My wife and I have an interview tomorrow for a position as live in groundskeepers. This is in a very affluent area and we know the homeowner is incredibly wealthy. Our rent will be paid which is why this question puzzles me. We have no idea where to come in at. Is it acceptable to say that we don't know what the range is and to let them lead negotiations? I am a decent negotiator and we have a set number that we decided is fair.

Job listing has responsibilities as such:

  • Cleaning main home and guest home as needed (Estimated around 5hr/day)
  • Laundry & ironing
  • Helping with the dogs

I am allowed to have a job outside the house and I am only expected to put in 2/hr a week on some of the heavier lifting more intense projects.

How should we approach salary negotiations in a situation like this, where the range is completely unknown and there are non-cash compensation (free rent)?

  • 2
    An aside - be CERTAIN you understand the tax liabilities / implications of rent being included in the job. It would not be the worst idea in the world to specify a monetary value of the included rent in your agreement. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


Figure out how many hours per week of work is expected, then figure out what typical wage for that work is (from your description probably minimum wage). This will give you the expected compensation.

Then figure out how much you would be willing pay in rent if you were to pay to live in the provided housing. Whatever the difference is between the expected compensation and the housing is around what you should expect for wage. If these are in completely different ballparks one side has misaligned expectations.

As a matter of negotiation you are better off having the other party give the first offer so have this expected wage in your head but try to get them to give the first offer. If they come in higher than you think the job is worth, hurray you make money my keeping your mouth closed.

  • If the final amount falls below minimum wage after factoring in the rent, you may be able to get away with cutting it off at minimum wage.
    – Anketam
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 21:15

In today's age of the internet is anything really unknown? As Myles said you should easily be able to come up with some sort of number for pretty much everything you mentioned.

What does a laundry service charge?

What does a maid service charge?

What about a dog walker/boarding service?

What does rent cost in your area?

Heck, assuming they live in a similarly affluent neighborhood you may actually be able to find out what others doing the same job make.

Don't forget to consider the total compensation package. That includes the value of the rental but also the likely lack of health benefits, retirement plan and even what their expectations for sick/vacation time are.

  • 1
    and do not forget how many other people want and can do the same job. And how much will they charge and how much do you need a job. Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 5:49

How to negotiate...that is more extensive than figuring out how much you ask for.

One of the other responses tells how to figure out what you need dollar-wise. I would add that you probably are neglecting something that will become apparently important AFTER you have committed to the job. Do you want children? Do you want pets of your own? Do you want to save up for retirement and how soon before you retire? Do you want to save for vacations?

Now, negotiating your price. 1. What the customer plans on spending matters nothing. 2. What you think you are worth is what matters.

If you were selling furniture, and say you have a couch that is extremely collectible...$11,000 (I have a friend in that very situation). You have a customer come in who is in the market for a couch. He is planning on spending $350. ($350 is reasonable for a generic couch bought at a furniture store, but not for a collectible.) You would never sell the $11,000 couch for $350.

In the same manner, you should not sell your time and labor for less than you desire.

  1. The way you get what you want in salary is first, ask for it. So many people never ask for the job, never ask for the pay they want, and never get the job at the pay they want. You cannot read the mind of your potential employer; he just might be willing to pay more, but...NEVER ask what he is planning on spending...tell him what you plan on charging.

If the client pushes back with a lower offer, do not lower your amount. Instead, remind him what he said he wanted and assure him, best done by showing an example of previous work you have done that proves you can do the same for him. If he continues to offer lower, ask him, "It is apparent that we are missing something. Can you tell me what else you need done that I haven't been able to show that I can do?"

He will either tell you of some misgiving, in which case you will have the opportunity to show how you can meet that need, but before you answer that, ask him, "is there anything else?" and keep asking that until he says, "No, that's all." Then answer those things. What this does is increase your value to him, making your price seem even more reasonable. He might mention something that you hadn't planned on doing, that means a greater investment of talent and time, for which you are justified in charging more, such as, he might want you to remove his back hair...after you swallow the bile, figure out how much more you would charge to deal with another man's backhair.

Now, if he does not have additional concerns, but focuses on the cost, either he hasn't been sold on your ability being worth what you ask, or he cannot imagine paying that much for the work. In that case, resell your ability to do the job, and remain firm on your price, but if he remains immovable, be prepared to walk away.

By lowering your price, you show him that you are untrustworthy, because you told him a lie about what you want. However, the job market being what it is currently, if you are desperate for a job, when you lower your price, provide an explanation...such as: "I really think we can get along, so I will work for $X", "The lawn equipment is far better than I expected so it will make me more productive, so I will work for $X", or "If you are willing to keep an open mind, I am willing to work for $X, but after a review of 6 months, we revisit how much I charge." (That last one is difficult to pull off, because it tells the guy he will pay more soon.

BUT--if you do not HAVE to take the job, don't lower your price. Give him a few days to weigh his options. I can almost guarantee no one else talked to him with the goal of selling himself, and chances are he will be willing to pay more for you...unless someone is willing to work outside the legal guidelines, which you have little defense against, because those outside the guidelines don't have unemployment taxes, SSI taken out...no health insurance benefits to pay for.

  • A neg? Can you explain yourself? I thought I was pretty thorough in answering the question. Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 17:09

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