In the past, I've received some salary offers that I felt were too low for my experience, my skill set, but also simply too low for possibly achieving basic life goals in the region of the job.
A classic example is owning a home. I'm not talking about owning a mansion, or living in a high-rise on 5th Avenue. I'm talking about the reasonable goal of modest home ownership in a location that doesn't require an onerous commute to your job.
Much has been written about the middle class wage stagnation and so on. I don't want to get into a debate about it. But it does seem to me that there has been a decoupling of salary levels and the prices of the basic things those salaries should afford.
Another way to put it: If the cost of living in some region is so high that the salary offered by a job cannot afford a savings rate high enough to ever feasibly save to buy a home, what should an employee do? Suppose that moving away and/or renting forever are not options.
My question is whether it is acceptable to bring these things up in a salary negotiation. If they say:
"We really can't offer you more than $X"
Is it acceptable to come back and say:
"Well, after doing research on the cost of living in the area, the average price of homes, and the competitiveness of the home market, I just don't see how I'll ever be able to afford to buy a house with a salary of $X."
Or is this unprofessional?
I know they are still free to stick to their offer and it might just be true that no employment agreement can be reached between the two parties. But I'm also worried that it will be seen in an unprofessional manner, along the lines of this:
"Your personal financial goals are your business. We are just telling you what the realities are for our job offer. It's not our job to service your financial goals."
I find a response like this extremely disingenuous, since you can only believe it's reasonable if you accept certain other things like:
- Wanting a modest house in the region is too much to ask and you should stop wanting it.
- Employers do not have to make a good-faith attempt to price their job offers competitively with regard to the actual cost of living, rather only competitively with regard to what other employers are doing.
Both of which are unacceptable points of view to me, in a normative sense (as in, even if you like free markets, point 2 above is purely value-destructive to society, not to mention individual workers).