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The Almighty Buck

Working Internationally--What Should It Pay? 178

Knightman asks: "I recently had a discussion with a friend that works with designing hardware. He had been offered a consulting job abroad where he would get $50/hour, which I thought sounded a bit low considering that my company charges double that for me when I do work for a customer and I'm a programmer and not a hardware specialist that a Silicon Valley company wants to hire. After some discussion back and forth we realized that we had no clue whatsoever on what to charge for a job done abroad. So I'm wondering what is the difference between countries when it comes to charging for a job? And are there any online resources where you can compare this?"
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Working Internationally--What Should It Pay?

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  • by NSParadox ( 135116 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:33PM (#481014)
    It would be interesting to know where exactly he is going to work. Do you know what the cost of living in the country is, typically? While I don't know of any resources, you might find it easier to do some comparisons with your current income/cost of living, the overseas nation, and compare it to other places that you know of. I would also factor in the general pain in the ass of living overseas. :) NSParadox
  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:34PM (#481015)
    Whatever you feel comfortable working for. Really, thats it, there is no standard, no exchange rate of pay between nations. It all boils down to what you think you can make and what the industry offers you.

    Just my 0.02

    Capt. Ron

  • A friend of mine works down in the Carribean. He gets about $80K U.S. a year with no taxes. He has two years of university education and no degree or diploma.

    His cost of living is very high. Rent is over $1000 U.S. a month for a hole in the wall. Still, he clears rather a lot.

    I'd expect a person to make as much after paying all taxes as he currently is before taxes. Factor in cost-of-living and I think you'll get a reasonable estimate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:37PM (#481017)
    I know abroad that gets $20 for a 'job
  • After having moved to another country, I would suggest that you (in case you are hired and not contracted) try to begotiate the salary based on netto income after taxes and living cost.

    These are the factors that are hardest to calculate in advance.

  • My current plan for the next for years is to finish my CS degree, move to Japan and work in some IT capacity while learning the culture and language, then move back to the states and settle down, commanding a nice salary with my 'puter skills and bilingual ability.

    I always assumed I'd just find an American company with offices in Japan and go to work for them. I figured they'd put me through an immersion language course to refresh my three semesters of Japanese and off I'd go. Lately, though, I've begun to worry if this is even possible. I never did any research to find out if this sort of thing goes on, I just assumed it did.

    Has anyone else done this/is anyone else doing it now? If so, who did you work for? I'd really like to know if my grand plan needs changing, or if not how best to go about getting a job over there, and where to live.

  • One of the main things that you have to consider is the exchange rate of the money. If $50 US is equal to 1000 units of their money and a cheeseburger costs 500 units you aren't doing very well. This is a common problem with American workers going over to XXX (country name deleted so I don't sound biased in any way; I'm not) and working. The American's get paid in dollars and when the worker converts to local currency they have trouble even paying rent.
  • I want to know if working in Sweden it would be possible to get an equivalent standard of living to what I could get in the U.S. doing programming type jobs. I come from the midwest, so I know salaries here are less than in say California, but the Cost of Living is also less, so basically my question is what kind of opportunities are there in Sweden, say with an American company. I know language wouldn't be a serious problem as almost everyone speaks English, and I could probably pick up some Swedish vocabulary and take classes to get proficient.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:43PM (#481022) Homepage Journal
    Yup in Latin America $50 a hour is more than *many* people make in a month so would be quite good if you wanted to live there. OTOH having lived in Asia I would not go there for less then ~$150 a hour in US currency. (Yes I got hosed when the bottom dropped out don't ask painful to think about) And I liked living in Asia that was just a cost of living thing.
  • First off, it's probably worth noting that what your company charges and what you get paid are two totally different numbers. Secondly, as has been mentioned before, cost of living is a major factor. $50 may not seem like a whole lot in the USA, but that's a week's salary in some countries.
  • I know this measure. IT'S NOT SERIOUS! It's done, or was done first, by the Economist, which is an excellent magazine that even has a sense of humour. It's a bit of fun poked at the extreme arbitrariness of the goods chosen for c.o.l. and purchasing power parity comparisons, as well as a reasonablyt consumer-ish product which, while not perfect, works at least for McCulture countries, and gives some idea of the changes. I haven't looked at the details; I think they actually take into account the oddities, and the entire thing is then converted into some sort of index so it can be used for comparing rates of change, but the important thing is, IT'S DONE IN JEST! And the Economist is British, anyways...

  • If you will be living abroad for a while, you have to look at the rate of inflation that you will be dealing with. To figure out if you are adequately compensated, may I suggest this resource of a measurement that accounts for inflation and other forms of currency fluctuation.

    The Purchasing Power Parity measurement, or PPP [], measures productivity and standard of living while factoring elements such as varying standards of living in different countries. Find out how to calculate it for any country at the above link.

    Purchasing power parity (PPP) is a theory which states that exchange rates between currencies are in equilibrium when their purchasing power is the same in each of the two countries. This means that the exchange rate between two countries should equal the ratio of the two countries' price level of a fixed basket of goods and services. When a country's domestic price level is increasing (i.e., a country experiences inflation), that country's exchange rate must depreciated in order to return to PPP.

    Unless you are paid in dollars, you will experience the dramatic fluctuations in PPP experienced by native IT workers and for that matter all workers in that country. This is, of course, not the case for those countries whose currencies are pegged to the dollar.

    Perhaps, IT workers, due to their crucial role in all global economies, can work to give countries whose currencies are especially unstable a bit more stability. Take the risk, ask to be paid in the native currency, and the company you work for will have an incentive towards building stability in its foreign posts. Also, shoot for more long-term work rather than projects of a few months. It would be a good thing for information technology folks from the West to get some understanding of the perspective of the rest of the world.

  • I can't speak to the salary issues, but I do know that there are tax issues involved in getting paid by a company outside the US.

    You need to make sure to set aside cash to pay the accountant to figure everything out.

    Your best bet might be having the overseas company pay you through a US job shop. That waay the taxes/social security/etc. are taken care of in a simple way.
  • SAGE [], the System Administrators' Guild, has a salary survey [] that you can have emailed to you. Of course, it only counts salaries of SAs, but it might give a somewhat reasonable idea of how different regions in the world pay technology professionals.
  • From my experience (your milage may vary),

    When working as a regular employee in a software firm in London, Dublin or Paris, expect a 30% cut in pay, compared to LA or San Francisco. Cost of living is on par with San Franciso or NYC, so money after expenses often much less than in the States.

    But it is definitely worth it. Seeing the world is more important than cash.

    Having said that, with a European passport, and as a independent contractor, there is the opportunity to make a lot of money if one is willing to follow jobs to less prestigious cities. Countries without tech workers will pay a lot to import them. (Belgium, for example.)

  • This doesn't directly answer the question of how much you ought to charge, however, if you are wondering how much that overseas salary is really worth, (ie: can you live on 50k in japan?), go to a resource like the UNDP's Human Development Report and find out what the purchasing power parity is of their currency relative to yours, then do the math.
  • by akintayo ( 17599 )
    I do love how you managed to lump all the other countries in the world into one cohesive unit. Your talents truly are wasted in computing.

    Based on the limited information given I cannot answer your question. However, the salary offered is likely to be much higher than what is offered to the natives of the country, even if they are doing the same thing. Combine this with the fact that computing is a high paying area, and your friend should be in one of the higher income brackets.

    When this is compared with the Silicon Valley, and the living conditions prevalent there the deal is even sweeter. In fact dependent on the cost of living in the country it may be possible to save a large portion of your income. You can use that to pay for the overpriced house in the desert.

    Most first world and western companies have web sites that deal with employment these should have salary information. Failing that the un will have the GDP of every country in the world this should prove a measure for comparison. Bare in mind the cost of living in SJ and similar areas is much higher than that of the average area in america. Consider this when processing this information.

    I just love how you called all the countries abroad, with a straight face ! Damn !
  • However, more permanent/Temporary jobs as an american being moved overseas for an american company (ex-patriation) usually include these bonuses....

