Salaries around the world: What you should expect when negotiating?

Published 2019-10-29 07:25

You might have just landed a job and you need to negotiate your salary. For the same job, salaries in two different countries can be very different. If you’re not sure what to expect, you can find below a tour of average salaries around the world...

Salaries in Asia: at extremes...

Asia is an attractive and an exotic location with a variety of countries that have an immense world cultural significance. Locations like China and Japan offer plenty of fun things to see as well as higher salaries, while Cambodia, Vietnam or Taiwan can have lower salaries but also cheaper life.

Japan is an attractive country with a lot of history which makes it attractive and challenging for newbies. The average monthly net salary in Japan is 325,000 yen which is roughly a bit less than $3000. Expat English teachers can earn around up to $2.000 in public schools, while in International Institutions or Universities up to $5.000. Usual benefits include: paid vacation, health care, pension, overtime pay, transport expenses and sick leave.

China has a bit lower salary opportunities, but also a relatively cheaper living cost. The average monthly pay largely varies by the cities, with earning a bit less than $3000 dollars being an average amount. Among the mandatory benefits are medical insurance, maternity and sick leave, and work-insurance. The policies need to be explained in a very transparent way as they differ from region to region.

Hong Kong is another great opportunity for expats. The median salary (for university graduates) is around HKD 16,800 or $2.147. Life in Hong Kong can get quite expensive, especially with the search of rents, so negotiating help with accommodation should be done, and will be provided especially by banking institutions and large corporations. 

Taiwan is attractive for foreigners for its lower living costs which make it easier to organize the expenses. The median salary of the country is 94.210 TWD or around $3.045, however a large number of the people living in Taiwan earn less. The best places to search for a good pay are international institutions like school or universities and large multinationals.

Cambodia is a cheap country, but also offers low pay and little benefits (especially for workers on a limited time contract). The average salary in Phnom Penh, the capital is around $270. Similar situation is Vietnam, (where average salary is $148 per month). These countries do not offer social benefits, or the possibility for a saving, but the cheap life, friendly people and natural beauties make working there a pleasant experience.

South Korea on the other hand offers better salary opportunities and the best remuneration can be obtained in international schools and universities (for teachers), with an average wage of around $2,942 per month. Employee benefits include social security, vacation and sick leave, pension funds and health insurance.

Singapore is a very attractive destination, which offers good work opportunities, and fair salary benefits. The average pay is among the highest in Asia, around 4500 Singaporean dollars (around 3100 US dollars). While most of the workers in Singapore get good benefits, these must be well stated in the employment contract. Additionally, overtime pay, public holidays and bonuses are often part of the deal and are well explained beforehand.

India is a country attractive for many, as it offers more benefits and higher salaries to newcomers than to natives. Most of the public and multinational companies have pretty good set of benefits (and health insurance), with thirty days vacation leave (and even more). These benefits are mostly concentrated to large cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. Average salary in India is around $300, which is about 21.481 Indian Rupees.  Healthcare is organized by large companies, but welfare is not big in India, and smaller companies do not cover additional expenses. Luckily healthcare does not cost too much, so the salary is enough to cover the expenses. 

Negotiation in Asia is quite common, and not seen as a sign of rudeness, unless done too stubbornly. With a flexible attitude, good knowledge, understanding and politeness everything can be achieved. It is very important for any of these countries to have a solid knowledge of the laws beforehand as they are always a subject of change. For those who don’t speak the languages or don’t have a good understanding of the law, hiring a lawyer can be beneficial or human resource specialist can be beneficial.

The Middle East and the big, fat salaries...

Deciding to move towards the Middle East seems like a brave idea, which requires good expertise. Many of the countries in the region offer high salaries and good benefits. Additionally, the international schools offer good environments and the possibility to move with family.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. It is an unconventional opportunity, which can be an exciting intercultural experience for those who like to move. The country offers plenty of fascinating experiences but also has a specific way of working that is very different from the US or in Europe.  The best opportunities are obviously in the oil industry, and most sought after professions are engineers, financial experts to IT consultants. Nevertheless, any kind of job can have good benefits. Average salary in the country is between $970 and $1000, but many foreigners get more. Teaching jobs, for example are paid between $2600 and $4000. 

The United Arab Emirates is a country which consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. On average monthly salary in Abu Dhabi (which serves as a capital) is around Dh. 16,775 which is roughly $4567. The most popular professions are accounting, nursing or a mechanical engineering and the most blooming industries are healthcare, construction, oil and gas.

The Sultanate of Oman is a state that shares a border with the United Arab Emirates. It is a beautiful country that offers a fantastic landscape. Oman has relatively cheaper living costs compared to the Emirates, and has more liberal policies. The country does not have income tax, so all the earnings are tax free. Average year salary is around OMR 19,960, or $51845.

Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, which alongside with its continuous development opens spaces for foreigners to work in many fields. Average net yearly salary in the country is QAR 206,285, which is $56656. Additionally workers get benefits such as: gratuity after the expiration of the service, annual leave (three to four weeks), sick leave, and maternity.

