Any expatriates out there?

I’m negotiating to go work for a company overseas. What kinds of things should I ask for? Moving expenses? A housing allowance? Should I expect a salary equal to what I would get in the U.S., more, less? Any tips you can give me would be great. Thanks!

Assuming you don’t want to emigrate, in order of importance:

  1. An agreed upon finite duration of your expat stint
  2. A clear understanding of your place in the organization upon repatriation
  3. An agreed upon remedy for when the employer cannot/will not honor your agreement under point 2. (pretty likely occurance, especially if expat stint exceeds 2 years

some perks that are not a-typical:
Language training before you go overseas.
Tickets home in regular intervals (bus. class)
Assistance in finding appropriate housing, it is not uncommon for the companies to outright pay for housing.
Spousal assistance (i.e. helping her find a job there too.)
Salarywise: there are plenty websites that can do cost-of-living comparisons. Typically, you get what you had, plus a little for completely uprooting your life times the cost-of-living adjustment (if cost of living in target country > home). Moving assistance. (not just paying for it) there and back.
for starters.
obviously what you’ll get depends largely on how badly they need you…

Sorry, misread OP. Thought you were moving for an American company. If you’re planning to go work for an overseas company overseas, anything goes. Determined solely by the perceived value you add.
Realize, though, that you’re in effect emigrating. A pretty big decision.

I sure hope you’ve visited that country at least once in your life, preferably more. Culture shock can be a killer. Get used to their language, their food, their weather, everything.

Heck, just moving between NY and LA can drive some people bonkers. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Salary and moving costs is the least of it.

Dane, currently in Germany, checking in:

One thing you should be sure to get in your contract is assistance from a relocation agency. These people know all the stuff that can turn around and bite you, and they can save you endless frustration. Besides, they’ll handle all the paperwork and probably be able to help you find somewhere to live.

Negotiate for moving (and temporary storage) expenses. Get language education. Make sure you’re able to get the hell out of Dodge if you find that it was a bad idea.

I’ll take it for granted that you’ve looked before leaping. I’m having fun, but then again the cultural differences aren’t that great and I know the language. Be advised that culture shock hits after 3-6 months, not immediately.

Perhaps if you had a little more info for us ?

S. Norman

Most helpful to know would be… What Country? For how long? - Jill

Most important question: Are you taking a family? A young single person can tolerate a lot more than a family can.

If you are taking kids, who will pay for schooling? Not just tuition but big, unrefundable enrollment fees. How about medical care? If the country doesn’t have good medical care, how about medical evacuation in the event of an emergency? Who will arrange you visas, work permits, residence permits, etc. How about local taxes? Are you going to a country that will charge you an arm and a leg in visa fees everytime you leave and return? If so, will the company pick this up? Is this a country where you will need household staff such as cook, driver, gardener, guards, etc? If so, do you have to hire (and fire) and pay them all yourself? Will the company provide housing or will you have to negotiate a contract with a landlord yourself? Will the company provide a car? In some countries cars cost twice what they do in the U.S.

The company may well demand that you reimburse them some of their expenses if you decide to go home before your contract is up. But what if the company changes it’s mind, or goes bust?

Absolutely, I was just afraid of boring you. I’m an American software engineer considering a position leading a team of developers for a British company in Viet Nam. I’ve been to Viet Nam eight times on vacation over the past seven years and I halfway speak the language. (The team of developers has good English skills.) I’ll be moving with my wife, but we have no children. My wife grew up in Viet Nam and still speaks the language fluently.

The advice so far has been very good. Keep it coming! There’s a lot to think about isn’t there?

Most all have been covered, but for:

Where is your pay going ? I.E., do you want to be paid in dollars, pounds, etc… and deposited to what bank ? Remember, there are occasionally limits on currency exchange, export, etc… not to mention sudden changes in same.

I might take my pay deposited to a US/Brit/Swiss bank, preferably with a branch not too far away, in a more stable environment (a US Bank in Guam ? a US or British bank in Singapore ?) and have funds transferred as I needed them to whatever “reliable” bank there might be in-country. How you do this affects taxation, etc…, as always risk vrs. gain… Get a professional accountant to suggest the best way.

I have a question for you: Will you have a guest room?

Almost certainly. Feel free to drop by any time you’re in Southeast Asia. It would help if you’re not the least bit attractive. My wife tends to get weird when I invite attractive women to stay with us. Just one of her idiosyncracies I guess.

I haven’t been there but I have heard nothing but good things about VietNam from Americans visiting and living there. Go for it.

A couple of things that shouldn’t discourage you:

Despite your frequent visits you may encounter culture shock after being there for a while. Visiting is not the same as living there. And your wife, if she left as an adolescent, may encounter culture shock as well. Being a child somewhere is different from being the mistress of a household.

Also, be prepared for some frustrations. VietNam, IIRC, is quite corrupt. This can be convenient (for example, it’s a lot easier to give $25 to an intermediary who will get you a driver’s license than it is to go down to some government office yourself, stand in line, take a test, etc.) but it can be frustrating when you have to pay people off all the time to get phone service, electrical service, water, waste removal, car registration, etc.