    Hazard Pay.... In india or china, this can amount to sometimes 2x your salary depending on the company. However in mellower countries such australia it could just be an extra grand a year.

    Cost of living.... Adjustments to your salary are usually made to compensate higher cost of living in the country you are living in.

    Homeleave.... Paid flight back to america (or country of orgin) each year including visits to each of your relatives.

    And depending on the company/country you may get other benifits.

  • by rednax ( 305483 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:52PM (#481032)
    Having worked both in the UK and now in New Zealand I know from personal exsperience that you can not easily compare remuneration. You have to take into account....

    1) What are you happy earning - based on your experience etc. If you are not being paid in your home currency you may find that the exchange rate may help you with this but look at the following points too.
    2) Cost of living varies incredibly between countries for example petrol (gasoline to the majority of you) costs three times as much in the UK as it does here in NZ. The cost of a beer varies almost as much. In many cases you pay in Pounds Sterling waht you pay in NZ dollars. I.E if it costs 3 kiwi dollars it will cost 3 pounds too! and yet the exchange rate put the NZ $ at around 0.3 pounds. Obviously things will vary - esp if you are starting out in the US.
    3) Does the deal include accomodation and expenses - nice if you can get them!
    4)Are there any other benefits included - a lot of overseas contracts include x number of flights home per year - thats a great perk.
    5) Of course the reverse of 2 above applies. If you go to a country where the cost of living is cheaper your $50 US goes a lot further. $50 US an hour would equate to over $200,000 p.a. in local currency here in NZ - which is WAY above what most IT personel would dream of! and boy - would it go a long way!

    Just some thoughts.

    and as always YMMV!
  • We all know that we can make lotsa money if we just accept a crappy job.

    If you decide on moving/living abroad, just make sure the country/city appeals to you, the company appeals to you, and you're sure you're gonna have a happy life there. Once all these factors are there, money isn't that important.

    We all know that we get paid more than enough to survive and make a decent living, those extra $'s on your paycheck may look really nice, but you dont really need them.

    just my two cents ..

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh yes, there are any number of American countries that, after your burn-in training period, would love to send you overseas if you have the right skills and language ability (or ability to relearn it quickly). IBM, HP, Cargill, Lockheed Martin are a few examples I know of personally that have big contingencies overseas. This might be an easier way of going about it at first, because the company will deal with all the immigration/work permit/etc. issues for you. And if you're gung-ho about working for a company that's based overseas, this would give you a chance to see some of them firsthand and maybe decide who to apply to.

    Just my $0.02

  • by hairy moose ( 256972 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:52PM (#481035) Homepage
    salary comparison calculator: note it does not take into account local tax variations, etc. (they've got a page that goes into details on the source material)

    rough conversion weights:

  • Although it really depends on what kind of work this guy is doing, I'd guess that $150/hr is high for most of Asia, assuming $100/hr is standard for the same job in the US. In my experience, hourly rates are lower across the board in just about all of Asia. (OTOH, "ex-pat" packages provided by multinationals can be remarkably generous when compared with US compensation more so when compared with local compensation.)

    Where did you live in Asia...? Most countries I'm familiar with are cheaper to live in than the US, although Japan may be a significant exception.

    As you mention, it's always a good idea to get paid in greenbacks, if possible, although if it's a local company doing the hiring, they probably won't agree to do it.

  • You should consider what YOU want more than comparing to grids, does 50$ sounds good enough for you to move out and maybe isolate yourself for x time? Is the project interresting? Are you motivated or you're seeking motivation? (if it's the second, I'd suggest you stop right there)

    It's okay to work for money, but the job has to be interresting as well, especially when you move to another country for a while, think also about the social issues, Cost of life in that specific area, also the fact that you'll have no friends or family exept (at first) the people you'll be working with. So if the salary is good, and you like what's being offered, and the extra pay covers the "sacrifice" part, you say hell yeah, if not, you say no.

    You can always compare to other people or job titles or whatever, but in the end, I'd personnally take something that is challenging and refreshing from which I'll get a good experience or feel like actually doing something, even if it pays a bit less than that "other job" that has huge bonuses but the job or managers sucks. It's not directly replying to your question but it's other points to consider.
  • I know a guy who used to spend half of each year working in Sweden (guess which half) and half in the U.S. He thought that he was doing about equally well working in Sweden. Taxes are high, cost of living is pretty high, but benefits and wages are pretty good, too (I've got some direct experience, having worked there for briefer periods).
  • for a european guy going to work in LA for $70.000 after 2 years work experience, is it a lot of money ? or not what you could expect if you were born in america ? just wondering... :o)
  • No,

    Sweden has the highest tax rates on earth
  • One of the issues that has to be considered is the exchange rate, specifically if it fluctuates dramatically. A friend of mine was working in Tokyo, doing quite nicely by American or Japanese standards. Then the bottom dropped out of the yen, and suddenly, despite his ability to feed and house himself quite nicely in Tokyo, his student loans and mortgage for a home back in the U.S., which had to be paid in U.S. dollars, became oppressive. A clause in the contract linking his pay to exchange rates would have been nice. As it was, he had to make a lot of people mad and quit, to remain financially solvent.


  • by UberDork ( 235964 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:59PM (#481042) Journal
    All the salary expectations aside (check out what IT workers in Fiji get paid!!), one way of determining the cost of living to a fairly rough extent is to look at the Hamburger Index [], which compares the cost of a McMealSubstitute in various locales.
  • If you are an experienced programmer you might be able to get a very decent job in Sweden (there is a shortage of professional IT people). Salaries vary quite dramatically depending on which city you go to with Stockholm (the capital) at the top of the list. But, as someone else pointed out, that is because the cost of living is higher here.

    Be prepared to put a lot of effort into finding an apartment. If you sublet a 2 room flat here you will probably be paying around 1200 USD/mo for it if you are looking at central stockholm.

    Experienced programmers can make about 40-50' SEK/mo working for a swedish company. This is a lot lower than the US rates I assume.
  • I don't think this is correct, here's why. The cost of living in a certain area can be drastically different in another. For example, working in NYC is expensive. It wastes time and money. LOTS of companies compensate the money paid for parking, commuting, etc. in cash because they know the cost of living (and working) in NYC is expensive.

    This is reflected around every other aspect of compensation, not just commute.
  • Not likely that an employer would just throw you into expensive, time-consuming language classes just so you can stay a year or two and then leave. If they're going to invest in you, they want you to pay off for a long time. The only way to work internationally is through personal contacts...realistically, it's simply impossible to do the resume/interview/hire cycle in a foreign country with no help, especially closed societies like Japan and Western Europe.
  • The best way of having a clear picture of what the actual rates are is to talk to somebody who is coming from the corespondent country where you plan to do the work. There are programmers from all over the world in Silicon Valley, try to find someone to ask on this topic for the specific location.
    For example I have a clear idea of what is charged for what work and what is the top you may ask for in Bulgaria.
  • As far as Paris is concerned, the cost of real estate is at least 2.5 times lower than in NY or London (I happen to live back and forth between NY and Paris), which changes everything. Otherwise, the cost of life are indeed comparable, still NY is slightly more expensive on most consumer goods.

