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How to Negotiate Salary for a Job Abroad: Tips, Tricks + Email Template

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Whether you've just started your job search or already have an offer at hand, negotiating a salary for a job abroad brings unique and often unexpected challenges.

How can you ensure that you're getting paid what you're worth in the new and unfamiliar market? How do you compare salaries between two or more countries? What techniques can you use to negotiate effectively? How can you negotiate salary by email or phone?

In this blog post, we'll answer these questions and more by giving you our best tips, tricks, and an email template for negotiating your salary abroad. Here's what we've covered:

So whether you're just starting to explore your options or are in the final stages of negotiations, read on for invaluable advice.

3 Reasons Why You Should Negotiate Salary When Moving Abroad

Whether you've just started exploring the idea of moving abroad or have already received a job offer, we know that you must be excited and can't wait to move. (If you're like us, you're already picturing yourself strolling around the new city and exploring all its hidden gems!)

But before you actually pack your bags and take the leap, remember that a move abroad is an ideal opportunity to take your career to the next level. This starts with negotiating a salary and making sure that you're being paid your worth.

Although you may be tempted to just accept whatever salary is offered by your new employer, remember that you have the power to negotiate even when taking a job abroad.

Although you may be tempted to just accept whatever salary is offered by your new employer, remember that you have the power to negotiate even when taking a job abroad.

Here are three reasons why you should always try to negotiate a salary for a job abroad, especially if the initial offer doesn't meet your expectations:

#1: You are making a big life change for the job

Relocating to another country is a big decision that requires you to make changes in almost every area of your life. If you are making such a big move, you're showing your motivation and dedication to the company that you are joining. You should use this as leverage in salary negotiations so that you can ensure you are being fairly compensated for your commitment.

#2: Your skills and expertise are unique and valuable

When you move to a new country for a job, you bring something unique to the table that the employer may not be able to find locally—and by offering you the job, they're acknowledging it too. Use this information as leverage when negotiating salary.

#3: You'll be more comfortable with the move

A move to a foreign country for a job should be a step up for you in every aspect, including finances. No, scratch that. Especially finances. And to keep things realistic and practical, we know firsthand that moving abroad often brings unexpected expenses. So, negotiating a higher salary can ensure that those costs are taken care of and make the move much more comfortable for you in the long run.

Wondering where exactly you should move to earn the most? We've prepared a list! Explore the best industries and countries in Europe for expats.


How to Prepare for Salary Negotiations in 5 Easy Steps

The key to successful negotiations is preparation. Before entering any negotiation, it's important to have a clear understanding of your qualifications and their market value in the new country. In other words, start by determining your worth and be prepared to back it up with data.

True—doing it in an unfamiliar market can be tricky, but it's not impossible. Here’s how to do it in five simple steps:

Step #1: Start now.

If you're here, you're actively considering a job abroad, aren't you? If so, now is the best time to start preparing for negotiations.

Even if you don't have a job offer yet, it's never too early to start researching salaries in the country and city where you plan to work. You can expect a question about your salary expectations early in the recruitment process, often even as part of the online application form. So, if you don't want to sell yourself short, do your research as soon as possible—preferably before submitting your first application for a job in your new country.

Step #2: Kick it off with a Google search.

Everything starts with a Google search. So first, check out the salary and labor market data available online for the country you're interested in.

Better yet, make it more specific. Narrow down the search to the target city, industry, and the exact job you're applying for. The first few results in a Google search can give you a rough idea of what employers are typically paying for this type of position in the new country's labor market.

Step #3: Explore online resources, such as Glassdoor.

Sites like Glassdoor and PayScale are created to give you detailed salary and benefit information.

Apart from salaries, you can take a closer look at the benefits companies typically offer to their employees in the new country. This can come in handy during negotiations, as well as when comparing different offers side-by-side. You can also read reviews from professionals who work or have worked at the same company you're applying for. This can give you a better idea of what it’s like to be an employee there and how much you can expect from your future employer in terms of salary, benefits, and career growth opportunities.

Step #4: Ask the locals.

