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What is your life worth?

September 11th, 2013 at 08:09 am

So, you would think that this question would be philosophical, but in my case, I think it is literal. I've been in contact with a company in a very unsafe country, especially for Americans.

I qualify for the position they need to fill - there is no doubt of that - but eventually, I'll be required to state how much money it would take to get me to the location.

I've been in dangerous locations in the past. In the military, I was shot at and had mortar rounds lobbed my way. They didn't pay me any extra. We weren't even in a combat zone, because of Congress. Personally, I figured if someone was trying to kill you and folks around you, it should count, but I'm not a lawyer or tax accountant, so what do I know?

The position I have now has great growth potential, and I'm in a secure area. It pays well. I have a great bonus plan and its limit is pretty much set by me.

The question becomes, how much would you have to get over and above your present position to go somewhere that is relatively unsafe? Figure you'll be there for ten years, for maximum benefit.

What do you think? Is $100K per year enough? How about $250K more than you're making now? Or would you need even more? I'm considering the position, but I know the "How much would you cost" question will eventually be asked.

How much is your safety worth?

9 Responses to “What is your life worth?”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    I've seen enough about kidnapping and executions in dangerous anti-American countries. I myself wouldn't go for any amount of money.

  2. North Georgia Gal Says:

    I'm with CB...I wouldn't go at all.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    I think I actually agree with CB, my safety is priceless and thus not worth the increase in pay. Hypothetically, even a million dollars per year to be in that stressful of an environment wouldn't be worth it.

    If you make a change, be sure to really do your due diligence on the country, company, living situation, ect.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    I wouldn't go for any amount of money. I am a risk adverse type, and value my life well beyond any amount of money. I say that with many family who lived long and happy lives in absolute poverty. IT doesn't seem like the most terrible alternative. (Just to say I don't think it's necessarily because I am "doing just fine financially" that I answer that way).

    I've seen these type positions can make maybe +$100k, but have never heard of much more than that. If you asked for +$250k do you think you would get it, or do they just choose the lowest bidder? (There will probably always be someone more desparate?) Just curious.

  5. Bob B. Says:

    I remember way back during the first gulf war in '91 that American contractors were hired to put out the fires in the oil wells in Kuwait that Saddam had ordered be set. My memory may be a little fuzzy, but it seems like they were paid 200K/yr equivalent? That was +20 years ago, of course. And, I have no idea what the same job would have paid in Alaska, or Texas, but probably a lot. 80K in 1991? So, +120K? My vote is at least 120K, and 250K might not be off too far. There must some information out there as far as what civilian contractors are making in Afghanistan. Subtract out what they would be paid for the same job in the states, and that should get you close.

  6. Miz Pat Says:

    Sweetie, your life is worth more. Unless you are excited about adrenaline rushes and danger, and there is something about this job that calls to you in a big way, its nuts to consider.

    My life is priceless to me. Not for sale.

  7. baselle Says:

    I'd ask more "for who?" and "for what?". I wouldn't go for any amount of money in general if its a straight corporate opportunity - the "for what" would equal the CEO lining his pockets. No thanks.

    Putting a fire out on an oil well or supporting the staff doing it - the "for what" would be environmental and I might put a price tag on it. Something on the order of $250K or so.

    I'm grateful that for some people and for some "for whats" their price is lower than it should be (eg Doctors W/O Borders).

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    Maybe $500K to $600K if you thought it worth the risks. Heck, my husband clears $150K just for working on the slope in Alaska for 25 weeks of the year. He knows guys working in the Russian oil fields making $300K. It would have to be a boatload of money more for to even consider it in a more dangerous location. Life changing money. Even then you'd be living in a state of perpetual stress. I'd never agree to 10 years, especially in a Middle Eastern or African country, which is where I am assuming you are talking about considering where you work now. More money is great and all, and if you were single, than maybe it'd be worth the gamble. But I don't think it is. My DH has talked to guys who have come back from those types of places. Most of them are sorry they ever went because the daily stress was just not worth any amount of money.

  9. Wino Says:

    LR, you're right on the location. I'm only half considering it. I don't really have a desire to take the job, because I really like where I'm at and what I'm doing. I don't think that the other job is a better opportunity. I've quadrupled the size of my group in about 1.66 years, and it's only going to grow faster this year. I've been hiring nearly two people per month since I arrived. It's really getting hard to find quality people.

    For this post and job, I think I just looked at the probable dollars, and figured, "Hey, I've worked in places that bad, and didn't get paid for it. Maybe I should do it again, but this time get the money."

    I've all-but decided not to take the position, and instead to tell the guy to use our services. I never turn down work if I can avoid it.

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