Is VietNam one of the Asian countries where people never say no? If it is, this can be a plus when visiting but can be very frustrating when working. A frustration you may experience at work is negotiating with people who never say no. It is possible for an expat to have a meeting with her Asian colleagues during which everyone smiles and nods agreement over a set of concrete plans and then, six months later, wonder why no progress has been made. When people won’t tell you frankly whether they agree with you or not it is hard to figure out how to motivate them.

Another “Asian” characteristic that can be a problem for non-Asian expats to deal with is the general inability of Asians to say thing that will cause themselves to lose face or others to be embarrassed. Fear of losing face or embarrassing others seems to be much stronger than fear of making a fool of oneself by spouting some complete nonsense. My favorite example is a statement made by the head of the Indonesian electricity board a few days after a power outage blacked out most of Java and Bali for a few hours during rush hour a few years ago. He said that there was no problem with the power grid and that the outage had been for planned maintenance! A more recent example of the same thing is the announcement that the crash of a new SilkAir 737 that flew from 35,000 feet directly into a Sumatran swamp in good weather a few years ago was NOT due to the suicide of the pilot who was having professional and financial problems and turned off the flight recorder just before the crash. This was the announced conclusion of the Indonesian investigators but what is more interesting is that the Singapore authorities (SilkAir belongs to Singapore Airlines) who know better, went along with it since it would just be unacceptable for a SilkAir pilot to kill a plane load of people as he committed suicide.

[sup]My 2 cents[/sup]

Given the situation you describe, I’d say go for it!! Life is an adventure, and you’ve just been given free tickets to the flume ride!! Do it! You won’t be dissapointed…

[sup]this is advice from a whitey from the US, here in Korea… Came here on a whim… no job, etc., started from scratch and changed my life MUCH for the better!!![/sup]

I have family in Singapore and have traveled in Malaysia and Thailand. I’d love to see Vietnam. My brother is there now for a few weeks. I promise I’ll try not to be attractive.

Astroboy you’re my hero. I hope to travel around the region a bit if I get the job. I’d like to visit you and your fiancee. I’ll look you up if I make it to Korea. Are you listed under Astro or Boy?

Jill, would you object to disguising yourself as a nun? Seriously though, if I get the job, I’m sure we can work something out. I’d like to hear how your brother likes Viet Nam too, but maybe we should switch to e-mail. I can almost hear Manny’s teeth starting to grind already.

Thanks Greg! If you make it to Korea, please let me know… I’ll treat you to some Korean food that’ll knock your socks off and melt your eyeballs in the process! WooHoo!!

Keep in mind that I’ve yet to visit Vietnam, and may show up on your doorstep one of these days! :slight_smile:

Asia is an endlessly fascinating place to live/look at…

The most important thing that I didn’t get nailed down in advance was guaranteed return airfare. When my assignment was over the branches on either side of the ocean disclaimed any responsibility for my return. I got it, but only by signing on with a third branch of the company.

I’m a brand new ex-pat living in Tokyo working for an airline.

I get one free economy-class ticket home every year.

They paid to transport up to 500 kilos of my stuff…which was way more than enough for a young man fresh out of college who owns nothing but CD’s, guitars, and posters, but might be tighter for folks who have accumulated more possessions.

I get about $400 a month housing allowance, which is a big help, because I make about $1000 a month less than kids I know who are teaching English despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I speak the language. Bitter? Oh…maybe just a tad…

I got a special contract which is renewed on a yearly basis, though I get the same general treatment as a regular five-year contract Japanese employee.

I have no idea what VietNam is like (I’m still confused as to when foks started capitalizing the N in the middle…?). But speaking a lot of the language yourself and having a wife who knows so much about the place is bound to help you settle in. And it will certainly be an adventure. Go, man, GO!!

Thanks Poirot and Kyomara. I passed on the job almost three months ago, but I hope something else will come up in the future.

As to Kyomara’s question, nobody capitalizes the “N” in the middle of the word. If you spell it as two words, like you would in Vietnamese, it’s Viet Nam. If you spell it as one word, it’s Vietnam.

How long is the employment expected to be for?

If very short term (say, under two years), you may take a different perspective – like, ask them to pay for your housing and don’t try to move all your stuff (depending on how much stuff you have).

You want to also consider taxation in estimating your net salary needs. If you work in Vietnam for more than 183 days within a 12 month period, you are considered a resident foreigner. In that case, the taxes in Vietnam are significantly higher than in the US: up to 50% income tax at abut USD 15,000*… If you are a resident taxpayer, you will also have to contribute into Vietnamese social security (a waste of money for you.)

Note that, as a U.S. citizen, you will also be required to file U.S. tax returns. If your income is less than around USD 80,000, you probably will not owe any U.S. taxes; however, there is currently no tax treaty between the U.S. and Vietnam to avoid double taxation. So you may be hit for a bundle.

You should therefore ask for the firm to pay for tax consulting and preparation (and you want to be sure to use a reliable firm, like one of the large worldwide accounting firms, not someone’s brother-in-law.) You might also ask that the company “tax-equalize” you – that is, reimburse you for any taxes that you pay in excess of what you would have paid in the U.S. (Be careful with that calculation, because the reimbursement itself will be taxable income to you. Another reason to get advice from tax experts used to dealing with this.)

  • CAUTION: The information I have at hand is from 1999, and I don’t feel like digging for more current. The point is that you should ask the company to pay for investigating this issue BEFORE the rest of the contract is finalized.