude. When ranking the cities, we examined five factors: Work-life balance, cost of living vs. average salary, health of the start-up ecosystem, number of major companies, and diversity of opportunities within the city. All of these come together to form a city’s score. Beijing, for example, is an excellent city for start-ups and has a wide range of major companies located there. However, the high cost of living coupled with the infamous “996” work culture brings down the city’s score. We obtained the average salaries from the online salary comparison tool Payscale, and the cost-of-living information from Numbeo’s massive internet database.

The written profile at the beginning of each city’s entry is written with a prospective employee in mind – someone who has never been to the city before and does not understand the expectations and culture surrounding life there. Therefore, we have also included information about the major industries of the city, expectations in the working world and cultural considerations, as well as opportunities to experience the unique architecture, art, music, nature, and cuisine each city has to offer.

Throughout our research into these cities, we have noticed a number of trends which are important to understanding the trade-offs of working in various places. In general, large cities such as New York and Beijing tend to have a high level of opportunity in a variety of sectors, but with that comes harsh competition and less of an emphasis on work-life balance. They also tend to have higher costs of living than smaller cities. On the other hand, smaller cities tend to boast a better work life balance and less competition, but often have less developed start-up ecosystems and few major companies there. Honolulu shows these characteristics, though with a population of around 900,000 it is not a truly “small” city. Honolulu also suffers from the issue of a lack of varied opportunities. Because most of the industry there is based in defence and US military bases, funding which would have been funnelled to a variety of start-ups and other industries is not available meaning that your options for employment are narrow. This is also a great example of why these rankings may not mean the same thing to everyone; if you work in defence, then Honolulu could be your number one city. Scandinavia stood out on this list as an excellent place to work and live, with Copenhagen taking the top spot. The Scandinavian cities we have profiled all place extreme emphasis on work-life balance, have major companies in a variety of sectors, and pay well. This does, however, come at the cost of high-living costs and expensive property prices.

The vast majority of these cities excel in some aspects and leave a bit to be desired in others, which is natural considering the effects that size, location, and economy have on business. In the end, it comes down to what your priorities are, and we hope this list will help you make an informed decision on your journey through the international world of work.

 

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, known for its architecture, canals, and title of “happiest city in the world”. It has a population of 602,481 people according to a 2017 count. Historically fishing was vital to the economy of the city, but now Copenhagen’s main industries are life sciences, transport, construction, and smart city development. The work culture in Denmark is known for being informal and focused on achieving a good work-life balance. There are no dress codes, and office hierarchies have been mostly replaced by democratic discourse. Skill and initiative are just as essential in Copenhagen as any other city, but you may find this informal work life to be a nice break from the ‘rat race’ of more fast-paced cities. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £1,254 per month according to Numbeo, which means that someone making average salary can expect to put about 33% of their income towards rent. The public transport system in Copenhagen is excellent, as it is in the rest of Denmark, making owning a car unnecessary.

Minimum Wage: While there is no blanket minimum wage in Denmark, lobbying by various unions has led to an average minimum wage of £12.65 (110 Danish Krone)

Average Salary: £45,985.55 (DKK400,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £6015.51 per sq/m (DKK52,267.78) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Copenhagen has a healthy start-up ecosystem with opportunities in tech, real estate, and finance. According to Startup Genome, it has £471,227,945 in total early-stage funding. Non-profit funds and frequent start-up events make Copenhagen an exciting place to launch a successful start-up. Food delivery giant Just Eat got its start in the city before going worldwide.

Major Companies: Copenhagen was called the easiest place to do business in the world by Forbes in their 2021 Global Business Complexity Index, so it makes sense that many powerhouse companies have headquarters in the capital. The most valuable Copenhagen-based companies are Ørsted (utilities), Maersk Group (transportation). Carlsberg Group (beverages), Danske Bank, Lundbeck (pharmaceuticals), and ISS A/S (services), according to the 2019 Forbes list.

New York

New York is America’s largest city, with a population of 8,336,817 according to the 2019 US Census. Life and work in NYC is fast-paced, and ample competition brings ample opportunity. This can be exciting for those who enjoy the big city life, but it could take some adjustment if you’re used to small town hospitality. Home to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the finance sector dominates the city, and many of the top employers are banks and tech companies. NYC property is always at a premium, and it has some of the highest property costs in the country. Average rent on an apartment in Manhattan, for instance, was £3,110.20 ($4,210) according to Rent Café’s 2020 National Rent Report. While average salaries in New York can be quite high, this is balanced by the cost of living which is equally terrific. If you plan to rent, you can expect to spend at least 30% of your income on keeping the lights on, according to that same report. Many choose to live outside the city and commute in, which is made possible by New York’s well-developed public transit systems.

Minimum Wage: £11.08 ($15)

Average Salary: £59,112.40 ($80,000) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £575,607.00 ($779,000) according to Zillow.com

Start-ups: New York City is well-known as being an excellent city for start-ups to flourish, particularly in the tech sector. NYC ranked second behind Silicon Valley in the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: New York City is home to many international powerhouse companies, which is unsurprising considering it is also the home of the New York Stock Exchange. According to the recruitment company Zippia, the top ten largest employers with headquarters in NYC are IBM, Bank of China, Healthfield Operating Group, Deloitte, PepsiCo, JP Morgan/Chase, Citigroup, Citicorp, Moscow Cablecom, and Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. IBM tops the list at around 350,600 employees.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, famous for its canals, museums, and rich art history. The capital has a population of 1,157,519 people according to World Population Review. Amsterdam’s main industries are tech, automotive, chemical, electronics, and of course, tourism. Living and working in Amsterdam will mean being part of a casual, inclusive, team-building atmosphere mostly free of the social pressures of the more traditional workplace. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £1,306 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to put 37% of their income towards rent. Public transport in Amsterdam is famously good, as is the peoples’ penchant for riding bicycles. You will not need a car and may find two wheels to be a more comfortable option.

Minimum Wage: The Netherlands has a sliding scale of minimum wage based on age and hours worked. Someone who is 21 years old or over working full time must make at least £1,479 per month.

Average Salary: £41,528 per year (49,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £6,542 per sq/m (7,712 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Amsterdam is a powerhouse of start-ups, ranking 13th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report. It has a massive £806,635,500 in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome, with many opportunities in agricultural technology and life sciences.

Major Companies: Amsterdam has many opportunities in finance, telecommunication, and retail. According to the Forbes 2019 list, the largest companies in Amsterdam by value are ING Group (banking), Heineken, Adyen (finance), AkzoNobel (chemicals), Exor (finance), and Steinhoff International (retail).

Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital of and most populous city in Finland, with 1,316,757 residents as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Helsinki Port is a major trade hub which holds the title of busiest passenger port in the world. The city’s location on the tip of a peninsula also means that there are nearby beaches to enjoy, so long as you can brave the chilly climate. Helsinki’s economy is mainly based on the manufacture of electrical devices, automobiles, food, textiles, and paper, but large financial and governmental agencies also operate in the city. Work culture in Finland consists of a formal dress code and traditional hierarchies in most workplaces, but it also offers flexible working hours, straightforward communication between co-workers, and a focus on honesty and trust. A one- bedroom apartment in the centre of Helsinki will cost £859 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making average salary will have to pay about 25% of their income towards rent. You can live comfortably in Helsinki without a car, providing that you do not stray too far from the central, more populated areas. If you plan to make journeys beyond the suburbs, then a car is your best bet.

Minimum Wage: Finland has no national minimum wage, so wages are negotiated in collective bargaining agreements which employers are required to agree upon.

Average Salary: £41,430 (49,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £7,318 per sq/m (8,687 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Helsinki is a major hub of start-ups in the healthcare, AI, gaming, and tech industries, with £399 Million in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome. Helsinki was also ranked within the top 10 emerging start-up ecosystems in that same report.

Major Companies: Helsinki is home to major companies in a wide range of sectors, including oil and gas, technology, manufacturing, retail, the pulp and paper, or packaging industry, and more. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top companies in Helsinki are Kone (industrial), Sampo Group (finance), UPM (pulp and paper), Wartsila (industrial), Stora Enso (pulp and paper), and Kesko (retail).

London

London is the capital of the United Kingdom with 9,425,622 residents according to World Population Review. The city is the centre of UK government and trade, home to the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and the London Stock Exchange. People who live in London enjoy countless museums, many of which are free, along with world-class theatre and music performances. London is a very multicultural city and is seen as the “melting pot” of the UK. London’s economy is mainly based on finance, but tourism, tech, and healthcare are also major industries in the city. London’s work culture can be as intense as that of New York, but things like dress codes and office hierarchies will vary widely between employers. There is a lot of competition in all fields in London, so what Frank Sinatra once said about a very different American city holds true in London – if you can make it there you’ll make it anywhere. A one-bedroom flat in the city centre will cost £1,685 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 51% of their income towards rent. You will not need a car in London as the busses, trams, and tubes are efficient, and the easiest way to get around the city.

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage is based on age, with all workers over 24 making £8.91 per hour. 21–23-year-olds will make £8.36, 18-20s will make £6.56, 16-17 year-olds will make £4.62, and under-16s will make £4.30.

Average Salary: £39,000 according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £12,189 per sq/m according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: London is a major location for start-ups, with major opportunities in tech. London ranked 2nd in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, and has £6.3 Billion in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome.

