03/18/2014 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

The Real Value of Your New Salary

cartoon hands of business people exchange money

One of the most important questions you’ll have when in the final stages of your job search is obvious: what will you be paid?  As much as you love a school or program, if you’ll be struggling to make ends meet, you might decide the cost-benefit analysis of accepting a position with an underwhelming salary just won’t work in your favor.

You may have a number in mind that you flatly refuse to dip below when it comes to salary.  Before you make any final decisions, however, consider where you’ll be working and living.  You might find that you need to reassess your calculus based upon the location of your new school.

For example, let’s assume that you and your family live in New York City, and your new school is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. You may have decided that $40,000 is the absolute lowest salary you believe you and your family can live on.  But have you considered that earning $40,000 in Charlotte only equates to $17,000 in New York City?  In Charlotte, groceries cost 27% less, housing costs 81% less, and transportation costs 23% less, on average.  So in reality, to live what would be a $40,000 per year lifestyle in Charlotte, you would need $94,000 to live that same lifestyle in Manhattan.

If you’re in a similar situation and curious about how far you can stretch your dollar in various cities, check out this cost of living calculator from CNN Money. It’s not perfect, but you’ll be able to get a sense of what you can actually afford.

Keep in mind as well any benefits that might affect your salary.  Are you working at a boarding school and living on campus?  Consider the cost savings from not paying room and board.  Does your school provide great health care?  Tuition remission?  Free enrollment for your children?  All of these factors contribute to the real cost of living in a new environment.

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