    The real question is: do you have kids? In Continental Europe, and France in particular, the cost of kids is incredibly low compared to the fortunes that you have to spend in the US, for their education, healthcare, etc...
  • the situation in the UK pretty much resembles that in the states, complete with higher rates in the metropolis areas (london, manchester) and lower in less technologically-concentrated areas (though these tend to spring up and disappear every now and then, after all, it's a small country!)

    one thing to note in the article is that in one case you cite what he is getting, in the other, what your company charges for you. i'm sure they don't pay you the same amount :> companies' markup is ludicrous. at one job, in england, several years ago, i was on a paltry $18k, and my time was being charged out at $55/hour.

    apart from that... the us is (apart from possibly canada) the best place for IT contractors (programmers, specialists, etc, talking among the best of the best here) at the moment, paywise, given the very high contract rates, and the low cost of living - compared to the UK, as an example. over here the rates are in general slightly lower (salaried positions certainly are), and the cost of living substantially higher.

    however, there is one distinct advantage to working abroad... if you're with a company who's posting you there from the US, insted of just happening to take a job in another country, they usually pay for your accomodation, and extra bonus per week/month, and keep your regular salary going. so take a 3 month contract, spend your weekends cruising round another country, get rid of your apartment back home and put your stuff into storage... you'll have a blast, get some great experience and make a fortune from it ;)

  • If you're looking at Europe (or anywhere else with astronomical costs for owning and driving a car, etc.), be sure that you can afford it. Better yet, insist that the employer pay for the car inspections, taxes, and fuel. In Germany, fuel prices are over double what they are in the States. Regular, stringent inspections on the cars can result in hefty repair bills. Taxes on cars are no picnic either.
  • Close, but no cig. Norway leads the tax league. But Sweden isn't that far behind. Compared to the U.S., you can expect lower salary and higher taxes. And stuff is more expensive to buy; a litre of gas is almost a US$, a pint of beer is roughly US$ 4 (incl. taxes). Accomodation is fairly expensive, and if you chose to live in Stockholm it could be close to impossible to find an apartment unless you're OK with third-hand-subletting out in the 'burbs.
  • I was in Korea. My comment about cost of living assumes you want to get housing that you would consider good here in the States. Yes you could live for less if you lived in a one room apartment and liked to go to the outhouse. But as soon as you start looking at something like American apartments it becomes big money. Also the $150 number was assumed to be before taxes. And I am willing to admit I'm kind of bitter since when I was there I saw my savings go from *very* good to almost nothing almost overnight. So that might be a bit high.
  • You also have to factor in where exactly (in that country) he's thinking of working. Just like the cost of living is higher in Chicago than Des Moines (and salaries adjust accordingly), the cost of living is higher in Paris than in Nantes.

    Too, there's the "I've always wanted to live there factor." Hard to quantify that. I'd take a significantly lower wage to live somewhere cool for a while, as long as it was enough to live on.

  • by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @02:08PM (#481053) Journal
    He gets about $80K U.S. a year with no taxes.

    He should be very careful about this - legally he has to at least file a US tax return (assuming he's a US citizen), though he may not actually owe any taxes (there are some credits, see the IRS publications for details). His chances of getting caught are probably pretty low, but it's entirely possible that not filing at all for a couple of years will get him flagged for an audit next time he does file after he returns home.

    I'll stay out of the politics of whether it's right or not for the government to tax you when you're working internationally beyond one comment: for a US citizen, even if you're out of the country there are advantages and services that are available to you (at embassies, etc.) because of your citizenship. Taxes pay for those even if you don't use them, the same way taxes pay for your local fire department's services even if you don't use them.

    The IRS FAQs for people working internationally are at [].

    -- fencepost

  • by d.valued ( 150022 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @02:09PM (#481055) Journal
    I remember sometime last year when it was noted that, for a brief period of time on the markets, USD 1 = JPY 100 = EUR 1 (or for those unable to translate fiscalese, a buck, a euro-equivalent, and a hundred yen were interchangeable).

    This does NOT mean, though, that your euro equivalent, dollar, and hectoyen could buy you the same amount of stuff.

    Examples: A 750 mL bottle of a decent wine costs you at least $15 here. You can get wines of same quality for maybe FFr 50 (7 Euros), maybe cheaper.

    A computer can be acked in the US for $400. A similar computer will run you an extra 50% or so in some parts of Europe.

    These are hack and slash quesses, mind you, but the idea is this: A given amount of money means different things in different places.

  • it can be found at here []. Unfortunately, they no longer calculate salary for other countries... I'm pretty sure they used to have it... but you can find the equivalent of your current salary in just about any major US metro area.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Depending on your skills and experience I estimate you can get between SEK 25000 and SEK 35000 a month (I assume you have an academic degree here, but I don't know if that is essential). That is before tax. If you make SEK 25000 you will receive 15800 in you hand after tax. (for 35000 you will have 20700). Then you have sales tax (25%) on most things you buy, but food is for example 12%.

    1$ = 9.65 SEK today.

    So what do you get for these taxes? Don't ask me. I think you will pay a lot of taxes for things that you will not get in return, at least not until you get old, get kids or become sick.

    However, Sweden is in the forefront of information technology. If you are interested in working with wireless, you probably could not come to a better place.

    I think that when one is thinking about working abroad, you should not think so much about how your standard will compare to your home situation. Working abroad gives you so much more than just money. But I agree that it is a good thing to be aware about the salary levels, so that you do not get a to low salary.

    Can anyone give me info about salaries and opportunities in London in return?

    More about taxes: Swedish taxpressure is currently about 52 %. For the EU in average it is slightly below 43 %. The US seems to be slightly below 30% according to the graph I could see.

    (tax info from

  • Living in italy is probably much more expensive and people are really unwilling to pay much for computer programmers or technical job.. as a fres CS graduate (and we do MORE school than the average america CS since we do 5 year minimum of college which quickly grows to 6-7 minimum) the average paycheck after taxes almost never exceeds $1000 / month ..
    make a couple of calculation on how much that is per hour and get real about what the situation is abroud
    Maybe after 2-3 yers you can get a net income of $1500-$2000 but that would be considered rather good (we are talking about graduated engineers here).
    Of course i am taking salary job here.. if you do consultancy and are the entrprenour type with your customers and stuff you can probably earn much more...

    (me i ask $28 per hour programming and is considered rather expensive)
  • depends on what you're doink ..

    if you're cleanink toilets .. its a lot of money .. if your coding/sysadmin'ng/... it's not alot of money .. but its not bad either .. if you're happy with your job and you dont really need the xtra money .. stick with it ..


  • I do a lot of work internationally. I do specialized security work (PKI primarily) and the rates that I get in different countries is as follows:

    All rates in USD for ease of comparison:

    Canada: 160/hr
    US (oakland, SanFran): 250/hr
    UK: 300/hr
    Norway: 250/hr

    So you can see, it really depends on the company. Plus the rate is slightly higher for Private sector work versus Public Sector (gov't).

    In the consulting business, the rate that you charge is really what the client is willing to pay. A general rule of thumb: If the client says "Yes" to your first offer, you left money on the table. If they say "Ouch" you give them the "We really want your business, and will discount it X percent" until they say OK.

    The moral: companies differ in what they are willing to pay, and the pay scale is different depending on where you are working.

    Hope this sheds some light on the subject!
  • Big questions:

    1) is the employer putting you up, and giving you an food allowance? (my favorite agreement because you show up, work, get enough to live on, and buy toys/vacation with allowance)

    2) How long are will they be out of the country? (more than 335 days/tax year, and no taxes to 75k) (might be over a year, not sure)

    3) where is the paycheck origiating from? US, taxes come out in US. Out of US, $$ go into account at a small rate per month (less than 10k/transaction (I say month)), and there might be no taxes ... and depending on where they are stationed, it might be good to get paid in local currency, since the dollar is goin down the tube.
  • For what it is worth, my friend is Canadian. I don't know how the Canadian laws affect him, maybe he found a loophole.

    But what's to stop a U.S. citizen claiming less income than he actually made?

  • The Economist, arguably one of the best periodicals out there, often has articles about the cost of living around the world. I guess that you could get an idea starting with those:

    -Overall cost of living by city []
    -Taxi fares []
    -The Big Mac index. [] This is useful to find out if a currency is overvalued more than being a cost of living indicator, but it's fun nonetheless.

  • Taxes get complicated, but they are an important issue that can have a huge effect on what you bring home.

    Depending on the country, your visa status, the length of the engagement, and the amount of money you make, you may be required to pay taxes in both the local country and the US (assuming you are a US citizen).

    Being paid through a "US job shop" tax-free only works if the local laws allow it. In many places, once you've been resident N days or made M dollars/units you will be taxed in that country, no matter where the pay checks come from or are deposited to.