Major Companies: London has all sorts of major companies in a variety of sectors due to the size and diversity of the economy. According to the 2020 Forbes list, the largest London-based companies are Rio Tinto Group (mining), HSBC (banking), GlaxoSmithKline (pharmaceuticals), British American Tobacco, Diageo (beverages), BP (oil and gas), RELX (services), National Grid (utilities), Prudential Plc (insurance), London Stock Exchange, and Lloyds Banking Group.

Boston

The City of Boston is the capital of and most populous city in Massachusetts, home to 4,314,893 people according to World Population Review. Boston is known for its rich American history, which can be seen on a walk down Freedom Trail. It is also home to Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox play America’s oldest game. If baseball doesn’t interest you, then there are also a variety of historical, scientific, and artistic museums in the city (though a game at Fenway is worth it even just for the hot dogs). The city is a major college town, with Harvard, Boston University, Berklee School of Music, Northeastern University, and 31 other educational institutions operating within its bounds. Apart from higher education, manufacturing, healthcare, and financial institutions are also key to the economy of Boston. Work culture is much the same as any large American city, except in the sense that Boston can often feel more like a town than a city. A one-bedroom apartment in Boston will cost £1,908 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to pay about 39% of their income towards rent. Transport in Boston is very good within the city, and you will be able to easily navigate without a car. You will need one, however, if you would like to visit New York, or any other part of America, on anything other than a Greyhound bus or a plane.

Minimum Wage: £9.88 ($13.50)

Average Salary: £58,584 ($80,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £8,322 per sq/m ($11,366) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Boston ranked 5th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, due to its fast growth and innovation in biotech, robotics, and life sciences. Boston has £4.7 Billion in early-stage funding according to Startup Genome, with a number of accelerators and tax incentives in place.

Major Companies: Boston has a number of major companies mainly dealing with financials, tech, healthcare, and education. According to Glassdoor, the top employers in Boston are HubSpot (computers), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, MathWorks (computers), Boston University, Northeastern University, Fidelity Investments, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Tokyo

Tokyo is a modern, metropolitan city with lights and high-rises galore. It is both the capital and most populous city in Japan, home to 13,520,000 people as of 2015 according to the Japanese Statistics Bureau. Work life in Tokyo may be different to what a Londoner is used to, as more traditional hierarchies and values commonplace. Most jobs in Tokyo will require a dark suit and tie or other professional clothing, and your superiors will often expect to be referred to by their rank within the company as a sign of respect. The work culture can sometimes place work over family, with long hours and missed vacations an expectation, even if they are not technically required. Of course, start-ups can have more lax work environments, and there is a movement amongst younger people to create a less strict, lower pressure workplace. Rent on a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £964 per month, according to Numbeo, which means rent will cost someone making the average starting salary about 12% of their income. The public transport in Tokyo is modern and efficient, and any costs incurred on your commute will be covered by your workplace.

Minimum Wage: £6.19 (930 Yen)

Average Salary: £33,235.09 (5m Yen) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £7,449.91 per sq/m (1,120,570 Yen) in 2020, according to Statista.

Start-ups: Tokyo has a flourishing start-up community, ranking 9th in the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report. It boasts £2.1bn in early stage funding, and focuses mostly on advanced manufacturing, AI, robotics, and sciences. Many foreign investors look to Tokyo as a good place to start their businesses.

Major Companies: Tokyo is home to many major companies, mainly in the automotive, banking, and manufacturing sectors. According to the 2020 Forbes list, the top ten companies based in Tokyo by value are SoftBank Group, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Sony, KDDI (telecommunications), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Recruit Holdings (electronics), Shin-Etsu Chemical, Honda, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, and Japan Tobacco.

Vancouver

Vancouver is a picturesque city nestled between the North Shore mountains and the sea. It is the capital of British Columbia and has a population of 631,486 people, according to the 2016 census. Vancouver’s beauty makes it a popular place for the tourism industry, and Agriculture, Education, and Manufacturing are all major parts of the city’s economy as well. Working in Vancouver is much the same as working in other Western cities, but you may find that it’s a bit more laid back than London or New York. Hierarchies in work are not considered that important, but getting a job done right and on time is paramount. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost about £1,194 according to Numbeo, so someone making an average starting salary should expect to pay about 38% of their income towards rent. Getting around Vancouver on public transport is easy, and if you don’t plan to leave the city often, a bicycle could be the best vehicle to own. If you plan on making frequent trips outside Vancouver, you will need a car.

Minimum Wage: £8.85 (C$15.20)

Average Salary: 37,267.20 (C$64,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £6,745.27 per sq/m (C$11,538.47) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: There are many start-up opportunities in Vancouver, which was ranked 2nd best start-up ecosystem in Canada by StartUpBlink. Start-ups in Vancouver took a hit during Covid-19, meaning that the environment could currently be undervalued when start-ups make a comeback as Canada returns to normal. Vancouver was not featured in the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: Vancouver is home to many major companies, mostly in the Tech, Education, Energy, and Manufacturing sectors. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the four biggest Vancouver-based companies by value are Lululemon Athletica, Telus (telecoms), Teck Resources (mining), and Goldcorp (mining). Microsoft, Apple, and Intel all have a major presence in Vancouver as well.

Oslo

Oslo is the capital city of Norway, home to the Government and Parliament of Norway, as well as the Royal Palace. It is also the largest city in the country, with a population of 1,056,180 according to World Population Review. Oslo’s main industry has always historically been oil and gas, but the service, banking, and tourism industries also thrive within the capital. Working in Oslo is comfortable – if you can handle the cold. Most businesses will not have a formal dress code, and hierarchies are not hugely important in the workplace. Punctuality is a must, however, as is at least a basic grasp of the Norwegian language. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost about £1,185 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to set aside about 27% of their income for rent. You can rely on public transport within the city, and it will most likely be more comfortable to avoid driving unless you plan to commute into the city from rural areas.
Minimum Wage: There is no official minimum wage in Norway, so wages are decided through agreements between employers and unions. This can vary by sector, but workers in the hospitality industry earn a minimum of £14.48 per hour (167 Norwegian Krone).

Average Salary: £52,649 (607,000 NOK) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £7,808 per sq/m (89,912 NOK)

Start-ups: Oslo is the top-ranked city for start-ups in Norway, coming in at 99th globally according to Start Up Blink’s rankings. The city is home to many successful start-ups, including the browser Opera and the game-based learning programme Kahoot! Oslo received £174,393,625 in start-up funding in 2019.

Major Companies: Oslo is an innovative city which is home to many major companies. According to Glassdoor, the top employers in Oslo are Microsoft, Cisco Systems, DNB (banking), Universitetet I Oslo (university), Yara (chemical), NTNU (education), Schibsted (publishing), Accenture (consulting), and Telenor (telecommunications).

Paris

Paris is a city which evokes emotions of romance, hope, and idyllic metropolitan living. It is the largest city in France, with a population of around 2,140,000 in 2019 according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. The French work culture differs from that of the UK in a few ways, including longer and more frequent breaks, with lunch often becoming a social occasion accompanied by glasses of wine. France has a long, complicated labor code, which enshrines in law an 11-hour rest period between work-days. Property prices in Paris are high, so many have taken to the suburbs which are also seeing a spike in prices. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment near the city centre can run you around £600 (695 euros) according to numbeo.com, which means that someone making an average salary will spend around 15% of it on rent. Paris boasts a solid public transport network, which means you won’t need a car to get around unless you plan frequent longer commutes.

Minimum Wage: £8.65 (10.03 euros)

Average Salary: £39,670.11(46,000 euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £408,561.48 (€473,598) according to Guy Hoquet Immobilier

Start-ups: Paris is a city of many opportunities for start-ups, especially in the healthcare, finance, and tech sectors. The city ranked 12th in the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report. Paris boasts the second highest start-up investments in Europe, netting £2.5 billion in 2020, beaten only by London which netted around £7.75 billion.

Major Companies: Paris is home to many huge international companies, including BNP Parabas, Orange, and Air France-KLM. The top ten Parisian companies include telecommunications, insurance, banking, fashion, and retail companies. In order, the largest companies with headquarters in Paris are AXA Insurance, Credit Agricole, BNP Parabas, Electricite de France, Societe Generale, Christian Dior, Finatis, Groupe BPCE, Orange, and CNP Assurances, according to the 2020 Fortune list.

Berlin

Berlin is the capital of Germany, famed for its art scene, nightlife, and modern urban design. It had a population of 3,645,000 when the last count was taken in 2019. In Berlin, evidence can still be seen of the second world war in the form of the Holocaust memorial, and the remains of the Berlin Wall are a reminder of the Cold War division of the city between East and West. Berlin’s work culture is characterised by bluntness, focus, and clear expectations while also maintaining a strong separation of work and home life, as well as excellent employee benefits. Dress codes are not often set in stone, but it is best to dress professionally, and a formal tone with your superiors can be a good idea when starting a new job. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £812 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average starting salary can expect to pay about 22% of their income towards rent. Berlin’s public transport is unrivalled, so a car is unnecessary unless you plan on taking to the famed Autobahn.

Minimum Wage: £8.18 (9.60 Euros)

Average Salary: £42,579.80 (50,000 Euros)

City Centre Apartment Price: £5,546.70 per sq/m (6,500.93 Euros)

Start-ups: Berlin is a hot start-up ecosystem in Europe. German start-ups received £5,070,706,500 of investments in 2019 from the US alone, according to Startup Genome, and has many opportunities in Financial Tech, AI, and Software Engineering. Berlin’s open-minded, modern business approach makes it a good choice for starting a company.

