If you ever wanted to know what the minimum salary in the European Union countries is in 2021, you’re at the right place! I had the same question and decided to investigate things thoroughly, then share the results with you in this article.
The main reason why I like to check out the minimum wage in a country before visiting (or considering to relocate there or living for several months in that particular place) is that at least in theory, the minimum salary should be enough to allow you to live an acceptable life in that country.
In reality, things are a bit different as you can’t really live a decent life on minimum salary in most EU countries. Still, it paints a great picture when it comes to estimating your costs of living, as you’ll spend a lot less in a country where the minimum wage is 100 Euros per month, compared to one with a 1,000 Euro minimum salary.
For a better understanding of how much is enough to live in a specific country, I have written an article on the average wages in the EU so you should check that out as well after finishing reading this article.
Now, back to the minimum wage in the EU, it’s worth noting that I started tracking these values in 2019, when I published the first copy of this article. And it’s interesting to see that now, in 2021, the minimum wage in most countries in Europe has increased quite a bit, despite 2020 being the crazy year that we all know it was.
Even better, the countries that recorded the highest increases in the minimum salary numbers are the ones towards the bottom – further meaning that the differences between the first and last placed in terms of income are no longer as huge as they were before (but they are still high).
There are even talks in the European Union leadership about introducing a minimum wage throughout the entire union, which would help the lower ranked countries. But with variations as high as those you will see below, it’s pretty difficult to implement them right now. If that happens, this article will be a lot easier to write in the future.
I say that because gathering all the data when so many countries are involved was a bit more difficult than anticipated. This is made even more difficult by the fact that not all countries in the European Union have an official minimum wage set by the government.
This is the case of countries like Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden – there is no minimum wage set here by the law, so I had to use estimates for these countries, following research I’ve done on places like Reddit, forums and friends I know living in these countries.
Also, the minimum salaries are changing constantly in the European Union in order to keep up with inflation and economic growth, but these values are researched and correct (in my opinion) for 2021.
Have in mind that the numbers below are all in Euros and are, to my best knowledge, gross salary values (before taxes). Each country will have its own system for taxing salaries and where I found this data, I will also share the net (take home) values.
Also, not all countries in the EU are using the Euro, so these estimates might vary a bit in reality when currency exchange fluctuations are in effect. But overall, these values should be as close to reality as possible and paint a picture that’s as clear as possible regarding minimum wages in the European Union.
Now, with all these in mind, let’s check out below the minimum salaries in the European Union (per month), ranked from the highest to the lowest in Net value:
1. Luxembourg: €2,141.99 Gross / €1,800 Net
2. Denmark: €2,500 Gross / 1,650 Net
3. Sweden: €2,000 Gross / €1,590 Net
4. Ireland: €1,706 Gross / €1,570 Net
5. Finland: €1,500 Net
6. Netherlands: €1,680 Gross / €1,500
7. France: €1539 Gross / €1,400 Net
8. Belgium: €1,625 Gross / €1,225 Net (varies based on regions – higher in Brussels & Wallonia and lower in Flanders)
9. Germany: €1,584 Gross / €1,200 Net
10. Austria: €1,050 Net
11. Spain: €1,108 Gross / €975 Net
12. Italy: Around €930 Net
13. Cyprus: Around €850 Net
14 (tie). Greece: €758 Gross / €650 Net
14 (tie). Portugal: €740 Gross / €650 Net
14 (tie). Slovenia: €940 Gross / €650 Net
15. Malta: €777 Gross / €580 Net
16. Estonia: €550 Net
17. Slovakia: €580 Gross / €490 Net
18. Lithuania: € 607 Gross / €480 Net
19. Czechia: €546 Gross / €470 Net
20. Croatia: €536 Gross / €450 Net
21. Poland: €583 Gross / €430 Net
22. Latvia: €430 Gross / €370 Net
23. Hungary: €375 Net
24. Romania: €285 Net
25. Bulgaria: €260 Net
Now, if we want to see what the average minimum salary across the European Union, after doing the math we have this value in terms of Take Home Pay:
Average minimum salary in European Union: 886 Euros / month
Compared to 2020, the minimum salary across the EU has increased by 61 Euros. However, the data is not really complete, because in 2020 I still counted the UK as part of the EU. Now, it’s no longer on the list, but the salaries overall have increased in this past year.
It’s interesting to note that just 12 countries of the 27 earn more than the average salary throughout the union, making it even more difficult (in my opinion) for all countries to agree upon a minimum that would be the same in all countries.
However, this number is just for fun, as it doesn’t really have any value when the lowest minimum salary (Bulgaria) is almost 7 times lower than the maximum minimum salary (Luxembourg).
However, knowing the minimum values that I have listed above should be extremely helpful in showing which countries are the cheapest to live in the European Union and where you can expect to earn more for the same amount of work.
This also does not mean that you would be able to live comfortably in Bulgaria with a budget of 260 Euros per month, nor in Czechia on 500 Euros.
However, as we go up the list, things get a bit easier: for example living in France on a minimum salary gives you a better life than earning the minimum in the bottom 10 countries. The 975 Euros per month in Spain or the 930 Euros per month in Italy could also see you live a relatively decent life as well.
What I am trying to say is that there are many things to consider when it comes to minimum salary in the EU and cost of living and these absolutely minimum values should be looked at considering the big picture and estimates.
But it is obvious that traveling to or moving to Poland, Hungary or Romania (or any of the countries towards the bottom) is a lot cheaper than visiting or moving to Luxembourg, Denmark or any of the top ranked ones.
Now these would be the minimum salaries in the countries in the European Union. If you live in one of these countries and you notice that the actual values that I have quoted are wrong, please let me know so that I can correct them ASAP.