Ask friends or family who have recently moved abroad, reach out to people in your network who may be working there already, or use LinkedIn or Facebook to connect with people already working in the new country. They likely have a better understanding of the local labor market and can often provide first-hand information about actual salaries paid for different jobs. Most cities around the globe have Facebook groups for expats planning to or already living and working in the area. Joining these groups and asking questions can be a great way to find out what employers are actually paying and how much you should realistically expect in terms of salary.

Step #5: Use Numbeo to understand the cost of living.

All the information you've gathered so far is just a foundation. It tells you what others are getting for the job you're interested in, in the location you're considering. Now it's time to decide what YOU would be happy with based on your lifestyle, personal preferences, and cost of living.

Numbeo is a great online tool for this. It allows you to compare the cost of living between cities and countries with detailed information about housing, transportation, healthcare, food costs, and other expenses. Comparing these numbers can help you determine your ideal salary for an international job.


How to Negotiate Salary For a Job Abroad

Now that you have done your research, it's time to start negotiating!

When negotiating a salary for a job abroad, like in any negotiation, it's important to enter the conversation prepared, confident, and with a positive attitude. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your chances of getting the salary you want:

Tip #1: Start with the positives.

Even if you're not satisfied with the initial compensation offered, thank the employer for the offer and use this opportunity to emphasize your interest—or better yet, excitement—for joining the company. This will set a positive tone and make the employer more likely to negotiate. A few upbeat statements such as "Thank you for this exciting opportunity!" or "I can't wait to join the team!" can go a long way.

Tip #2: Show that you understand the market.

Use your research to show that you understand the local labor market, including what similar job roles are being paid, why your experience or specific skills make you a valuable asset, and why you are worth more than the initial offer.

Tip #3: Be specific about your expectations.

When negotiating salary, be clear and specific about what you want. Give the employer an exact number that fits within your salary range. Instead of asking for 10% more, give an exact number that meets your needs. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings and make it easier for the employer to come up with a counteroffer.

Tip #4: Keep the communication open.

Successful negotiation requires open dialogue. Don't let the other side feel as if they are being pushed into a corner. Leave room for negotiation by keeping the conversation friendly and constructive and making it clear that you are open to further discussion.

Tip #5: Move from “I” to “we.”

Discuss potential solutions that can meet the needs of both sides. The best way to do it is to move away from any personal demands and wants toward a mutual agreement. Wanna know how? It's simple—instead of saying "I would expect X", say "Can we meet somewhere closer to X?". Moving away from "I" to "we" shows that you're in this together, playing for the same team, and actively looking for a way to make the deal work. All of that invites collaboration and, again, makes the other side more likely to cooperate.

Tip #6: Be willing to compromise.

Negotiations involve give and take, so remember to be flexible when negotiating salary. Be clear on what is non-negotiable for you before entering into the conversation while staying willing to compromise on other aspects of the offer. If the employer isn’t able to meet your exact expectations, suggest a few alternatives such as additional vacation days, work-from-home days, or a relocation package to make the offer more attractive.

Tip #7: Be prepared to walk away.

Now, this one is a tough pill to swallow. But even if you handle the negotiation perfectly, there is always a chance that the employer won't be able to meet your expectations. In this case, be willing to walk away if the offer is not something you want or can accept. Remember, you are valuable and there are lots of amazing options available out there—so don’t be afraid to say no to an opportunity if it’s not the right fit.

Want to dig deeper and master negotiations? Head to the Salary Negotiation 101.


How to Negotiate Salary Over Email + Salary Negotiation Template

If you're looking for a job abroad, the chances are that most of your communication with potential employers will be done virtually, often by email. Negotiating a salary effectively via email can seem intimidating, but it is not impossible if you know WHAT to say and HOW to say it.

To make the process easier for you, we've put together a salary negotiation email template you can use when negotiating your salary for a job abroad:

Salary Negotiation Email Template for a Job Abroad

Subject line: Thank you for your offer

Hi {name},

First of all, thank you for considering me for the position at {Company}. I'm very excited about this opportunity and feel that my experience and skills make me a great asset to the team.