Major Companies: Berlin is not the centre of business in Germany, but the capital is still home to many major companies. Deutsche Bahn, the German rail company, is the largest Berlin-based company with 22,156 employees. According to the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the top ten largest employers in Berlin are Deutsche Bahn, Charite (health), Vivantes-Netzwerk für Gesundheit (health), Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (traffic), Siemens (electrical engineering), Deutsche Post DHL, Daimler (automotive), Edeka (retail), Paul Gerhardt Diakonie (health), and Zalando (digital economy).

Manchester

Manchester is a large city which has slowly transformed from a manufacturing-based economy to a major cultural hub, with opportunities in finance, travel, tech, and more. 2,750,120 people call Manchester home, according to World Population Review. They enjoy a city with excellent nightlife, a rich history evidenced by the surrounding architecture, and years of tradition in sport. The BBC also have a large presence in Manchester’s Media City. Manchester is certainly more laid back than London, however there is still plenty of competition and prospective employees should be looking to impress. A one-bedroom flat in the city centre will cost £863 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 35% of their income towards rent. You will not need a car in Manchester, as the trains, trams, and busses will take you anywhere in the city.

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage is based on age, with all workers over 24 making £8.91 per hour. 21–23-year-olds will make £8.36, 18-20s will make £6.56, 16-17 year-olds will make £4.62, and under-16s will make £4.30.

Average Salary: £30,000 according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,951 per sq/m according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Manchester has a growing start-up ecosystem, with opportunities mainly focused on tech. The city was ranked 1st in the UK on Startup Genome’s emerging ecosystem list, and 9th worldwide.

Major Companies: Manchester has many big players in finance, healthcare, and higher education. According to Glassdoor, some of the top employers in Manchester are Capita (consulting), University of Manchester, Barclays, Deloitte (accounting), Network Rail, the NHS, and Vodafone. Unilever, Kellogg’s, and Amazon all have offices in Manchester.

Seoul

Seoul is the capital of South Korea, famous for its rich history mixed with modern architecture and design. 9,967,677 people live in Seoul according to World Population Review, making it the most populous city in South Korea. The economy of Seoul is largely based in manufacturing of textiles, ships, electronics, steel, and, due to the automotive giant Hyundai, cars. However, Seoul has a booming start-up scene, so finding jobs in tech is also possible in the city. The work culture in South Korea can be intense, with dress codes and office hierarchies in place. Like some other cities, there is an unwritten rule that you will need to stay after work for long hours to get the job done, so work-life balance is a difficult thing to manage in Seoul unless you are working for a start-up with more lax policies. Knowing at least some Korean will help you get by in Seoul, but it is not necessary to be a fluent speaker when considering jobs that are open to international employees. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £652 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 25% of their income towards rent. You do not strictly need a car in Seoul, and certainly not as a tourist, but you may find it convenient to own your own vehicle if you plan to settle there.

Minimum Wage: £5.75 (9,160 Won)

Average Salary: £30,759 (48,940,242 Won) according to Salary Expert. Payscale’s average salary for Seoul had a factor of ten error making its number unreasonable, so Salary Expert’s figure was used.

City Centre Apartment Price: 15,770 per sq/m (25,260,050 Won) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Seoul is a major start-up hub with over £1.8 Billion in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome. Seoul ranked 16th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, largely due to the financial support accelerators and the South Korean government have given to bolster the AI, life sciences, and gaming sectors.

Major Companies: Seoul is home to major companies dealing with everything from construction and steel to IT and technology. According to the 2020 Forbes list, the top Seoul-based companies by value are SK Hynix (technology), LG Chem (chemicals), Hyundai Motor, LG Household and Health Care (consumer goods), Samsung SDI (automotive), Samsung C+T (construction), Hyundai Mobis (automotive parts), and SK Telecom.

Dallas

Dallas is a large metropolitan city famous for the Texas State Fair and its football team the Dallas Cowboys. 1,331,000 people lived in the city as of 2019, when the last count was taken. The Dallas economy is mainly based in technology, defence, transport, and financial services. Work culture in Dallas is a fairly typical 9-5 but can be more laid back than bigger cities like New York. The good weather makes it a great spot to enjoy the outdoors, with many lakes, parks, and golf courses nearby. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost about £1,105 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to put about 25% of their income towards rent. You can get around downtown Dallas without a car, but beyond that you will need one to travel and work, as in most American cities.

Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Texas is £5.32 ($7.25). However, there is a push for higher minimum wage in Texas, and Dallas County recently increased the minimum wage for construction workers employed by the city to £11 ($15).

Average Salary: £52,790 ($72,000)

City Centre Apartment Price: £2,306.65 per sq/m ($3,146.35)

Start-ups: Dallas has many start-up opportunities in healthcare technologies, AI, software design, and more. It ranked 31st on the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, scoring 10/10 for market reach and knowledge, but 1/10 for funding.

Major Companies: Dallas is a major city with some of the biggest names in retail, technology, transport, and defence. According to Destination Dallas-Fort Worth, the top ten largest employers in the area are Walmart, American Airlines, Dallas ISD (education), Texas Health Resources, Baylor Scott & White (healthcare), Bank of America, Lockheed-Martin Aeronautics, the City of Dallas, Texas Instruments, and JP Morgan Chase.

Geneva

Geneva is a central hub of global politics, home to the Palace of Nations, the UN headquarters. It has a population of 620,131 according to World Population Review, and it is home to the largest European alpine lake. Banking is a huge industry in Geneva, with a long history of secrecy. In the office, formal attire is the norm and traditional hierarchies are in place. Punctuality is essential. Work-life balance is seen as very important, and it is normal to do outdoor activities with your co-workers. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost around £1,568 according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to put about 24% of their income towards rent. The public transport in Geneva is excellent, and owning a car is unnecessary if you wish to remain within the city.

Minimum Wage: £19 (23 Swiss francs)

Average Salary: £77,579 (98,000 Fr.)

City Centre Apartment Price: £10,732.33 per sq/m (13,589.46 Fr.)

Start-ups: Geneva has a variety of startup opportunities in financial technology, ecommerce, and health, ranking 4th in Switzerland in a study of the ecosystem by Startup Blink. It was ranked 118th worldwide.

Major Companies: Geneva is well known for being a powerhouse of the banking industry, but there are opportunities in technology and administration as well. According to a 2017 top 500 list from Dun and Bradstreet, the largest Geneva-based companies by revenue are the commodity trading companies Vitol, Trafigura, and Cargill International SA, as well as Mercuria Energy Trading (petroleum), Gunvor (commodity trading), Mediterranean Shipping Company, Richemont (luxury goods), SGS (services), Manor (retail), Pargesa Holding, and Firmenich (pharmaceutical).

San Jose

San Jose is the largest city in California’s Silicon Valley, and the third largest city in California with a population of 1 million, according to World Population Review. Silicon Valley is famed for its status as an international tech hub, and many opportunities are available in both established companies and start-ups. San Jose is known for its historic district downtown, as well as its varied architecture representing many traditional and international styles. Work culture in Silicon Valley is famously intense, with many employees working 70-hour weeks or more, having little time off. Work-life balance is beginning to be a consideration, however there are still many workplaces that will expect you to be on-call, ready whatever the hour. Dress codes and office hierarchies are not a major part of work life in San Jose. A one-bedroom apartment in San Jose will cost £1,871 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to pay about 30% of their income towards rent. You will need to have a car in San Jose in order to navigate Silicon Valley.

Minimum Wage: £11.31 ($15.45)

Average Salary: £75,405 ($103,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £7,727 per sq/m ($10,552) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: San Jose is a major hub of start-ups, and Silicon Valley itself has over £16 Billion in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome. Most opportunities are, expectedly, in computer tech, but there are myriad opportunities in financial tech, AI, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare as well. Silicon Valley ranked 1st on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: San Jose’s location in Silicon Valley makes the city a great place to find major tech companies and more. According to Glassdoor, the top companies in San Jose are Google, Apple, NVIDIA, SAP, Intuit, Microsoft, Adobe, Service Now, and LinkedIn, which all deal in computer hardware, internet networking, and software.

Warsaw

Warsaw is the historic capital of Poland, known for the Old Town, which was reconstructed after WWII, the Palace of Culture and Science, and the beautiful Vistula River which runs through the city. 1,780,620 people live there currently, according to World Population Review. The main industries of Warsaw are tourism, finance, and services, though there are emerging opportunities in tech and healthcare as well. Work culture in Warsaw is traditional in the sense that punctuality is paramount, and most business is conducted in formal attire. However, work-life balance is also valued highly in Warsaw. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £606 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary can expect to pay about 40% of their income towards rent. Public transport in Warsaw is good, so you will not need a car to get around unless you want to live outside the city and commute frequently.
Minimum Wage: £3.37 per hour (18.3 Polish złoty)

Average Salary: £18,403 (100,000 Polish złoty)

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,518 per sq/m (19,060 Polish złoty)

Start-ups: Warsaw’s start-up economy has grown massively in recent years, with developments being made in the tech sector. There are many start-up hubs to assist this growth, including Campus Warsaw which was opened by Google to provide education and a place to network. There are also opportunities in healthcare, AI, biotech, and more.

Major Companies: Warsaw is home to offices for Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, CitiBank, and PwC, alongside other major companies in the banking, oil and gas, and insurance industries. Five Warsaw-based companies were featured on the 2019 Forbes List; PKO Bank Polski, Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń (insurance), PGNiG (oil and gas), Bank Pekao, and PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna (utilities).