    The good news is that (usually) income you pay tax on in another country can be deducted from your US taxes. (And yes, the US govt taxes all US citizens, even if they don't make a dime anywhere in the 50 states.) The bad news is there's a limit to the amount you can deduct.

    If you don't want to pay taxes in either the US or local country, you may be able to get away with breaking the law, by ensuring that neither the US and/or the local country never finds out about your income. This is not a recommended option, but you wouldn't be the first.... :-)

    The moral of the story: talk to an accountant before you go.

  • by Amanset ( 18568 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @02:15PM (#481065) Homepage
    Cost of living is less? I'm sorry but that is total dreamland, especially when you consider that Sweden has one of the highest costs of living in Europe.

    You will get hit by tax badly. VAT (sales tax) is what really surprises me. It is on everything, literally (I am a Brit and therefore used to no VAT on food, books and suchlike ...). On most non-food things you will have a rate of 25%. My income tax in Sweden is 33.8%. That is the base tax area for where I live (Bromma, West Stockholm). I do not earn enough to be in a higher tax bracket.

    I hope you are not a drinker as Sweden has some of the most blatantly ridiculous alcohol prices in Europe. If you want to drink at home then you will have to buy alcohol from System Bolaget, a state owned liquor store chain. There are nowhere near enough of them, they close really early during the week (usually 7, maybe 8 on Thursdays and Fridays) and only open (if you're local one opens at all) for a maximum of five hours on a Saturday (10-3). There are no Sunday openings.

    There are more job opportunities than you can shake a stick at. Just about every IT company has an office in Kista, a northern subhurb of Stockholm. They like to think of the area as "Europe's Silicon Valley". The local shopping mall even has a Sweden/Silicon Valley clock. If all else fails, try to work for Ericsson. Every Swede appears to have at some point. They probably throw you out of the country if you haven't worked for them within 3 years. *grin* Telia, the recently privatised Telecoms monopoly, is also a good bet.

    Just about everyone below 30 speaks incredible English. This however, can be a problem if you are trying to learn the language. Swedes can hear my English accent from a mile off, so even if I start a conversation in Swedish they will always reply in English. This sometimes gets to me and I end up in the bizarre situation of a Brit speakign Swedish to a Swede speaking English.

    If you are a happy tax payer you can always got to the recently privatised (a bit of a theme here) SFI, who give you Swedish courses for free. I have no wbeen learning for 9 months and all books and two 2.5 hour lessons a week after work are free.

    Really bizarre thing: I hope you don't tend to take sick days. In Sweden you will not be paid for the first sick day and will only receive 80% of your pay for the second. If you do take a day off you make damn sure you get better before you go back to work. If you take a day off, then come back for a day and then take another day off you will lose two days pay. Well, unless you are creative with your timesheet (which everyone in my office is). Either that or just claim it as on eof your holidays - and seeing as you get a ridiculous 28 days holiday plus IIRC 9 "red days" plus, if you are lucky, a half day before the "red day". It is no joke that some companies practically close down for a month or two over the summer. With so many holidays many people take a MONTH off.

    Hmm. Went on a bit there. I know some things there sounded a bit negative. Sorry, it isn't a diss at Sweden. I love the country and am very glad I moved here. Hope I was som ehelp. Maybe I should go to bed now.
  • If you are a US citizen, and work abroad, and stay out of the US for an extended period of time, you don't have to pay Federal taxes. Be careful of state taxes, I know of one couple who left California for Saudi Arabia for 5 years, came back, and CA decided that since they were intending to return, that they owed back taxes and penalties - and the courts upheld this decision. That being said, you would do well to check with an accountant/tax lawyer, and see what kind of tax avoidance you have (avoidance is legal, evasion is not). Having travelled a large portion of the world, I can state that traveling jobs are a wonderful opportunity. If you are flexible, you can have a great time, and make good money too. Just look out for all those governments trying to take your hard earned cash.

  • Answer to your question: no it's not.

    Taxes are very high in Scandinavia (I live in Finland, but situation is same in Norway and Sweden also), weather sucks, and wages rarely are as high as in the US. A Big Mac costs twice as much as in the US. As well as a coke. And so on. Not to mention liquor, which is very heavily taxed.

    Scandinavian region is a good place for poor people, but it would be very dumb for a US IT-professional to come work here. Unless you are already so rich that you don't care about money any more..

  • Canada taxes based on residency, not citizenship. So if he is living and working entirely in the Caribbean, he owes no Canadian taxes. As far as I know, only the U.S. attempts to collect taxes based on citizenship.
  • by El ( 94934 )
    If he's getting housing provided, and doesn't have to pay U.S. taxes on the $50/hour, it sounds like a great deal. If it's in Tokyo and he has to provide his own food and housing then he should be getting at least $100/hour. Also, there's a huge spread between what companies charge for consultants time and what the consultant actually gets; i.e. when Oracle was billing customers $150/hour for my services, I was only getting about $35/hour.
  • Also check out foreign job sites. ( [])
  • OK. Cheers. At least I now know it is not *quite* as bad as I thought.

    Thing is, I still go to work when sick because I am 100% against the principle.

    Being in work when sick is neither good for me or my company.
  • About what I said about cost of living, I meant that the cost of living in the mid west is less than in California, for example I know one engineer who moved here from California who sold his small house for $200,000 and bought a nice house for his wife and six children.
  • You gotta be kidding me! I've been working in the US for 2 years now. Originally from South Africa and if I can take dollars to South Africa I'll be a billionare. You have to look extensively at the cost of living, how much a car costs, a house, groceries, food, everything you can think of. Trust me I've been through it. I found some sites that helped me coming to the US, but don't recall them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Let me point you to the comparative chart at There you will see that Sweden is on top, with Denmark, Finland, Belgium, France and Austria coming "before" Norway. (1998 figures, tax pressure as percentage of GNP) This surprises me as well, but I trust the source here.
  • Yes, the cost of living in that country and in that city is important while you're there. Also consider how much you'll be able to save up and how much that will be worth where you will be in the future.

    That is, consider where your savings will be and how much they're worth after the assignment. If you're going to continue working in that country and retire there, then you only have to examine the situation there. Otherwise you have global comparisons to make.

  • by Daniel_E ( 75554 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @02:33PM (#481076) Homepage

    Sweden is a beautiful country. I'm sure you would like it. Like all other countries there are pros and cons. As an employee there are several pros and at least one major con:

    Pro #1. If you are into wireless stuff (RF, Blue Tooth, ...) then Stockholm/Kista is the place to be right now. With a cell phone penetration of 70% or more in the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland), and with one of the most deregulated phone networks in the world, and with companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Microsoft and Intel spending billions of dollars on research in the Kista area you can't really go wrong.

    Pro #2: Employee benefits. How about state of the art office spaces with closed-door-offices, lots of daylight, really nice functional furniture and high-end computers? Or how about 50% more bank holidays and 5 weeks of vacation?

    Pro #3: Language won't be a problem. You can almost expect anyone under 65 to understand English. You can also expect anyone under 50 to speak pretty good English. There are also quite a few people that speak, or at least understand, German.

    Con #1: Taxes, taxes and more taxes. If you like to control your own money, Sweden will drive you crazy. Income tax is between 30% and 56% depending on how much you make. Sales tax is 25% for most goods and around 12% for most services.

    So, how does Sweden compare if you look at the standard of living? Well, there's good and bad news. Because of the high taxes it is difficult to reach a level where money isn't a problem. You will have to be paid a really good salary to not have to worry about money. The cost of living in or around Stockholm is quite high, so if you would like a nice standard of living you would probably want to look for someone to pay you at least 35000 SEK per month. If you're in the high-tech industry that shouldn't be too difficult. To not have to worry much about money you should look at a salary of 45000 SEK or more per month. This is attainable, but you need to be a manager or someone that really is in demand.

    /Daniel, now working in San Diego (pro: weather, con: traffic)
  • Last fall, I turned down a job in Orange County for $40k/year. (Web design.) Not nearly enough to comfortably live on. Looking at $1000+/month for rent in a one-bedroom apartment.

