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Salary negotiation for offer in California

Salary negotiation for offer in California

Old Feb 18th 2011, 12:23 pm
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Default Salary negotiation for offer in California

First introductions:
I'm new on the board and and seeking some general advice on moving from Germany to the US. Any informed responses would be greatly appreciated.

I currently work for a software company in Germany, recently we merged with an American company in the US and I'm currently talking to them about a vacancy they have in a fairly senior position. This would be in effect an inter company transfer.

I've done a few calculations on take home pay and have also researched info on getting credit after the move and re-location. The upshot is it's probably going to cost me around 10K for the house move, with further incidental expenses such as paying of gym membership, paying off car finance (negative equity), and other loans of around 25k. House rental in the area I'm looking at is about 3500 per month for something decent and large enough.

What package should I ask for (re-location etc)?
Is this being too cheeky if they really really want me:
1. Relocation allowance of 15k
2. Company lease car for the first 18 months (until I could get credit)
3. 75% of health care for me and my family paid (company scheme)
4. 20k cash payment for settlement of outstanding debts in Germany (could do something here with first year salary)
5. 1 month accommodation paid
6. Visa lawyer (L1A)
7. Realtor expenses for finding house rental
8. Salary range is between 140k and 160k
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 12:40 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Only thing in there that seems a little cheeky is maybe the 20k debt settlement... but you can ask and let them haggle you down Are you expecting them to pay for the lease or just get you the car, but deduct it from your salary? There was a thread on here a while back about how much companies paid in relocation costs and it varies wildly, from a few thousand dollars for some people, to having all living costs covered for a period for others.

I would find out what the healthcare offering is there before you ask them for 75% as there may be high deductibles and co-pays for which if you or your family were seriously ill, even 25% would be a large amount. Also would you want to stay permanently? worth asking for them to cover GC costs too maybe (and get them to agree a date when they will file by, so they don't drag it out too long).
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 1:05 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

we got a lot more for relocation (think it was around $45k) but that meant we had to sort our number2,4, 5, and 7 from that sum ourselves.

3 - why do you have a fixed percentage in mind? have you any idea what it would cost in reality? this might be hard as its usually a standard across the company.
6 - we had all that paid direct by firm so it wasnt included in 1.
7 - we had 'relocation assistance' paid for, but the realtor we used got their commissions the normal way (ie paid by home seller or renting landlord) so we didnt pay him ourselves.

also think about
- flights out. The company paid for the whole family to fly when we actually moved out - BUT we had to use number 1 to cover any other househunting flights.
- emergency flights - think we had one set of emergemcy flights per year in the contract (ie death in family and need to go back quickly). we never actually had to use this thankfully.
- freight. Company paid for out air and sea freight in entirety.
- white goods. you will have to leave a lot of electrical items behind as they wont work - so will need to buy replacements here - for us this was included in the number 1 figure

and regarding 8 - we were under those figures.


1. Relocation allowance of 15k
2. Company lease car for the first 18 months (until I could get credit)
3. 75% of health care for me and my family paid (company scheme)
4. 20k cash payment for settlement of outstanding debts in Germany (could do something here with first year salary)
5. 1 month accommodation paid
6. Visa lawyer (L1A)
7. Realtor expenses for finding house rental
8. Salary range is between 140k and 160k
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 2:07 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Originally Posted by Yeti2104 View Post
First introductions:
I'm new on the board and and seeking some general advice on moving from Germany to the US. Any informed responses would be greatly appreciated.

I currently work for a software company in Germany, recently we merged with an American company in the US and I'm currently talking to them about a vacancy they have in a fairly senior position. This would be in effect an inter company transfer.

I've done a few calculations on take home pay and have also researched info on getting credit after the move and re-location. The upshot is it's probably going to cost me around 10K for the house move, with further incidental expenses such as paying of gym membership, paying off car finance (negative equity), and other loans of around 25k. House rental in the area I'm looking at is about 3500 per month for something decent and large enough.

What package should I ask for (re-location etc)?
Is this being too cheeky if they really really want me:
1. Relocation allowance of 15k
2. Company lease car for the first 18 months (until I could get credit)
3. 75% of health care for me and my family paid (company scheme)
4. 20k cash payment for settlement of outstanding debts in Germany (could do something here with first year salary)
5. 1 month accommodation paid
6. Visa lawyer (L1A)
7. Realtor expenses for finding house rental
8. Salary range is between 140k and 160k
As for any negotiation, I would keep in mind the commercial basis for the elements you are seeking. If this is a L1 transfer, don't forget to have a view on your re-entry terms in the event it all goes badly.