Chicago

Known as the “Windy City”, Chicago is the capital of Illinois and one of the largest cities in the American Midwest. Chicago residents enjoy the shopping and dining along the Magnificent Mile, breeze on the shores of Lake Michigan, and old-fashioned baseball at Wrigley Field. Chicago’s economy is based on a mixture of manufacturing, financial services, and publishing, though tech and healthcare opportunities are also available. Work culture in Chicago follows the standard Western work week. Dress code and level of formality will depend on your employer, but business casual is usually a safe bet. A one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Chicago will cost £1330 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 30% of their income towards rent. Chicago has good public transport within the city, but the rest of Illinois does not. If you want to leave the city without taking a Greyhound bus, you will need your own vehicle.

Minimum Wage: £10.88 ($15)

Average Salary: £52,959 ($73,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,587 per sq/m ($4955) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Chicago is a great city for start-ups, ranking 15th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report. The city has £941 Million in early-stage funding, and has opportunities in AI, data, and financial tech, according to Startup Genome.

Major Companies: Chicago is a major hub of the American Midwest with many major companies operating there. According to Zippia, the top ten largest companies in Chicago are Walgreens (pharmacy), McDonald’s, Boeing, Caterpillar (construction equipment), Abbott Laboratories, United Airlines, Sears Holdings, Harrisburg Medical Center, Mondelez International (food production), and Veolia Environmental Services.

Cardiff

Cardiff is the capital city of Wales situated on the scenic Cardiff Bay. 481,082 people call Cardiff home according to World Population Review, and those that do enjoy living near the sea, visiting the many world-class museums and historic places in the city, as well as shopping in Cardiff’s various markets. The economy of Cardiff is based on finance, tourism, and media, but there are also opportunities in tech, healthcare, and government within the city. Work culture in Cardiff will be significantly more laid back than in London or New York, but dress code and office hierarchies will depend on your employer. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £697 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 30% of their income towards rent. You will not need a car in Cardiff as there is ample public transportation, but many parts of Wales are only served by infrequent busses and request-stop trains.
Minimum Wage: Minimum wage is based on age, with all workers over 24 making £8.91 per hour. 21–23-year-olds will make £8.36, 18-20s will make £6.56, 16-17 year-olds will make £4.62, and under-16s will make £4.30.

Average Salary: £28,000 according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £2,657 per sq/m according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Cardiff has a fast-growing start-up economy mainly focused on financial tech and AI solutions. Recently, Cardiff-based biotech and genomics start-ups received a boost from the accelerator Illumina, strengthening the sector.

Major Companies: Cardiff has a number of major companies in a variety of sectors, including education, tech, retail, and finance. According to Glassdoor, the top Cardiff-based employers are Cardiff University, Admiral Group (financial analytics), Deloitte (accounting), the NHS, Lloyd’s Banking Group, Tesco, Toolstation (retail), CarShop (automotive dealers), and Companies House.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a large, sprawling city on the coast of Southern California, with around 3,983,000 residents as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Famous for its place in the film and music industries, LA is home to Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Universal Studios, and Capital Records. Beach-goers will enjoy the short trip to Malibu’s picturesque beaches, and art fans will appreciate the Getty Museum and the Walt Disney concert hall. Work culture in LA is much like it is anywhere in the USA, but dress codes may be less strict than New York, for example. Because LA doesn’t have a well-defined city centre, it can be difficult to meet new people and network in the city if you don’t already know people living and working there.  A one-bedroom apartment in central Los Angeles will cost £1,583 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to budget about 33% of their salary for rent. While public transport does exist in Los Angeles, it is confined to a limited part of the city, and if at all possible you should own a car. Note that American streets are not often designed for walking or cycling, and while it is not impossible, LA is no exception to this.

Minimum Wage: £10.16 ($14)

Average Salary: £56,536 ($78,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £6,619 per sq/m ($9,123) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Los Angeles is a great city for start-ups, ranking 6th on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020. The city has £3.6bn in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome, with major opportunities in science, entertainment, and advertising.

Major Companies: Los Angeles is famous worldwide for its domination of the film and music industries, but there are many major companies from a wide variety of industries operating in the city. The largest public companies with headquarters in LA, as reported in the Los Angeles Almanac, are Walt Disney Co., CBRE Group (real estate), AECOM Technology Corp. (construction engineering), Molina Healthcare, Farmers Insurance, Edison International (utilities), and Live Nation Entertainment.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is the second most populous city in Israel behind Jeruselem with a population of 451,520 residents according to a 2018 count, though some projections place the current population of the city above one million. It is known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and bustling markets, as well as the historic Jaffa district which is over 3,000 years old. The work culture in Tel Aviv is modern, open-minded, and generally laid back. One difference is the work week, which runs from Sunday to Thursday 0900 to 1800 to allow for a day of rest, or Shabbat, on Saturday. Most businesses are closed during Shabbat, and those who observe it refrain from driving, working, and using electronics. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost around £1,179 per month according to Numbeo, meaning that someone making average salary will have to pay about 30% towards rent. Driving in large Israeli cities is notoriously difficult, and most will prefer to utilise public transport.

Minimum Wage: £6.14 (26.88 Israeli New Shekel)

Average Salary: £45,886 (INS201,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £10,568 per sq/m (INS46,292) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Tel Aviv is an excellent city for high-tech start-ups, ranking 7th on the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report. It boasts £3.3bn in total early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome, and has a healthy tech ecosystem. Events in financial and cyber tech give ample opportunities for networking, and many major companies have R&D centres in the city including Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Major Companies: Along with R&D centres for multinational tech companies, Tel Aviv Is home to powerhouses in software and banking. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the most valuable companies in Tel Aviv are Check point (software), Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Israel Discount Bank, and FIBI Holdings.

Brussels

As the political centre of Europe, Brussels is home to the NATO Headquarters, the Council of the European Union, and Le Berlaymont. The capital city, known for its historical architecture and quality chocolate, is home to 2,095,688 people according to World Population Review. There are three official languages in Brussels – French, Flemish Dutch, and German – so the work culture will depend on where the company you work for hails from. Generally, work-life balance is valued, and a modern, democratic workplace structure is followed. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £737 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary can expect to pay about 22% of their salary towards rent. You will not need a car in Brussels, as the small city is comfortably navigable by public transport or bicycle.

Minimum Wage: £1,373 per month (1,625 Euros)

Average Salary: £39,695 (47,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,087 per sq/m (3,661 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Brussels’ start-up scene is driven mainly by B2B services, as well as financial tech, healthcare, and life sciences. The city’s location means it is well connected to Europe, and Brussels’ major role in European politics makes it an international hub of investment activity. Navigating Brussels’ three official languages can make doing business within the city difficult, so many start-ups aim to have a wider reach.

Major Companies: In Brussels, there are opportunities to be had at the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the University Vrije Universiteit Brussel. If politics and education don’t suit your interests, places at mining, telecoms, retail, and financial companies are all available. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the largest companies operating in Brussels by value are KBC Bank, UCB (pharmaceuticals), Solvay S.A. (chemicals), Umicore (mining), Ageas (insurance), Proximus Group (telecommunication), Dexia (banking), and Sofina (finance).

Detroit

Detroit is home to 661,193 residents according to World Population Review. Though it is not the capital of Michigan, it is probably the most famous city in the state due to its history as a powerhouse of automotive manufacturing. Hit hard by the recession, Detroit has gone through hardship in recent years. The automotive industry is still king in Detroit, but there are also opportunities in finance and healthcare. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £878 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 30% of their income towards rent.

Minimum Wage: £7.14 ($9.65)

Average Salary: £53,279 ($72,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £974 per sq/m ($1,319) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Detroit’s start-up ecosystem has grown massively since the beginning of the pandemic, turning into a major hub where previously little start-up activity was occurring. The low cost of living compared to the big start-up hubs in California and New York makes Detroit an attractive place to start a company.

Major Companies: The top Detroit-based companies according to Glassdoor are Amazon, Deloitte (Accounting), Walmart, Target, General Motors, McDonald’s, and the Ford Motor Company.

Krakow

Krakow is often referred to as the cultural capital of Poland, with a great art scene as well as many places to enjoy traditional Polish architecture, theatre, and, of course, food. 769,307 people call Krakow home, according to World Population Review. The main industry of Krakow is manufacturing, in particular the production of medicines, steel, and tobacco, but services and finance are now playing a much larger role in the economy of the city. Work culture in Krakow is formal, with dress codes and traditional hierarchies in place. While it is not absolutely necessary in a business setting, it is a good idea to learn at least some Polish while you are working there.  A one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Krakow will cost £558 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to pay about 37% of their income towards rent. Krakow has great public transport and a pedestrianised city centre, so you will not need a car unless you plan to venture to the countryside.
Minimum Wage: £3.37 per hour (18.3 Polish złoty)

Average Salary: £18,062 (97,000 Polish złoty) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £3,317 per sq/m (17,809 Polish złoty) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Second only to Warsaw, Krakow is a major start-up hub in Poland with opportunities in tech, including new solutions for sales, education, remote equipment monitoring, and more. Krakow is home to investors and accelerators, as well as Krakow Technology Park, which shows that the city is committed to fostering start-up activity.

Major Companies: Krakow has large companies mainly in the manufacturing, services, and tech sectors. According to Glassdoor, the top Krakow-based employers are Cisco Systems, Luxoft (IT services), EPAM (IT services), Shell (oil and gas), IBM, Alexander Mann Solutions (staffing and outsourcing), Motorola (telecommunications), Capgemini (networks and software), and UBS (investment banking).

