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After interviewing for a local California job, I was surprised by being offered a six-month job that would have me spend three weeks at a time in Korea. In negotiating my salary, I'd like to know what expenses I need to take into account.

They'll be paying for plane fare, housing, and commuting transportation. They'll expedite my passport renewal. I think they'll reimburse me for meals.

I suspect I'd have to buy some new clothes and luggage. I don't know if I'll need a new cell phone service or a whole new phone.

Other than that, what expenses should I consider?

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    Health Insurance would be nice too. And you should check weather conditions before buy the new clothes, I doubt is as warm as California. – Juan Carlos Oropeza Mar 23 '17 at 16:13
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    I noticed your profile picture, and I can't help but need to warn you that racism is a real and widespread problem in Korea. Please do take this into consideration before going. – Weckar E. Mar 23 '17 at 16:56
  • I think this is more of a question for Personal Finance & Money, Travel or Expatriates as you seem to just be asking a financial question related to travelling and the fact you're travelling for work is irrelevant. If you were asking "What costs can I submit expenses for?" that would be a workplace quesiton. – Lilienthal Mar 24 '17 at 11:13
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Word of advice: Starting a salary negotiation based on what you need will yield less money than starting it based on what they are willing to spend.

Your main costs are shelter, food, transportation, communication, taxes, insurance and clothes (which includes washing and ironing). Another one might be recreation.

Additionally, at home you may need to pay someone to look after your house, your plants, your pets, etc. There will be additional costs if you want your spouse to visit you in Korea on a weekend.

Also rather important is opportunity cost if something comes up at home which you can't attend because you're abroad, e.g. your best friend's wedding, or a death in the family.

  • Good catch with the note in regards to recreation. Would be good to know what will be done in the event you need to travel back in case of an emergency. – Mister Positive Mar 23 '17 at 17:09
  • I'd like my spouse to "visit in Korea on a weekend", but the round-trip flight basically is the weekend! – Shawn V. Wilson Mar 23 '17 at 18:24
  • @ShawnV.Wilson Fair enough:) She could fly in on Friday, spend the weekend with you, and go sightsee on her own for a few more days. Depends on how accommodating her workplace is, of course. – Peter Mar 23 '17 at 18:45
  • @MisterPositive I dont think you should include Recreation as part of negotiation. Also you only will be there for 3 month. So If you want your wife visit Korea, you probably should have to pay for her plane ticket yourself. But you can always ask ;) – Juan Carlos Oropeza Mar 23 '17 at 20:49
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In Korea you will likely need a whole new phone. My Korean phone had a SIM card that wasn't a standard North American size. Requesting a company provided phone is a reasonable negotiation point.

As far as considering time spent in Korea as how it will impact your cost of living and in turn your salary requirements, due to the short term stretches you are there travel insurance is likely a smarter decision than trying to get onto the National health plan.

For a visitor Korea is not expensive. Booze, restaurant meals, entertainment, laundry services, and public transit are all probably 50-80% of what you'd be used to in California.

You will likely be expected to wear a suit and tie as dress code is quite a bit more formal in the Korean corporate world than the American one. If this creates expense for you then you should factor these expenses in to your salary requirements. However no mention of them should be made at the negotiation.

  • Please explain "travel insurance". Also, why shouldn't I mention the clothing expense in the negotiation? – Shawn V. Wilson Mar 23 '17 at 18:19
  • @ShawnV.Wilson en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_insurance – Myles Mar 23 '17 at 18:46
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    @ShawnV.Wilson Why you need what you need is not related to what you are bringing to the table. If you need $80k per year because you have expensive tastes or because you are supporting your parents and your inlaws doesn't change the fact that to bring you on they need to pay $80K per year. Your reasons for what you need are your own and do not bring any value to the negotiation. – Myles Mar 23 '17 at 18:50
  • I knew about that kind of Travel Insurance, but I forgot it included medical coverage. (That's why I didn't wiki it myself!) – Shawn V. Wilson Mar 23 '17 at 19:04
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In addition to what has already been pointed out will there be assistance for any taxation implications of working in Korea? I don't know what the situation is in South Korea1 but I spent 3 weeks working in Canada in 2016 and may be liable for submitting a tax return there.

Also see if you can get bumped up to business class for your flights!


I assume you mean South Korea and not its northern neighbor!

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