In many parts of the world, the middle class is growing. While we might have preconceived notions on how the average family man in Phnom Penh lives, or a working mother in Kampala gets by, the truth is, their lives and their homes aren’t so different from ours. In fact, relatively speaking, with a middle-class income, affording the finer things in life can actually be easier in some ‘impoverished’ nations. So let’s take a look through the doors of homes, around the globe, and explore what the middle-class means in six different countries.
Argentina – Buenos Aires
With an average middle class wage for around $1,455 per month, Argentina has a solid base of skilled workers. And although the country has been criticized for its economic instability, Argentina’s middle class has more than doubled in the last decade. For those living in the city of Buenos Aires, the typical rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the city is around $500-600 per month. For a 3 bedroom apartment for a small family, prices generally run $800-1000 per month. Much like America, this means that single middle class inhabitants have very little issues in terms of budget, whereas those needing more room for a burgeoning family will likely require two salaries to make the rent.
The Netherlands – Amsterdam
Holland enjoys a high standard of living, and the average salary is built in to match. At around $2,600 per month, most people would find it fairly easy to carve out their own little chunk of property. Plenty of government aid is also there for when people need it. In Holland, taking a stipend during tough times isn’t nearly as stigmatized as it is in the USA. Due to this, the Dutch often enjoy a fairly relaxed lifestyle, while being able to enjoy such average ‘career killers’ as maternity and paternity leave. In Amsterdam, the average cost of a 1 bedroom apartment is around $1,500 dollars. For growing families, it’s fairly normal to find 2-3 bedroom homes for $1,700-$2,000.
Cambodia – Phnom Penh
With an average middle class income of about $800-1,000 dollars per month, Phnom Penh can seem like paradise for expats who want a lot of space without spending a lot of dough. This country, once ravaged by war, is currently undergoing dramatic economic resurgence. With their shaky past firmly behind them, tourists and infrastructure have made their way to this southeast Asian country, to help empower a growing middle class. Average rental for a 1-2 bedroom runs from about $300-$800 dollars per month. And while there are still incredibly poor sections in Phnom Penh that live on fractions of this, many believe the recent economic upturn will help drive down poverty. For those that can afford a middle-income flat, it often includes high ceilings, shiny tile floors, and stately furniture, as a sign of wealth.
Uganda – Kampala
Kampala Uganda has one of the lowest middle class incomes on the list, at around $500-$1000 dollars per month. The large gap is due to the informal work sector that makes up the vast majority of Kampala’s workforce. This means that it’s incredibly difficult to track the average incomes here. Living expenses and rent are generally low around the city, and it’s fairly easy to enjoy a middle-class life with very little.
Within its different boroughs, two bedroom apartments go for around $300 dollars per month and small homes for around $500 per month. Kampala also enjoys an immense amount of private green space, and if they have the money, many here will choose to live in homes with gardens. An added bonus of the fertile soil and warm climate means most yards have avocado trees, mango trees or papaya trees. And hey, that means free mango smoothies when the season is right.
Jordan – Amman
While plenty of homes in Amman are known for tiny living rooms and even smaller bedrooms, what they lack in interior space, they make up for in terraces. Scoring the rooftop terrace in the apartment building is essentially winning the rental lottery. However, for those without top floor privileges, balconies and courtyards offer relief from the claustrophobia.
Most professionals within Amman make around $1000-$1200 dollars per month. For a single inhabitant in a $450 per month apartment this works just fine. However, for those who start families, the $750 dollar price tag of most 3 bedroom homes can be a stretch. While more woman than ever are heading into the work force these days, being a stay at home mom is still a popular choice. This means that the average middle-class Jordanian man will often have to take more than one job to support his family.
Mexico – Mexico City
Mexico City is the bustling financial capital of the country, and home to a large section of middle class residents. Colorful old art deco apartment buildings are popular among some of the younger middle class renters, whereas the sleek, shiny minimalist designs sell well in more modern areas of the city. With an average income of about $1500 dollars per month, and the average 1 bedroom rent at about $600, many middle class Mexicans are spending more time than ever taking in restaurants, art shows and enjoying weekend vacations.
For those who get married and settle down with children, they’ll have to shell out substantially more for a 3 bedroom home, which runs around $1020 per month in the city. However, once residents travel outside Mexico City’s central area, prices drop substantially, meaning suburbs around Mexico City have grown considerably.