How to Negotiate Your Salary Abroad

Receiving an overseas job opportunity can be exciting. In all the excitement, you may risk overlooking some salary details that later prove costly.

While working with a placement company, some employees assume the contracts aren’t negotiable. Yet, there are usually many details in your contract you can talk over with your employer. By putting your negotiation skills to use, you can walk away with an attractive expatriate salary package.

Pay Attention to Detail

Before you get a chance to discuss your compensation, first study the finer details of the offer. The best negotiations seminars prepare attendees to pay attention to the main terms and fine print in contracts.

Your employment contract may contain extra clauses your employer may have neglected to mention. For instance, you may only be eligible for a bonus after a two-year vesting period. You may also be liable for some penalties if you quit before a stipulated period.

Compensation Package

Your salary will often be your first point of focus when negotiating your expatriate contract. While the gross salary is essential, you have to weigh it against other factors including:

  • Hardship conditions in the host country
  • Level of taxation
  • The cost of living
  • Availability of leisure facilities
  • The cost of relocation from your home country
  • Types of cuisines available

Other factors to consider include:

  • Healthcare provision
  • Security concerns
  • Level of infrastructure
  • Access to communication with family back home
  • Level of individual freedoms
  • Access to career progression opportunities

You may negotiate higher pay to compensate for a lower quality of life in your host country. You may also negotiate a higher salary if you will be missing out on career training and ongoing seminar opportunities back home.

Discuss Benefits

What are the benefits your company is offering to move you to a foreign country? At times, improved benefits can make up for salary shortfalls. Some benefits you may need to deliberate include:

  • Medical cover: Does insurance cover your whole family? Will you need to copay?
  • Vacation days: Are there extra vacation days for traveling back home?
  • Sick days: How many sick days are you allowed per year?
  • Holidays: Do you follow the host country calendar, the home country calendar, both, or neither?
  • Complimentary trips: Will the company foot the airfare on at least one trip per year back home?
  • Housing: Will the company provide secure housing, or enough allowance for suitable housing?
  • Relocation costs: Will the company pay to move your personal belongings from your home country to the host country?
  • Education: Will your employer foot the bill for international school education for your kids? Will the company assist with placement and registration?
  • Spousal Aid: Can the company secure employment for your spouse or offer compensation?
  • Work Documents: Will the company clear your work permits, travel visas, and taxation forms?

Ensure Contract Is Enforceable

Make sure the employment contract is legal and enforceable. The best negotiation seminar facilitators report how, in some countries, law agencies and companies may not honor contracts. Contracts may especially be unenforceable if formed in a foreign country. Find out the laws and values of your host country.

Some companies may take advantage of lax laws. Employers may try to find creative interpretations of your contract terms. To avoid such scenarios, it’s important to pay due diligence. Find out whether there are any complaints from previous employees. You can also negotiate to include clear benchmarks in your contract. Benchmarks set clear rules of engagement in the employer-employee relationship.


Anne Neumann is a long-time content creator and editor. Through her writings, Anne brings the best and most important negotiating lessons to a business audience. She also enjoys the opportunity to work with skilled negotiators, integrating best practices into her own life.