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I am having a salary negotiation meeting with my HR and CEO this week. Preface : The company is moving to new office in a better city. They want people to move and I have kind of mentioned my interest but said my decision is based on the salary increase.

Now, when I joined the company, the HR sent me a document comparing the cost of living with different cities and explaining why salary is low. I know the salary is low even by normal standards but I love the job which is the reason I am still there. If I use the document that he sent to compare the cost of living in the new city, the change would be significant and I will be more than happy with that amount.

Now the question is, is it OK/professional to bring up the document and say this is what I need as per your documentation during the negotiation meeting ?

  • Also, how old is the document? HR may counter by telling you that those numbers are outdated. – djohnson10 Feb 13 '15 at 17:49
  • @djohnson10: Given typical inflation that only works out to OPs favor. Very few economies are actually contracting. – Joel Etherton Feb 13 '15 at 20:26
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The short answer is yes.

The long answer is this should just be the tip of the iceberg. I have dealt with many transitions of centers at my company, mostly as management and the most successful ones are when the employees are honest about their intentions.

  • If you will move based on salary: Make sure that you are getting at least the cost of living adjustment to go with what your current skills are. If you want the money then get it. A company that moves is usually willing to pay a premium to transfer employees/knowledge to their new location. I can tell you from experience that I have seen my company vastly overpay people for this reason. Note that when the company has settled in and some knowledge is transferred often these employees have a career rut (management can't give them more raises and employees don't want to move "up" for same pay) or the employees are the first to be let go.

  • If you are really trying to decide: You can really use these negotiations as a barometer of how much the company values your employment. If they don't want to pay you cost of living plus then I would be under the assumption that either they don't value you or that they are under financial restraints. Neither of these are good signs, especially given that you will be moving there - and maybe back.

  • If you really want to go: Get at least a cost of living raise. There is absolutely no reason that you should not be compensated for a higher cost of living.

Be honest with your employer. I would get information from them too. I would want to know what their long-term plans were and why they moved. If you are hesitant you can always ask for a guarantee on the contract. This isn't normal but we did this for anywhere between 1-2 years for some employees.

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This would indeed make a fine argument, although you might be careful with your wording (calling it "bullshit" might not set the right tone, and will undermine your argument).

Salary negotiation is always better backed up with facts and objective reasons:

  • "for similar positions, similar companies pay X, you pay Y"
  • "I got a job offer at firm A, offering X"
  • "You promised a 10% raise after my first year"

Your cost of living argument fits right in. I do wonder why you don't think it's a good argument - do you think someone in a rural town makes as much as someone in New York or someone in Africa?

Do remember that, in the end, what the company pays you is always directly proportional with what you're worth to the company - even if another company would pay more or your home situation requires more money.

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    what the company pays you is always directly proportional with what you're worth to the company I think this is naive 'folk' capitalism. In an efficient market your salary will be set by the marginal cost of replacing you. Depending on the labor market, this may or may not be related to how much value you produce for the firm. Efficient markets are few and far between, so on top of that limit, asymmetric knowledge, cronyism, group dynamics, and bargaining skills play a major role in setting compensation. – Charles E. Grant Feb 14 '15 at 23:49

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