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I work full time for a state college in the USA. I like my job, and I have a positive relationship with my boss. My landlord is asking me to renew my lease, and rent is going up by 25%. I am slated for a raise, but it's not going to cover such a huge increase. This is on top of the pain I'm already feeling from increased food, fuel, etc. prices.

My employer has been talking a big game about taking "drastic measures" to retain talent (we currently have over 70 openings). I'd like to broach the subject to my boss that, hey, I'm one of the employees that needs some help. But I'm not sure where to start. Should I just hit him up on Teams with "hey boss, about that staff housing fund..."?

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    You can be straight forward and tell him that your rent rate is up by 25%. At the same time, since you work for a college, unfortunately, it's likely they won't be able to cover all the increase in expense. Have you thought about getting a new job in the private sector ? That is likely the best way to get a higher salary. Jun 15 at 23:05
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    @Job_September_2020 I've worked in the private sector in the past and considered returning, but it's not that simple. I need to stay in a rural area to help take care of my family, and there aren't a lot of local jobs in my field here. I could try remote work, but my impression is that you're competing against the whole world to get one of those jobs. Jun 15 at 23:51
  • Is where you live the only place in the city renting out accommodation? I would 100% all-the-time move out if my landlord wants to raise my rent by a quarter. I don't see how your landlord trying to exploit you has anything to do with your employer.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 16 at 19:41
  • Does this answer your question? Is it reasonable to ask for a cost of living raise
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 17 at 5:34
  • @NeilMeyer, it could be that the OP has been enjoying below-market rent during their current lease and a 25% increase reflects what other housing options in the area are currently going for.
    – spuck
    Jun 23 at 20:43

4 Answers 4

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rent is going up by 25%

Looks like a good time to be hunting for another residence. Everyone is hurting, landlords who make huge hikes should be given short thrift. We had a situation in my locale where prices went up, and now 2 years later landlords can't find tenants as an exodus made a cheaper area suddenly become desirable. So their buildings have been mostly vacant and are starting to deteriorate. The area itself is no longer seen as high end.

How do I broach the subject of cost of living with my boss?

You can ask on teams as in the question, but at a time when everyone is tightening their belts it has potential pitfalls. It's probably better to just ask for information on what is available and then follow whatever channel is given for whatever you may be eligible for.

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    The OP just needs to move. It is not worth ruining a good job demanding a pay increase just so you can continue to pay unreasonable rent.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jun 16 at 19:43
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    @NeilMeyer: As surprising as this might actually sound, sometimes you literally can't afford to move. Yes, that would be the ideal answer. It's not always the practical answer.
    – Makoto
    Jun 22 at 21:35
  • @Makoto I'm unconvinced by the "can't afford to move" idea. If it's a case of not being able to find somewhere comparable for a price you can afford, the the solution is downsizing/downgrading to something you can afford. If it's a case of not being able to afford to pay to have your household full of stuff moved then you need to start selling stuff until you get to the point where the money you've made selling stuff is enough to cover the cost of moving what's left. I'm not under any illusion that these are pleasant options, but they are what they are ...
    – brhans
    Jun 23 at 20:07
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    @brhans: Sometimes it's not a practical answer. This puts aside the pleasantries of going through it, but "simply" moving isn't always going to be practical for some people. Yes, it's the most expedient. But I want to stress that it is not always practical. Just going to encourage you to be a bit more considerate of the circumstances of others in that vein.
    – Makoto
    Jun 23 at 21:43
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Should I just hit him up on Teams with "hey boss, about that staff housing fund..."?

That entirely depends upon your relationship with your boss, and only you can judge that unfortunately. Personally I'm quite friendly with my boss, and I think that I would still rather have this conversation face to face. Equally I would think for something this any of my team members would at least start with a phone or video call rather than an IM. For me a Teams message is for quick or not so important information, which this absolutely does not fit in to.

That all being said this entirely depends on your workplace culture and your relationship with your boss.

Also don't discount the alternative approach Kilisi offers

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I would share your concerns with your boss, and ask if they can help you find a path toward a meaningful raise (whatever that amount is). I think it's fair, and up to you if you feel comfortable doing this, but: I think it's fair for someone in your position to say you are open to looking at outside options (ie, working somewhere else). Make it clear that you want to stay, list the positives, you would prefer to stay, etc., but at the end of the day, you're working that job (any job) for the pay. It's not volunteer or charity work, and if the pay isn't enough then you'll have to look somewhere else.

If your boss is willing to help out, great, go with that. If instead they somehow try to turn this situation against you, then most likely you're no worse off, and possibly even better off by knowing that the boss isn't on your side (and maybe never was).

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If you have regular meetings with your manager, then this would be something to bring up then.

If you don't, then ask to put one on the calendar to discuss the matter.

Be open and frank about your circumstance. But also, don't be afraid to look around for other opportunities. As a remote worker, you'd be competing with others, but that's not that different from an in-person interview.

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