Frankfurt

Frankfurt is famous for being the centre of German finance, but the city also has historical buildings, excellent museums, and of course, their Christmas market. There are 784,780 people living in Frankfurt, according to World Population Review. Frankfurt’s main industries are finance, pharmaceuticals, and tech, as well as manufacturing. The work culture in Frankfurt is fairly formal, but a strong emphasis is placed on work-life balance. Clear expectations are set, and the hard work pays off in the form of good pay and 30 vacation days a year. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £890 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary can expect to pay about 22%of their salary towards rent. Public transport is excellent in Frankfurt, as it is in the rest of Germany, so you will not need a car unless you have the urge to explore the Autobahn.

Minimum Wage: £8.09 (9.60 Euros)

Average Salary: £48,056 (57,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £6,715 per sq/m (7,938 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Frankfurt is a hot place for start-ups in the financial tech sector, as well as other industries such as cybersecurity and sustainable technologies. Frankfurt has £106,429,401 in early stage funding, according to Startup Genome, who ranked  the city 15th for start-up ecosystems in the region.

Major Companies: As a city famed for its industry, Frankfurt is home to many top employers. While only two Frankfurt-based companies, Deutsche Bank and DZ Bank, appear on the 2019 Forbes list, they represent the powerhouse of finance Frankfurt has become. According to Glassdoor, some other top companies in the city include KfW (banking), Procter & Gamble (consumer goods), European Central Bank, Boehringer Ingelheim (biotech/pharmaceutical), and Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt (education).

New Delhi

New Delhi is the capital and government centre of India, home to the Parliament, Supreme Court, and the President’s official residence, the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The massive city, famed for its historic mosques, temples, and museums is home to 31,181,376 people as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Work culture in New Delhi is traditional in the sense that a formal dress code is expected, and office hierarchies are still often followed. Start-ups will, of course, have more relaxed rules and practices in most cases. The city has a major pollution problem, often reaching hazardous levels on the Air Quality Index, so this is something that should be considered before moving. New arrivals to New Delhi should make an effort to understand Indian culture and traditions, both for personal enrichment and to make connections to new friends and co-workers. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £173 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 44% of their income towards rent. New Delhi traffic can be hectic and notoriously slow at peak hours, but it is recommended to own or hire a car. Public transport is also available, consisting of the metro, auto-rickshaws, busses, and taxis.

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage varies based on type of labour, so work which is 2ndconsidered unskilled pays a minimum of £149 per month (15,492 Rupees), while supervisorial roles which require a degree will pay a minimum of £197 per month (20,430 Rupees). The Variable Dearness Allowance has added around £5 per month to the minimum wage.

Average Salary: £4,754 (491,000 Rupees) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £2,206 per sq/m (228,203 Rupees) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: New Delhi is a major start-up hub in the region with opportunities in transport, e-commerce, education, health, and more. Start Up Blink ranked New Delhi 2nd in India and 14th worldwide.

Major Companies: New Delhi is home to many large companies, mainly in the oil and gas, finance, and infrastructure industries. The top New Delhi-based companies according to the 2019 Forbes list are Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Indian Oil, NTPC Limited (utilities), Bharti Airtel (telecommunications), GAIL (oil and gas), Punjab National Bank, Power Finance Corporation, and Steel Authority of India.

Birmingham

Known as the “city of a thousand trades”, Birmingham is home to 2,626,374 people, according to World Population Review, and a wide range of professions. The city is known for its excellent rock music scene, vast canal network, and the impressive Victoria Square. Birmingham’s economy has traditionally been dominated by manufacturing, but health care, tourism, and finance are also major industries. Birmingham work culture is slightly more laid back than that of London, but they are approximately the same. A one-bedroom apartment in Birmingham will cost £743 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to pay about 30% of their income towards rent. You will not need a car in Birmingham, as public transport is widely available throughout the city and across the UK.

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage is based on age, with all workers over 24 making £8.91 per hour. 21–23-year-olds will make £8.36, 18-20s will make £6.56, 16-17 year-olds will make £4.62, and under-16s will make £4.30.

Average Salary: £30,000 according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £3,609 per sq/m according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Startup Blink ranks Birmingham as the 7th best start-up ecosystem in the UK, with opportunities in a variety of fields, including food, healthcare technology, software development, and education.

Major Companies: Multiple large manufacturing, automotive, financial companies and universities exist in Birmingham, as well as transport and food companies. According to Glassdoor, the top Birmingham-based employers are Jaguar Land Rover, Capita (consulting), University of Birmingham, npower (utilities), John Lewis & Partners, Deloitte (accounting), Barclays, and the NHS. Sainsbury’s, National Express, and a variety of other banks also call Birmingham home.

Madrid

Madrid is the capital of Spain, famous for its beautiful streets, historical architecture, and unrivalled art collections. It has a population of 3,200,000 people, according to a count conducted in 2018. The economy of Madrid is characterised by its focus on manufacturing and services, with automobile and aircraft manufacturing, as well as food and chemical production featuring heavily. Madrid’s picturesque location has provided a thriving tourism industry as well. Working in Madrid will generally mean adhering to a conservative dress code and respecting traditional workplace hierarchies. Punctuality works a bit differently in the capital, with appointment times and deadlines holding much less weight than in places like London or Tokyo. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost about £759 per month, which means that someone making an average starting salary can expect to pay
around 28% of their income towards rent. Madrid has a public transport system, and you can get around without a car. However, depending on where you want to go and where you want to live, it may be worth it to own a scooter, car, or motorbike.

Minimum Wage: £963 per month (1,125.8 Euros)

Average Salary: £32,502.64 (38,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £4,242.46 per sq/m (4,929.92 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Madrid has start-up opportunities in education, travel, tech, marketing, and more, with a number of new companies operating in the city. Madrid was featured on Startup Genome’s top 100 emerging start-up ecosystems list, and was ranked 45th worldwide by Startup Blink.

Major Companies: Madrid is home to many major companies, mainly in the travel, tech, transport, and manufacturing sectors. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top seven companies with headquarters in Madrid based on value are Amadeus IT Group, Aena (aviation), Repsol (oil and gas), Ferrovial (transportation), ACS Group (construction), Bankinter (banking), and Merlin Properties (real estate).

Rome

Rome is a historical city dating back to 753 BC. It has a population of around 4,200,000 according to Statista, living in an area of 1,285 km/sq. It is considered a fashion capital of the world, and the arts and humanities are on full display in culture, architecture, and business alike. Working in Rome, you will face a similar schedule to the UK with most people starting around 0930 and clocking out around 1800. There is no pressure to wolf down lunch at your desk, as lunch breaks are social occasions which last around an hour and a half. Except for within traditional companies, dress codes are usually lax. Rome has high property prices and rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost around £830 (961 euros) according to numbeo.com. Someone making average starting salary can expect to pay around 34% of their pay-check to live in the capital. The Roman Metro and bus system is extensive, so a car will not be necessary in the city centre. However, delays are common, and many choose to commute on cycle or motorbike for convenience.

Minimum Wage: While there is no minimum wage in Rome, many job salaries are controlled by unions which set wage at around £6 (7 euros).

Average Salary: £29,323.87 (34,000 euros) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £1,482.73 per square metre (1,719 euros)

Start-ups: Rome does not have the tech start-up opportunities of other cities on this list, but telecommunications, construction, and tourism still flourish. Start-up accelerators and incubators are prominent, and the start-up ecosystem does show signs of growing in the future. Rome did not rank within the top 20 start-up cities represented in the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: Rome’s economy is more focused on services than technology or industry, but there are still major oil and gas, logistics, banking, and transportation companies based there. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top 7 Roman companies by value are Enel (electric), Eni (oil and gas), Atlantia (transportation), Poste Italiane, Telecom Italia, Terna (electric), and Leonardo S.p.A. (aerospace). The fashion brands Valentino, Fendi, Brioni, and Bulgari are also based in Rome.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital and political hub of Scotland, with a population of 527,620, according to Statista. The city is known for its history, with Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse close by. The Royal Mile is also iconic, home to historical architecture, old-style shops, and pubs. The arts community is very active in Glasgow, organising the Edinburgh Fringe festival which takes place every year. Work culture in Edinburgh is more laid back than London, but generally the same. Dress codes and office hierarchies will depend on how traditional your employer is, and newer companies will have a more relaxed approach. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £839 a month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average starting salary should budget about 32% of their income towards rent. A car is not necessary, and may even be a hindrance in Edinburgh, as it has an excellent public transport system.
Minimum Wage: The minimum wage in Edinburgh is based on an age bracket system. People 23 and over qualify for the National Living Wage of £8.91. 21-22 year-olds make £8.36 an hour, 18 to 20 year-olds make £6.56, under-18s make £4.62, and apprentices must make a minimum of £4.30.

Average Salary: £31,000 according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £3,872.51 per sq/m according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Edinburgh has start-ups in tech, finance, travel, and more. The University of Edinburgh runs a start-up accelerator course each Summer with workshop sessions three times a week. Edinburgh was named the 6th best city to start a business in the UK outside of London by StartupBlink in 2020.

Major Companies: One of Edinburgh’s top companies is the Royal Bank of Scotland, which placed 9th in the UK on the 2020 Forbes list. Other major Edinburgh-based employers include Blackrock, Sky, Lloyd’s Bank, Natwest, and the University of Edinburgh.

Shanghai

Shanghai is home to 28,516,904 residents according to World Population Review, making it China’s biggest city. Shanghai is a major financial hub, and there are also opportunities in retail, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. While some businesses will follow the infamous “996” work culture, this will vary widely based on your chosen industry. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £920 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 35% of their income towards rent.