  • Okayyyy... you could look at it that way, or you could look at the research ;)
    Here are some resources I found. Hope they help.

    *Real Consulting Rates Survey: 01/15/01 - 01/21/00 []
    *ERi Salary Trend Wizard for US/CAN []
    *MIS & IT Comprehensive Salary Report [] - [.pdf version []] - [.rtf version []]
    *Fill out the 2001 salary survey [] to help other consultants or read the 2000 Survey Results [].
    *Other resources []

  • Britain. If you're ill you get paid. If it goes on for more than IIRC 4 days you are required to provide a doctor's note. Taking too many single days or suchlike (thus avoiding the doctor's note) can result in disciplinary procedures.

    Basically, if you are genuinely ill you don't lose money.
  • Even with comparing currencies through updated exchange rates, the real issue to look at here is not how much one would be making directly comparing two salaries from two different countries. Instead, it is much more important to consider the cost of living. Unfortunately, hard data on things like this is hard to come by. One should consider the income and property tax rate as well as the foreign consumer price index [] which compares the prices of a small number of products meant to represent products as a whole.

    Important things to consider if moving into a country that's not in western Europe or United States/Canada is the rate of inflation and economic stability. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to try to find a trusted friend who lives in the country you're considering and find out how his/her expenses differ from your own.

  • It all depends on experience and location. A good hardware designer with some software experience can get between UKP35 and UKP55 per hour (USD55 and USD90) in Cambridge after the agent commission. Remember to factor about 20% employment tax (employer and employee National Insurance NI) and a sliding scale going up to 40% income tax on top of the NI.

    You can get more in London but the living costs can be higher.

    I think the biggest recruitment site in the UK is []. Put in your keywords and take a look at the results. Many of them include the rate.

    Don't forget the EU has restrictions on who can work so check before applying for a job.

    Andy []

  • I don't think there's a single good resource for what you're looking for, but there are some near misses... Here are my recommendations: 1. -- if you find your country under their "Featured destinations", it will have an "Essentials" link that leads to "Money and Costs". From this you can get a rough estimate of at least meal costs, from which you can extrapolate. 2. has a "Resources" link that has a few items about living overseas. You can also gather a fair estimation of typical salaries by rooting through their job listings. This doesn't necessarily tell you about the cost of living there, but it's a start. 3. also has some salary comparisons; mostly for the US, but some overseas. Again, this isn't exactly cost of living. But they have some other resources at that site that might be useful. 4. Plug in "international AND consulting" into any of the plethora of job search engines and see what companies are offering (and what resume submitters are expecting). Hope this helps.
  • Different parts of one's "personal economy" will vary considerably in cost between countries; you have to consider:
    • Cost of food
    • Cost of rent
    • Cost of furniture, home electronics, clothing
    • Cost of transportation
    • Tax burdens
    By and large, the US is a place where "home electronics" and computers are pretty cheap, as is transportation.

    That correspondingly results in heightened expectations, most blatantly expressed in the form of the much-maligned SUVs.

    Moving to Japan would force massive "lifestyle" changes, as a house of the size typical here in Texas would be unheard of in Tokyo, and it would just not be sensible to drive around in a pickup truck in Tokyo either!

    Those two "broad" strokes (house, truck) show that what you'd have in another country might be quite substantially different.

    In a city with massive subway system, like Paris, it would be eminently reasonable to not even consider having a car; the standards for fashion, food, and working hours are different enough to make facile measures like "dollars per hour" quite insensible.

    A comparison probably has to integrate together a budget for all the "personal economic sectors" listed above. In effect, you have to plan to change your lifestyle, and estimate what the results are liable to be.

  • That's easy --

    -- MONEY!!

    Dang, people, these questions are utter pushovers.

  • Due to Canada's socialist (sort of) nature, most of your taxes go towards benefits available only through Canadian residence (socialized health care, etc). In contrast, United States has a far lower percentage of social benefits within the federal expenitures. A majority of the funding goes towards things like the military, running the government, infrastructure improvement, education, etc. Most U.S. expenditures go for improving the country as a whole - well, if you are rich, white, and drive an S.U.V. that is :)

    I'd imagine, given the liberal leanings of Canadian government, that rules aiming to tax long-term out-of-country Canadian citizens would be struck down by their court system. There could, however, be some sort of lowered tax rate that elimates the portion going towards socialized programs.
  • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher&gmail,com> on Thursday January 25, 2001 @03:07PM (#481089) Homepage
    You might have just asked a lawyer, who will always tell you, "It depends" :-)

    It sounds like a foreign company is hoping to get some american talent for cheap. It depends on where the job is, and what the living and working environments are.

    There are a bunch of factors to look at, start with taxes.

    Americans have to pay taxes (or at least file a return) even if they pay taxes while working in another country. The U.S. is the only country in the world not to have signed the UN treaty on double taxation (ok, count Somalia, Bhutan and a few tiny, recently created countries as exceptions). What this means is if you earn more than about US$60,000 while working overseas in any 12 month period, the US wants your taxes, even though you have to also pay taxes in the country you were living in. The US$60,000 exemption only counts if you have absolutely no income in the US during any calendar year while away overseas, and that includes interest on savings accounts or gains on stock even if you didn't sell and realise a profit. Factor this in. Americans overseas need to charge a lot more to cover the eventual double taxation.

    The cost of living varies from country to country. A LOT! Even in Europe. There are websites with indexes for many of the various costs, such as local taxes, rent, meals, food, transportation, etc. The money I earn in Belgium wouldn't carry me very far if I lived in London, but would be great for Poland, Portugal or Tunisia.

    The quality of living varies enormously as well. Dublin has a great nightlife, but it closes down way too early. London has great curry but the suckiest and most expensive transportation system. Paris is, well, full of Parisiens, but Americans love it. Roma is full of Italian women. But if you get stuck in Tangiers, Izmir, Kiev, Kinshasa or Ulan Bator, no huge amount of salary will make up for a year or two of hellish or dangerous living.

    In Europe, a good freelance hardware consultant, willing to work as a complete independent, pulls in between US$800 and US$1500 per day. (Note, nobody uses hourly rates when contracting, just daily). Independent means just that, the company expects you to show up and work in return for money, and doesn't want to hear about work permits, housing problems, kids, taxes, health insurance, or anything else. So you have to more than double a normal salary to include health insurance, local social charges, your own accountant, rent, car hire, and transportation to the area. Take out 25%-75% income taxes, and you may be left with very little actual income. $50/hour is only $400/day, which is tiny for anyone with a degree and some experience. Check [] for some going prices around Europe, mostly in England.

    If you have any experience as a freelance consultant, you start to think in these terms: There are 20 to 22 work days in a month. Half of all days are eaten up in taxes, social security and an accountant. Subtract a day or three for each flight home. Rent or hotel should not be more than 3 days pay for each month. Local hire car, 2 days pay. At the end each month, you will have 3-7 days pay as your profit. Would you only want to earn US$2,800 for a month of work as a highly paid professional? At least triple your rate.

    If the employer wants to make you a regular employee, find out from ex-pats in that country what the working conditions are like. How stable are jobs? If you quit, how much can your employer hold you for? What is typical rent in the area? Are ex-pats regularly cheated by not speaking the local language fluently? Can you be arrested at the airport without a letter from your employer allowing you to leave the country (i.e. Oman, Saudi, Malaysia, Indonesia, Tunisia). Will your passport be siezed by your employer until the successful end of your contract? Can you legally take your salary out of the country?

    Anything the company is offering up front is loaded in their favor and against you. Know exactly what you want, and tell them every condition before even drawing up a contract. And make sure everything is clearly in writing, especially what you have to deliver to ensure a clean end to the contract.

