How and What to Negotiate When Relocating for Work

Relocation expenses, temporary housing, lease cancellation, and more.

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Miriam Salpeter
Miriam Salpeter
Are you thinking about relocating for a job? It isn't always easy, and you might assume you'll have to pay for your own relocation expenses. In fact, many companies will assist new employees with relocation packages. If you're flexible and do your research, it's possible to tap into job markets outside of your area.

Atlas Van Lines' 45th Annual Corporate Relocation Survey provides useful data that job seekers should consider regarding relocation. For example:

  • Sixty-five percent of firms surveyed offer relocated employees full reimbursement.
  • More than 25 percent of firm respondents expect international relocation volumes to increase this year and 55 percent expect levels to remain similar to 2011. Internationally, Asia ranks as the most-frequent relocation destination (at 41 percent).
  • Eighty-seven percent of firms have a formal relocation policy.
  • More than half (52 percent) of all relocations last year were new hires.
  • Employees age 36 to 40 remained the most frequently relocated salaried employees, and the majority of relocated salaried employees are male. Female employees account for only 20 percent of relocated salaried employees on average.
  • Seventy-two percent of firm respondents give employees two weeks or less to accept an offer to relocate.
  • More than 50 percent of companies reimburse or pay to pack all items, move an automobile, move exercise equipment, move a second automobile, and unpack all items.
  • For homeowners, more than half of firms offer the following to transferees or new hires: temporary housing allowance, home-finding trips, storage, reimburse or pay for home sale costs, reimbursement or pay for home purchase costs, and home marketing assistance.
  • For renters, more than half of firms offer the following to transferees or new hires: temporary housing allowance, reimbursement or pay for lease cancellation, home-finding trips, and storage.
  • Are you thinking you may want to jump on the bandwagon (or the moving van)? What should you consider when planning to relocate for a job? EDC Moving Systems Relocation Consultant and Atlas Van Lines Affiliate Andrew Bridges suggests you do your research ahead of time, especially since many companies expect a quick reply when asking you to relocate. "New job seekers or transferees should research specific cities and areas on their own regarding schools, housing prices, and other factors that would influence their decision to move," he notes. "Many cities have websites that provide information to those considering relocation. This will help determine if you and your family will be happy in the new location."

    How can you identify a company's relocation policies ahead of time? Bridges explains: "Typically, any official corporate relocation policies will be discussed in the interview process. Each company and the benefits they offer vary, so policies may not be obtainable online." With that in mind, it's a good idea to try to find information about relocation via networking. Ask people in your industry and in the company where you want to work. It may depend on how in demand your skills sets are for the company, but you can usually uncover useful information when you ask the right questions.

    Always be prepared to negotiate a move. "Everything is negotiable," Bridges says, while also noting that most corporate policies allow for exceptions. For example, "One of the biggest exceptions and items being negotiated is temporary housing. Candidates should be sure to mention if they need that up front. Typically, as you move up the corporate ladder in the company, exceptions are more likely."

    What is usually covered? "Most corporate relocation policies cover anything in a standard home, such as personal belongings and contents of the home," Bridges explains. What should you think about when it comes to your relocation? "In addition to detailing how the moving expenses will be covered by the company, corporate relocation policies will provide information on other factors, such as relocation bonuses, repayment provisions should the employee decide to leave the company within a certain time frame, and if the company will pay for a pre-assignment site visit," he says.

    Bottom line: Don't assume anything when it comes to relocating for work. If you're a strong candidate, you may be eligible for benefits that would make it easier for you to consider an out-of-town job.

    Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.

    Corrected on 6/13/2012: An previous version of this story incorrectly identified Andrew Bridges as an affiliate of Allied Van Lines. He’s an Atlas Van Lines affiliate.