Minimum Wage: £264 per month (2,280 Yuan)
Average Salary: £31,856 (275,000 Yuan) according to Payscale.
City Centre Apartment Price: £13,054 per sq/m (113,125 Yuan) according to Numbeo.
Start-ups: Shanghai is ranked 7th worldwide for start-ups by StartUp Blink. With £3.8 billion in early stage funding, Shanghai start-ups specialise in Education Technology and Gaming.
Major Companies: The top Shanghai-based companies on the 2021 Fortune Global 500 list are Baowu (Steelmaking) and SAIC Motor. Other major companies include PwC (Consulting), IBM, and Microsoft.

Bangkok

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand, with a history dating back to at least the 15th century. It is also the most populous city in the country, with 10,722,815 people living there currently, according to World Population Review. Bangkok is home to the golden-roofed Grand Palace, as well as a number of historic temples and districts. The economy of Bangkok is characterised by a focus on automotive manufacturing, as well as banking and tourism. Work culture is fairly conservative, meaning that formal dress codes must be observed, and quiet, respectful interactions with co-workers are the norm. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £391 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to set aside about 28% of their income for rent. Driving in Bangkok can be difficult, but it is necessary. Public transport does exist, but it will be more convenient to drive due to non-extensive coverage and general unreliability. It is possible to find a jobs in Bangkok which speak English in the workplace, but a knowledge of Thai can be extremely helpful.
Minimum Wage: £6.80 (313 Thai Bhat)

Average Salary: £16,417 (756,000 Thai Bhat) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,693 per sq/m (170,354 That Bhat) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: There is a bustling start-up ecosystem in Bangkok, made up of retail, financial tech, food production, and fashion companies. Start Up Blink ranked Thailand 4th in South East Asia, and 50th globally for its start-up economy, and called Bangkok the top city for start-ups in Thailand.

Major Companies: Bangkok is home to many major companies, the largest being mostly focused on the banking, construction, and oil and gas industries. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top ten Bangkok-based companies by value are ( PTT Public Company Limited (oil and gas), Airports of Thailand PCL, CP All (retail), Advanced Info Service (telecommunications), Siam Cement Group (building materials), ThaiBev (beverages), Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank, PTT Global Chemical, and Indorama Ventures (chemicals).

Beijing

Beijing, the capital of China, is a massive modern city home to 21,540,000 people according to a count taken in 2018. Historic temples, palaces, portions of the Great Wall, and Tiananmen Square can all be seen within the city, as well as massive buildings constructed in unusual, inventive architectural styles. The work culture in China can be intense, and traditional hierarchies and dress codes are to be expected. The infamous “996” work schedule, which involves working 12 hours a day for 6 days a week, is the norm at many big tech companies in Beijing. There has been pushback against this schedule, and start-ups may take different views towards that sort of work culture. Rent in Beijing for a central one-bedroom apartment is £795 according to Numbeo, so someone making average salary should budget about 33% of their salary. Beijing has efficient public transport, but the trains can become incredibly packed during peak times. Getting a car is difficult but not impossible in Beijing – it involves becoming a resident and entering a lottery for a license plate number.
Minimum Wage: £2.75 per hour (24 Yuan)

Average Salary: £28,157.38 (246,000 Yuan) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £12,988 per sq/m (113,913 Yuan) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Beijing is a hot location for start-ups, ranking 4th on the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. It has a massive £7.9bn. in early-stage funding according to Startup Genome, with many accelerators, government programmes and private projects. There are over 9,000 tech companies in Beijing, with the biggest start-up sectors being Financial tech, AI, and data technology.

Major Companies: The largest companies in Beijing deal mostly in banking and oil, but there are also large tech and manufacturing companies based there. The ten largest Beijing-based companies by value are the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Postal Savings Bank of China, Sinopec Group (oil), PetroChina (oil), China Life (insurance), China Shenhua Energy (coal), and China Minsheng Banking, according to the 2020 Forbes list.

Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, which is the most densely populated state in Australia. The city is known for its idyllic location on Port Phillip Bay, cultural fixtures such as the National Gallery and Federation Square, as well as a diverse selection of excellent food. Melbourne is also home to many major sporting events, with Formula One, the Australian Football League, the Australian Tennis Open, and cricket’s Boxing Day Test taking place in the city. Work culture in Melbourne is generally laid-back, with less emphasis placed on office hierarchies than other cities, and a good focus on work-life balance. Dress code will vary depending on your employer, but business casual is a safe bet in most Melbourne offices. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £944 per month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 29% of their income towards rent. If you plan to stick to the inner city you will not need a car, however the rest of Australia (excluding capital cities) will be inaccessible to you without one.
Minimum Wage: £10.90 (AU$20.33)

Average Salary: £39,255 (AU$72,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £5,017 per sq/m (AU$9,143) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Melbourne has a solid start-up ecosystem, with £388 Million in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome. Tax incentives and accelerators support the start-up scene, which is mainly focused on financial tech, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.

Major Companies: Melbourne is home to many major companies in a variety of sectors, including mining, finance, pharmaceuticals, and transport. According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top companies in Melbourne by value are BHP (mining), CSL Limited (pharmaceuticals), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank, Telstra (telecommunications), Transurban Group (transportation), Amcor (packaging), BlueScope (iron and steel), and Vivo Energy (oil and gas).

Ottawa

Ottawa is the capital and political centre of Canada, home to Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada, and a thriving music scene. The capital has a population of 1,407,928 people as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Residents of Ottawa enjoy the beautiful nature that can be found nearby the city, which are perfect for hiking, rowing, fishing, or just a simple picnic. Ottawa’s main opportunities are in technology and government. The work culture in Ottawa is informal, except for in some traditional workplaces, and casual clothing and mannerisms are accepted. Both French and English are spoken in Ottawa, and a knowledge of either or both will be necessary for doing business in the city. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £955 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 31% of their income towards rent. Ottawa transport consists of busses and a light-rail train, but it is best to have a car if you plan on leaving the city centre.

Minimum Wage: £8.42 (14.35CAD)

Average Salary: £36,358 (62,000 CAD) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £2,977 per sq/m (5,068 CAD) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Ottawa is the 4th largest start-up economy according to Startup Blink’s ranking, with opportunities mainly centred around tech. Canada places 4th in the world for start-ups on that same ranking and has maintained that ranking for years. Ottawa, however, has dropped in ranking from 57th to 89th worldwide.

Major Companies: Ottawa has many jobs in tech, finance, and government from top companies. Glassdoor lists the Bank of Canada, National Research Council Canada (government), Carleton and Ottawa Universities, Health Canada (healthcare), Ciena (telecoms manufacturing), and Cisco Systems (computers) as the top employers in the city.

Singapore

Singapore is an island city-state in Southeast Asia with a population of 5,686,000 according to a count taken in 2020. The city is known for being a place for the incredibly wealthy, with high-end shopping, dining, and the massive Marina Bay Sands resort. Downtown you will find a bustling city with sleek high-rises with shimmering lights, but just a short while outside of the city there are beautiful beaches and a more laid-back atmosphere. Singapore’s economy is based mainly in manufacturing and banking, but there is a bustling tech and start-up scene as well. Work culture in Singapore is fairly traditional, in the sense that office hierarchies are in place and must be respected, and business attire is the norm in the office. There are frequently many rules in place in the workplace which should be committed to memory and adhered to. Hours are mostly the same as in New York or London, at around 44 hours a week 0900-1700, but you may find that longer hours are sometimes expected. Rent in Singapore is £1,500 a month for a central one-bedroom apartment according to Numbeo, so someone making average salary will have to set aside 60% of their income to live in the city centre. Business in Singapore is conducted in English, but it wouldn’t hurt to learn Tamil, Malay, or Mandarin, which are the other official languages. Public transport is excellent in Singapore and you will not need a car.
Minimum Wage: There is no minimum wage in Singapore, and salary must be negotiated with your employer.

Average Salary: £28,709.57 (53,000 Singapore Dollars) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £13,729.67 per sq/m (S$25,381) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Singapore is one of the best cities in Asia for start-ups, with around £1.47bn. in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome. The city has over 3,800 opportunities in tech, and recently received £162mn. from the government to support tech start-ups. Singapore placed 18th in the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: Singapore is home to multiple powerhouses mainly in the banking, transport, and manufacturing sectors. According to the Forbes 2021 list, the top companies in Singapore based on value are DBS Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking, United Overseas Bank, Singtel (telecommunications), Wilmar International (food production), CapitaLand (real estate) Singapore Airlines, Flex (electronics), and Olam International (agriculture). Large Western companies including Google, Amazon, and J.P. Morgan also have offices in Singapore.

Sydney

Sydney is the most populous city in Australia, with 5,312,000 people living there in 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Work culture in Australia generally takes a “let’s care about what really matters” approach, meaning that punctuality and a good work ethic are essential, but suit and tie is often not. Sydney has a low crime rate so people will walk around at all hours of the day, taking advantage of the warm weather and beautiful beaches. A one-bedroom apartment will run you around £1,438 per month (AU$2,688.27) according to Numbeo, so someone renting on an average starting salary will need to budget about 42% of their income to pay the rent. Sydney has modern, well-maintained public transport but the rest of Australia generally does not, so if you want to explore the vast plains or take a trip up the coast, you’ll need your own vehicle.

Minimum Wage: £10.90 (AU$20.33)

Average Salary: £40,745.50 (AU$76,000,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £755,695.03 (AU$1,410,133) according to Domain

Start-ups: Sydney’s start-up community is not as developed as in other large cities, but new initiatives show that the ecosystem is growing. The Sydney Start-up Hub is the largest centre for start-ups in Australia, with 11 floors of office space. While Sydney’s economy is characterised mainly by services and tourism, it still boasts many up and coming tech companies. Sydney ranked 27th in the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report.