    So many questions. At least slashdotters are filling up the forum with lots of things for you to think about. I could go on for hours, but the Guiness is wearing off and bed calls. Give this forum a few days, and then make up a large list of additional research you need to do. Working overseas, especially if you are earning an obscene amount of money, can be very rewarding, and not just financially. Once you start traveling and having fun in many new places, you can never really go back and settle down.

    the AC
  • by Angreallabeau ( 263172 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @03:10PM (#481090) Homepage
    I own a software/engineering development company in Canada. Most of our work is done internationally and the going rate depends on where you are doing business.

    For Instance:
    Middle East: $2500-3000 USD per day
    India: $400 USD per day
    USA: $1000-2000 USD per day
    England: $2000-2500 USD per day
    Russia: $1000 USD per day (take the money in advance.

    Contracting really has to do with how well your market yourself. I know some really shitty programmers who make a lot of money in foriegn countries. To be honest, I have worked abroad for the travelling experience, not for the money. Leaving home for money -- is a little weak.

  • I am currently living in the Marshall islands working for Raytheon on a US military base making a little under 30k. However to get that same level of income back in the states I'd need to make at least double that (which I could, if/when I decide to go back). Out here I dont pay taxes, have free room & board. The island is 3 miles long so I dont have or need a car and all the payments, maintnence and insurance that goes along with that. There's also the benifit of being on a small tropical island in the middle of the South Pacific (not like I ever see those benifits due to endless work). Biggest things to look for and worry about is cost of living and quality of life. For me out here the cost of living is pretty much a negative number & quality of life is very good.
  • Where in asia did you live? Japan? I know the Cost of living there is huge compared to the US, but I would imagine that in places like Taiwan or Mainland China would be pretty cheap.

    Amber Yuan 2k A.D
  • by Anonymous Squonk ( 128339 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @03:36PM (#481094) Journal
    I've lived in Japan for four years. My first two years were working for a traditional Japanese company. In a Japanese company, compared to what you are used to in America, you will have a lower salary, especially if you are young. The ways of lifetime employment and seniority-based employment are taking a licking, but are still alive and well. On the plus side, everyone is paid for overtime, and I've seen more than my share of Japanese salarymen taking advantage of this by staying until 9 or 10 every night just talking, drinking beer, playing Solitare, and getting paid time and a half for it. But as the token gaijin, many of the rules don't apply to you. You can come in at 10:30, dress up in t-shirt and jeans, and few people will have the guts to complain because you're...well...different.

    These last two years have been spent working for American companies. My salary is probably higher than the industry average. And because I can speak Japanese an English, I have more opportunities made available to me, and I'm sure I have risen higher up the corporate ladder than I would have had I been working at the US HQ.

    As for contractors, the ones that I've known who can speak both their native language and the language of the country that they're working in can charge an arm and a leg. But unless you are married to a Japanese and have a spouse visa, you won't be able to take advantage of this, since you can't get a work visa in Japan without having a company in Japan to sponsor you.

    In any case, you should earn enough to live on no matter what you do. It's up to you to decide which style fits you best. For me, it is obviously the American company, but I know others who are perfectly happy working in (abusing?) the Japanese environment.

  • by V-Turn ( 309429 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @04:03PM (#481096)
    Actually, I used to work in the UK before (tremendous cost of living, by the way) and I decided to move to Japan.
    As you say, the resume/interview/hire cycle was impossible with Japanese companies, but for international companies, it is possible to do the recruiting part locally and then get hired abroad. (I also did that when I got my job in the UK since I was studying in the US at this time).

    BUT... If you want to work in Japan, unless you are very very lucky, you have to speak Japanese... And among the new language, chopsticks and raw fish, you also have to cope up with Japanese people, which is by far the most interesting.

    Concerning the cost of living, yep Tokyo is 'the #1 city' as some smart-ass newspaper declared, but this study has certainly be done by some American newspaper, and I am pretty sure that they meant 'the most expensive city if you live the American way'. Japanese people are used to live in small flats, barely eat meat and eat out a lot, so if you want to setup a barbecue in the garden of your 200 square meters house (which would be a cheap 'experience' in the US), then you are gonna pay a lot for that.

    But Tokyo has some great advantages: where else can you buy a cell phone with a digital camera and that plays mp3s?..

    Just my two cents...

  • From what I have seen, unless you have a personal contact of somesort that can get you into a startup over there (a startup of english speaking people) solid japanese verbal and written skills seem like a must. Atleast to warrent the job that will pay the salery I am looking for to work over there. (Being subject to the US tax as well as the Japanese taxes).

    That's if you want to do it the direct way. If you want to give up a year or two of your life to low pay and partying, you come to Japan as an Engilsh teacher. Then start your networking, and eventually you find a company that's willing to hire you for what you really want to do. BTW, you can make up to $78,000 in a foreign country without being subject to US taxes, so you should be alright for at least a couple years.

  • I am currently working in Japan, for a Japanese company and feel somewhat qualified to give some solid advice.


    Unless you are fluent in Japanese (a good 5 years of hard study) you will always be restricted to some low level position. Furthermore the Japanese will always prefer a Japanese person with poor english skills to a gaijin with good Japanese skills. Classic example; when you first arrive in Japan and your Japanese contacts see that you can use chopsticks, they will do back flips with joy and tell you that you are damn near a native. As you learn your first Japanese you will be constantly told how smart you must be because you can speak such a difficult language. As you improve though the situation only gets worse. The better you get the more critical they become (you will never be Japanese and will never really understand them, or so they believe).

    You should know that gaijin rarely last more then a year or two here. at 3 years you are a long timer.

    Just to drive the point home, I know a white girl who was born, raised and educated in Japan. On the phone she is indistinguishable from a native. Her English is also flawless. She is still treated as an outsider everywhere she goes.

    The converse of this is if you work for a foreign company you might do alright. but don't bet on it.
  • by scottbarlow ( 157380 ) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @04:35PM (#481106)
    I currently work here in Tokyo too. it's an interesting experience, as I already could speak Japanese from being a missionary and married a Japanese woman, and graduated in Japanese, but had IT skills that got me hired here. The company paid for me to get here, and helped us buy a few things for the apartment to get things going. The only caveats are:

    1) It is *very* expensive to live over here if you have a family. Don't plan on sending your kids to school, unless your company is giving you some kind of expat package.
    2) Don't plan on living in anything bigger than 6-8 tatami mats (20X20 space ?) unless you do have a family, and the company will compensate you for a bigger apartment. Don't plan on spending a lot of time there either.
    3) The financial business has the most demand, and pays the most for IT people over here - that means generally US based companies, but they like to hire locally - meaning you get nothing more than an average Japanese citizen (forget those classes).
    4) Generally companies won't hire you from the US by you sending in your resume and hoping them to contact you. You need to alrady be here in Japan, and already living here some way.

    5) Salaries are usually set around 500,000 - 800,000 yen for people right out of school in the IT industry,if you get lucky. That's about 45-75 grand, but remember that you will be living in the most expensive city in the world, and it isn't just a joke. I persoanlly wouldn't take another job here with a salary lower than 2.0 M Yen (185 grand), and an expat package.

    Here are some things that I did:

    I got hired form the Disco Job Fair in San Francisco. You can also attend the Boston fair if that is more convenient for you. Find out early from a Japanese teacher at your school when it is.

    Pick up a magazine called Japan Inc. and contact all of the headhunters/recruiters in there - - e.g. Advance - Woody Hodgson @ +81-3-5288-5383

    Expect rent to be in the $1000's, expect a lot of working late, working a lot with foreigners like yourself, and don't expect to be promoted within the company. Don't expect a 401k, and expect your Internet connection to be limited to what you can use at your company, or connecting at 28.8-56k and being charged 4x's as much as the US for it (It's getting a little better though).

    Your welcome to contact me if you have any specific questions.

