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So you’ve just accepted a dream job. Congratulations! Just one thing: It’s three states away, so you’ll have to relocate along with your spouse and kids!
Relocating your life to start a job somewhere new is a roller-coaster of emotions. It’s exciting, challenging and nerve-racking. Then come the logistics—and the relocation package your company offered to help deal with those pesky details like, you know, moving.
Is this you? Sweet! Let’s face it: It’s in everyone’s best interests to make your move as smooth as possible so you can get to work being an awesome employee. You probably have tons of questions about how the package will make your move easier. What does it pay for? What do you have to cover? And what can you do to negotiate a better relocation package?
Let’s take a look at how to make a relocation package work for you.
What is a relocation package?
Companies often use a relocation package to cover the cost of relocating a new hire or existing staff member for a new position. We say often because there’s no law stating that companies have to provide a relocation deal. But many companies do! It’s considered a perk, but it’s in the company’s best interest to offer one if they want to attract top-notch employees from across the country.
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But here’s the thousand-dollar question: How much will the company help with? Relocation packages can vary depending on the size of the company, their policies on relocation and how often they relocate their staff. Here are the different types of methods companies often use:
Relocation packages can vary depending on the size of the company, their policies on relocation and how often they relocate their staff.
Want your money up front? The company gives you a lump sum of money which allows you to organize and pay for your move however you like. But once you max out this lump sum, there’s no more! The amount is negotiated before you start the moving process, which is why it’s a good idea to do some research on moving costs.
Rather than dole out a lump sum up front and then have no idea whether you actually use all of it to move, some companies put a cap on a reimbursement amount and leave it to you to submit receipts for everything once you’ve moved. But if you go over that cap, anything extra comes out of your pocket.
Don’t want the hassle of keeping track of a lump sum or reimbursement? In this situation, the company outsources all the relocation logistics to a third party to manage the whole process. The company also sometimes offers guidance and assistance to new employees in their new town. Bonus!
Larger companies who relocate employees all the time might combine giving you a lump sum or reimbursement along with directly organizing and paying for moving services and logistics.
What does a relocation package cover?
After carefully considering a move, the first thing you should do is ask the hiring manager about relocation packages and check to make sure they can actually give you some sort of assistance.
Like we said, relocation packages can vary but, in general, you should consider the following items to be fairly standard:
A scouting trip to your new location: You may get one expenses-paid trip for you and your family to visit your new town. This trip should include meetings with a real estate agent to show you potential homes and, if you’re moving the whole family, you should get an idea of what the schools are like.
Assistance in finding a job for your spouse and schools for the kids: If your partner is leaving their job because of the relocation, they could get some job recruitment help. And if your kids are school-age, you’ll be uprooting them to a new town. So your package could include help finding suitable new schools.
Financial assistance with the costs of selling and buying homes: A relocation package could come with financial help if you need to sell your home in your old town and buy one in your new location. It should provide some assistance with closing costs, real estate commissions and other expenses. If you have any mortgage-related questions, talk to our friends at Churchill Mortgage.
Travel expenses before the final move: If you need to make business trips to your new office before you move, your company could pay for them. And when it comes to the final trip you’ll make when you gather up the family and head to your new town (maybe states away!) your company might pay for their travel, too.
Moving costs: We haven’t even gotten to the actual move yet! Most relocation deals should include disassembling furniture, packing everything, shipping, unpacking, and reassembling furniture. And make sure you mention any special items that need to be shipped—like that exercise bike you never use! The package could also cover the costs of shipping your car and renting one until yours arrives.
Temporary housing allowance: Who really knows where they want to live in a new town right away? And if you do have an idea, your dream apartment or house might not be available for a while. That’s why this allowance is important. This lump sum covers rent for around 2–3 months in your new town. That should give you some time to house hunt!
What types of costs are not included in a relocation package?
Like the fine print on a toy box that says “Batteries Not Included,” a few types of relocation costs are sometimes not standard with all companies. But here’s a tip: Ask for the ones that aren’t offered. The worst thing they can say is no! But if you do need to pay for stuff, here are some things you may need to budget for:
Storage: So all your furniture arrived intact, but you’re staying in a rented and furnished accommodation for the first few months. Where do you put all your stuff? You’ll have to rent a storage unit. This is an expense you should ask for if your employer doesn’t mention it. But if they won’t budge, you’ll have to fork out for it yourself.
Furniture allowance: Not all relocation packages give you a lump sum to buy new furniture. But, then again, there’s no harm in asking—especially if you’re subletting your old place and you aren’t shipping large pieces of furniture. Or maybe you lived in a furnished apartment and need to start from scratch in your new location. Either way, it’s worth asking for!
Disturbance fee: However you cut it, moving can be, well, disturbing. It disturbs your normal routine and daily life and, because of that, some companies offer a lump sum payment called a disturbance (or miscellaneous) fee. This could cover anything from the loss of your spouse’s income when they leave their job or the cost of new childcare options.
How do you negotiate a better relocation package?
When it comes to relocation, negotiating a better deal is good for all parties. It’ll keep you and your family happy if there’s less for you to do, and it’ll give your employer a new staff member who’s ready to work sooner than later.
When it comes to relocation, negotiating a better deal is good for all parties.
Here are some steps you can take to negotiate a better deal if you think the one you have doesn’t cut the mustard:
Do your own research. If your moving service doesn’t include disassembling furniture, unpacking, or reassembling, find out how much those tasks usually cost and ask for them in your deal. If you can back up your requests with cost examples, you’re more likely to get them—as long as they don’t add thousands of dollars to the total.
Get the relocation agreement in writing. It doesn’t need to be a formal letter—an email is fine. But you should lay out what your employer will pay for in writing. This gives you a list to work from to organize your time and think about the expenses you’ll need to cover.
Look at taxes and the cost of living in your new location. In all the excitement, you can sometimes forget about boring details like taxes. Are the state and property taxes higher than those in your old state? Does your new salary reflect that? What about the cost of living in general? Getting a salary increase after you’ve signed a contract is not likely, but you could ask for something like the disturbance fee we mentioned earlier—especially if you think the move is going to mean higher taxes and an increased cost of living. You can check the average salary of someone in your position online.
Find the Best Home in Your New Location
Now that you have the lowdown on how to ace your relocation, you might be on the lookout for a place to call home in your new town.
We can help with that, too! Our trusted Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs) are local experts ready to help you with all things real estate. As part of the top 10% of agents in their area, they have deep networks in the community, and they’re skilled negotiators who are ready to help you find the home of your dreams.
Relocating may be a hassle, but finding your new home doesn’t have to be!
Find an agent in your area today!