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I am a college student and this summer I am working for a tech startup. I am a full stack web development engineer that performs what I consider a fairly high skill job.

When I agreed to work with them, I was told that the startup would move to a location that is remote from my home and that I would have to find housing accordingly. I had a plan to sublet a friends apartment for ~700 dollars a month.

I was making ~700 per week so I thought this was fine and took the offer. However, after taking the offer I was told that the location changed and housing would now be ~1500 per month and it was more remote so I would have to pay ~500 for a flight too.

Given that this is the scenario, would it be unreasonable to ask for a renegotiation since now about 50+% of what I'm making is being sunk into these extra costs and I am working 40+ hours a week?

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    Negotiate or find another job. – Justas Jun 14 '17 at 4:26
  • It would not be unreasonable but keep in mind that many people pay more than 50 % of their income for housing. Renegotiating carries the risk of losing the internship (which should be about gaining experience). You'll have to decide if that risk is acceptable to you. – Roland Jun 14 '17 at 6:05
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    Many people do pay that much, but I don't think it's encouraged. Especially not for a starter, so if you have other options... – Erik Jun 14 '17 at 6:32
  • @Roland No, many people do not pay more than 50% on housing. A bank won't loan you at that rate to buy, and a landlord who does a credit check would reject you. – Gabe Sechan Jun 15 '17 at 6:25
  • @GabeSechan I'm sorry, but you seem to assume that everyone works in the same country as you. I assure you that at my first job I paid more than 50 % for housing (including heating, electricity, etc.). Also, we are talking about an internship here. I wouldn't expect to have an internship cover more than my living costs. And in many places that's already a luxury. – Roland Jun 15 '17 at 7:04
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I think it's perfectly reasonable to renegotiate an offer based on a change in location.

The simple truth is that they have changed the terms of their offer significantly. This change is likely to cost you money! Whether managing the higher cost of living in the new location is doable on your side isn't really the crux of the matter, they have changed the terms and you should have an opportunity to respond to that. If you were offered a job in Pittsburgh for $x I think everyone would agree that asking you to live in NYC, Boston, DC, etc. on the same salary would be quite unreasonable.

In addition, if they flat out refuse to adjust the salary to compensate you for the higher cost of living in the new location, do you really want to work for this outfit?

Of course there can be many extenuating circumstances here that we are unaware of, so you need to weigh those factors as well. You should primarily base any renegotiation on objective facts, such as overall difference in cost of living and salary between the two locations. If you can't demonstrate this cost/salary difference in some way, I'd think twice before proceeding.

  • If it states in your contract you have place of work and then the employer changes that, that's on them, not on you. I'd recommened renegotiation (but make sure you provide some simple objective calculations about how it affects your financial living situation) – PrometheanVigil Jun 14 '17 at 10:39
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    I don't think the place of work needs to be stated in the contract . Why would that be a factor? – user71374 Jun 14 '17 at 11:27
  • That's common practise in the UK, at least. It's good because it means the employer knows where employee should be during working hours (assuming office-based) and the employee also has a legally binding place they've been assigned to (so comes in very helpful in case just like this -- it's on the employer to consult on and compensate for the change as appropriate, or they could be in trouble). – PrometheanVigil Jun 14 '17 at 12:14
  • ah I see. yes once you've started the job, in a non "at will" employment environment, I can see how that would make a difference. Actually I just assumed this was an "at will" scenario but maybe it's not...good point. – user71374 Jun 14 '17 at 12:18
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As an intern I feel like you should feel lucky to only pay 50+% of your income to housing. That doesn't seem like a lot too me - for an internship.

However if you feel the pay doesn't suffice, you should negotiate your position. But you need to value the pay with your working position. Don't go to the negotiating table, asking for more money, because you need more money to your housing situation. Negotiate pay with what you can offer the company. If you feel the housing is too expensive. Ask them if they can offer any help finding a cheaper place. Bottom of the line is, don't fix up housing and pay in the negotiations. If you feel you need to negotiate, then it's probably the right thing to do.

  • It really does depend on the type of internship. A software engineers' internship, for instance, will usually pay much more and will also require a workload of 60+ hours a week. Also, you have to keep in mind that the jump in housing cost is so significant, that it probably means that everything else in that area will be much more expensive as well, not just housing. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 14 '17 at 22:53
  • Or pay nothing and be located in San Fransisco. It depends alot, but 50+% of your income to housing it's not a setup for disaster. – Jonas Praem Jun 15 '17 at 7:26
  • Or you know. He could find something cheaper? I don't see how moving to Dublin or living as a homeless person, contributes to the question. – Jonas Praem Jun 15 '17 at 7:51

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