• 10.23.15

In New York, A Day’s Work Will Buy An iPhone. In Kiev, It Takes 13 Weeks

Compare your purchasing power in cities around the world, in universal iPhone or Big Mac units.

In New York, A Day’s Work Will Buy An iPhone. In Kiev, It Takes 13 Weeks
[Photo: Shutterstock]

How many hours do you need to work to pay for a new iPhone? If you’re a New Yorker, then you need to toil for 24 hours to pay for a 16GB iPhone 6. But if you work in Kiev, Ukraine, you’ll need to work for 78 days, or 13 weeks, to afford the exact same phone.


Those are the findings of Swiss bank UBS, which compiles its “Prices and Earnings” report every three years. The 2015 version compares the purchasing power in 71 cities across the globe. There’s a whole microsite dedicated to exploring the data and even an iPad app.

The report counts two main data sources–earnings and the cost of living. This data is used to calculate global rankings for each country, but can also be used to compare the cost of food, rent, clothing, public transport, and more, across the 71 cities surveyed going back to 1971. The earnings are reported as net earnings, with local taxes and deductions applied, giving anyone an idea of how much income they’d actually pocket if they moved to a new city.

To make valid comparisons, UBS chooses “staple consumer goods” which can be bought anywhere in the world. These are rice, bread, a Big Mac, and apparently an iPhone. Here’s how long it will take to earn enough to buy an iPhone.

New York City is used as the standard measure, but both Zurich and Geneva in UBS’s home country offer more earning power–people working there can save up for an iPhone in just over 20 hours. And while Kiev is the worst place in the world if you want an iPhone, it beats Nairobi when it comes to buying a Big Mac, at 55 minutes vs 173 minutes. Hong Kong is the winner here, with an average of 9 minutes work required to buy a burger.

If you want to look over this year’s numbers, complete with a description of methodology and a historical overview, the best place to start is UBS’s PDF report.

About the author

Previously found writing at, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.