Top world cities to live for highest income, best quality of life

San Francisco is the best place to go for a higher salary and more disposable income after rent, a survey has found.

The tech hub beat out Zurich, Switzerland, as the city with the highest salaries and disposable income after rent, according to Deutsche Bank’sMapping the World’s Prices 2019.”

In previous years, Zurich has held those top spots, but now San Francisco has risen seven and 21 places in those two categories, respectively, to take the lead.

According to the survey, much of San Francisco’s rise -- as well as similar rises in other U.S. cities -- is because of the success of the U.S. dollar, which has been strengthened in the last 12 months.

“Overall, this shows that the rapid growth of the U.S. tech sector is helping San Fran beat traditional capital cities for incomes,” Deutsche Bank strategists said in the survey. “Whilst its cost of living is increasing each year and rising up the cost rankings on most measures we cover, it still lags major global capitals. In terms of 2-bed rents however, it is only behind Hong Kong.”

However, Zurich did manage to get to take the top spot when it comes to quality of life. The Swiss city beat out Wellington, New Zealand, which was the top city for quality of life last year.

According to the survey, San Francisco also leaped up seven places to the ninth-best city for quality of life.

Other than Zurich and San Francisco, five other cities were among the top 10 for both the after-rent disposable income and the quality of life categories, including Boston, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne and Copenhagen.

However, the surveyors admitted quality of life is a difficult category to judge.

“This quality of life measure is always the most subjective part of this study as different people have vastly different criteria for this,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote. “Our study is not the definitive guide on the matter but a good starting point for debate.”


This is Deutsche Bank’s eighth annual survey looking at cities from around the world and, in this survey, they specifically looked at how cities have changed over the last five years.

“We’ve added some new cities this year whilst still trying to keep the analysis to cities and countries relevant to global financial markets,” analysts wrote. “We continue to refine our methodology and while it’s impossible to exactly match products and services around the world, we try to ensure as much uniformity as possible and then convert prices back to U.S.D.”