I’ve often wondered in which country would people save the most. Based on expenses per capita vs income per capita. It turns out this data is available. The most reliable data is from 2015 with most interesting countries available for comparison.


Of course websites like Numeo and Expatistan are great to compare countries. Based on very specific items like the cost of an apartment inside the city centre. However I wondered about the average person living in those countries. How much would they actually have left over every month?


The data used in this analyses is from Worldbank.org and looks at the following 2 data sets:


  • 2015 – Households and NPISHs Final consumption expenditure per capita (constant 2010 US$)
  • 2015 – Adjusted net national income per capita (constant 2010 US$)
  • The currency is based on constant 2010 US$ – https://datahelpdesk.worldbank.org/knowledgebase/articles/114943-what-is-your-constant-u-s-dollar-methodology )


First the countries with some of the highest costs of living:

# Country Name  2015 Consumption expenditure per capita
1 Switzerland      41,407
2 Norway      39,531
3 United States      35,667
4 Luxembourg      33,868
5 Australia      30,857
6 Canada      28,743
7 Denmark      27,945
8 Japan      26,698
9 United Kingdom      26,415
10 Sweden      25,490



Now the countries with the highest net national income

# Country Name  2015 – Adjusted net national income per capita (constant 2010 US$)
1 Norway      71,798
2 Switzerland      61,943
3 Luxembourg      60,521
4 Denmark      51,888
5 Sweden      47,077
6 United States      45,381
7 Qatar      44,335
8 Netherlands      42,350
9 Australia      42,184
10 Singapore      40,381


And of course you can see that there are some similarities in the lists; Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, United States, Australia appear in both lists. They have high living expenses coupled with a high income. A few positive exceptions are The Netherlands, Qatar and Singapore which all have high incomes but do not appear in the top 10 of highest expenses. Some less positive results for Canada, Japan and the U.K. which all have top 10 expenses, but do not have top 10 incomes.


So where can you actually save the most (difference between net income and expenses):

# Country Name  Total Savings
1 Norway      32,267
2 Qatar      32,068
3 Luxembourg      26,653
4 Denmark      23,943
5 United Arab Emirates      23,401
6 Brunei Darussalam      22,180
7 Singapore      21,878
8 Sweden      21,586
9 Switzerland      20,536
10 Netherlands      20,203


Some interesting data to take note of is that Switzerland and Norway are both in the top 3 with highest cost and income, but only Norway stays in this list whilst Switzerland drops to place #9. Meaning that there are other countries which will give you a higher total savings without having to deal with a high cost of living, or the need for a very high salary.

Secondly a lot of great expat destinations are on the list here like the UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc), Qatar and Singapore.


But of course, total savings is not everything, your relative savings rate determines your success if you can’t easily change your cost of living or your salary. Let’s see the impact of geo-arbitrage:

# Country Name  Savings %
1 Malawi 82%
2 Brunei Darussalam 79%
3 Qatar 72%
4 United Arab Emirates 65%
5 China 64%
6 Kuwait 56%
7 Singapore 54%
8 Saudi Arabia 53%
9 Gabon 51%
10 Algeria 50%

Again there are some great expat countries in the list which have both great total savings and a great relative savings rate; Qatar, UAE, Singapore. The #1 might surprise you but Malawi households only spend 64USD per year with an income of 349USD (one of the lowest in the world) hereby potentially having a great savings rate. Your total yearly savings of 285USD won’t get you far though.


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