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I am a software eng. consultant who moved to a certain city about a year ago for a client- site project. That project has been over for a few months now and have started a new project with a different team within the same company immediately after the first project mentioned ended. I now work 100% remote and my team lives in a city with a 35% jump in cost of living. I have grown quite fond of my team over the past few months and believe that I have proven myself given the feedback from my colleagues.

I asked leadership the other day if it would be a possibility to move to the area with my new team. The following was his response (paraphrased):

Please provide a business justification that is professionally laid out with benefits. I will need to share with other leadership to get approval. What are your salary expectations? Because not a mandatory move, we cannot provide relocation assistance and a salary increase will be difficult. If you want to move on your own that is ok and we have self-service relocation assistance.

My question is, what shall I discuss regarding the business justification besides increased team cohesion and being able to be face-to-face with the client. Also, what tips do you have to make it relevant to a 35% COLA?

It is also important to note that I don't dislike where I am but am very far from any family and really haven't developed a personal life because I have worked a lot to develop a good name for myself within the company and have focused on that. I have been to the area where I want to relocate many times and truly enjoy it. Also, a good majority of my family is 2 hrs from where I propose to relocate and also know many people in the area.

Thanks.

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    35% is a darned large cost-of-living adjustment... – keshlam May 5 '16 at 2:16
  • @keshlam I know. If it wasn't that big of a jump, I probably wouldn't have such a hard time drawing up a proposal for them and probably wouldn't of needed any suggestions from here lol. – Squ1rr3lz May 5 '16 at 13:11
  • Are they paying for your accommodation and food costs? Do they also pay for travel to/from your "home" location? If so, those costs will go away after you transfer and should counted as a benefit. – mkennedy May 5 '16 at 17:25
  • @mckennedy.I advised they wont need to pay for moving costs....I currently live in a furnished condo. The only thing I would need to do is ship my bed....I can drive to the new location in 10 hrs. – Squ1rr3lz May 5 '16 at 23:39
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I think you start off by considering two questions:

  • What is the real business benefit of moving? You are moving mainly for personal reasons rather than business reasons. You want to demonstrate some benefit to the business to support this move, but you need to be realistic about what benefit there might be. There is definitely some benefit of being on site, but it is probably far less than a 35% increase in the value they are getting from you (particularly since they seem happy with your remote working arrangement, and it appears to have been successful). I don't think you can make a credible case for 35%.

  • What is the benefit to you of moving? As you describe it, your life would be better in several ways if you move to this city. You should probably consider the value of this to you, and whether you would be willing to trade a lower effective salary for living in a better location.

I would weigh these two points and decide whether you can make a credible case for an increase that works for you. Then try to negotiate the best deal you can get. You can't directly use the higher cost of living as your argument, but you can reference it. If you communicate that you are only asking for a 15% raise, despite the 35% higher cost of living, it shows that you are willing to give something to make this happen.

An alternative approach is to look for other jobs in more suitable areas, then use a job offer as negotiation. This is a rather agressive tactic and often not well received. But I think your case is a bit more sympathetic than some. You can say "I really want to work for you, but I'm just not happy where I'm living, I don't like 100% remote working with no personal interaction with colleagues, and I can't afford move locally at the same salary".

  • Based on the original question, this is a good response. You are in an organization that is fundamentally remote, so there is no benefit to the company by having you physically closer. This is all about you. That said, you might consider taking a position with another company in that city if you truly can get the COLA. Not all cities that cost more pay more though, so research that before you pull the trigger. – Bill Leeper May 6 '16 at 17:21

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