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What are the top 1% salaries around the world – what would you need to make?

Ever wonder what you’d need to make to be in the top 1%?

All in U.S. dollars.

  • 🇦🇪United Arab Emirates: $891K
  • 🇸🇬Singapore: $694K
  • 🇺🇸United States: $478K
  • 🇧🇭Bahrain: $473K
  • 🇬🇧United Kingdom: $290K
  • 🇦🇺Australia: $239K
  • 🇫🇷France: $215K
  • 🇨🇦Canada: $190K
  • 🇧🇷Brazil: $169K
  • 🇿🇦South Africa: $162K
  • 🇨🇳China: $105K
  • 🇮🇳India: $81K

SourceBloomberg Top 1%

Canada sort of surprised me…

The U.S. at $478K?

I wasn’t surprised at that, considering who lives there – basically the major millionaires & billionaires of the world – but for Canada at $190K?


The average salary in Canada as a whole, is $73,056 a year, and in Montreal, the median salary is around $82,210 a year, and Toronto is at $81,988 a year so basically if you make a little over double that, you are in the top 1%.

Oddly enough, that is actually around my average salary. Factoring in the years I haven’t worked and made $0, and averaging it out with the years I have worked, my average salary is around $87K.

I have to redo the numbers but I am in that average, living in a medium-sized city with a decently low cost of living.

High cost of living may have a part to play in this

I can only speak for Singapore out of that list because I visited in 2010, but I recall being horrified at $5 for some green onions and $30 for some nuts. Cashew I think, and just a small packet, not even a large one.

Here in Canada, it is about $1 for green onions, and $10 for nuts.

EVERYTHING is expensive there, which means that the salaries make sense in a twisted way – if everything is so expensive, people need to make inflated salaries to be able to afford these items.

Singapore for instance is totally dependent on other countries like their neighbour Malaysia for food.

Country Policies have an impact as well

For instance, I know in the United Arab Emirates, if you want to set up a business (LLC) you have to obtain a license from am Emirati living there. You will own 49% of the business and they will own 51% of it.

A lot of their incomes, these massively high incomes, come from just these licensing deals. I watched a documentary once (cannot recall it for the life of me), where a guy basically made all of his money just being an Emirati with lots of business licenses, of which he owned 51% of, and didn’t really do any work for.

Taxation differs greatly

While this is all gross pre-tax income, you have to understand that France for instance, has some of the highest taxation in the world (50% if I recall correctly), and in the U.S., you have states like Texas or Florida where you pay 0% state taxes, and only federal.

That is a BIG set of savings right there along with other neat loopholes they have, like being able to write of their mortgage interest on their taxes and so on.

In Canada, earning $190K will get you taxed quite heftily as well with a 36% tax rate, but we can’t write off our mortgage interest, or lock in these historically low rates for 30 years like Americans can.

Where you live in the country itself also makes a big difference

But it also depends on where in the country you live and the income you make there.

In the U.S. the cost of living in NYC is not comparable to the cost of living in Waco, Texas for instance, but it’s the same country.

It can be a better deal to live in a cheaper city with a smaller salary than a large city with a massive salary that doesn’t go very far.

Montreal’s cost of living is 67.61 and Toronto’s is 79.18 (Source: Numbeo), which means that not only do Montrealers make slightly more money than in Toronto, but they also enjoy a low cost of living. WIN WIN I say. I knew I liked this city for a reason. 😛


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