Despite a challenging year for tech, demand for skilled developers remains strong, and there are still many exciting opportunities to explore. However, developers now face a job market and economy in 2023 that’s different from what they experienced during 2021’s tech boom. That might mean lower salary increases than were on offer mid-boom and having to deal with a rapidly rising cost of living.
In this article, we’ll explore average developer salaries in the tech hubs of Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin and the standard of living that affords you.
Europe remains a great place for developers
Despite an extremely challenging year for Europe’s tech industry and a drop in VC investments, German and Dutch startups are still raising more than they did pre-pandemic. On top of that, Europe is experiencing significant cost of living increases and high inflation, which makes it even more important to understand how far your salary can go in your current location.
In our recent State of the Software Developer Nation Europe Report, surveyed developers listed a better salary offer as their most common reason for leaving a job after poor management. But what exactly is a better salary?
It’s tempting to think that a higher salary means a better salary, but it’s not that simple. On the one hand, a new macroeconomic climate means developers might not receive the types of increases that were on offer a few years ago. During the tech boom in 2021, salaries and job packages skyrocketed. In 2022, this trend started to level out and return to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite these challenges, Europe remains home to a number of global tech hubs that continue to attract top developers, both locally and internationally. London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris are four of the five largest tech ecosystems in Europe, while Barcelona is Spain’s largest tech hub and a major emerging tech hub. This makes them great places for developers to find opportunities.
Let’s look at what the average developer salary is in each city and what standard of living that affords you.
Amsterdam leads the way for average pre-tax salaries
Amsterdam seems to be the best city for developers when considering their salaries before taxes. On average, developers in the Dutch capital earn the highest pre-tax salary of €70 000 per year.
Average Pre-tax Salary by City
This is 1.4% higher than London in second, 3.6% higher than Berlin, 28.6% higher than Paris, and a massive 38.6% higher than Barcelona.
However, focusing on pre-tax salary doesn’t tell the whole story. Post-tax salary is a better guide to what developers can expect to take home each month and an important consideration when benchmarking an offer.
London-based developers lose the least of their income to taxes
Once pre-tax salaries are run through local tax calculators, you get a more realistic idea of what developers in each city can expect to take home each month.
Average Post-tax Salary by City
London overtakes Amserdam as the best-paying tech hub with an average annual post-tax salary of €50 631, which is 13.4% more than second-placed Amsterdam, and 25.7% more than Berlin in third.
Developers in London still out-earn their Parisian counterparts by 25%. While Barcelona remains in last place, it has a factor working in its favour: A lower cost of living.
Berlin offers the highest standard of living relative to its average salaries
Developers in London earn the highest average post-tax salary of €50 630, but do they really have the best quality of life?
Average Post-tax Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living
|Post-tax salary (Adjusted for cost of living)
We’ve used Numbeo’s cost of living calculator to give you a clearer picture of the standard of living in each city. To do this, we looked at what developers in Amsterdam would need to earn post-tax to match the standard of living in each of the tech hubs.
Berlin offers the best value for money. Developers in Berlin’s buying power is 23.2% more than those in London.
The French capital offers the worst value for money, with an adjusted salary of €32 201. That gives them a buying power that’s 15.7% lower than London’s and 31.6% lower than Berlin’s.
Barcelona is another city that offers good value for money for software developers. Its buying power is approximately 6.5% higher than London and 26.3% ahead of Paris. This means with Barcelona’s average salary, you can afford a higher standard of living compared to the average London developer.
It’s important to do your homework when benchmarking your salary. As we’ve seen, a pre-tax salary isn’t the best indicator of a developer’s take-home pay and the quality of living they can expect.
Our advice is to research the tax rate and average salary in that region and identify any other standard deductions developers will have to make. This can help you understand how your offer compares to local competitors. It’s also always important to keep in mind that everyone’s context is different.
Keep in mind
There are thousands of factors that influence developer salaries ranging from company size to tech stack.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve only considered average developer salaries in each city. These are averages for all developers and seniority levels. They are used to illustrate how factors like tax and cost of living influence developer salaries in different countries.
There are thousands of factors that influence developer salaries ranging from company size to tech stack. For the purposes of this article, we’ve only considered average developer salaries in each city. These are averages for all developers and seniority levels. They are used to illustrate how factors like tax and cost of living influence developer salaries in different countries. They shouldn’t be used to estimate what your salary will or should be.
All salary averages are taken from Glassdoor.com. We’ve used a £1 to €1,17 exchange rate for our currency conversions shown in this article.
We’ve used local tax calculators to give you a rough estimate of what you can expect to take home in each city. Post-tax salaries for London was calculated using the Gov.uk’s tax calculator.
Post-tax salaries for Amsterdam were calculated using the Dutch Income Tax calculator and include holiday allowances and social security contributions. We’ve excluded deductions allowed under the 30% ruling, which enables highly skilled immigrants to the Netherlands to claim 30% of their gross salary as a tax-free allowance.
Post-tax salaries for Berlin were calculated using Brutto Netto Rechner’s tax calculator on the assumption that you’re unmarried, child-free, and do not pay church tax. Amounts for Paris and Barcelona were determined using the Salaryaftertax.com calculator for France and Spain.
We compared the cost of living in each city using Numbeo.com.
- 2023 Netherlands report: State of the Software Developer Nation
- 2023 Europe report: State of the Software Developer Nation
- How to Negotiate a Job Offer That’s More Than Just the Money
- How to Negotiate when Hiring Developers
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- How to Benchmark Your Salary Expectations as a Developer in 2023
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