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$2.50/hour. Is that a joke?

My cat earns more than that sitting on the window ledge watching the traffic go by.

No, thats about 300-350 a month.  Normal average salary.

You got to take in to account a TON of other factors. If you compare Serbia to the US

1. Prices in the US are about twice as high
2. Serbs count their post tax salary, people from the US state their pre-tax salary
3. Serbs have socialized healthcare and schooling. I don't know any Serbs who have attempted suicide because of student loans or medical bills (I think medical debt alone is linked to a ridiculous percentage of suicides).
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/c-cryn-jo … 38972.html
http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card- … e-1264.php
Suicide is considered by almost 50% of people struggling with debt in the UK.
http://www.debtsupporttrust.org.uk/debt … nd-suicide

You just don't see this in Serbia where the nation is still small and isolated enough (outside the EU that there is not a culture of travelling far distances for higher education like there is in the US). This causes a more retained family cohesion which if you could put a price on, would be significant.
4. Serbian cities are smaller and their public transportation is comparatively affordable/dependable. A standard job application question in the US is whether the applicant has a car or not. Those without cars simply aren't given jobs because of how undependable public transport in the US can be.
5. Because of point number 4 and the decentralization / post-segregation fictionalization of US cities (only New York and San Francisco are considered European cities as in they are built around a centre instead of a bunch of small neighbourhoods) the US citizen spends an enormous amount of money and time in/on their car and on fuel.
6. The grey market as a percentage of GDP is bigger and thus average salary is probably higher than reported.
7. Serbs work fewer hours. I have no data for this (the OECD has data but not on Serbia) but I have the feeling that Serbs generally work fewer hours mostly I would guess as a result of less debt and family cohesion. The percentage of US homes which are owned by their residents versus Serbian ones is staggering. Serbs own their own properties, people in the US generally are paying them off.

The quality of life differences that I've seen are mainly that way more Serbs end up living in close quarters with their family and moving out of the house later. Once you account for violent crime statistics, incarceration, hard drug usage etc.

Playing devil's advocate here but ultimately, I don't think it is so black and white.

I just noticed I typed "fictionalization" meant fractionalization (there's a dictionary.com definition for it but my spell check doesn't seem to recognize the word.

BGExpat :

You got to take in to account a TON of other factors. If you compare Serbia to the US

I am in Belgrade.  $2.50/hour was being offered in Belgrade.  A comparison with the US is completely irrelevant.

A decent local teacher of English in Belgrade is over 1,000 din/hour.  Anyone less than 600 din/hour is not worth considering. 

An expat native speaker of English would be as daft as a brush to work at 1,000 din/hour.

So where does that leave $2.50/hour??? 

As I originally posted, even my ex-cat would turn its whiskers up at that rate!

Hey stranac, I never said that the market doesn't work out. I just said comparisons with other countries are not faithfully done. That said, $10 an hour for an English teacher is a very great deal in Serbia. I would rather make $10 an hour post tax working 40 hours a week in Serbia than make $60,000 a year living in New York or most places in the US.

But a fluent English speaker is going to make way above the average Serb salary. The government's last reporting afaik had the average salary at 400eur/month but the grey market in Serbia is still fairly large compared to other countries so the average might be much higher, say 600 Euros. If you are educated and living in Belgrade, it is no doubt 1,000 euros a month.

I think comparisons with other countries are extremely important. People look at this information when deciding to take jobs or move countries. If you move up to North Dakota and don't take into account the fact that their industry is volatile on account of the oil prices or that you will have to pay an extra $2,500 a year in heating costs, well you will make less informed decisions.

Finally, I do know a girl who knows almost native level English doing translation which makes after taxes and everything considered about $2.50 an hour.  So the real market isn't so far off for non native speakers who aren't college graduates.

Hi BGExpat,

I do not see the logic behind the reasoning in your posts.  Are you saying $2.50/hour is a fair rate for an US expat living in Serbia or a local Serb?

The original job advert has been deleted, so I cannot refer back to it.  I will have to rely on what I think it was about.

Your first post was all about comparing Serbia to the US.  The logic behind that seemed to be you felt it wrong for an expat jobseeker to compare a salary in Serbia with one in the US.  That logic aligns with the advertiser posting to an expat jobseeker on an expat forum.