Generally, it will be much more efficient for US companies to arrange legal and shipping matters on your behalf, since they have relationships and you don't, so I'd push that to them.

A decent expat package should include a "look-see" visit, home leave visits and some provisions for emergency return. It should also include the usual stuff around healthcare, housing allowance and education allowance (if applicable)

For near term expenses, 1 month accomo is reasonable but I don't see the basis for asking them to give you a company car for 18 months - unless your role is all about travelling distances that are best accessed by car.

The justification for the lump sum allowance is issues such as cost of new white goods, rental deposit, cost of getting local licenses etc. Your debts in Germany are your own affair; they bear no relation to out-of-pocket costs around your reloction per se. To negotiate on these might be somewhat embarassing.

I would also ask them to cover preparation of your US taxes; not that the amounts involved are significant; they're not, but its just much less hassle.

viel Erfolg
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 2:48 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Some of those things don't really fall into the category of relocation, such as paying off your car and debt and the 18 month lease here, but $15,000 seems conservative for what the move will actually cost you, depending on the size of your family.
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 3:06 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

In comparison with an oil senior manager's package:

1. Relocation - this may be set by the American side. American companies have a set budget and package, and that may or not be negotiable. Ours wasn't, but when we presented our removals bill and three quotes to prove we simply needed that to move our container - they reimbursed the difference. We had roughly the same amount you want to request - this included door to door relocation of ourselves and our household items. Remember, relocation is not a job bonus, its offsetting cost of the transfer for the employee, and taxed differently than benefits, salary or signing bonuses. But ours from UK to Texas fell much under the $15k you suggest. Part of ours was a cash portion, which you can use toward your lease deposits required for your housing.

2. Nice thought, but rationale off. You do not need 18 months to establish credit in the USA. My husband's credit score reached 800 within 4 months of being here. His company provided a corporate backed American Express and he bought a house. Job done, credit established. Most companies will give up to 3 months for a rental car. Few have leased pools, and those are for the board or execs only. But nothing hurts to ask.

3. Insurance will be sorted by employer with deductions per company policy. Not much to negotiate here.

4. Pay off your debts? Ummm. No. But how about asking for a signing bonus? Normally that is with new hires, but its worth an ask. Simply don't say its because you have debt....companies here don't want to know about your personal problems. And more of them do credit and background checks to know about personal finance as it is....just to make sure you don't steal more than the staples from the supply closet. I'd probably ask for a cash portion of the relocation instead, and take personal responsibility of your prior debt. JMHO knowing how American companies like to keep personal stuff out of their HR files. And companies can wiggle in "signing bonus" funds, so use those words (or hiring bonus) - it will be taxed as income, so consider that when asking for it. This is definitely an area of negotiation.

5. 1 month accommodation is normal. Going with #7, realtor expenses to find rental - most companies with global presence has a broker already in place for that. Ask. Otherwise, you may want to re-think about making that #7 more broad - such as settlement expenses, as here in USA, a realtor is NOT required to secure rentals. However, you will need to provide first and last month's payments, and any other deposits. This is the cash you'll need upfront. And with no US credit history, you may have problems getting the rental sorted within 30 days, so I'd ask for 2 months accommodation.

Finally, your salary. I'm making huge assumptions that you are going to California due to your industry?

Okay, $150k gross means about $108k take home a year before any state and local taxes. That is about $9000 a month take home. You can definitely pay $3500 a month lease on something.

However, if you are moving to California, Massachusetts or other tech heavy state, you will need to pay state taxes too.

Before any negotiations, ask them for the standard relocation package information. Also ask for the employee benefits folder. Do they have stock options? Bonus schemes? Do they provide 100% health insurance? Free gym memberships? From that you can decide if you can work with it. If you can, negotiating a higher salary has long term compounding increases for YOU, whereas a few thousand dollars in relocation is a one time, taxable situation. Just thoughts.

Good luck in the new job!