After reviewing your offer, I was hoping we could discuss the salary. Based on the research I have done, I believe that a salary in the range of {Salary range} is more appropriate for this role. While I am very appreciative of your offer, I would like to ask you if it’s possible to adjust the package to meet my expectations.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter and will be available at any time to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks again for your consideration,

{Your name}

A negotiation guide in your pocket: Master salary negotiation with Salary Negotiation Guide. Grab this ebook and negotiate the job offer you deserve with tried-and-tested strategies, templates, and HR tips.


How to Negotiate Salary Over Phone

Discussing the job offer over the phone requires you to be well-prepared, as the conversation will be more immediate and personal than via email. When negotiating salary over the phone, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

Your voice matters.

Without non-verbal cues you would get in face-to-face or video negotiations, your voice plays a more important role in expressing your feelings and intentions. Pay attention to the tone and speed of your speech, as these will all affect how you come across. Keep your voice calm, confident, and upbeat. You don't want to come off as too aggressive or demanding, but you also don't want to sound too passive. Smile while talking even though the other side can't see you - it will come through in your voice.

Have all the data at hand.

Get well prepared before entering into the conversation. Have an understanding of what non-negotiable aspects are for you and which ones can be compromised, and have a few alternatives ready if need be. Since the conversation will be over the phone, you can have all the documents, lists, and files that can support your negotiations in front of you.

Don't rush into a decision.

Although the negotiation will take place over the phone, don't feel pressured to confirm if you accept the offer or not on the spot. Ask the employer to give you a day or two to think it over, especially if their offer is not exactly what you expected. This will give you more breathing room and allow you to consider all the options before making a decision.


7 Key Things to Negotiate Besides Salary When Moving Abroad

Even though a base salary is a vital part of a compensation package, remember that it is not the only factor you should consider. When moving abroad for work, try to negotiate an expat package with a few extra perks.

Here are seven other things you might want to negotiate when moving abroad:

  1. Relocation packages: Moving to a different country is expensive—so make sure your employer covers at least some of the cost by negotiating a relocation package that includes things such as travel expenses, housing arrangements, settling-in support, etc.

  2. Performance bonuses: Does your employer offer quarterly or annual performance bonuses? Find out what's their performance reward policy and see if you can negotiate a higher bonus. Negotiating performance-based bonuses will provide you with some extra income, even if the base salary isn't what you were hoping for.

  3. Stock options: If the company offers stock options, negotiate for a better deal than what is offered to all employees. This will give you an additional source of income and can be a great way to build long-term wealth.

  4. Flexible work arrangements: If you are looking for more flexibility in terms of where and when you work, negotiate a flexible work arrangement. This can include work-from-home days, flexible work hours, or condensed work weeks.

  5. Vacation and leave: As part of your negotiation, discuss the vacation and leave policies. Make sure you know how many days off you are entitled to each year, as well as any additional benefits such as paid sick leave or family leave. If you can, negotiate more days off than the standard.

  6. Professional development: Make sure the job offers opportunities for growth and training that will help you reach your career goals. Negotiate additional educational benefits such as tuition reimbursement, language courses, or professional training that will help you transition smoothly to your new role and make the most out of this experience.

  7. Other benefits: Get details on additional benefits the company offers, such as health insurance, life insurance, retirement accounts, bonuses, stock options, and other perks. See if you are eligible for any of them and if so, negotiate the terms for benefits that are important to you.

Remember that with that new job offer starts your new life and career chapter. Make the most of it—follow these tips to build a thriving international career.

Did you seal the deal?

Congrats—have a well-deserved celebration! And before you start packing your bags, do one more thing to set yourself up for success. Head to this guide to prepare for your first day at work and make a great impression on your new colleagues and managers.


Key Takeaways

Moving abroad for a job is a big career and life decision. Make the most of your international move by negotiating a salary that is reflective of your worth. Although you may be tempted to accept whatever amount is offered, it's important to remember that you have the power to negotiate a better deal. With good preparation and a solid understanding of the market, you can negotiate a salary and other benefits that make the move worthwhile.

Use this guide as a starting point for salary negotiations for jobs abroad, whether you're negotiating your salary in person, by email, or over the phone. Bookmark it and keep it at hand—you never know when you might need it again.


What's next?

Two female career coaches and HR professionals. Cutout headshots in a circular frame on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin

Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana—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. And MoreThanCareers is here to help!

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