Relocating for a job? 5 things you should ask before making the move
Moving is a pain. Even if you’re doing it for the job of your dreams.
You’ll have to get new a driver’s license, switch off the old utilities, switch on the new, sleuth a new doctor, find a new place, sell or sublet your current one — oh, and deal with the physical acts of actually packing, moving, and unpacking. If you got tired just reading that, imagine doing it.
Still, CareerBuilder found that 44% of people are “willing to relocate for a career opportunity.” I am one of those people. Despite my loathsome distaste for the evils of moving, I have relocated my family three times in nine years. (And they still love me!)
While I’m not sure if that demonstrates my inner tendencies toward masochism or psychosis, the one thing of which I’m certain is that relocating is always easier if your prospective employer helps with the move. While the days of Cartier-style, full-blown relocation packages and outright home purchases for high-demand employees have passed, there are still relocation benefits worth asking and negotiating for before you accept a job out-of-state. Like these.
1. Location scouting trips
One of the keys to an easy relocation is to make sure that you, your significant other, and your family are all on board with the decision. As a precondition for accepting my respective offers, I asked that each company allow my family to take two or three “reconnaissance” trips to the new state to look for permanent housing.
Even if you don’t find the perfect residence during those trips, they are invaluable to ensure that you get a flavor and sense of the new area. A new favorite restaurant or cultural attraction can go a long way in feeling more comfortable about your decision and getting buy-in from anyone who will be moving with you.
2. Temporary housing
If available, this is a great benefit. A month or two rent-free can ease the pressure of a new security deposit or buying a new home ASAP. If you have a family, it gives you time to learn the area and local school districts before committing to a new place.
In my experience, the duration of the benefit is negotiable, but usually runs 60-90 days after you start the new job. The company often puts you up in an executive condo, apartment, or home that’s used for relocation purposes. Once, a company gave me a lump sum payment of $10,000 for three months worth of housing and living expenses. I immediately went out and bought the most expensive suit I could find to wear on my first day. Kidding! I decided to book a three-room extended-stay suite while house hunting.
Note: If you’re moving for a higher education position, know that universities will have some housing set aside for visiting professors or transitioning staff. It might be a bare bones, multiple-roommate situation, but it’s better than signing a lease on an apartment sight unseen.
3. Whole-house pack and transport
If your employer has a relocation package, make sure you know exactly what it entails. Some arrangements only cover the physical transportation of your home goods, while others may include the actual hand-packing and subsequent unpacking of your boxed chattel.
The first relocation we had included everything, so I knew what to negotiate for on each subsequent move because I hated the idea of packing wine glasses and such myself.
If your new employer provides a lump sum, be sure to keep all receipts having to do with your move — from boxes, to packing tape, to movers, to gas for the U-Haul. If you move more than 50 miles, you may be able to get a tax deduction for any additional moving expenses you personally absorbed.
4. Storage of home goods
It can take some time to find the perfect place to live in your new area. I once spent several months looking for a new home because our first deal fell through. So, you can only imagine how happy I was that I had negotiated storage of our home goods for up to six months after my job started. It’s one less stress during a very stressful transition.
All of our belongings were safe, secure, and insured at the transportation company’s warehouse, while we took our time finding the right place to live.
5. Cash stipend for miscellaneous expenses
During every move, unforeseen expenses will pop up. Because, life. During my most recent relocation, the company gave us a $5,000 stipend upfront for miscellaneous use. