How to Negotiate Salary When Working Abroad


The most common mistake we see in international job seekers is to ask for a salary without taking into account the cost of living in the country they are applying in.

If you’re from a developing country and think you’re going to make a lot of money just because you’re going to a developed country – you’re wrong.

Salaries SEEM high in the USA but that’s because cost of living is so high. The reality is that for most people, their salary only covers their cost of living.

Salaries do not transfer internationally, and looking for a job based on what you currently make is a flawed approach.

SAVINGS and COST OF LIVING however, do transfer.

This is why, when interviewing for positions in different countries, I recommend that you come from the perspective of your desired monthly savings, instead of salary.

If you come from the perspective of savings, you create an even playing field to the employer. You give them an understanding of your reasoning and how you arrived at the number.

It gives them an equitable format for them to meet you halfway and be on the same page. With international jobs this is half the battle.

So when speaking to an employer here’s how you can handle the conversation…

If you’re saving $500/month at your current job and you don’t know what salary to ask for, you can say

“I currently save $500 per month. I’ve read that cost of living in this country is $2000 USD/month. This means I would like to make around $2500 USD/month.”


It’s that simple.

Once again though, this number is meant to give transparency to the EMPLOYER.

By saying to your employer, “here is what I currently save, cost of living in your city is, on average, X, so I am looking for a salary in the range of Y-Z”, you give them transparency into your reasoning.

This number also helps to give you clarity on the type of jobs you need to find. If you’re looking to save a nice chunk of change, teaching English or working for a startup probably isn’t going to do it for you. You will have to take a different approach.

If you don’t care about money on the other hand you might sell yourself short. There’s no reason to dip into savings if you don’t need to.

I have also used this SAME TECHNIQUE when working with employers. Most of the companies we have hired for ask candidates what they are looking to SAVE rather than what they want to MAKE.

This technique works. It’s simple and effective.

If you are interviewing for a job abroad, use this technique and I guarantee success. I also recommend that you check out our other articles “10 Questions to Ask in Your International Interview” and “5 ways to nail your international job interview“. Both of these will be immensely helpful in your hunt for work abroad.

Good luck in the hunt ahead!

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