Major Companies: Sydney’s industries are mainly based in banking, finance, real estate, and retail. This is reflected by the 2019 Forbes list of largest Sydney-based companies, which shows that the top ten are Commonwealth Bank, Westpac (banking), Macquarie Group (finance), Woolworths Group (retail), Goodman Group (real estate), Scentre Group (real estate), Brambles Limited (services), Insurance Australia Group, and QBE Insurance. It is worth noting that Sydney Airport narrowly missed the top ten, coming in 11th.

Moscow

Please note that this entry was written before the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Moscow is not recommended as a destination – this entry remains to show data about the city before the war.

 

Moscow is the capital of Russia with a population of around 12,700,000 people as of 2021, according to Statista. It is the political centre of the nation, famous for its historical cathedrals, iconic Red Square, and imposing Kremlin complex. Work culture in Russia is known to be hardworking and rigid. Most businesses will have some sort of formal dress code and a traditional hierarchical structure which must be respected. This can vary based on the type and age of company you’re working for, but when in doubt, err on the side of the traditional. A one-bedroom apartment in the heart of Moscow will cost around £685, which means that someone making the average salary will spend about 30% of their income on rent. Public transport in Moscow includes the Metro as well as various types of busses and trams, so it is your choice to own a car or not. Many Russians do not speak English, so fluent Russian will be a necessity to conduct business in Moscow.

Minimum Wage: £207.79 per month (20,589 Russian Ruble)

Average Salary: £10,094 (RUB1,000,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £4,546.15 per sq/m (RUB448,378) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: The Moscow start-up scene is not as developed as other cities, but there is still a vibrant start-up community in Russia’s largest city. There are many opportunities in finance, education, and tech, and Startup Genome ranked Moscow 20th in their list of the top 100 emerging start-up ecosystems. There are many events for start-up investors, as well as networking events which take place frequently in the city.

Major Companies: Moscow is home to many major companies, mostly in the finance, transport, and energy sectors. The 10 most valuable companies based in Moscow are Lukoil, Rosneft (oil and gas), Sberbank of Russia, Russian Railways, Rosetec (investments), VTB (finance), X5 Retail Group, Rosseti (power engineering), Inter RAO (power engineering), and Transneft (oil and gas), according to the 2020 RBK list.

Milan

Milan is famous for its fashion and art industries, and some of the most famous artworks in the world can be seen in the city, including The Last Supper. Milan has a population of 3,144,473 according to World Population Review, and residents enjoy excellent food and beautiful architecture, such as the historic Duomo di Milano cathedral. The main industries in the city are fashion, automotive, and tourism. Work culture in Milan can be intense. A willingness to dress extremely well, be punctual, and work long hours will be necessary to fit in well. A one–bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £932 per month according to Numbeo, so someone earning average salary should budget about 36% of their income for rent. Public transport is good inside the city and out, so you will not need a car.

Minimum Wage: There is no minimum wage in Italy. Instead, pay is agreed upon sector by sector through National Collective Bargaining Agreements. On average, workers in Italy will make a minimum of £5 – £8 an hour.

Average Salary: £31,360 (37,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £6,558 per sq/m (7,730 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Milan is a main Italian start-up hub. While not featured on the Global Startup Ecosystem Report, Milan offers opportunities in tech, real estate, and media. Some major start-ups in Milan include the green fashion tech brand Anything Can Be Changed, medical tech company PatchAI, and sports entertainment app IQONIQ.

Major Companies: Milan is a centre of fashion, design, and commerce, with many major companies operating in the city. Seven Milan-based companies made the 2019 Forbes list; Unicredit (banking), Mediobanca (banking), Pirelli (automotive), Prysmian Group (technology), FinecoBank, Banco BPM, and Telecom Italia.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is home to 6,065,354 residents according to World Population Review, making it the biggest city in South Africa. Originally a gold mining town, Johannesburg’s economy is now based on banking, IT, transport, broadcast, and real estate. There are also start-up opportunities in the city, mostly in the financial technology sector. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £354 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 32% of their income towards rent.

Minimum Wage: £.97 (20 Rand)

Average Salary: £13,225 (R272,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £690 (R14,136) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Johannesburg has a bustling start-up ecosystem with around £42 million in early stage funding according to Startup Genome. Specialising in FinTech, over 70% of South African Companies have headquarters in Johannesburg.

Major Companies: The top Johannesburg-based companies on the 2019 Forbes list are Anglo American (Mining), First Rand (Banking), Standard Bank, Sasol (Oil and Gas), MTN Group (Johannesburg), and Absa Group Limited (Finance).

Mexico City

Mexico City is the most populous city in North America, with 21,918,936 people living in the huge 1,485 sq/km area. It is known for its historical Aztec palaces, huge public square, and excellent food. The main industries in Mexico City are construction, manufacturing, and tourism, but there are opportunities in finance and telecommunications as well. Work culture in the city is fairly traditional, with dress codes in place and professional politeness expected. However, this will vary from workplace to workplace, and most jobs will give you the opportunity to build relationships with your colleagues in and outside of work. It will cost £432 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary should expect to budget around 38% of their income for rent. You can use the subway in the city centre, but it will be necessary to own a car if you live outside of the city and plan to commute.

Minimum Wage: £5.21 per day (141.70 Mexican Pesos)

Average Salary: £13,487 (MX$380,000)

City Centre Apartment Price: £1,637.70 per sq/ft (MX$46,341)

Start-ups: Mexico City has a growing start-up ecosystem with over 800 tech start-ups within its bounds. Its size has made the city a major hub for start-up activity in the Spanish speaking world, with digital banking companies, grocery delivery services, online car rental services, AI start-ups and more all calling Mexico City home.

Major Companies: According to the 2019 Forbes list, the largest companies based in Mexico City by value are America Movil (telecommunications), Grupo Mexico (mining), Grupo Elektra (finance and retail), Inbursa (finance), Grupo Bimbo (food processing), Grupo Carso (conglomerate), El Puerto de Liverpool (retail), and Fibra Una (real estate).

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the capital of and largest city in Iceland, with a population of 368,792 according to Statista, spread out over 273 sq/km. It features views of the sea and mount Esja, museums of Viking history, the impressive Hallgrimskirkja Church, and a chance to see the northern lights. The economy of Reykjavik is based on tourism, fishing, energy, manufacturing, and agriculture, providing a wide range of options for employment. Rejkjavic is an expensive place to live, as the cost of goods rises with increased shipping effort to reach Iceland. People work hard to maintain their lifestyles amid these high costs, but the work environment is flexible, relaxed, and democratic in most places. The average Icelander works just over 40 hours a week, and Iceland also trialled a 4-day work week with success. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £1,160 a month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary can expect to put about 29% of their income towards rent. You can navigate Reykjavik without a car, but if you plan to live there permanently the often cold, rainy weather may convince you to purchase a vehicle with a closed cabin.

Minimum Wage: There is no national minimum wage in Iceland, so your salary will depend on the price that your union has agreed upon. Normally, you will be paid at least £1,033.91 per month (180,000 Icelandic Króna)

Average Salary: £3,945.60 per month (687,000ISK) according to Salary Explorer.

City Centre Apartment Price: £3,796.61 Per sq/m (662,154.52ISK) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Reykjavik is an emerging start-up ecosystem, with multiple accelerators and initiatives to boost the area. Startup Reykjavik is a Swedish accelerator programme which runs once a year in the capital, which describes itself as a “business bootcamp for beginners and advanced”. Startup Iceland offers an entrepreneurship conference each year, and multiple tech start-ups operate in the city.

Major Companies: Reykjavik is home to big names like Google and Amazon Web Services, but it also has other options in tech, travel, and entertainment. Glassdoor lists CCP Games, Hostelling International, NetApp, and Deloitte Accounting as top employers in the capital.

Dublin

Dublin is the capital city of Ireland, and home to the Houses of the Oireachtas, which is the Irish Parliament. 1,242,953 people live in the city according to World Population Review, and they enjoy the comforts of a modern city with a small-town feel. Dublin’s economy is mainly based on banking, transport, media, and tourism. The music and arts scenes are famously rich, and work culture is mostly relaxed and focused on achieving a good work-life balance. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost about £1,415 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary should set about 49% of their income aside for rent. A car will not be necessary as Dublin’s assortment of busses, trains, and trams are more than enough to travel comfortably.

Minimum Wage: £8.62 (10.20 Euros)

Average Salary: £34,639 (41,000 Euros) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £4,990 per sq/m (5,914 Euros) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Dublin has many opportunities in tech, and there are many start-ups in the city. There is a Local Enterprise Office to train and fund start-up efforts, as well as tax incentives for new businesses.

Major Companies: Many major companies operate in Dublin mostly in the healthcare, tech, travel, and service industries. The largest Dublin-based companies by value according to the 2019 Forbes list are Accenture (professional services), Medtronic (healthcare), Allergan (pharmaceutical), Eaton Corporation (conglomerate), CRH plc (building materials), Experian (services), Aptiv (automotive), Ryanair, and Seagate Technology.

Mumbai

Mumbai is home to 20,961,472 residents according to World Population Review, making it the largest city in India. A major financial hub, Mumbai is also known as the home of Bollywood, and a centre for transport and infrastructure. On the waterfront, Mumbai offers many historical sites and natural attractions. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £426 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 92% of their income towards rent.

