The world is an increasingly interconnected and global place to be. Most organizations operate in different places and people uproot themselves regularly in search of a better future.

Your time on the career ladder is also likely to involve relocation – either you find the perfect job in the strangest place or your current employer offers you an opportunity elsewhere.

But anyone who’s ever moved knows relocating isn’t easy or cheap. How do you ensure you get the right support from your employer to take the leap? In this guide, you’ll get tips for negotiating job relocation package and making the job opportunity worth the move.

UNDERSTAND THE COMPANY’S RELOCATION POLICY

Before you begin your negotiations, it’s important to take a minute to understand the employer’s current relocation policy or the lack of one. Companies can have different policies regarding the relocation packages they offer.

A big part of medium and large organizations have an official policy, while smaller business or startups might not have any kind of common procedure. It’s important you know whether you are negotiating around an existing policy or from scratch.

The content of this policy might also differ. Some companies might automatically offer a lump sum as they ask for the relocation or offer you the job. It might also be a detailed package, offering help with certain costs while perhaps excluding others.

Some companies have organized packages that don’t necessarily offer a lot of room for negotiations. The depth and structure of the relocation package might also differ depending on whether:

  • You are a new employee, relocating to start in the job, or
  • You are an existing employee being offered a role elsewhere but within the same company/its sister companies.

To find out about a company’s relocation policy, you have three options:

Check the company website
  • The company websitemight have information regarding this, especially in terms of new employees. If you are an existing employee, your employee handbook might have a section on the subject.
Ask the HR directly
  • You could also contact the hiring manager or the HR department directly and ask if the company has a policy on relocation costs.
Check with colleagues
  • You might also be able to talk to your peers (if you’re moving within the company), especially if you know someone who has recently relocated.

Relocation packages are rather common and nearly one-third of employers are willing to contribute – you just need to make sure to know the policy and to ask for the support.

By checking out the policy, you get a better understanding of your negotiating position. You will be better equipped to handle the situation and to come to an acceptable conclusion.

KNOW WHAT HELP COULD BE AVAILABLE

Let’s examine the different job relocation help companies tend to offer. This will help you understand what to ask for when starting the negotiations. The job relocation packages and support systems can help with:

  • Finding a new home from searching for homes with your specific requirements and helping you with the buying process. This can also include help with your current home – if you own your home, you might receive help when listing and selling it. Temporary accommodation costs might also be included.
  • Helping with job search for your spouse and partner. If you’re married or in a relationship, your spouse or partner might receive recruitment help to make their job relocation possible.
  • Provision of transportation help including things like hiring moving vans for your things or helping you to buy a car.
  • Helping with moving and packing in general. The help might include things like packing assistance and cleaners.

The above help and support can be further divided into two categories. The employer might offer to help with the physical aspect of the move. This would mean hiring a moving company to move your things from your old home to the new, for example. It could also be providing your spouse or partner with contacts with recruitment specialist or interviews with different local companies.

The other route companies might take is to provide assistance in the above issues through monetary reimbursements. In this situation, the company would offer you a specific sum of money and it would be your job to find the assistance. For example, instead of the company hiring the moving company, you would have to do it yourself. They might also not offer any help in terms of finding estate agencies but provide you with money to cover the cost of hiring one and so on.

Furthermore, the job relocation package might include assistance in all of the above categories or the employer might only offer to help with one. You definitely want to check the specifics of what the employer is offering to ensure you can start analyzing whether the deal is good enough.

EXAMINE YOUR SITUATION

So far, you’ve cleared what the employer might or might not be offering. Next, you need to examine your situation and the impact of the relocation. It’s hard for you to negotiate without having this information at hand.

First, consider the emotional impact of the move. You should make it clear to yourself and your family that changing cities is not always easy. It’s crucial to make sure you are accepting or rejecting the job offer or the relocation offer based on understanding what the move actually means to you.

There’s a good video series on the topic on YouTube with the starting video available right here:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZqo0UzGXsk&w=640&h=330]

When you know you are ready for this, you need to start focusing on the cold hard numbers. What is the cost of relocation going to be? To understand this, you want to calculate the following things:

Moving costs
  • The cost of packing and unpacking items and hiring a moving van.
  • The cost of having to buy new things in the city.
House selling/buying/renting costs
  • The cost of listing your old house (estate agent fees, re-mortgaging etc.) and the cost of buying a new home (similar costs to the above).
  • The cost of renting in the new city, including looking for the accommodation and having to pay for temporary accommodation.
Transportation costs
  • The cost of sorting things out and having to possibly fly back and worth or the cost of driving to the new city.
Family member relocation and other such costs
  • The cost of relocating your spouse or partner, including their possible temporary unemployment or the cost of losing their current salary.
  • The cost of childcare or schools in the new area.

You should study things like real estate website for house prices, talk to agents about selling your home, examine the cost of living in the city and calculating these things together. You should be able to get a rough estimate of how much things are going to cost, which then allows you to think the impact the costs would have on your finances.

It’s a good idea to start by thinking what would happen if you don’t get any help. How much would your savings help if at all? Are you going to increase your salary and this will help cover the cost? Could you be able to borrow money if needed?

This helps you understand how viable the relocation would be financially and what sort of help you most need from the employer. You should keep in mind that certain costs might be tax deductible. It’s a good idea to talk to a tax advisor to know if you can deduct some expenses.

You want to get a clear estimate of what those different components will cost. Knowing your numbers will make it easier to start negotiating the relocation package with the employer

FOCUS ON MUTUAL BENEFITS FOR BOTH

Now that you know the company policy and you’ve examined your situation and needs, you can start negotiating with the employer. The best tactic is to be upfront about what you’d like to receive and to focus on mutual benefits of both in ensuring the relocation process is smooth.

