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I'm a statistician being offered 45k CAD for a postdoctoral position in Canada. I have a few questions:

  1. Is this number negotiable at all?
  2. Is it rude to ask for extra money to cover relocation expenses (US to Canada)?
  3. The cost of a parking pass is 1000 CAD per year at this place (compared to 200 per year for faculty at my current university). Is it weird to ask for this to be compensated?
  • Hi, and welcome to Academia! As your question may be very specific to Canada, I took the liberty of editing this into the title and adding the canada tag. – Stephan Kolassa Feb 14 '15 at 9:54
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    Welcome to Academia. I think that your post contains two separate questions. – Enthusiastic Engineer Feb 14 '15 at 10:04
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    "Is this number negotiable at all?" The answer to that is usually "it depends". What can you bargain with? Do you have better alternative offers? If the answer is "it just seems very little", then don't bother. – xLeitix Feb 14 '15 at 10:35
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    3) Are you talking about parking at the university? I've never heard of anyone at my university being compensated for parking. We are encouraged to use public transit. – Mewa Mar 4 '15 at 19:03
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    I have never heard of a compensation for parking, some faculty have a discount on a parking spot, some institutions also give discount if you ride-share with partner. Forget about any parking benefits as a post-doc. – Herman Toothrot Sep 30 '15 at 12:46
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  1. In my experience, postdocs are grant-funded with a nonnegotiable salary. It doesn't hurt to clarify though.
  2. The department chairs I have known would not have considered this rude. Reimbursement for moving costs is often offered as a sort of signing bonus.
  3. Reimbursement for parking is unheard of in my experience. Again, asking politely shouldn't be a problem, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.
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  1. I didn't negotiate a Canada offer and declined. After the fact, I was told it was negotiable once the colleague became a collaborator, but this was only because my postdoc was funded by an institute and he would have been sweetening the pot using his research funds in addition to the institute's money.

  2. You can always ask. Some postdocs do have moving expenses covered.

  3. I don't know.

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  • +1, For my Australian post-doc (which I'm moving to early next year) I basically told them no at first, because the salary was too low. They came back with a higher offer...so sometimes it is negotiable, it depends on the circumstances. – daaxix Oct 1 '15 at 5:27
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Q: Is the salary negotiable?

Short answer: Yes, it is, because principle investigators have some discretion about how to use their research funding.

Let me illustrate this point by sharing my experience.

A few years ago, I applied for a postdoc at a Canadian university. I was originally offered a stipend of 36K CAD. After speaking to the principle investigators, they decided to increase the stipend to 38K, and to pay for my medical insurance, which brought the total to about 40K. (I suspect that the reason they increased the offer is that they learned that I was married with kids, and my wife was not working, so they were compassionate. However, they did not explicitly state why they increased the offer, so take this only as my best guess.)

Q: Are moving expenses covered?

Short answer: Maybe. You need to ask. It also depends on the type of postdoc.

It can depend on what type of postdoc opportunity you have. I had a friend who took a 3-year postdoc at Berkeley and his job offer included relocation expenses. In his case, because the job was for 3 years, it made more economic sense for the job offer to include relocation. But if your job offer is only for 1 year, it may not normally include a relocation package. Incidentally, tenure-track job offers usually include some amount of relocation allowance.

Q: Can I ask for compensation for parking?

Short answer: You can definitely ask, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

If the price for parking is 1000 CAD per year, it is possible that most students and even some faculty may take public transport to school. You should investigate the public transport options. As a postdoc, I took a bus to and from school every day, which took at most 30 minutes if there was a long wait. In fact, at that university, riding buses was free with a university card, which was a nice perk.

Conclusion

In the end, I declined the offer from a Canadian university and accepted a postdoc at another university. The main reason why I chose a postdoc at another university is because I felt that the project was more interesting and a better fit for my skills.

Personally, I did not think that salary was that important as a postdoc. My mentality as a postdoc was that my postdoc was a temporary position, useful as a stepping stone to a permanent tenure-track academic job. While a bigger postdoc salary is nice, the most I could get might be 5K more a year. If I instead focused on getting good research experience, and landing a tenure-track job, at that point my salary would be at least 80K a year, which is approximately double my postdoc salary.

If for some reason having a high salary in the short-term is important to you, then you shouldn't be looking for postdoc jobs, or even tenure-track jobs, because they don't pay that well. In that case, it may be more expedient to get a job at a bank, hedge fund, or in consulting, or even at a company like Google, Microsoft or Apple.

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