Here's what generally happens to the inexperienced expat:
1. They calculate the exchange rate and either drool or cry at the expected salary.
2. They might consult a cost-of-living calculator.
First, you have to remember that the exchange rate only matters when you're exchanging money. Got that? If you're on holiday from Thailand to France, converting Thai bhat to Euros is important. If you're moving from Thailand to France, it's not as important any more unless you regularly send money back and forth or are using this to build a nest egg and return home. Then the exchange rate is important. If you're not exchanging, forget it!
Second, the cost of living calculators are very dicey. Not only are they often out of date or rely on questionable assumptions, they may simply not apply to you. Again, consult my cost of living overseas post to get an idea of why they are dicey. Just one or two differences in your lifestyle can have a huge financial impact.
|London is expensive.|
Photo by TJ Morrison
|Boise is not expensive|
Photo by Boise Metro Chamber
More importantly, these are salaries that Dutch people live on and the Dutch are quite happy. If you do a naïve exchange rate calculation, it's useless unless your plans to move to Europe all involve "making a fortune". However, if your plans to move to Europe are for "better quality of life" and a comfortable living, then you'll be better prepared to accept that things here will be different, including salaries. How does five weeks holiday and dirt-cheap medical insurance translate? You'll have to decide that for yourself, but if you're coming over, you're probably doing it for reasons other than to strike a fortune.
So what do you? Study their market and learn what the locals make. Once you do that, you can know what a "fair" salary is and leave behind your expectations of what you think you should be earning.