Naftali Garber, a relocation expert, told Salary.com, “You’re relocating to a new place with a whole list of issues, the last thing you need is to actually absorb the cost of the move yourself”. So, don’t be afraid to ask!

It’s a good idea to explain and to show to the employer it’s beneficial for the organization to make things go smoothly. First, you can point out how stressful the situation of relocation is. It will take a lot of your time and energy to sort everything from finding somewhere to live to moving your stuff.

The more energy and time you need to spend on things like this, the less productive you might be. Having your move in tatters can have an impact on your ability to perform at work. Therefore, help from your employer will guarantee the relocation process is not as disruptive and that you’ll be able to start performing well in your new job right from the get-go.

Now, you should also focus on gently reminding the employer of the value you would bring to the company. This doesn’t mean threatening them and saying you’ll reject the job offer if they don’t give you what you need, but to point out to them how you will be able to provide benefits to the company. You need to understand your value – there’s a reason you’ve been offered this role in the first place.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind the corporate psychology. The company is essentially trying to keep costs down and be conservative with the money. If you can show them financial benefits of options during the negotiations, you might get the help you need.

For example, consider suggesting slightly lower salary compensation in place for more support during the relocation. You might even suggest it the other way around if you find that more acceptable. For the employer, little tweaks like this can seem appealing. It also gives you the edge of being flexible – you are showing your ability to negotiate and it might help convince the employer to meet you halfway.

Of course, you can ask for this flexibility in other ways too. For example, ask if you could only work half a week for the first two weeks in order to sort out things. You might offer to work from home to minimize the disruption at the start.

PRESENT ACTUAL QUOTES

When you are negotiating the help package, you need to be clear about what you need and what. Your negotiating position is much stronger if you have an actual figure you can show instead of just throwing a random number at the employer. Actual quotes showing the cost of different relocation elements will help build a case for why you need the money.

Firstly, it will show the employer you’re not trying to cheat and asking for more than what the relocation actually costs. It shows you actually need to pay that much money just to join them and it should make it easier to convince them you need the money. For the employer, this shows you’re not bluffing when negotiating or suddenly showing at their door after the move to ask for more.

But it also helps you, as well as the employer, understand the real cost of relocation. When you do this research prior to your final decision, you get a better sense of what this job relocation would actually cost. It can help you prepare for it and it ensures you or the employer don’t end up surprised about the expenses.

Gather quotes from different moving companies or estate agents, for example. You can use them for averages to get a better idea of what to expect. In terms of figures you can’t really predict beforehand, you can do estimates of different scenarios. For example, look at possible jobs for your partner and how this would impact your family’s income – you might even calculate different timelines in terms of when your partner might get a job.

GET THE DEAL IN WRITING

As you begin to reach an agreement on the subject, you need to begin writing it down. It’s important to have figures and other essential elements of the agreement on paper – this ensures neither party can suddenly start asking for something different. You need the agreement to have legal weight, i.e. be in writing and documented in a manner lawyers would agree, to ensure you get what you discussed with the employer.

You could draft the document or give a list of things agreed to the employer’s lawyers to draft the agreement. Check to ensure the document is legally valid and read it carefully before signing. You need to be aware of any possible caveats the document might have. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it.

Don’t let the employer talk you down from an official document! No matter how lovely and trustworthy the employer is, creating an official document is important. Relocation is a big deal and having a legally binding document is not just beneficial for you but also the employer – so tell them that in case they keep telling you a document isn’t necessary for this situation.

ALWAYS KNOW YOUR RED LINE

It’s crucial to approach the negotiations with a clear idea of what you want. You need to have an idea of what three different outcomes look like:

  • The ideal outcome – What kind of relocation deal would satisfy all your needs?
  • The acceptable outcome – What is the minimum you are looking to get out of the negotiations and to accept it?
  • The unacceptable outcome– What kind of deal package just won’t help you and what would make you reject the relocation offer altogether?

You need to think about this because you don’t want to relocate to a job only to find out you didn’t really want it. Job relocation shouldn’t ruin your mental health or your bank account. Therefore, you need to know that red line.

It’s, of course, important to think about the move in terms of the emotional impact it might have. Moving to a different city or even country can be a huge thing that takes a toll on your wellbeing. If you’ve never lived away from your family or if this would be your first big relocation, you need to take enough time to ponder the impact it might have on you.

If you have a family, you naturally need to have these conversations with the whole of the family to understand their points of view. It’s important to make the decision first to ensure you know whether accepting the relocation offer is worth it – it’s not all just about money.

Of course, you have to think about the finances as well. You don’t want to make the move if you just can’t square the finances. It’s essential to understand it isn’t just about the cost of moving. Living costs in another city might change dramatically and you need to factor these in.

Household costs, food costs, entertainment costs, travel costs – all of these can be higher or lower, as well as stay the same, in your potential new place to live. You need to know what kind of lifestyle your new salary would help you live and whether your overall quality of life would drop or increase if you decided to move.

With these things in mind, you can start realizing the answer to the three questions. The answers will then help you during the negotiations and when you need to finally accept or reject the job offer.

THE KEY TO NEGOTIATION SUCCESS

It’s important to consider the job relocation carefully before you accept it. Not only do you need to consider the personal impact of moving, but also the financial implications. It’s important to talk to your employer and get a clear idea of the kind of help that’s available to you.

If you can highlight your value to the company and present proven cost calculations, your employer is unlikely to deny assistance. So do your research and you’ll end up with smooth and successful job relocation!

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