  • Well I have two viewpoints. First, I work for a multinational company. Our policy is, that when working abroad we make 100% + x% of the salary for a comparable position in a US office. The x% is based on taxes and other costs of living. For example in Canada it maybe only 125% while in Singapore it is somewhere around 158%. Also in certain places there are other benefits, as in Singapore and Indonesia all of the IT guys got a personal driver. (Due to the "Renters car tax" in Singapore, that's right .. you can't own your own car in singapore ... and the recent political problems in Indonesia)

    Second, geekfinder [] will let you search for jobs in some places abroad. For instance I found a job offer in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. This job required someone with basic knowledge of NT and computer repairs and all it was for was to manage the companies server backups. The job was quoted as having a salary of CA$75,000 per year. That is somewhere between CA$50,000 and CA$60,000 if memory serves. Also in the Toronto/Mississauga area one can survive comfortably on CA$12,000.

  • Just like in the rest of the world there is a massive demand for any skilled IT workers here in Japan. I work as a developer for a company which, among other things, runs a job site specifically aimed at bringing foreign talent to Japan. Japanese skills are a plus, but not absolutely necessary. Many of the large financial institutions or foreign owned computer companies do not require you to know any Japanese. The 2 most popular English Language web-sites based in Japan are and Other sites around the Asia Pacific region often advertise vacancies in Japan and usually give details of relocation packages as well.
  • I've done this, and it is worth it. As for how much you are going to get that is going to depend on where you go and the local market.

    As for the where question keep in mind that some places Like Asia and much of the interesting bits in Europe are quite expensive, while others are quite cheap. Also if it is somewhere undesirable or dangerous that should be worth extra.

    And personaly while I would go abroad again there are a few countries like Suadi Arabia that I would not go to. (Not that they would let me in anyhow)
  • I take home, cash in my pocket after tax money, 380,000 Yen ($3250 US) a month with expenses of about 110,000 Yen ($950) permonth with 10 weeks holidays per year Including medical.

    How does this stack up?
  • Examples: A 750 mL bottle of a decent wine costs you at least $15 here. You can get wines of same quality for maybe FFr 50 (7 Euros), maybe cheaper.

    You are guessing. You have obviously not spent time in Europe. A decent bottle of Bordeaux costs DM4-5, about $3, the same stuff you pay $10-15 for. A computer can be acked in the US for $400. A similar computer will run you an extra 50% or so in some parts of Europe.

    Nak. Desktop computers at least are about the same price here as over there. Some things things are cheaper here: Beer. Sausage. Beer. Cheese. Insurance. Beer. Most other things cost more.

  • Good comment, however, you forgot other very important criteria:

    - Cost of health insurance/healthcare
    - Cost of Retirement savings

    - And, the key point, where differences vary by an enormous factor (that is, by an amount of money equivalent to a nice house, for example); cost of kids (ie daycare, good school, good high school, good university, etc...).

    On these points, especially the last one, the US force you to spend real fortunes. In other countries, most of these expenses are alrwady covered by the taxes you paid.

    I've had a chance to make many real life comparisons in western countries, and my conclusion is: Germany and "backward socialist" France are real bargains.
  • Well I cannot agree with these statements at all. I currently live in Los Angeles, but used to live in Tokyo for nearly three years. I moved back to the US to be close to my father before he passed away. I was the Director of Technology and Sr. Systems Engineer for a well known computer animation studio which was a 100% owned Japanese company. I was paid well, and recevied alot of respect and was given alot of say so in how things were done. While I was there I was interviewed by technical and design magazines, including Nikkei business. I was approached by numerous Japanese companies who were trying to recruit me to key positions as a senior level systems engineer or administrator. I do agree that Tokyo is very expensive, but compared to LA or SF-Bay area, not too big of a difference in housing costs. Though to be honest, my personality seemed to fit with Japanese and I was very immersed in Japanese society. It helps to have a very conservative traditional Japanese wife as well. And I still don't speak Japanese fluently or well for that matter. It all depends on what you expect and what you hope to gain. I would recommend going over there and experiencing it for yourself. SOme of my fellow gaijin co-workers did have a less than desirable experience. One thing that I did notice that in Japan, engineers and technically skilled people are treated with more respect and paid better compared to managers than in the US or the UK. At least that was my impression. YOur mileage may vary.. Chris
  • To be "living overseas" you must not spend more than 30 days a year in the US. Otherwise you get taxed as a US resident. I lived on Grand Cayman for 3 years and I had to watch my time in the USA very closely as trade shows, corporate shopping, and vacations quickly add up. I managed to keep below both the income and time limits and legaly paid no State or Fedral income tax. However I did pay a stiff import duty to the Cayman Customs.
  • Also, in addition to the costs Christopher lists, leave room for corruption. A portal company in a certain second-world country stiffed me for 7% of my invoice. They just refused to pay it. I, being a foreign national in a country where I do not speak the language, was without recourse. I'm glad that I got what I got.
  • Where in asia did you live? Japan? I know the Cost of living there is huge compared to the US, but I would imagine that in places like Taiwan or Mainland China would be pretty cheap.

    Taiwan is NOT cheap. Taipei is (in bits and pieces) a first world city, and has first world prices to match. This week's issue of the Economist puts Taipei's cost of living as being slightly above NYC.

    This has been alluded to in other messages, but a big problem in calculating living expenses is tied up in "quality of life" issues. Taiwanese live in nasty concrete boxes with no oven, substandard plumbing, no heat (it's as far south as Miami, this is not as big a deal as you might think), and no a/c except for what you bring in yourself. If you are willing to live in a place like this (or fix it up to your standards on your own dime) rent is reasonable (meaning $1/sq. ft or so). If you demand the same sort of apartment that you would get in LA, San Jose, or Boston, watch your price per square foot triple!

    Likewise, food and entertainment is stretchy like candy. Local food is cheap (and tasty). Want to get a steak that would be pronounced fit to eat in Chicago? Suck it up, it starts at $40/plate (before wine and appetizers).

    I could keep checking down the list. This is not intended to kick on Taiwan. I enjoyed my stay there immensely (never having lived in expat digs, and avoiding the steakhouses like the plauge). However, you will find this over and over any time you go overseas. The less you like livin' local, the more you can expect to pay.

  • The "standard" contractor rate in the UK is 40GBP/hr as an embedded software engineer. I do know people receiving +/- 10GBP around that, and have been told that it may be possible to go higher if you are really good. If you work "in the city" for a financial house, you can expect greater remuneration - the figure I have quoted is for engineering product development work.

    Having said that. I have worked in an engineering consultancy where our chargout rate started at 80GBP/hr, rising to 118GBP/hr and more. We did not receive this as employees, because our billability was not 100% - and for larger jobs we would apply a discount rate - so rates would depend upon the nature of the work and the contract agreed upon.

    Cost of living in the UK is high. A direct exchange rate comparison will not work well. I am amazed at how many british people survive on a meagre income, it astounds me - many british people and press wonder about "who is taking the cut in the middle", and it is something of a national economic mystery.

  • There's nothing dangerous about UB, no more than any other large city.

    Ulan is just a big, sprawling, concrete metropolis, a strange mix of ancient, old, and depressingly new architecture and cultures. There isn't much to do there except drink, or wait in huge traffic tailbacks which can take days to clear up. The pollution can be horrific, and I still have the impression of greyness everywhere. I couldn't imagine spending 6 months or a year there, even with travelling around the countryside (which is very beautiful, with huge wide open spaces) to break the monotony. The only upside is the number of incredibly beautiful young women willing to do anything to snag a foreigner in the hopes of a better life, and that gets tiring after about a week.

    the AC
  • " Pro #2: Employee benefits. How about state of the art office spaces with closed-door-offices, lots of daylight, really nice functional furniture and high-end computers? Or how about 50% more bank holidays and 5 weeks of vacation? "