Minimum Wage: Minimum wage will depend on what kind of job one works, and if it is classified as “skilled” or “unskilled”. Generally minimum wage is about £100 per month.
Average Salary: £5,498 per year (552,000 Rupees) according to Payscale.
City Centre Apartment Price: £5,207 per sq/m (523,361 Rupees) according to Numbeo.
Start-ups: Mumbai has a growing start-up ecosystem, ranking as the top emerging start-up ecosystem by Startup Genome. Many accelerators and hubs are there to assist entrepreneurs in Mumbai.
Major Companies: The top Mumbai-based companies listed on Glassdoor are Tata Consultancy Services (Computer Hardware and Software), Accenture (Consulting), Capgemini (Software and Network Solutions), Deloitte (Accounting), and J.P. Morgan (Investment Banking and Asset Management).

Cairo

Cairo is the capital of and largest city in Egypt with a population of 21,322,750 people, according to World Population Review. Alongside the modern architecture, you will find the ancient Pyramids and Sphinx, reminding visitors of the long, rich history of the area. The capital’s economy is centred around construction, and the manufacturing of cars, textiles, iron, petroleum products, and steel. Work culture in Cairo is fairly traditional, but so long as a new hire has appropriate dress, a decent knowledge of Arabic, and addresses superiors by their title and surname, all will be well. It is also important to understand and respect Islamic customs and holidays. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £182 a month, according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to put about 48% of their income towards rent. While driving in Cairo can be difficult, a car will be your best way to get around.

Minimum Wage: £93.40 per month (2,000 Egyptian Pounds)

Average Salary: £4,529 per year (E£97,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £645 per sq/ft (E£13,817) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Cairo has a vibrant start-up community with opportunities in transportation and financial technologies. It receives about £108,831,060 in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome, and the city’s young population makes it an ideal place to trial consumer-based tech products.

Major Companies: Cairo is home to many major companies in the tech, construction, and telecommunications industries. According to Glassdoor, the top employers in Cairo are Microsoft, Dell Technologies, Procter and Gamble (consumer goods), Orange (Telecommunications), IBM, Orascom Construction, Vodafone, Teleperformance (R&D), and Valeo (transportation equipment manufacturing).

Lima

Lima is the capital city of Peru, known for its art, historic museums and catacombs, as well as its close proximity to nature reserves, which makes Lima a great city for hikers and surfers alike. It has a population of 9,751,717 according to World Population Review, who enjoy ocean views and excellent food. The main economy of Lima is industrial, with the food processing, textiles, manufacturing, and shipbuilding industries all flourishing in the capital. Work culture in Peru involves formal dress codes and the need to address superiors by their correct titles, but interactions between co-workers can often be informal, and most Peruvians form relationships with their colleagues outside of work. It will cost £355 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to spend about 59% of their salary on rent. If you wish to remain in the city, cheap taxis and busses will serve as suitable transport. However, if you wish to have the freedom to explore the country, you will want to have a vehicle of your own.
Minimum Wage: £137.97 per month (750 Peruvian Nuevo Sol)

Average Salary: £7,173 (39,000 Sol) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £1,359 per sq/m (7,409 Sol) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Lima has a start-up community focused on financial and educational technology. The city received £7,977,035 in start-up funding in 2019, according to Contxto, and Government programmes are also in place to assist start-up efforts.

Major Companies: Lima offers opportunities in banking, education, retail, tech, and more. According to Glassdoor, the top Lima-based employers are the food and beverage store Backus, SAP (computer technology), Sunat (federal tax agency), Banco de de Credito BCP (investment banking), Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (education), Belcorp (health & beauty), Globant (IT), and Alicorp (food and beverage).

Honolulu

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii, home to 341,302 people as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Known for its famously mild weather, scenic beaches, and volcanoes. There is a large US military presence in Honolulu, and the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy all have bases in the area. This focus on the military means that most opportunities in Honolulu are in technology and services related to defence. Work culture in Honolulu is casual, with formal dress codes and workplace hierarchies dropped, replaced by a small-town, personal feel among co-workers. A one-bedroom apartment  in the centre of Honolulu will cost £1405 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will need to pay about 35% of their income towards rent. There is a bus system in Honolulu, but most residents choose to drive their own vehicles.
Minimum Wage: £7.35 ($10.10)

Average Salary: £48,818 ($67,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £5,569 per sq/m ($7,671) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Honolulu’s start-up ecosystem is in the development phase, as the economy of Honolulu is focused more on military technology and sciences than civilian ventures. However, there are still some opportunities in financial, educational, and medical technology. Startup Blink ranks Honolulu 74th in the United States, and 259th worldwide.

Major Companies: Honolulu has opportunities at many major companies, as well as at the US military base located there. According to Glassdoor, the top employers in Honolulu are the US Military, Queen’s Medical Centre, Kaiser Permanente (health care), the University of Hawai’I, Hawaiian Airlines, and Hawaii Pacific Health.

Cape Town

Cape Town is a beautiful coastal city, backdropped by the iconic Table Mountain. It is the capital city of South Africa with an estimated 2021 population of 4,709,990, according to World Population Review. Working culture in Cape Town is generally laid back, with lax dress codes and informal office hierarchies. The crime rate in Cape Town is very high, ranking 10th on the Mexican Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice’s list of the most dangerous cities in the world, with a murder rate of 64 per 100,000 people. As with any city, care should be taken on the streets, and you should research your area before you move, but this does not mean that you cannot find safe, beautiful areas within the capital. Rent on a one-bedroom apartment will cost around £475 per month according to Numbeo, which means that someone making the average starting salary will put about 48% of their income towards rent. The cost of living in Cape Town is much lower than other cities, with casual restaurant food running around £6 a plate. A car is a must in Cape Town, as the public transport is not as developed as cities with metro systems.

Minimum Wage: £1.07 (R21.69)

Average Salary: £11,896.65 (R242,000) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £1,699.92 per sq/m (R34,622.77) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Cape Town has one of the best start-up ecosystems in Africa, with opportunities in the tech and finance sectors. According to the 2021 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report, Cape Town sees £77,882,175 in early-stage funding, which is lower than that of other cities on this list. However, the city is the centre of start-up growth in South Africa, and has the largest number of accelerators on the continent.

Major Companies: The 2019 Forbes list mentions only one Cape Town based company – the media company Naspers – but that does not mean that there are not big businesses in the city. Glassdoor says that the top Cape Town opportunities include Amazon, Capita (consulting), Media24, Vodacom Group, Standard Bank Group, Bloomberg L.P, and Shell. The majority of the Cape Town economy consists of manufacturing, producing fuel, food, tobacco, machinery, and household products. Financial, web, and communications services are also prominent in the capital.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is famed worldwide for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. It was the capital of Brazil until 1960 and has a population of 6,700,000 people according to a count taken in 2020. Work culture in Rio is generally informal, but it will be necessary for international workers to have an understanding of the culture and at least a decent command of the Portuguese language to succeed. Rio has high crime rates, with 271 murders per 100,000 residents in 2019, according to Statista. LGBT hate crimes are a major issue in Brazil, and while Rio is considered a gay-friendly city, it is not always safe. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost around £253 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average starting salary can expect to spend 23% of their income on rent. Rio’s public transport system is developed to the point where you do not need a car, and you will only require one to explore beyond the city.

Minimum Wage: £142.34 monthly (1,039 BRL)

Average Salary: £13,171.20 (96,000 BRL) according to Payscale.

City Centre Apartment Price: £1,348.59 per sq/m (9,785 BRL) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Rio is one of the top locations for start-ups in Latin America, with opportunities in app development, education, tech, and more. It was featured on Startup Genome’s top 100 emerging start-up ecosystems list, and the city’s location and worldwide fame make it a good choice for investors.

Major Companies: According to the 2019 Forbes list, the top three Rio-based companies by value are Petrobras (oil and gas), Eletrobras (utilities), and Oi (telecommunications). There are also large computer companies, such as VTEX, and energy companies, such as Furnas, in the city.

Dubai

Dubai is an iconic, ultramodern city known for its nightlife, shopping, and towering Burj Khalifa. It is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates with 2,921,376 people living there as of 2021, according to World Population Review. Dubai’s main industries are oil and gas, tourism, and manufacturing. The work culture in Dubai is fairly conservative, and both men and women will need to cover their arms and legs completely. The work week runs from Sunday to Thursday, with normal working hours. Many of Dubai’s laws are based on Islam, so you will need to pay close attention to related rules and customs. Women face stronger rules than men, and homosexuality is illegal. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will cost £1011 per month according to Numbeo, so someone making an average salary will have to pay about 56% of their income towards rent. Public transportation is present in Dubai and is suitable for short-term, short-distance use, but to travel freely in Dubai it is necessary to have a car.
Minimum Wage: There is no minimum wage for non-UAE nationals in Dubai.

Average Salary: £21,512 (109,000 UAE Dirham) according to Payscale.

Median Property Price: £2,428 per sq/m (12,294 Dirham) according to Numbeo.

Start-ups: Dubai has a growing start-up economy with £323 Million in early-stage funding, according to Startup Genome, who ranked Dubai 2nd in the region. The start-up ecosystem is mainly focused on information technology, financial tech, artificial intelligence, and consulting, but ridesharing and food service start-ups also operate in Dubai.

Major Companies: Dubai is home to many major companies, mainly in the real estate, banking, and travel sectors. The five Dubai-based companies featured on the 2019 Forbes list are Emirates Airline, Emaar Properties, DP World (transportation), Dubai Islamic Bank, and Mashreq Bank.

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