I am working in my home town, which is a small city as a developer, and say that my current salary is around $2000. I was applying in the capital for the same position, but this time I am asking for $6000. The reaction I am getting from employers is that it is too much of a jump from my current salary.

What I was trying to say is that my salary is at "Provincial Rate", meaning at least 90% of the jobs in my home town is lower than the rate in the cities/capital in our country.

Compared to working the capital to my hometown, the cost of living is much higher. Also considering my relocation costs. Also I have 5 years of work experience, 2 years in the position I am applying for. If I was a developer in the capital, I wouldn't be receiving $2000, maybe I would've been getting $4000 so an expected salary of $6000 would seem to be right.

When moving from a low cost of living area to a high cost of living area, how can I get hiring managers to take cost of living into account when they ask for my current salary?

How can I get them to accept my asking salary if the employers think that my asking salary is too high considering my current salary? One recruiter even mentioned of a maximum percentage of a salary increase/jump being 150% or something.

  • 2
    Hey jeraldo, I edited this a bit to clarify what I think your question is, as it was buried in the post body. On Stack Exchange, being a Q&A site, it's important that we focus on an actual question. Feel free to keep editing to clarify in case I misread something. See How to Ask and take the tour for more details. Hope this helps.
    – jmort253
    Aug 28, 2014 at 2:54
  • @jmort253 Thanks. The actual question I was asking is if it is fair that the employers think that jumping from my current salary to my desired salary is too high.
    – SleepNot
    Aug 28, 2014 at 3:03
  • @jeraldo, you're welcome. Just remember to focus on practical, everyday problems that can be solved. The issue fairness doesn't help you solve the problem, whereas focusing on ways to deal with the problem leads to solutions. Hope this helps clarify, and thanks for participating on our site! :)
    – jmort253
    Aug 28, 2014 at 3:58
  • I like this question, I'll soon be facing a similar predicament myself. Good post, well done!
    – Nick Coad
    Aug 28, 2014 at 4:34
  • 1
    This question may be of interest Aug 28, 2014 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


First of all, and maybe a little unrelated but definitely important: do not tell a potential employer your current salary. Why are you telling them your current salary?

If for some reason you're determined to tell them your current salary, then the key word you want to focus on is "lifestyle". You need to explain to them the following:

To continue living the same lifestyle in the new area as you were afforded in the old area, you would need a salary of $X. $X will be an increase on your old salary that you think would provide you with the same lifestyle. But if you already have a job then there's no reason to move to them if you're not improving your lifestyle, therefore you'd like $X + $Y. $Y should be approximately the same amount you would normally be adding if you were moving to a job in the same area, maybe with a teeny bit on top to - again - cover the increased cost of living.

  • 4
    Well, in all of the interviews I've been they always ask for the current salary. And while having the rights to not tell them about my current salary, that could be another discussion. The $X + $Y (with the teeny bit on top) formula seems to be the answer I am looking for. I will use it come final interview so good luck to me. Thanks.
    – SleepNot
    Aug 28, 2014 at 4:41
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    Good answer, +1. Of course, the prospective employer may point out that moving to a big city will improve your lifestyle all by itself (better amenities, better shopping, more stuff to do - after all, there are reasons why people accept the higher costs of living in large cities), so best to be prepared for this kind of argument. Aug 28, 2014 at 6:49
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    +1 for "Don't tell your salary". Living on Brazil moving from a small town to a big city can skyrooket your living costs while deteriorate your lifestyle (more traffic, pollution, crimes, etc). The facts are , most hiring managers ill ask for your actual salary and refuse to add 10% to it and the average salary for same position can double if you are moving between towns
    – jean
    Aug 28, 2014 at 11:24
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    @jeraldo You can just stick with saying that you've been receiving an average (competitive) salary. You should not have to expose that you've been receiving below-average salaries. What matter is our current skill-set.
    – Jonast92
    Aug 28, 2014 at 14:00
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    EVERY single job interview I've had in the last 10 years or more I've been asked my current salary (range), and in at least half of them expected to hand in a recent salary slip as proof I wasn't lying as part of the process of making an offer. Most companies simply have a policy to hire people at x% over their current salary...
    – jwenting
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:08

It'd simply say "My current salary is $X, but of course if I move to an area with higher cost of living I would want that adjusted to, at the very least, maintain my current lifestyle." Then see what they come back with, and negotiate from there.

They can look up comparative cost of living as easily as you can. Maybe easier.

(Don't forget that this is often not a single number. Changes in housing costs, energy costs, and food costs may change in completely unrelated ways, to give three specific examples. Benefits also differ widely from company to company, of course. So there's always going to be some room for disagreement and negotiation.)


I'd get some statistics on relative cost of living, and then say, "I'm currently making $2,000, but I checked on cost-of-living-in-this-country.com and I see that that cost of living in the capital is 25% higher, so I would have to make $2,500 to maintain my current standard of living."

Are your numbers literal? I don't know where you live, but I'd be surprised if the cost of living in the city was really 3 times the cost of living outside. Not impossible, I guess. Even if it's 50% higher, that would bring your baseline up to $3,000, and you're asking them to double THAT. You're asking for a very large increase. Maybe it's justified for any number of reasons -- cost of living, greater responsibilities, etc -- but asking someone to triple your salary, you're going to need to offer some serious justification.

  • Cost of living is usually not a proportional thing. Some basic living expenses change barely at all (groceries), some may change by a factor of nearly 10 (rent). Disposable income above basic living expenses might not be location dependent at all (buying electronics mail order, or a vehicle) or subject to extreme differences (eating at nice restaurants).
    – Ben Voigt
    Aug 28, 2014 at 14:44
  • Can you exactly express what it will cost anyone and everyone to maintain the same standard of living in a different place by providing a single number? Of course not. But people can, and regularly do, express cost of living as exactly such a relative index as an approximate guide. In practical terms, if you say to an employer, "The cost of living here is 10% higher and so I would really need a 10% increase", I think most would listen to that. They do not want to sit with you and go through a long list of all your expenses comparing what you are paying in your present home area ...
    – Jay
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:07
  • ... versus the cost in this new area. Such an analysis could take days or weeks and would get into all sorts of personal areas of your life. Do you really want to get into a debate with an employer about how often you "need" to eat at Italian restaurants or where the best place in town to buy socks is? If there is some reason why you would have an unusual increase in cost of living, okay, you could bring that up. Otherwise I'd look up statistics put out by some reputable source and just go with that.
    – Jay
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:11
  • Sure you need to summarize it. But for example, if I were asked to move from my current location outside Houston into New York City, that summary would look more like "Rent will be $2500/month higher, and 15% increase on everything else, so my after tax income needs to increase accordingly". Whether the raise to cover the additional rent is a 40% increase over my current pay or a 150% increase is immaterial, because my current pay has no relationship whatsoever to rent in NYC.
    – Ben Voigt
    Aug 28, 2014 at 15:32
  • At the height of the dotcom boom, I lost an employee in Ontario Canada to a company in California offering him triple - let's say he made $25k Cdn, they were offering $50k US, and with the exchange rate that was $75k. So he took it. He later told me he had LESS money to spend even with that pay - and he owned a 3 bedroom house here and moved to a 1 bedroom apartment there with no car. So yes, it could be triple if you're moving to Southern California from somewhere rural. Aug 28, 2014 at 17:11

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