    In my experience, daylight is something Sweden does not have in January - try June for an eternal sun experience.
  • I love it.
    But I assure you that Taipei is not cheap. The real estate market is insane. My wife, who is a local, and I just got back from a little vacation at a house her family owns. This place isn't huge and it's all brick/concrete, no heating etc and they bought it for US$450K. That's not even in Taipei.
    You can get fairly decent deals on rent if you shop around enough, but I think it's comparable to the Bay Area within the core of Taipei which means that it's only decent in relation to the price of buying a place. You can forget all about buying real estate even in the boonies. Although if you're going to rent in the boonies, you can do very well. Check out Xin Dian if you don't mind the very long bus ride. You can get brand new 2 bedroom 30th floor apartments built up on the hills over looking Taipei --albeit from quite a distance-- nestled in virgin rain forest for $500 a month.
    As for the pay. Well, that's not a good reason to come to Taiwan as far as I'm aware. There's lots of money here, but getting it is no easy task. I had a cousin who sold ATM protocol diagnostic equipment around Asia in the mid 1990's. He made all kinds of money in various Asian markets, but I don't think Taiwan was one of them. He told me at the time that there is a saying that a Shanghai businessman can sell anything to a Canton businessman and the Shanghai businessman always loses out when dealing with the Taiwanese. After all, how do you think these guys stay politically independent from the mainland without even being in the UN? We're talking about serious hustlers. Their military is outdated and they know it, but god can these people bluff.
    You recall the scene in Life of Brian where the bazarre dealer won't sell Brian the gourd if he won't haggle? I get that all the time in Taiwan. If you won't haggle it's offensive, especially in the night markets.
    Which leads you to the fact that you're not even going to start haggling in the night markets till you get the language down. I love hearing my cousin brag about his French and then reading about all these folks who say Japanese is so tough. They don't even have tones. What's tones? Come on over, you'll pick them up in no time. Hah. But the verbal part of any language could be taught to a parrot. The fun part here is that Taiwan is the only country left that officially and in everyday life uses the traditional Chinese characters which have changed very little for however many thousands of years during which the vast majority of the population was illiterate because the written language was just too tripped out to make time for. Welcome to hell grasshopper. If you're a real glutton for mnemonic torture it's paradise.
    And you will eventually cave in to the need for the characters if you want to get around because half the people you speak your perfect Mandarin to will pretend not to understand a word you say. This is not simply because you are a foreigner, but because they insist on speaking Fukien dialect AKA Taiwanese. Now that's fun. It's got three times as many tones as Mandarin, but it's also got all the dirty words and sounds obnoxious so you will inevitably want to study that as well if you want to have a good time. It is cool. I only know a few phrases, but when people speak Taiwanese they tend to get straight to the point and it's fun in that way. You realize these people standing outside of the restaraunts squwaking at the passers by are saying. "Come on in you cool stud you, I can tell you're hungry. We got room for ya right over here." Once you realize that's what's going on around you, you drop all the insecurity and it starts to seem like you're one of the family.
    Okay, okay but what about tech jobs? The biggest and easiest one to get into is help files for hardware. You can find that kind of work pretty easy in one of the science parks like the big one in Xin Zhu. The catch is that when you break it down, they're not really making that much more than English teachers, if they're even making that much. English teaching, even tutoring, commands $20 an hour just about anywhere you go and it can go higher. So, the people who take these entry tech writing positions are generally those who just can't bear the notion of teaching, but as far as I know, it's not a better paying field. I've freelanced a few jobs and you get what you bargained for. Good luck with those negotiating skills. Just like anywhere, you'll probably get more money if you're very pushy although you might get less work overall.
    I did web design for a NIC manufacturer at one point and I got consistantly bad pay deals because I just didn't feel like stickin it to the man but it was an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of a local hardware manufacturer. All the device driver guys were locals and they were uber geeks at least from the looks of their coke bottle glasses and distorted limbs. They had them behind glass like some museum piece. I don't think you'd get into that menagere without a killer language ability in addition to whatever tech skills they were using.
    I assume most of the monitor and mother board places are not all that different from that place although I'm sure someone else would be happy to disagree.
    I've always heard the best way to go is to get a job in the States that brings you over here and gives you expat priveledges. Personally, I think the important thing is to be in a place where you feel welcomed. Taiwan will always be that place to those who take the time to appreciate the language.
  • Generally I agree with the above. Each of the items said should be carefully considred by anyone considering moving overseas. However, I think that some of the quoted facts may be incorrect.

    I am an American working abroad, and I am now living and working in my fourth country. I have had the great joy of filing (and paying) US income taxes each year. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (IRS Form 2555) used to be $70k, and a few years ago they started scaling it up. For the 2000 tax year, I belive the exclusion is $76k, and it will go up $2k per year until it hits $80k. The exclusion allows you to subtract that amount from your taxable foreign earned income. It is not actually a deduction, but an "exclusion".

    There are several ways to qualify, so you do not have to be absent for an entire tax year. I moved overseas in an August many years ago, and was able to exclude all of my overseas income for the rest of the year. You do have to be overseas for at least a year, but the year can start any time. The amount you can exclude is the porportion of the year you spent overseas. That is, if that first year you were out of the country for 40% of the year, then you could exclude 40% of $76k from your taxes.

    While the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion cannot be used for income in the US (interest, capital gaines on stocks, etc.) it does not preclude you from using the exclusion. So, you would pay taxes normally (after all deductions) on US earned income, but you can still exclude your foreign income.

    Finally, you can also claim tax credits for paying income taxes to a foreign nation on foreign earned income. If you are in a high income tax jouristiction, the tax credits should be more than your US tax obbligation (on the foreign earned income) so you shouldn't owe any US taxes. However, if you are in a low income juristiction, you could end up owing US taxes if you earn more than the amount excludable.

    Also, regarding contractor rates, I generally pay about 1000US to 2000US (actually 700GBP - 1500GBP in the London area) per day for the contractors I use on projects, depending on skill and level.

    Concluding, the above posters comments are extreamly valuable, and should be considered by any person considering working overseas. Furthermore, make sure you actually do the research yourself and personally confirm each of the particulars, including the ones I have presented here.

    Walter Mitty

  • Lots of other people have good point, but seem to be forgetting the most important issue: What do you [your friend] want?

    If you are married, 4 kids that you love, and a big beliver in family, then you want more then normal amount of money to compensate for the time away from family.

    If you are single, no kids, no steady boy/girl, and no house, then you might want to exchange less pay for vacation there.

    Basicly if you want to go there, you can look at is as paid transportation to that country. If you don't want to go, then it is a job. (Probably with long hours so you can be done and gone quickly)

  • Oh, and London doesn't have good curries, Mumbai does.

    Curse you! Now Mumbai is on my list of places I have to visit in my lifetime. :-)

    Its true, London itself doesn't have good curries, and Brick Lane only rates a so-so. Bradford has good curries, far better than the dodgy Bangladeshi food being passed off as Indian in most of London. But now we're splitting hairs.

    the AC
  • You obviously haven't traveled much.

    15 or more years ago, hotels in many countries, especially eastern block, were required to hold onto the passports of all foreign travelers. This is so the police could come around every evening and check them out. There are still some countries that require it, but I can't remember having to leave my passport in a hotel in the last 5 years, but many countries still require you to show it on check-in.

    In some countries, you cannot receive your work permit until you hand your passport over to your employer. Certainly Oman does this, I've had to leave my passport with the client for the month I was doing work. This is to keep foreign workers from fleeing before the end of their contract. If you don't want the huge amount of money for relatively easy work, then don't hand over your passport.

    I've handed my passport over to company representitives so they can run it around the local bureaucracy to get the appropriate visa and work permit stamps. There is a degree of trust in doing that, I'll admit.

    the AC
  • You are guessing. You have obviously not spent time in Europe. A decent bottle of Bordeaux costs DM4-5, about $3, the same stuff you pay $10-15 for. I have been to Europe, albeit not lately (and not much in the Western part of the continent). If you want a concrete, rock-hard writer-knows-it-to-be-true example, fine. A litre of Ouzo, a strong, anise-flavored Greek drink, can be purchased for about 1200 drachmas, or a little more than EUR 4. A fifth of Ouzo 12 over in the US costs no less than 16 dollars, and usually costs 20. Of course, that's because about half the shelf price of American liquor is sin taxes. I admitted that the number was hack-and-slash. I don't, however, like people to just restate my disclamer. Waste of bandwidth, you know.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik