I am an American with a white collar career. I lost my job during the pandemic and had to move to a small town for the only job I could find at the time. Unfortunately this town "boomed" later in the pandemic, with people fleeing from nearby cities to live here. This combined with inflation has increased the cost of living dramatically; my rent will go up $200/month when I renew my contract, and there are no other properties on the market (the nearest rental I could find is over an hour away). I already scrimp and save; I will need a raise in order to continue living here.

I have been on the job for 11 months now, made top marks in my latest evaluation, put some serious work into projects that have gotten me a lot of praise, and would normally ask for an annual raise in a couple months anyway. My boss and I get along well too. My company is giving a 3% raise to all employees, but that will not cover the increase in cost of living and does not kick in till next year besides. How can I explain this to my boss without seeming ungrateful?

Please do not suggest finding another job; that is the obvious answer if push comes to shove, but it's not what I'm asking about here.

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    You have a good relationship with your boss. If I were you, I'd pretty much explain the rent situation. I personally would not bother going over past achievements, cause my assumption would be my boss would know how much I'm worth. Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 3:34
  • Does your boss live and work in the same town as you do ? If yes, he will probably understand very well that you have a good reason to ask for a bigger raise (even if he may not be able to give you that bigger raise due to the company policy). Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 5:46
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    Does this answer your question? How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 7:49
  • The rent for the apartment you're currently renting will go up by 200$/month? Is that a normal thing in the US? In my country there are strict limits on increases in a lease, and 200$/month would certainly be illegal.
    – Stef
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


How can I explain this to my boss without seeming ungrateful?

There is nothing ungrateful about asking for what you need. If you can't live on the pay, that's just a fact that needs to be dealt with one way or the other.

Just be prepared to get a negative answer. Everyone is struggling, not just you, and there are a lot of well qualified and hard working people looking for jobs in many industries. Many have taken a hefty decrease in their standard of living already.

  • This is the best answer, unfortunately for the author, due to the increased workforce the company might be unable to meet their compensation requirements. Companies have to be profitable and be sustainable, high revenue isn’t always an indication of profitability. Living farther away might be your only option until more reasonable housing is available, which will eventually happen, if the market for it continues to increase.
    – Donald
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 12:25

Whatever you were thinking of asking for, triple that and ask for that.

One key point often mentioned on here: when you state how much you want, I strongly suggest DO NOT talk in "percentages". State the dollar amount you want.

Also please note: https://workplace.stackexchange.com/a/174107/22844

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