Is this being too cheeky if they really really want me:
1. Relocation allowance of 15k
2. Company lease car for the first 18 months (until I could get credit)
3. 75% of health care for me and my family paid (company scheme)
4. 20k cash payment for settlement of outstanding debts in Germany (could do something here with first year salary)
5. 1 month accommodation paid
6. Visa lawyer (L1A)
7. Realtor expenses for finding house rental
8. Salary range is between 140k and 160k

Last edited by Bomjeito; Feb 18th 2011 at 3:10 pm.
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 4:06 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

another thought - our lump sum of cash was tax protected - so we were just given that sum in cash to dispense how we saw fit - but it was included in our year end tax so we paid tax on it. Having it 'protected' meant the company actually paid a portion of our tax bill to ensure we didnt lose out in the end and still got the full value. They paid for our first (and last) year of tax prep in both the UK and US - so the accountants just took care of working out the protected bit.
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 5:24 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

We also had the following included:

1. exchange rate equalization on the sale of our home. We didn't lose anything in the sale, so it didn't matter.

2. Two years tax professional to do our taxes.

Some companies include education benefits, flights home at intervals and assistance in home country emergencies (like flights).

However, watch the small print - most relocation packages require a defined amount of time to stay with the company or risk having to pay it back.
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Not that I'm opposed to asking for more money, but why can't you continue to serve your German debt? Why does it need to be settled before you leave?
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Old Feb 18th 2011, 8:13 pm
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

A couple of additional thoughts for the OP.

Actually you are negotiating your complete compensation and benefits package, not just salary.

Is this intended to be a relatively short term assignment (anything up to about 2 years) or something permanent? If it is short term then you should be trying to negotiate an "expat" package that keeps as many of your existing benefits as possible while compensating you for the additional expense of being in the US. If it is long term then you should be getting a commitment in writing that your employer will sponsor you for a green card.

Remember that things are different in the US:

The amount of vacation that you will be offered will be unbelievably low. so if this is anything other than a long term permanent move you should try to keep your current vacation allowance and even if it is permanent you will want them to take into account your seniority and years of service when figuring out your vacation entitlement - you do *not* want to get the standard "new hire" offer of 10 days ...

Employment in California is "at will" - that means that, unless you have an employment contract which says otherwise (which is something that they will probably be unwilling to even consider) you can be let go at any time for any reason (or, indeed, no reason) with no notice. There are none of the very long notice periods of several months which I believe are still the norm in Germany.
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Old Feb 19th 2011, 1:11 am
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

On 3., you will either be covered by the company health plan or not, there is ZERO negotiation room on this, unless of course they were thinking of excluding you from it, which is hopefully not the case. There will probably be a few options of healthcare to choose from, and you'll have to choose the one that fits you and your family. In a senior position in a big company 70-80% is the norm, but they will have set that in stone in the company policies and CANNOT change it for one employee.

Other than that I think 4. is a bit out of the norm, but if you rephrased it as a signing bonus you might get better feedback. Signing bonuses to senior positions are common, but as you're a transfer not a new hire you might have to push.

Don't be surprised if they don't have 2. company lease cars, it's not common here. But they may pay for you to have a rental for a few weeks as part of your relocation package.

ETA: Also if the company is a big deal in the city you're moving too, they may be able to get you a bank account and credit up to a small amount (enough to get a basic car perhaps). I would explain the issues with getting credit without history (and it sounds like they'll understand this already) and ask if they have any special relationships with local banks that would help you through the transition. This doesn't mean them giving you money of course, or them guaranteeing your loans, it means that if they tell the bank you have guaranteed income from them, the bank may be more generous with you in what accounts they allow you to set up.

Last edited by Jscl; Feb 19th 2011 at 1:17 am. Reason: add the bottom bit
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Old Feb 19th 2011, 2:12 am
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Not that it's my place or anything to suggest something as daft as searching out the numerous, recent threads on the topic, or even point out the wiki which covers a lot of the questions - http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Compan...on_Packages_US


But welcome to BE

Oh and visa fee's, that's by law up to the company, all they can legally ask you to pay is premium processing and lawyer fee's, but if they're asking you for that, you don't want the job.
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Old Feb 20th 2011, 10:03 am
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Default Re: Salary negotiation for offer in California

Thanks everyone for all of your feedback. There's a lot of useful info there.

I doubt I'll be talking package and money in our first meeting about the position, but It's good to go prepared.
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