However, having rambled through all manner or irrelevancy, you then changed your message towards a local Serb jobseeker.  The logic behind how or why a local Serb job should have the slightest interest in US suicide rates, US gas pump prices and US home ownership rates is lost on me.

In your third post, you started comparing salaries.  But seem to have missed several tricks in the discussion.

$2.50/hour maybe the equivalent of €400/month mathmatically - but the offer in the advert was NOT the equivalent of €400/month in any shape size or form.

1) Government statistics in Serbia are, by definition, based upon LEGAL DOCUMENTED employment statistics.  An average salary AFTER tax of €400/month costs an employer approx. 700/month. 

2) Those LEGAL DOCUMENTED statistics mean the employee has his or her taxes and social security contributions paid up - thus the employee enjoys the rights to what those payments confer.

3) For a $2.50/hour job offer to be the equivalent of €400/month, the employer has to offer 40 hours of work.  My recollection of the job advert was that it was being offered part-time, no guaranteed hours and adhoc working hours at their discretion with the employee expected to be available for work just in case they are called upon.  It was for giving English language conversation lessons to be conducted online to clients in the Far East.  The employee was to log in for a timeframe that the employer required but would only get paid IF a client came on line looking for a class ONLY for the duration of the class (not the standby and wait time) AND the client signed off satisfied with the class!

The fact that it was offered as an hourly rate should have been a pretty big indicator to you that it was not a full-time job offer.

4) The $2.50/hour was being offered by a non-Serbian company as a nett hourly payment.  Thus the employee would have to (a) either already have or open their own agency (preduzetnik) to legalise the earnings or (b) work illegally and UNDOCUMENTED.

Do you know how much the monthly contributions are for a preduzetnik? 
I believe it's 20,000 din/moth give or take.

Have you done a calculation on how many of these $2.50/hour the employee has to do just to cover those monthly contributions before they even earn a single cent for themselves? 
It's about 18 per week.

Or did you just assume that it was right and proper the employee to do all of this work ILLEGALLY and UNDOCUMENTED and thus put all the money straight into their pocket?

And on and on it goes....

I accept that some people would like to have a part-time job working from home with 'flexible' hours and many in Serbia will happily work on the black.  But....

To suggest that a part-time, zero hours guaranteed, adhoc work schedule determined by the end client/employer up to the very last minute at $2.50/hour is the equivalent of a €400/month full-time legally documented job with all contributions paid up is either naive or deliberately attempting to deceive.

If 40 hours are guaranteed, $2.50/hour is still only about 60% of the Serbian average national wage - about €240/month. 

However, that job did not offer 40 hours; it offered no guarantee or security of anything and was effectively encouraging the employee to work illegally.

Now, perhaps you grasp my reasoning and logic behind asking why I thought it was a joke. 

PS.
Nobody should ever compare apples with oranges. 
All that matters to the person reading the advert was: do I want a job that has long, long hours waiting on standby with no guarantee of any income whatsoever? And when payment comes, it is a pittance.  Do I want to work illegally or legally?
Anybody thinking the cost of living in the Dakota Shale Oil townships, US ex-student suicide rates, gas pump prices or whatever comes into that equation has lost the plot.

To respond

" Are you saying $2.50/hour is a fair rate for an US expat living in Serbia or a local Serb?"

I don't think prejudice based on nationality has any place here. Expats shouldn't think they should make more money because they are expats. In this regard the market certainly will work itself out. Ideas of fairness and fighting poverty shouldn't stop at a country's borders. For every middle class American dropping to the poverty level, I wouldn't be surprised if 2 or more entire Chinese families are pulled out of actual abject poverty. Yes part of it is a zero-sum game.

"Your first post was all about comparing Serbia to the US.  The logic behind that seemed to be you felt it wrong for an expat jobseeker to compare a salary in Serbia with one in the US.  That logic aligns with the advertiser posting to an expat jobseeker on an expat forum."

