Author Topic: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?  (Read 943 times)

DavidDoes

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Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« on: December 27, 2019, 06:12:42 PM »
When considering a job in another area, one you're inexperienced with, what resources have you found that have been helpful with:

- Realistic salary negotiation
- Understanding what your dollar will get you
- Getting an understanding of the local culture and things-to-do

There are tools like niche.com, deptofnumbers.com, bestplaces.com, city-data.com, and more, but they all have pretty different numbers. I have a spreadsheet that takes the salary from several resources and averages them out, then grabs the median home sale value and averages those out, and what-have-you, but it doesn't really address my points above. For instance, our current area's median income only gets your 55% of the median home sale price as far as purchasing power. But in the location I'm considering, median household income gets you almost 200% of the median home sale price.

I am being considered for a role. This role would be more responsibilities than my current one, but also less flexible in work schedule. It would include leading a larger team, require more knowledge than my current role does (which I possess), and would be far higher volume (in terms of work done) than my current role, but would also offer way more room for growth. All that said, I am currently underpaid by ~$15,000 in a HCOL area, but I'd also be moving to a vastly lower COL area. What's more - my field has so few people in it that you can't just look up the median salary on Glassdoor or what-have-you. In fact, it's lumped into another category by the BLS, which is very inaccurate. The industry last performed a salary survey in 2014.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2019, 10:33:52 PM by DavidDoes »

TomTX

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2019, 11:11:21 AM »
Push for a salary increase compared to your current compensation.

RWTL

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2019, 01:28:39 PM »
Push for a salary increase compared to your current compensation.

I would agree with this.  In my line of work, two people could be offered very different amounts based on the rate they are currently making. 

If you're above 100K, you could ask for 10-20K more if you're in a high demand field.

DavidDoes

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2019, 10:33:32 PM »
Push for a salary increase compared to your current compensation.

Even if the median income in the lower COL area is 23% lower than my current area? For comparison, I'm making almost the median in Seattle, in 2017 numbers, according to DeptofNumbers. (Scroll down for Per Capita income; our household is much lower than median household.)

I would agree with this.  In my line of work, two people could be offered very different amounts based on the rate they are currently making. 

If you're above 100K, you could ask for 10-20K more if you're in a high demand field.

Whoo! 100k would be awesome!

In my experience, there are pretty hard lines in this industry. This is retail and wholesale specialty coffee production. Pay is all over the place for anyone above a barista. Some managers make less than baristas after tips, some roasters (me) are paid salary, while others are paid based on volume.

Their outfit is significantly larger than the one I'd be coming from. There's also less job security in this LCOL area, if anything were to happen. But, it is a place my wife and I could see opening our own business, something we definitely can't do here in Seattle, much less purchase a house. But, the schools are terrible out there... I feel like I need a life counselor for a choice like this. Hah!

honeybbq

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2019, 11:41:15 AM »
Well, I went the opposite way, from the midwest to Seattle.

I did a few calculations on my own. First was the cost of living index. So say the COLI was 0.85 where I was from, and Seattle is 1.05 (making these up)- I needed a 24% bump in salary to "make the same". However, I'd also be saving two fold - one was because of no state income taxes, so I'd be saving almost 10% by moving to state without. Also, since Seattle has great public schools, I'd "save" 20k/year by not having to have our kiddo in private school. However, housing costs added a separate bump in my mind- since living close to my work included an extra % in housing cost above and beyond the COLI, I added in extra to that.

So I came up with a minimum move number. Luckily, they met that number (actually, it was well over) and I accepted the position and moved here. And we've made lots of money ever since.

In your position, it's slightly opposite. Sounds like a more challenging role for ultimately less money but also a much lower COL. You'd have to figure out what the minimum you'd be willing to work for.  Using your currently salary might be difficult because of the Seattle premium. But you could figure out what your new budget might be like there. Also what is the total package? What about retirement contributions, sick leave, vacation days, etc? Can you negotiate a work-from-home once a week? Etc? Whatever it is that you personally value, it might be easier to negotiate some of those things rather than baseline salary.

Also, make sure you get several days to interview or tour the new area if you don't know it already. Make sure you really want to live there and see what the culture is like. Go visit parks, a grocery store, some of the "touristy?" things people do. If you're moving from Seattle, you probably value outdoors, liberalness, and access to really great museums and activities (I'm totally generalizing but oh well). Make sure you'll be happy with your transition and good luck!

chasesfish

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2019, 03:09:14 PM »
How scarce is your skill in the area you're moving to?

The extreme example is anethesiologists, who make near-insane money by moving to smaller areas because there's not enough affluent people willing to live in some lower income/lower cost areas.

I was in finance / banking and eventually the smaller towns realized they had to pay as much as the large city to attract talent.  Way too many companies and too few qualified people. 

I think that drives it more than what does everyone else in the area make.

I've actually done it both ways for promotions, I got about 10% moving to the smaller market/lower cost of living with an increase in responsibility.  When I went back to a big city, I leveraged it into almost 25% in base salary and 2x the restricted stock from the smaller town.

I hope that helps

mistymoney

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Re: Negotiating a salary in a vastly different COL area?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2020, 09:14:33 AM »
You'd have to determine what the job is worth for you, researching not just the general COL but the neighborhoods, etc. you'd actually want to live in, the schools you would send your kids to etc.

While we all want the most we can get out of any job pay-wise, asking for an unrealistic salary can also side line you from consideration. In a recent recruitment, we had a couple of people asking for about 40% more than we were looking to pay during the phone screen with HR - they were not advanced to the hiring manager interviews.

The idea is that the pay expectation is too great - and they would either not accept the job as we would offer or if they were desperate for any reason - they would take it but be disgruntled and looking to move on fairly quickly.

since you are moving areas - you could finesse this a little bit by saying that your target is x, or x-y range, see what they say - and if that seems out of their range you could say that you are interested in moving and would like to continue talking and hear more about their thoughts on salary for the position.

But - if you can make them give you a range first - that would be better! Good luck!