Kuwait is also known for its growth and necessity of workers. The country has international companies and schools, offers good salaries, and benefits such as Airfare discounts, housing, health insurance, sick leave, vacation and transportation. Understanding an exact average salary in Kuwait is complex and depends on the types of companies and their relation to taxes. Those are: W.L.L (no tax), K.S.C (Kuwait Shareholder Company), K.S.C. (listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange), and International Companies which pay income tax. The overall average earnings are between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. Some companies offer higher salaries but no allowances, and it is important to calculate the full range of offers. Expatriates usually get help and benefits such as accommodation, car, school fees, holidays and sick leave. Additionally many companies can offer indemnity after the contract period which is especially convenient for a longer time workers. Overtime work is paid at 125% on the work days, 150% on days off, and 200% on public holidays.

Arabic countries generally offer good salary options, cover transportation and possibly rent, and even home cleaners or helpers. Most of them give additional bonuses at the end of the year or at the end of the contract. In case of a need of raise or more benefits, good communication and presentation of expertise will be respected and can go long way.

Europe: Decent salaries and fun!

Europe: the different vibrant cultures, the proximity to world destination and the relatively cheap life attract people from all over the world. Countries vary between each other especially when it comes to salaries, but have relatively similar laws regarding work benefits. The decision to move to Europe is exciting and brings plenty of opportunities for learning and travelling.

Germany is known as the most desired destination when it comes to work, especially because of its reputation for being one of the richest European countries with fair work conditions and good salaries. Indeed it is open and in search of qualified workers especially in the areas of engineering, IT and medicine, but can be more difficult for finding a job in other fields without proper expertise. Average net salary in Germany is around €2.431 monthly, but salaries largely differ depending on the city and region. Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart have the highest salaries, while Kiel, Magdeburg, Dresden and Leipzig have the lowest. Expats in Germany enjoy good social benefits such as the social security system, sick or maternity leave, 30 vacation days and maximum of 48 hours working overtime. Health insurance is usually paid 50% by the employer and can also be organized for the family of the worker (free for the spouse for example). Transportation costs can be included, with a monthly or yearly public transportation pass provided. Income taxes in Germany start from 14% and rise up to a maximum of 42%. Negotiating for a salary or benefits in Germany requires being practical and patient, as most of the decisions take time. Open discussion and direct approach will be appreciated. 

Scandinavian countries are attractive with the fact that they provide high quality education, good work organization and high salaries. Sweden is one of them offering plenty of reasons for expats to consider relocating to it. Other than the decent salaries ( an average monthly salary is SEK 26,162  or €2444,51), it offers plenty of super motivating benefits such as: longer holiday options, parental leave, flexible work hours, shorter working summer hours, subsidized lunch and gym membership, and plenty of other benefits. 

Finland has one of the best welfare systems in the world and benefits similar to Sweden, with an average net monthly pay of €2,509. Denmark has an average net salary of DKK 24,315 or €3255,97 per month, and Norway is on the top with an average of NOK 33,400 or €3379,82 monthly net salary. Most of the companies in Scandinavia are absolutely open to negotiate the needs of the workers, and offer flexibility based on the personal needs. 

Spain offers an experience that can’t be measured with money. The country has plenty of natural beauty and options for socializing.  Spain has lower salaries compared to Europe, with an average of €1,806 (monthly net salary). The benefits however are similar to the one in other European countries and provide up to 18 months of sick days, 30 vacation days (after one year of continuous employment), social benefits, and severance pay. The tax rates are between 20% and 74% based on the pay of the employee. Large companies may provide additional coverage of transport expenses to the international workers upon arrangement.

Other than being an exciting and romantic travel destination, Italy attracts expats in large numbers and excites them with its natural beauty, ancient buildings, communicative natives and great pasta. Just like Spain, however it does not provide the highest salaries, but this can be balanced with the fun life. Average net monthly wage is around €1,878, and differs greatly based on region, with Lombardy (especially Milan), Emilia Romagna, and Veneto, being among the highest paid regions, and the lowest in Sardinia and Calabria. Employees are entitled to holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, health insurance and severance pay (trattamento di fine rapporto). Most of the large companies also include transport expense and covered work travels. Italy, just like Spain can be difficult for negotiating higher salary especially because of the economic situation in the countries, however long time collaboration can be rewarded and once a good relationship is established a call for raise can be granted.

Negotiating a salary is a world-wide phenomenon. Some cultures tend to be more closed minded, and have lower resources, and some are more understanding to the needs of the workers. If an expat gets a job offer it means that the hiring company is aware (or should be) of the complexity of moving abroad. If it fails to do so, it is important to discuss openly about the desired conditions. In these situations confidence is the key and expats should never yield to the fear losing an opportunity and undersell their competencies. On the contrary, they have to understand that they are global citizens who conquer every corner of the Earth, and should apply that mantra in every new life challenge that the world brings.