The logic is that people who are more informed make better decisions. I wanted the guy to have better information on things like PPP and such. You can't just look at the baseline PPP stat either because somethings are way cheaper in Serbia. Also people quote hourly wages in the US pre taxes and such. Finally, if the guy is from the US or a similar country there might be all sorts of tax benefits. I save $8,000 a year because I don't have to pay for US health insurance. The cost of a high grade chemo treatement in India is less than $8,000 last I checked. I got in a car crash in Belgrade and needed to go to a private hospital and got a same-day MRI scan with the doctor talking to me about the results right after the scan and not being rushed. The cost was $105 without insurance. In the US the cost with insurance would be a deductible of more than $2,000. Without insurance it would be 12 to 20k. MRIs would probably be covered but tons of stuff including dental have similar price differences which are not covered. Pretty much everything that involved labor is much cheaper than just 50%. Without this knowledge you are comparing apples to oranges. With the full picture, one can decide whether they should look for a job in Serbia or in their home country.

"However, having rambled through all manner or irrelevancy, you then changed your message towards a local Serb jobseeker."

You say irrelevancy but fail to point out a sentence of mine which has no relevancy. It is possible you simply fail to see the relevancy. I will be happy to explain it to you. Finally, as I said before a persons country of citizenship can give them opportunities because they have access to other markets but it is surely wrong to expect people will higher paid within a country based not on their skills but their passport. There are plenty of completely fluent English speakers that are Serbs who would be better at teaching English than I would be. Also expat jobseekers primarily get their information from Serbs or other people who do not adequately provide the information about cost of living and these other relevant factors. You see the same failures in logic when people think that exchange rates inform whether another country is cheaper or more expensive. Japan's Jen is 109th the value of a dollar. The temporary peg to value is of no consequence. The decimal could be shifted and nothing would change. Recent fluctuations though because of price stickiness can cause temporary discounts but actual exchange rates have no effect.

"The logic behind how or why a local Serb job should have the slightest interest in US suicide rates, US gas pump prices and US home ownership rates is lost on me."

As I said, the PPP doesn't take into consideration all cost differences. In the US and many other countries, a car is almost a basic necessity. In the US is has to do a lot with history. The building of highways and the civil rights movement which ended up leading to poorly planned government housing projects/relocations of people. The US has far more suburban populations than European cities especially Belgrade. The prevalence in car ownership in the US is also so high that public transportation has suffered and a car is needed for maybe even most serious jobs. This isn't the case in Serbia and so the public transportation in Serbia is very good, with frequent buses and running on time. This is a cost consideration. When I was in the US I would spend about $50 a week on gas, $200 a month on car insurance, maybe $100 a month on average on repairs, and that didn't include the possibility of crashing or the initial expense of buying the car and its depreciation.

Crime also is a consideration when choosing where to live or what job to pick. Most people outside and inside Serbia think Serbia is more dangerous than the US when the opposite is true. If I was in a poorly paid occupation like teaching, in many places in the US I wouldn't be able to afford to live in the safe parts as often. All else being the same, one should factor in these factors just like one factors in the salary. How much more money is it worth to live in a place where the homicide rate is multiple times higher? I'm not saying it is a bad choice to take the higher paying job, I'm saying it is a consideration most people do not take into account.

"$2.50/hour maybe the equivalent of €400/month mathmatically - but the offer in the advert was NOT the equivalent of €400/month in any shape size or form. "

I never said it was. I can't see the offer. Obviously if it is only 3 hour shifts then the transport time becomes very significant and the offer becomes unattractive even for Serbia. You are criticizing me now because you failed to provide the specific context you are thinking about. Sure, the smaller the shifts, the fewer hours per week, the worse the offer gets.


"1) Government statistics in Serbia are, by definition, based upon LEGAL DOCUMENTED employment statistics.  An average salary AFTER tax of €400/month costs an employer approx. 700/month. "

Yes, and this is why I made black market adjustments. The undisclosed economy in Serbia is a higher percentage of what true income stats would be than in other economies.

This statement by you is wholly irrelevant because  I've already demonstrated to know this. I was the one that volunteered this information.



"2) Those LEGAL DOCUMENTED statistics mean the employee has his or her taxes and social security contributions paid up - thus the employee enjoys the rights to what those payments confer."


True, I'm not disputing this. I assume an expat's job giving English speaking lessons would be done over the table and legit. Benefits though are not something generally people new to the job market fair to take into account. If there is some special situation where expats pay the same in taxes on his salary but are exempt from these benefits, then that is a consideration.

