Uprooting for Work? Here’s How to Negotiate a Relocation Package
You’re waiting on an offer for your dream job. It’s chock full of all the benefits, bonuses, bells, and whistles you could ask for. But there’s one catch: it’s out of state. And the relocation process isn’t exactly an affordable affair.
The average total cost of relocating an employee reaches as high as $90,017, encompassing full relocation services and home-sale assistance. And for those with a family in tow, the financials aren’t the only factor to consider.
Ideally, you want your employer to cover or subsidize your moving costs. But don’t expect your employer to offer you a fantastic relocation package right off the bat. You’ve got to prove that you’re worth the investment and negotiate terms to support your unique situation.
With help from a career coach and relocation expert, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about relocation packages, including:
- Common components of a relocation package
- How to find out if your employer offers relocation packages
- Tips for negotiating the best relocation package possible
Common components of a relocation package
Relocation packages vary from employer to employer and even job offer to job offer. Here are some benefits that your relocation package may include:
Coverage of moving-related expenses
Most relocation packages offer coverage for some or all of the costs associated with the move. Moving-related expenses might include:
- Packing supplies
- Professional moving services
- Travel expenses, including flights, rental cars, etc.
- Transportation of belongings, such as a POD or U-Haul service
Moving to a new city or state is no easy feat, which is why many relocation packages include resources and benefits to help new employees and their families settle in. Here are some examples of transition assistance a company may provide:
- Temporary accommodation
- Flexible start date
- Expenses paid visit prior to moving
- Cultural and language training (if you relocate internationally)
- Travel expenses for return visits home (if you relocate before your family)
- Job search assistance for your partner
Support with real estate transactions
If you’re a homeowner, your employer may offer to reimburse you for home sale-related expenses. An employer may subsidize or cover:
- Real estate agent fees: Around 6% of your home sale price
- Inspections: Varies based on location, with a national average of around $328
- Transfer fees: A tax covering the transfer of your deed, which varies by state and can reach up to 4.5% of your property value
- Closing costs: Between 6% to 10% of home sale price
Some relocation packages offer a relocation mortgage, a loan that allows your employer to make financial contributions to your mortgage in various ways. For instance, they may contribute to closing costs or interest rate deductions through buydowns and below-market interest rates.
Some employers may offer a bridge loan, which helps to ease the financial burden if your former home is still on the market after you’ve departed.
If you’re a renter and need to take the plunge before your lease is up, your employer may help in covering the costs associated with breaking your lease.
Find out if your employer offers relocation packages
While most larger companies offer relocation packages, many are selective in their offerings or reserve packages for senior employees. Here’s how to gauge if your prospective employer has or would offer relocation assistance:
- Read their Glassdoor reviews.
- Network with current employees on LinkedIn.
- Consider the uniqueness of your qualifications and living situation.
- Ask your employer’s HR department if they have a relocation policy or benefits to offer.
- Connect with a recently relocated employee or colleague to learn about their relocation experience.
- Reach out to a recruiter in your industry who may be able to provide professional insight.
Tips for negotiating your relocation package
Carlota Zimmerman, a seasoned career coach and relocation expert, explains the importance of employees considering the reality of uprooting before taking the plunge:
“Let’s face it, relocating for a job is a huge deal for the whole family: whether that’s “just” one woman and her dog or two married partners and their seven cats. So it’s important that people embarking upon this step take it seriously.”
If the family (and fur babies) approve of the move, then it’s time to sharpen those negotiation skills and advocate for yourself. Whether you’re requesting relocation assistance or negotiating to upgrade the offered package, the following advice will help you handle the process as efficiently as possible.
Crunch the numbers and back up your request
“Speak to a few moving companies and educate yourself as to how much they would charge you to pack up your items and move for you, whether it’s across the street or across the country,” Zimmerman advises.
Once you’ve done the math to figure out exactly what relocating would cost, you can back up your compensation request with real numbers. Draft an excel spreadsheet and punch your calculations in there for rock-solid accounting. As Zimmerman explains, “the more informed you are, the better. That way, when your new company comes forward with a figure, you’ll have a good handle on how realistic it is.”
Advocate for yourself and your value
If there’s ever a time for self-advocacy, the time is now. If a company is considering offering you a relocation package, that means they are interested in you — yes, you! So, step up to the plate, practice your power poses, and advocate for what you deserve.
Zimmerman shares that “this is not the time to bootstrap yourself. You can be cheap and cheat yourself (if you must) on other factors. But especially if you’re moving your family, being too cheap — for example, forcing the kids to pack only a single box of toys — is a great way to set the family up for long-term therapy and disappointments.”
Think outside of the box with your relocation requests
Brainstorm what type of assistance would be mutually beneficial for you, your family, and your employer. Ask yourself which elements of the relocation process will prove to be the most challenging, and how your employer can help ease those steps.
Not all components of a relocation package are strictly monetary assistance. For example, you may request support from a professional to vet quality child care or education. Full-service relocation companies may assign a consultant to serve as a liaison between the family and new local schools. After learning about the family’s academic objectives or desires for their new school, the consultant would provide research, suggestions, and support.
Make it a family affair
If your family dynamic allows, “take the time to have every family member contribute a (sensible) budget, and then go to your new employer with a comprehensive plan,” suggests Zimmerman.
Encourage the adult members of your family to come up with a list of any challenges and expenses they anticipate may damper the move. Involving family members up front helps everyone get on the same page before the transition even begins.
Transition with a turnkey service
At an average of $25 billion a year, the relocation industry is a force to be reckoned with. Companies like BGRS, Xonex, and Aires exist solely to help employees relocate.
If you’re a homeowner with a family, pets, and many pieces of the puzzle to account for, it may be advantageous to hire one of these relocation companies to coordinate your move. This way, you’ll have a team of professionals to help you every step of the way. From preparing, listing, and selling your home, to packing, moving, and adjusting to your new life — a relocation service can be your one-stop shop for all your transitional needs.
Plan, prepare, and pave your path towards success
From negotiating your offer to packing your prized possessions, the process of relocating can seem like a dizzying whirlwind of logistics and legwork. But the potential perks your employer may offer can offset those burdens and ease the transition.
Preparation is the key to success. Do the research, reflect on your needs, review the numbers, and ask the experts. If you’re a homeowner, enlisting the expertise of a local real estate agent can help shed some light on those expenses — both in your old and new neighborhood.
“Once you have a plan, and a budget in mind, more than likely you’ll see that this move is an exciting new adventure for you, your career, and the people you love,” Zimmerman shares.
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