How to Adapt Salary Requirements When You Move City

Moving to a new city, or country for work? Bastien Allibert, founder of Settle in Berlin – a blog for all things expat – writes about how you can research the kind of salary you can expect in your new town. 

If you’re considering a new life abroad or a job offer in a major European city, you will no doubt be weighing the pros and cons of such a life-changing decision. As well as preparing for compromises to your current lifestyle and family situation, there is a fair amount of research to be done to make sure that your new position yields a fitting salary. This task can be daunting as many parameters are often unknown, e.g. cost of living, currency differences, relative scarcity of your profile and qualifications, local job market competition, etc.

Here are a few tips on how to best adapt your salary requirements when moving to a new country or city.

Check databases & studies

Instinctively, the first thing that can come to mind is to check if there’s any data already out there that could help you to define an initial broad salary range for your skill set. Databases are often crafted by local authorities at state or city level. Although these are quite reliable and regularly updated, these are unfortunately rarely job-specific. There are also sometimes private initiatives like this study from Jobspotting or other crowd-fed platforms such as World Salaries. This data is quite specific but it can be limited since it’s hard to gather a large and distributed data set to validate the sample/source material on which these studies are based.

Turn to employer review platforms

Over the years, review websites have expanded to cover more and more aspects of our lives. Those 5 little stars are now found on everything from books, to hotels, to e-commerce websites. This is now also true for companies. A number of employer review websites have appeared that let prospective employees give feedback on company culture, atmosphere and management style. Some reviews do offer insight on salaries as well. Websites like Glassdoor are thus pure gold for your research.

Join groups on business networking social media

Depending on your locale, there will surely be one or two leading business networking sites to turn to. Whether that’s LinkedInXingViadeo or others, they all have one functionality in common: interest groups. They are ideal for finding local professionals who work in the same industry or hold the same position as you. Along with giving you a great head-start in terms of knowing what skills are needed locally, you can connect to individuals to learn more about their paycheques! Checking individual profiles can help you to pick people that have the most similar profiles to you for even better accuracy.

Look for relevant Facebook communities

The same can apply to Facebook groups, which have the added value of being more localised. People don’t only turn to LinkedIn to connect with other professionals. Facebook has become a meeting point too, especially for freelancers. Although it provides less information on the members of the group, the format does allow for more open-ended questions, and often they have a faster reaction time. The relative anonymity (professionally speaking) of those groups might also help to obtain an answer more easily.

Go to networking events

If you ever have the chance to be on-site before starting your new job, you can do all of this IRL. There are probably relevant networking events you can go to to meet people that matter. They can also give you a few tips from different perspectives. You will meet the equivalent of your future colleagues, boss or contractor. It is albeit trickier to obtain information on salaries in some cultures so the response might not be so enthusiastic depending on your approach.

If clumsiness can be forgiven online, a little more finesse will be required to obtain the right information when face to face. If you work in startups, places like Startup Digest are a good place to start looking. Try meetup or Eventbrite as well.

Consider the local language and how it impacts your profile value

If your endeavour takes you to places where your mother tongue is not the local language, you might have to consider whether that impacts the value of your profile. Some industries or companies might do all their business through English but others (maybe more old-economy?) will see your lack of language skills as a drawback to your otherwise perfect CV. Again here, do your research and talk to locals to see if you will need to decrease your salary requirements when moving to a new country or city. 

Bastien Allibert

Bastien Allibert

Founder of Settle in Berlin

Bastien Allibert is the founder of the popular blog, Settle in Berlin. Settle in Berlin started in 2011, and has since become the most comprehensive resource for all things practical about moving to Berlin from registering your address, to finding a job, to doing your taxes. SiB covers everything you can think of, explaining it clearly so that you can focus on enjoying your new life instead. SiB has been recommended by the Berliner Zeitung as well as Expat Blogs.