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  • Writer's pictureMatilda

How To Negotiate Salary for a Job in Another Country: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: Feb 28

Ever dreamed of working in a new country? There's excitement, adventure, and, of course, a fresh start. But you may wonder how to negotiate a salary for a job in a different country.

With that hurdle come many tricky questions, from knowing how to determine a competitive salary range you'll be satisfied with to navigating negotiations in a different cultural setting.

This blog post is here to help you understand the process, guiding you through 7 key steps:

So, let's dive in and start building those negotiation skills for your exciting career abroad!


1. Research the Local Job Market

The foundation of any successful negotiations when searching for a job abroad? Knowing the local job market. This will help you understand the salary standards, cost of living, and economic climate of the specific location you are targeting. With this information, it will be sooo much easier to navigate salary negotiation in another country.

Understand the Local Salary Standards

Before entering into salary negotiations, it's important to have a clear understanding of the local salary standards. Research the average salaries for similar positions in the industry and the location you are interested in. This will give you a benchmark to evaluate and negotiate your own salary.

The best resource:

  • Look for official information, such as government labor departments, industry reports, and salary surveys conducted by reputable organizations. Government labor departments typically provide comprehensive data on average salaries, wage trends, and employment statistics for various professions within specific regions. These resources can offer valuable insights into the prevailing compensation norms, helping you make informed decisions during salary negotiations.

Two people making financial calculations, symbolizing strategic salary negotiation abroad.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Research the Cost of Living

Another key factor to consider when negotiating a salary in a different country is the cost of living. Research the cost of housing, transportation, healthcare, and other essential expenses in the target location. This will give you an idea of how far your salary will go and allow you to negotiate a fair compensation package.

The best resource:

  • Check out Numbeo to figure out the relative cost of living between your current location and the new one. It allows you to compare various aspects of living expenses, including housing, transportation, groceries, and dining, among others, helping you make a more informed decision on the ideal new salary.

  • Pro tip: Numbeo not only offers a comprehensive overview of the cost of living index but also allows you to make detailed comparisons between cities. This can be particularly useful when negotiating salary adjustments to account for differences in living expenses. For instance, if the cost of housing in the new location is significantly higher than your current one, you may need to negotiate a higher salary to maintain a comparable standard of living. Trust us, it's a must-have tool for any expat. And it's free!

While you are here, make sure to also check out:

Consider the Economic Climate

The economic climate of the country or city where you plan to work can greatly impact salary negotiations. Research the current economic conditions, such as the unemployment rate, inflation rate, and industry growth, to get a sense of the overall job market. This information will help you determine how flexible employers may be during negotiations.

The best resource:

  • Ask locals. Even if you don't know anyone personally, you can always join expat forums or expat groups on FB and ask any questions about the job market or acceptable salaries.

  • For example, if you're moving to Berlin, enter Berlin Expats into Facebook search and join available groups. Use the search bar to see if others have already asked your question. Or start a new discussion. You can often post a question anonymously, so feel free to make it as specific as possible to get the best answers. E.g., you can ask if $60k gross per year is enough for a single person in Berlin, or if $2000 is a good relocation package.

An iPhone showing a Facebook screen besides a Macbook, symbolizing the importance of using social media in your international job search and salary negotiations.

By thoroughly researching the local job market, understanding the local salary standards, researching the cost of living, and considering the economic climate, you will be well-prepared to negotiate your salary for a job in a different country.


2. Know Your Worth

When negotiating a salary for a job in a different country, it is essential to know your worth. Understanding your skills, experience, and the value you bring to the table will empower you to negotiate effectively.

Let's explore three crucial steps to help you assess your worth in the job market:

Assess Your Skills and Experience

Before entering a salary negotiation, take the time to assess your skills and experience. Consider your qualifications, certifications, and any specialized knowledge you possess. Reflect on your past accomplishments and the impact you have made in your previous roles. By understanding your unique skill set, you can confidently communicate your value to potential employers.

And while you are here, ask yourself "How does the offer make me feel?" If you know you should be happy, but something feels off, it might be time you reevaluate. Here are 5 Warning Signs You Shouldn't Accept a Job Offer.

Research Salary Data

Another important step in determining your worth is researching salary data. Look into the average salaries for similar positions in the country you are targeting. Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale can provide you with valuable information regarding compensation trends. By comparing your experience and skills to industry standards, you can gauge an appropriate salary range.

A photo of a laptop with financial data, reflecting the importance of conducting salary research before accepting a job abroad.

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Determine Your Value Proposition

Identifying your value proposition is crucial in salary negotiations. Consider what sets you apart from other candidates and how your skills can benefit the employer. Are you proficient in a specific software or language that is in high demand? Do you have a track record of driving revenue growth or improving operational efficiency? Clearly articulating your value proposition will give you a competitive edge during negotiations.

By following these steps, you can gain a solid understanding of your worth in the job market. This knowledge will serve as a foundation for negotiating a fair and competitive salary when pursuing opportunities in a different country.

