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I am considering a post doc in the Netherlands. I am a bit spoiled -- currently doing a post doc in the US with a salary of about $75000. I found a PI in the Netherlands whose project sounds very interesting and it seems like I may be able to have a bit of freedom in forming collaborations. But the PI had quoted a salary of 2000 euros (he didn't actually know, but just took a guess when I asked him to estimate). Though I currently have no better offers, this sounds like too big a step backwards that I am wondering if I should spend more effort searching for other jobs.

I would like to negotiate a better salary when I interview with the PI. Is 2000 Euros reasonable? I saw a post with a salary table. But I'm not sure where on the scale I fall. Should I be a E10-1 because this will be my first year on this particular job? Or can I hope for a E10-4 because this will be my fourth year as a post-doc? Is there any way I can supplement my salary by applying for external grants? (I guess there are few of those for non-EU citizens...) I have a husband and school-age children, and since I am not sure whether my husband will be able to have income, I want to be able cover our necessary living expenses with my salary/benefits so I can concentrate on working.

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As to your last sentence, for general questions about living abroad, expatriates.stackexchange.com is probably the better site. However, you'll want to ask more focused questions there. –  Nate Eldredge Jun 22 at 13:53
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While I don't know the exact answer to your question, do take into account that the salary grows every year. Also, NL is a socialist country, and many things you pay for a lot in the US might be cheap or free over there. I pay 130 euros a month for full health and dental care for myself and my son. I was shocked how much more I had to pay in the US, and also, how few free activities for children there are in the US. Back in NL, we had a petting zoo near our place, an indoor area full of toys for rainy days, several amazing playgrounds also full of toys, all just there for anybody to use. –  Ana Jun 22 at 15:18
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Also, I expect the 2000 euros a month is after taxes. I got ~1800 a month in the last year of my PhD, after taxes. Which also maybe means that 2000 is indeed reasonable for a first-year postdoc. The jumps between steps in salary are not too big in NL, because taxes increase the more you earn. –  Ana Jun 22 at 15:20
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Also, 41 vacation days a year is standard. People rarely take that much, but the remainder can be traded in for benefits (tax cuts, a new bike, a train card, parental leave days...). –  Ana Jun 22 at 15:27
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@Ana NL is a socialist country? I very much doubt that, although it might appear so from an US american point of view. –  dirkk Jun 23 at 8:29

3 Answers 3

You can expect rather more than that.

  • 10/0 corresponds to a second year PhD student (functieschaal P). A postdoc typically goes on somewhere around 10-5, plus a point per year. So you might hope to be somewhere around 10-8.

  • To get your annual salary, multiply these numbers by 14: 12 months plus two bonus payments. Don't ask me why.

  • Coming from abroad you are probably eligible to be paid under the "30% rule", where you get the first 30% of your salary tax free.

Thus, after tax you can expect to get something in the region of €35-40k ($48-55k). Be aware that living costs may be higher than you're used to in the US.

Of course, you shouldn't rely on this information: talk to the HR department. But the situation isn't as bad as you fear!

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There's isn't that much room for negotiation in general, since all these university-related things are fixed by law. You've already found the CAO tables which determine salary. Depending on how badly they want you over there, a PI might be able to get you entered in a higher 'trede' (10-x), or even a higher 'schaal' (x-1). I would say it's nearly impossible that they would put you on 10-1, but don't hold me to it. What you have going for you is your high previous salary, because new employers sometimes do take this into account as far as possible, and your being from outside the country which can have its own benefits. A few things to keep in mind:

  • the 2000 the PI mentioned would be after tax, and in my estimation quite the lower limit in terms of net monthly income
  • the PI has only limited influence on salary, you really need to talk (or have the PI talk) to HR to know exactly what you're in for before you make your decision.
  • quite a lot of benefits are included and already deducted, which makes a comparison of raw numbers between the Dutch and US salaries a bit tricky. There may moreover be quite a few differences in terms of vacation time (a lot of holidays, really), benefits such as bicycle plans, whatever...

So I would advise you to get an overview of

  • your exact current benefits, health care costs, pension plan, plus your current pre- and after-tax salary,
  • your potential future benefits, health care costs, pension plan, plus your new pre- and post-tax salary (especially if being from abroad has extra tax benefits as mentioned by someone above, I don't know about that), depending on
  • the 'trede' and 'schaal' they would put you in to start with. The one thing to ask your PI is to find out which trede and schaal HR could (would) give you, then contact HR to find the answers to your other questions because - from my experience - there's a good chance the PI won't know all these details.

75.000 dollars sounds like quite a good salary to me, but without knowing what that got you, what's included, and so on, it's hard for me to say how much (or if any) of a step backwards you'll be taking.

The last thing to note: living expenses (mainly housing) can differ quite a lot across the NL, so what you effectively save each month also depends on where the institution is. World of difference between e.g. Amsterdam or the provinces outside the 'randstad'.

Good luck on the decision and potentially the position.

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Found the answer now: pay scale 10, step 8, 3381 euros monthly before taxes and other deductions. Thanks for all the answers!

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