Help me negotiate a simple salary
July 28, 2009 7:06 AM   Subscribe

We are talking small beans here, but it's my beans, so please hear me out... I'm an ESL teacher/tutor with 3 undergrad degrees, certification through Oxford and 5 years experience. I have been offered a job in Shanghai.

Included is a small apartment (in Puxi), free meals whenever I want them, transportation unless visiting outside the city, round trip airfare to the US every 10 months, high-speed internet, and a number of other similar perks.
I have been asked to 'name' a desired salary.
Going in I'm pretty sure what ever I ask for will be bartered down, only because that's the way the game is played in China.
I don't much care about the 'going rate' as I teach not only English, but history and science as well, and am in my 40's, well-travelled, and bring a lot more to the table than a teaching cert from Oxford.
However, I don't want to be so outlandish as to ask for an impossible amount.
I am thinking $1000 USD a month as a minimum.
When I last taught in China, I made about 400. That was in a village, and in pretty much third-word circumstances.
Any suggestions? Again, this amount, while very low, is a heck of a lot in China. And my only expenses out-of-pocket will be entertainment, necessities such as occasional clothing, toiletries, travel, and other incidentals.
Essentially, 75% of what I make will be more than I need to live an OK lifestyle.
But again...I'm tired of being the guy who always settles for less. Getting older. No savings to speak of. Own nothing much. And I'm OK with all that...
Sorry to ramble and make, I'm sure, numerous mistakes here, but the deadline is looming and I'm way over thinking this deal.
Honest advice from a stranger or two is what I need.
email fatbackncollards at gmail...
or, preferably, try to give yr two cents here :)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
With your qualifications and experience you could command, say, RMB 12-14k/month at a private school. If you're teaching at a local Chinese school/university (which it sounds like is the case, from the "generous" benefits included) then the salary won't be very high and that may be a problem in a city like Shanghai especially if your lifestyle expectations don't match those of your employer. Health insurance is something you should think about if you are in your 40s. Also, I plead with you to carefully consider the location of your school; "Puxi" can be a very large place, especially when it's already July and they're looking to hire somebody to start in Aug/Sep so they want to make the offer as attractive as possible. Make sure you're not out in Jiading or Songjiang, and if you are then make sure you're OK with it. If you want more back-and-forth, I've been in Shanghai for about 5 years and e-mail's in the profile.
posted by msittig at 8:25 AM on July 28, 2009

I would ask for a lot more than that. I'm in Egypt, not China, but the expat package you've been offered is standard (well, aside from the free food), and you still need to be able to afford things back in the US every 10 months. It is incredibly relevant what other people make, as I suspect it's a LOT more than $1000/month.

Also, consider what salary you'd expect to make in the US and go down from there.

My salary here is slightly less than what I made in the US in a similar position, even with all the benefits I get here, so it adds up to way more than my salary and housing in the US.

Is there any way to avoid naming a salary? That's a standard way of lowballing people in career negotiations, and you'd be in a much better position if they named a number first.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2009

I don't want to be so outlandish as to ask for an impossible amount.

Determine a reasonable salary to request based on your skills, background, and financial goals. I'd recommend sitting down with an actual financial advisor, if that's at all possible, to work out a long-term plan. If your would-be employers view this number as an outlandish amount, then they can't afford you.
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:09 PM on July 28, 2009

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