You don't have to figure it all out on your own.

Grab this negotiation cheat sheet and get the salary you deserve!↓ 


3. Understand Cultural Differences

When negotiating salary for a job in a different country, it's crucial to take into account the cultural differences that may influence the negotiation process. By understanding these differences, you can navigate the negotiation process more effectively and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

Here are some key aspects to consider:

Research Salary Negotiation Norms

Before diving into a salary negotiation, it's essential to research the salary negotiation norms of the country you'll be working in. Different countries have distinct cultural attitudes and expectations when it comes to discussing money. Some cultures may embrace negotiations as a standard practice, while others may find it uncomfortable or even disrespectful. Understanding the local norms will help you adopt the appropriate approach and avoid any misunderstandings.

Familiarize Yourself with The Local Business Etiquette

Local business etiquette plays a significant role in salary negotiations. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the local customs and expectations when it comes to professional interactions. This includes understanding appropriate greetings, communication styles, and gestures. Knowing and respecting these cultural nuances will help you build rapport with your prospective employer and create a positive impression during negotiations.

Learn about Local Work-Life Balance

Understanding the local work-life balance is crucial when negotiating salary for a job in a different country. Each country has its own unique approach to work-life balance, with varying expectations regarding working hours, holidays, and benefits. By researching and learning about these factors, you can better gauge the value placed on compensation and negotiate accordingly. Additionally, it will help you align your expectations with the local culture and ensure a smoother transition into your new work environment.


4. Tailor Your Approach

In order to negotiate your salary successfully when applying for a job in a different country, it is important to tailor your approach to the local context. By adapting your negotiation style, highlighting transferable skills, and emphasizing your value in the local context, you can increase your chances of securing the salary you deserve.

Adapt Your Negotiation Style

When negotiating a salary in a different country, it is essential to understand and adapt to the local cultural norms and expectations. Research the local business practices and customs to ensure your negotiation style aligns with the local expectations. By demonstrating respect for cultural differences, you can establish rapport and facilitate a more productive negotiation process.

Highlight Transferable Skills

Emphasize the transferable skills you possess that are relevant to the job you are applying for in the new country. Focus on the experiences and qualifications that are directly applicable to the position, even if they were obtained in a different country. By demonstrating the value of your skills and experiences, you can strengthen your negotiating position and justify the salary you are seeking.

Emphasize Your Value in the Local Context

Highlight how your skills and experiences can bring unique value to the local context. Show your potential employer how you can contribute to the company's success within the specific cultural and business environment of the new country. By emphasizing your ability to adapt and thrive in the local context, you can convince the employer of your worth and negotiate a competitive salary.

A happy woman sitting on her office.

Photo by True Agency on Unsplash


5. Prepare for the Negotiation

Preparation is half the battle. So, before entering into salary negotiations for a job in a different country, prepare yourself well. This will ensure that you approach the negotiation process with confidence and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome aka a compensation you'll be happy with.

Take these simple steps to prepare yourself for the negotiation:

Set Clear Salary Expectations

Okay, you've done your research. You checked the average salary range for similar roles in the country where the job is located and took into account the cost of living, local taxes, and any other relevant factors. Now, use all this information to set a specific number — that number will be your reference for negotiations. Make sure it's a number you're satisfied with and that makes you comfortable to make the move. (Unless you're in a rush, don't consider or expect any job opportunities that are below that.)

By setting clear expectations, you will be better equipped to negotiate effectively and justify your desired salary.

A person holding multiple 100 dollar bills.

Practice your Negotiation Strategy

Practice makes perfect, and this applies to salary negotiations as well. Take the time to rehearse your negotiation strategy in advance. Anticipate potential arguments or objections from the employer and prepare counterarguments. Polish your communication skills to present your case confidently and persuasively. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel during the negotiation process.

Anticipate Potential Objections

During salary negotiations, employers may raise objections or concerns regarding your proposed salary. It is crucial to anticipate these objections and be ready with well-thought-out responses. Identify any potential weaknesses in your argument and prepare counterarguments to address them.

Prepare Salary Negotiation Email Templates

Having pre-drafted email templates can be immensely helpful during the negotiation process. Create templates for different scenarios, such as initial salary negotiation, counteroffers, or responding to objections. These templates will save you time and ensure that your communication remains consistent and professional. Customize each template to suit the specific situation, and remember to personalize it before sending.

Loving this?

Get more tips + over 30 word-for-word job search templates, so you'll know exactly what to say and how to say it at every step of your journey, including different offer negotiation scenarios.

By following these steps and adequately preparing for the negotiation, you will increase your chances of success. Setting clear salary expectations, practicing your negotiation strategy, anticipating potential objections, and preparing salary negotiation email templates will put you in a strong position to secure a favorable salary offer for your job in a different country.


6. Negotiate with Confidence

When it comes to negotiating your salary for a job in a different country, it's important to approach the conversation with confidence. By focusing on your accomplishments, using data and examples to support your request, and being prepared to compromise, you can increase your chances of securing a favorable salary package.

Got your data together, but don't know how to best start? Find out how to create a powerful email for salary negotiation (2 templates included!).

Focus on Your Accomplishments

Highlighting your accomplishments is a powerful way to demonstrate your value to potential employers. Discuss specific projects you've successfully completed, metrics you've exceeded, and positive outcomes you've achieved. Showcase your past achievements to make a compelling case for why you deserve a competitive salary.

Use Data and Examples to Support Your Request

Backing up your salary request with data and examples can help strengthen your negotiation position. Research industry salary benchmarks and market trends to ensure your expectations are realistic. Additionally, provide specific examples of how your skills and experience align with the job requirements and contribute to the company's success. Present evidence-based arguments to increase your credibility and demonstrate your worth.

Be Prepared to Compromise

While it's important to enter negotiations with confidence, it's also crucial to be prepared to compromise. Understand that different countries may have different salary norms and cost of living factors. Consider alternative benefits or perks that may be negotiable, such as additional vacation time, professional development opportunities, or flexible work arrangements. Being flexible and open to finding mutually beneficial solutions can lead to a successful salary negotiation.

Remember, negotiating your salary for a job in a different country requires careful preparation and confident communication. By focusing on your accomplishments, using data and examples to support your request, and being prepared to compromise, you can position yourself for a successful negotiation outcome.

The good part? You don't have to figure it all out on your own.

Grab this negotiation cheat sheet and get the offer you deserve!↓ 


7. Consider Alternative Forms of Compensation

When negotiating a salary for a job in a different country, it's important to be open-minded and consider other forms of compensation that may be offered. By exploring non-salary benefits, discussing opportunities for growth and development, and considering the overall package offered, you can ensure that you make the most informed decision possible.

Explore Non-Salary Benefits

While salary is a crucial factor in any negotiation, it's essential to remember that there are often additional perks and benefits that can greatly impact your overall satisfaction and work-life balance. Non-salary benefits can include things like health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, flexible work arrangements, and professional development opportunities.

When considering a job offer, take the time to carefully review the non-salary benefits package. Consider the value these benefits bring to your life and how they align with your personal needs and priorities. Sometimes, the inclusion of robust benefits can compensate for a slightly lower salary, making the overall package more appealing.

Discuss Opportunities for Growth and Development

Woman writing on notebook, symbolizing the importance of preparing to negotiate salary abroad.

Another important aspect to consider when negotiating a salary for a job in a different country is the potential for growth and development within the organization. A competitive salary may be enticing, but it's equally important to evaluate the long-term prospects and opportunities for advancement.

During the negotiation process, engage with the employer to gain insight into their commitment to employee growth. Ask questions about professional development programs, mentorship opportunities, and the potential for promotions. By demonstrating a genuine interest in your career progression, you not only show your commitment but also create a platform for negotiating a salary that reflects your long-term value to the company.

Consider the Overall Package Offered

When negotiating a salary for a job in a different country, it's crucial to take a holistic approach and consider the overall package being offered. This includes evaluating the combination of salary, benefits, growth opportunities, and any other additional incentives.

Consider how each element of the package aligns with your personal and professional goals. Are there any unique perks or benefits that are particularly appealing to you? Does the overall package provide a sense of security and stability? By analyzing the entire offer, you can make a more informed decision that goes beyond just salary.

In conclusion, when negotiating a salary for a job in a different country, it's essential to be open to other forms of compensation. By exploring non-salary benefits, discussing opportunities for growth and development, and considering the overall package offered, you can ensure that your decision is well-informed and reflects your priorities and aspirations.


TL;DR — How to Negotiate Salary in Another Country?

Negotiating a salary for a job in a different country requires thorough preparation, effective communication, and a willingness to understand and adapt to cultural differences.

Here's how to negotiate a salary in another country:

  1. Research the local job market, including salary ranges and cost of living. This will provide you with valuable insights and help you determine a realistic salary expectation.

  2. Know your worth. Showcase your unique skills, qualifications, and experiences during the negotiation process. Highlighting your value proposition and demonstrating how you can contribute to the company's success can give you an advantage.

  3. Understand the cultural differences. They may impact negotiation styles, so it is important to adapt and find a middle ground that satisfies both parties.

  4. Consider the entire compensation package, including benefits, bonuses, and relocation assistance. Sometimes, non-monetary perks can significantly enhance the overall value of an offer.

  5. Lastly, don't be afraid to seek professional advice or enlist the help of a mentor who has experience in international salary negotiations. Their guidance can provide you with valuable insights and support throughout the process.

By implementing these strategies, you can increase your chances of securing a satisfactory salary package and start your international career on the right foot.

And before you go, make sure not to miss these posts:

Headshot of two female expats and career coaches in a circle on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin

Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana — the founders of MoreThanCareers, expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, and career-changing jobs. Now it's your turn to get the same. And MoreThanCareers is here to help!

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