"3) For a $2.50/hour job offer to be the equivalent of €400/month, the employer has to offer 40 hours of work.  My recollection of the job advert was that it was being offered part-time, no guaranteed hours and adhoc working hours at their discretion with the employee expected to be available for work just in case they are called upon.  It was for giving English language conversation lessons to be conducted online to clients in the Far East.  The employee was to log in for a timeframe that the employer required but would only get paid IF a client came on line looking for a class ONLY for the duration of the class (not the standby and wait time) AND the client signed off satisfied with the class!

The fact that it was offered as an hourly rate should have been a pretty big indicator to you that it was not a full-time job offer."


By the time I responded first I think the link was already dead. Since you didn't provide any reasoning and just seemed to say that the wage offer was low, there is absolutely nothing wrong with my response. There are tons of MLM or 'internships' in the US which are unpaid work. It is definitely the employee's job to look around and see what is out there. Unfortunately information like what I am giving allowing people to make good choices is the only way to actually have a more efficient market. Shame and policing don't work. You shaming me for instance? What does it accomplish? Maybe next time I just ignore the post and allow you to compare apples to oranges.


"4) The $2.50/hour was being offered by a non-Serbian company as a nett hourly payment.  Thus the employee would have to (a) either already have or open their own agency (preduzetnik) to legalise the earnings or (b) work illegally and UNDOCUMENTED.

Do you know how much the monthly contributions are for a preduzetnik?
I believe it's 20,000 din/moth give or take."


Well, I can't check you on this because the advert isn't still up is it? If this is the case though it seems no one would be able to afford a) and few would go for b. unless hours were guaranteed and that was the going rate/


"Have you done a calculation on how many of these $2.50/hour the employee has to do just to cover those monthly contributions before they even earn a single cent for themselves?
It's about 18 per week."

As I said, the link is dead so you could be making up stuff now. For all I know these costs are covered. It is weird that you brought up all other reasons and are now saying "... actually it isn't $2.50 and hour because of these added costs." Well, if your original post was mis-representative than sure.  No one can beat a strawman argument.


"Or did you just assume that it was right and proper the employee to do all of this work ILLEGALLY and UNDOCUMENTED and thus put all the money straight into their pocket?"

I didn't assume anything. I just stated things as they were. You are free to reread my posts.


"And on and on it goes....

I accept that some people would like to have a part-time job working from home with 'flexible' hours and many in Serbia will happily work on the black.  But....

To suggest that a part-time, zero hours guaranteed, adhoc work schedule determined by the end client/employer up to the very last minute at $2.50/hour is the equivalent of a €400/month full-time legally documented job with all contributions paid up is either naive or deliberately attempting to deceive."

Who is the one assuming things here? If you are going to just put words in my mouth well, then you are just illogical or deliberately attempting to deceive.

"If 40 hours are guaranteed, $2.50/hour is still only about 60% of the Serbian average national wage - about €240/month. "

40 hours a week, 4 weeks a month is 160 hours. 160 * 2.50 / 1.07

is

373 Euros


"However, that job did not offer 40 hours; it offered no guarantee or security of anything and was effectively encouraging the employee to work illegally."

Maybe, I don't know. Is your issue with the working illegally or is it with what the ultimate pay may or may not be? I think in Serbia working illegally is a bit different than in other parts of the world. It isn't so black and white and this is something that philosophers talk about a lot afaik. The moral aspect of whether it is ok for a plumber to do work for you under the table is a complex one. If a plumber does work in his own house should he charge and tax himself? Where exactly does one draw the line? What about in systems where the whole market is already under the table and you have a business that needs to be economically competitive? That is definitely a deep discussion with maybe a lot of grey spots.

"Now, perhaps you grasp my reasoning and logic behind asking why I thought it was a joke. "

Not really. Even with this assumption that I had your view, my post has tons of informative information on live in Serbia and cost of living differences and a lot of things to inform other people who may in the future be deciding whether they should work abroad for a summer teaching English or the like. It certainly did not deserve your vitriol.



