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Expat Remuneration Packages: What Should Families Be Asking For?

Are you starting a new job in China, or have you been working here for a while now? As the saying goes, ‘money isn’t everything’, and it isn’t enough of a reason to uproot one’s family and relocate to an entirely new country.

So in comes the “remuneration package”, a number of benefits you receive on top of your base salary on offer. It can come in the form of continuous or annual payments, or even one-off payments on relocating or leaving.

In this Pacific Prime article, we will dive into what to look for in an expatriate remuneration package as a family.

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What to Look for in an Expatriate Remuneration Package

It’s important to note that negotiating your remuneration package is a must, especially if your contract or offer letter is mute on this subject. As you can expect, your ability to bargain depends on your seniority, whether you possess an in-demand skill set, and whether you have a fixed-term contract or a permanent position.

Naturally, your remuneration package must also comply with the global relocation policies. Below are common items of what to look for in an expatriate remuneration package for families.

1. Housing

Typically, housing is one of the major expenses for a household. As such, you will want to find out whether your accommodation is provided by the employer. If it isn’t, is it in the form of a use-it-or-lose-it allowance, or covered by your own salary? Some employers might even be able to supply you with temporary accommodations, such as serviced apartments.

With that said, families might still prefer space and community over the convenience your organization provides. This might mean living further from the city center, and by extension, your workplace.

It’s also important to consider how large your future living space is. If your city experiences weather conditions that force you to stay inside during certain months, you and your family might feel confined and isolated.

To look for a suitable living arrangement, browse through housing ads and join local discussion groups. Certain areas might be cheaper, though they might be further from schools and public transportation.

2. Living Expenses

The costs of food, gas, electricity, water, phone, and internet can definitely add up. Some expats might even add home help or cleaning service to the list. Do your research. Look up cost calculators, and make sure there are no hidden or surprise costs so you’ll know what to expect when you make the move to China.

3. Transportation

How are you going to travel to and from work? Do you live in the city or are you a little out of the way? Transportation in China is generally convenient and affordable, especially when you live in major cities.

With that said, you might also want to consider how your family is going to get around. If you have kids, they might need to attend school. Will a parent be able to do pickups and drop-offs or is a bus service required?

Perhaps you also love to go on road trips with your family. Depending on your needs, getting an international license and renting or purchasing a large family car might just be what you need.

4. Schooling

Continue your child’s education overseas. First, figure out what schools are available to expats including private international schools. Here are our 5 tips for raising multicultural kids in China.

Next, puzzle out your preferred school system. Note that certain schools have waitlists for prospective students, so make sure you do your research and have adequate time to get your kids onto waitlists before your relocation. If you’re moving in the middle of a school year, find out whether your child has to repeat a year.

A few questions to ask your employer:

  • Does your remuneration package include an education reimbursement or cash allowance per child?
  • How many children will be covered and are there any age restrictions?

For younger kids, you might want to look at the availability of nursery places or find a nanny if both you and your partner work. Some employers may even offer daycare facilities or discounts if you use preferred providers.

5. Health and Insurance

As an employee, you will likely receive basic medical insurance from your company. With that said, pay attention to whether all your family members will receive the same level of coverage. Will kids with special needs, disabilities, or pre-existing conditions be covered?

If you are looking to start a family soon, it’s a good idea to see whether your remuneration package covers maternity and pregnancy-related costs, as well as optional procedures.

What about periods of time when you are out of the country? Remember: once you are relocated, you will likely need travel insurance for any separate trips that you make as a resident in a new location (depending on your Visa status). Many insurance policies only provide coverage for a limited time frame when you’re out of the country per year.

Having said that, you also have the option to secure international health insurance, which is suitable for frequent travelers. Not only is this insurance plan valid in China, but you’ll also receive international coverage when you are abroad.

6. Relocation Costs

The packing and shipping costs of your household belongings can make a dent in your wallet. Moreover, it’s tough to decide on how many and which ones to take with you. To make your decision easier, here are several major things to consider:

  • What is the length of your assignment?
  • Can you last without some of your personal items if you are only relocating to China for a short time?
  • Check your electronics’ electrical voltage and plugs. This might render some of your household items useless in your new city.

Be sure to cover the cost of your property back in your home country. You might want to rent out or sell existing property if you’re relocating for the long term.

7. Flights Home

Usually, flights for employees to and from their home country at the start and end of the assignment are included in remuneration packages. It is also common for employers to provide annual fly home allowance or flights. Pay attention to whether your family is included.

Additional Factors to Consider When Negotiating Remuneration Packages

In terms of what to look for in an expatriate remuneration package, there are several additional factors to consider.

  • Check who is included as ‘family’. Some only consider your nuclear family (i.e. parents and their children) as a family unit. Anyone outside of that does not count.
  • Visa application costs – some companies will reimburse the cost of visas, passport, passport photos, and more.

Secure International Health Insurance

Securing an expat health insurance plan is a smart decision you could make for yourself when relocating to another country. Adjusting to a new environment can be stressful enough without having to worry about unexpected medical bills. Alternatively, keep your family protected with family health insurance in China.

As an experienced China health insurance intermediary, we have endeavored to assist our clients through every step of their insurance journey. Our consultants are standing by to answer your insurance- and healthcare-related questions, present you with plan options from reputable insurers, and give you a free quote. To get started with Pacific Prime, contact us today.

Disclaimer: Pacific Prime solely represents, operates and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.

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