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I work as a freelancer. I work for an European company, which is my lone client after three years, but I live in a third world country (let's say I live in Cuba).

Next month I am moving to Mexico City to do my Masters, where the cost of life is higher. I am considering asking my boss for a raise, although I am not sure how to negotiate this.

I am getting paid with a fixed rate per hour. A preliminary research indicated that I would need about the double of my current pay rate to meet the standard monthly salary in Mexico City.

In any case, the corresponding salary for an European worker in my field is way higher, that's the main reason why they use my services in the first place.

However, it seems too hard to ask for doubling the salary. How should I negotiate this?

UPDATE: I say he is my boss because he has been my only client for the last three years, and is the one paying for my services as a full-time job. I am paying my Masters, not him. Once in Mexico, I would change my work regime to 20 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week, in order to meet my Masters' study requirements. So, at the end of the day, I will keep more or less my month salary (double hour rate but half of working time).

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    Your 'boss' will only see an employee that has chosen to move to a more expensive place and is now asking for double the salary accordingly. What benefits to your boss will this move have? – user34587 Jun 8 '18 at 14:21
  • Well, my priority right now is studying, although I would like to keep my job. I already presented this scenario to my client, and he said it was OK, and it was clear that a salary increase would be necessary, although we didn't talk about numbers. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 14:25
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    The value of your work/product is not measured based on your cost of living. Once of the gotchas of distributed work forces. If your client didn't move than their basis for the value of your work didn't change. They pay you based on value, not your cost. – cdkMoose Jun 8 '18 at 16:23
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    You say boss, but also that you are a freelancer. Boss and client are not the same thing, which is it? – cdkMoose Jun 8 '18 at 16:25
  • Perhaps I am not familiar with the use of these terms, but in my case the person that pays me, the person that controls the progress of my work and the person who gets benefits from my work is the same person. Well, actually it is a company, there are several persons in the middle, but I see them as a unique entity. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 20:08
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Think of an analogous situation; you have moved from a low-rent apartment to a large fancy house. You had no choice but to go for the large house because it was all that was available in reasonable commuting distance of the university you want to attend (a decision you made yourself with no incentive from your company or obvious benefit to your job). Now both homes are in equal commuting distance of your place of employment. In this situation, should your manager feel responsible for increasing your salary simply because you chose to move to a more expensive place?

For that reason alone, it would be a challenge to expect the boss to give you a raise, but there are a few things you could try in order to argue your case:

  • Does your university course offer you a skill relevant to your current field? Earning this masters degree is likely to make you more valuable and knowledgeable. With these new qualifications, compare your job with similar roles in your industry and prove that similarly qualified people earn more. Help your 'boss' realise the benefit to them of you having your new degree.
  • You say you will have half the time to produce the same amount of work as before. Can you arrange a test case for this? Is there a task you can work on that will prove to your boss that you can accomplish the same amount of work in less time? It might be worthwhile to draw their attention to these.
  • Without making any assumptions about your current country of residence, wherever it might be, can any arguments be given for Mexico being safer or having more reliable access to the resources you need to do your job? Anything that can help your boss realise the move is good for them as well as you would be a positive point.

I used to work with someone (remotely) who used to live in a country that could be described as volatile. He was a good colleague; my manager didn't want to lose him. When he got the chance to move to a less volatile country, his cost of living changed and he told me his salary was adjusted accordingly.

  • Your answer helps me a lot. One benefit that comes to mind is the Internet access and speed, which is quite restrictive in my current location. This would be the main resource I need to do my job. In Mexico I would be able to talk more frequently to my client and he will be able to control my progress more effectively. Besides, my Masters' program will make me more prepared to do my job. Regarding the amount of work I will be able to get done in less time, I suppose it will be lower, but the company already has other freelancers working in part-time jobs. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 15:08
  • I will try to reinforce my arguments in the three aspects you suggest in your answer. And if my client decides to pay me less than I expect, I will let him know that we will have to re-discuss this issue once I live in Mexico for a couple of months and I can really decide if my payment is fair or not. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 15:14
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    @LuisMGato, "fair" is probably not the right term to apply here. If client didn't ask you to change and you aren't providing more value, would it be "fair" to charge him more for the same results? – cdkMoose Jun 8 '18 at 16:27
  • @cdkMoose, my top priority are my studies right now, since I am in my early twenties and I feel this is the right time. I like my job, but I am aware of the exploitation to which I am being subject because of living in a third world country. With my current payment I am comfortably living today, but I won't in my new city. On the other hand, my work is paid with 6-7 times or more my current salary if I were living in the company's country. Therefore, I don't feel like I am being unfair charging him, since I am only asking to reduce the difference causing exploitation. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 20:21
  • @LuisMGato, you are free to reject the work if you don't think the offer is "fair" to you. My point is that from the point of the client, fairness is not determined by your life situation, it is based on the value of the work you do. If that value is defined by cost of living for other potential workers in cheaper areas, that may make it unacceptable to you, but that is not unfair. You also weren't being exploited, that is just how the world of distributed/out-sourced workforce works. – cdkMoose Jun 8 '18 at 21:28
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If I understand correctly you are working remotely for a company in Europe from the third World.

Companies that outsource to the third World almost exclusively do so because it's a lot cheaper so think long and hard before you ask for a raise especially a large one. Businesses outsourcing in this way are not interested in your personal circumstances usually, just in saving money from hiring a local so unless you have some specialised skills or knowledge they may just look for a replacement.

You also want to move from a 40 hour week to a 20 hour one.

Frankly studying for your Masters is laudable, but not your employers problem, I don't think it's wise to make it one. Far preferable to keep them happy and find another way of generating revenue if you want to keep them as a client. Or better yet find employment in Mexico when you get there.

However you can discuss the matter with them and try and work something out, cutting down to 20 hours is a lot of difference on it's own. Best to be upfront with your needs and explain why you would require a cut in hours with a big increase in pay. But don't rely on getting it, you're moving to Mexico, start looking at employment avenues there now, because I think your chances are pretty slim.

I already presented this scenario to my client, and he said it was OK, and it was clear that a salary increase would be necessary, although we didn't talk about numbers.

So discuss the numbers and get it agreed in writing, you need to resolve this and see if it would work for your situation. Be wary, because in this situation I would also agree with you just to keep the work flowing while I prepare to replace you.

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    I think this is your wordiest answer ever. ;-) – Mister Positive Jun 8 '18 at 14:32
  • @Kilisi, after working for this company for three years now, I am sure my client is not willing to lose me, for my experience in the narrow field in which I work. Actually, he is willing for me to move to Europe, although they don't have a clear solution yet for this. At least that is what my client says. I hope he is not preparing to replace me, which wouldn't be so easy anyway, again for my experience in such a narrow field. – Luis M Gato Jun 8 '18 at 14:40

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