"PS.
Nobody should ever compare apples with oranges. "

Which is why I was explaining all the differences because it is actually comparing nominal dollar amounts from one jurisdiction to another that is comparing apples and oranges. Ultimately though every decision we make to take on job X or job Y, to live in country X or country Y, to be in a relationship with person X or person Y is comparing two different things. Having a better understanding of what all they entail  and informing your decisions will lead to better outcomes. If not, what are we doing here?


"All that matters to the person reading the advert was: do I want a job that has long, long hours waiting on standby with no guarantee of any income whatsoever? And when payment comes, it is a pittance.  Do I want to work illegally or legally?
Anybody thinking the cost of living in the Dakota Shale Oil townships, US ex-student suicide rates, gas pump prices or whatever comes into that equation has lost the plot."

You are throwing around some assumptions now which may or may not be the case. If it was truly like that, although I doubt the ad said "we expect you to work illegally and be on call all the time" then sure.

As for "the plot". I am sorry if you feel like I did not stick to your narrowly defined narrative of what this thread should and shouldn't be about. I wanted to showcase some big huge misconceptions that people have about Serbia that cause both foreigners and Serbs to not enjoy the place as much. I've worked online for all my life and places like Serbia have helped me retire at a very young age while my colleagues who decided to live in the US are paying through the nose for it. I also see Serbs who have no drive because they think there are no opportunities and if only they were born in a better country...

The plot should always be about improving our own and other people's lives. The best way to do that is to allow people to make more informed decisions for themselves. Not by shutting down people who volunteer such information.

BGExpat,

I am not "shutting down people who volunteer such information"; I am in total disagreement with your "advice".  What you offered was not providing more information to assist in making "informed decisions"; you obfuscate with reams and reams of misdirection and irrelevancy which seems only to have the purpose of confusing.  Overload and baffle will BS.  Your posts smell of someone trying to convince another that they should be grateful of being offered a $2.50/hour. 

"I've worked online for all my life and places like Serbia have helped me retire at a very young age while my colleagues who decided to live in the US are paying through the nose for it. I also see Serbs who have no drive because they think there are no opportunities and if only they were born in a better country..." And that says just about all anybody needs to know to understand your perception of things.

Where are local Serbs to find any drive when they are being told that earning a pittance that will take them nowhere (geographically or professionally) is a jolly good idea because they could be in Dakota paying silly sums at the pump for gas and contemplating suicide?  Absurd logic.  Disingenuous advice and illinformed or naive sense of 'community service'.

I am now shutting myself down from this discussion.  Feel free to continue posting your 'words of wisdom'.  The floor is yours.

Attacking me without quoting text which would corroborate your statements and then saying you refuse to speak anymore is a cheap parlor trick that I do not think will fool anyone, even yourself. An ad hominem based on a strawman. You seem to be missing the daemon of which Socrates spoke when he said in defense of himself (for heresy, in other words questioning the authoritarian narrative I might add)  that he would feel guilty saying some tactful defense that was not based in reason. No matter if no one else caught it and he got away with it, there is something that makes good people not do bad things when others are not watching. You also seem to lack a skill for it.

Your intentions may be noble but are misguided and you are doing harm by seeming to espouse these self-defeating false sentiments. You are also obviously putting words in my mouth as if I have ever said anything about when people should be "grateful" and when they shouldn't be. This is about helping give a clear picture of reality. Not about some political crusade to imagine some fantasy world where we shun truth and ultimately victimize those who we state we are helping.

To be honest, I think your post says all that needs to be said about your 'stance'. While I don't have a stance and am just proving information dispelling important prejudices, you are attacking me and making declarative statements about my 'position' without actually addressing anything. This is why you predictably do not want to continue the talk because it is very obvious you cannot actually point to anything to actually validate your statements. You are saying I'm trying to justify something or lead people into something whereas all I am doing is providing a context which is plain to see. Saying you are doing otherwise is manipulative and deceptive.

Do you disagree with PPP adjustments as well?
Do you disagree with the crime stats as well?
Do you disagree with what I said about health care costs?
What actual sentence of mine do you disagree with?

Your arguments are all logical fallacies where you put words in my mouth (strawman) and are appealing to emotion and not reason. You are claiming I am being deceptive but not actually telling me which sentence is wrong. Certainly whether intentional or not it was you who were being deceptive by stating that the figures I brought up had no merit or gave no value to the decision maker of an expat or local job seeker wishing to compare markets and thus make more informed decisions.

Serbia is about in the middle when it comes to world wide average standard of living. But looking at nominal values can easily lead to a bias. Yes, $2.50 an hour in Serbia is not a great job but it is at very least as livable as a minimum wage job in the US (I would say much more so). Hopefully when humanity is transcended from manual labor jobs due to automation people will be able to retrain and find more meaningful employment and the quality of life will continue raising as it has for the last couple hundred years. I think it is safe to say most be poor by western standards now than be middle class in times before the industrial revolution. It is certainly a better standard of living to be middle class now than a king from a short while back ago. Before that happens though, it is certain that there will be a demand for untrained or less trained labor. Teaching English is not a relatively valued skill set.

When I was in high school, I worked 2 jobs for a total of sometimes more than 40 hours a week of work and a full course of high school. I would do my homework the class before it was due and carry an extra pair of socks because I spent so much time on my feet. In college I also worked too. One summer saving up for college I was working 13 days every 2 weeks 14 or 15 hours a day. In my twenties I kept up this work ethic but was making substantially more money per hour.

Many people like me have to start from low paying jobs. I made a conscious choice to work online thinking I was going to earn much less than what was being offered if I were to get a job in New York mostly because of my knowledge of these discrepancies. For almost a year I lived below the average standard for a  Serb in Belgrade and while it was tough, I'm afraid if I had gone back to the US I would have ended up broke and maybe homeless.

Most expats looking for jobs in Serbia have few options and they aren't solely from countries like the US but also from countries like Brazil and other places with lower standards. They are not coming to Serbia to start a career but to have a place where they can live a cheap and stress free live. Serbia has a much lower cost of living than many 3rd world countries too because of its infrastructure. Try living even a slightly western lifestyle in most places in Africa. The lack of infrastructure there means that anything slightly fancy means tons of finished materials needed to be imported and maybe utilities needed to be upgraded to accommodate the service. Some African cities are constantly on the list of the world's highest cost of living places.

Anyone who has a passion to become a writer or programmer or do any work that can be done online but isn't at the level where they can afford to pursue it, Serbia is a great place for the reasons I've mentioned. And there is no shame in having an average Serbian salary even as an expat with more 'opportunities'. But also, it is a defeating narrative that you are spouting which I have seen many Serbs succumb to. I know countless Serbs who are smart enough to become successful but blame their situation on an inequality that is nothing like they imagine. People need to be inspired to initiative. Any smart Serb for instance that knows English could teach themselves enough programming in one year without a degree and by virtue of having the low cost of living that exists in Serbia would be far more successful and an a westerner (unless he or she also chooses to move to a place like Serbia) but most choose not to because of the self-defeating mentality you are espousing. In fact years go by while people around me complain of this lack of opportunity while they sit at home jobless. They are too proud to be a waiter or waitress but instead of teaching themselves something like programming which they could do in a year and earn an easy $1000 or even $2000 a month which would allow them to live like a king in Serbia, they drone on about the lack of opportunity.

On the internet everyone is equal and everyone has an equal ability to sell their labor and skill. This should be an empowering realization. We are living in a crazy time brimming with opportunity where unlike ever before in almost every corner of the world people can pull themselves out of poverty with some hard work.

My experience of working all around Europe is that there is one thing that will drive how much a person is paid; that is the market place and frustratingly, it doesn't matter one bit where that market place is.  If a potential employer can get an English teacher for 2.50 p/hour and that employee will allow him to grow his business and make enough to live on, then that is the market price for an English teacher; don't matter what passport you have, how smart you are, what qualifications you have; I work for a US-multi in the UK, new-starters will only ever get minimum-wage; where national governments have tried to legislate to stop this, zero-hour contracts have become the norm.

Whatever; I wish all the best of luck in their aspirations. :)

Let's please calm down on the topic, and keep in mind the forum Code of Conduct.
Useful information is welcome here :thanks:

Romaniac
Expat.com Experts Team

Thanks romaniac :) I'll take that as a vote of confidence.

I don't mind the personal attacks from stranac (I've seen much worse scapegoating in my time) and I don't think they should be censored but ultimately it is the site's choice what to accept hopefully to foster the best environment.

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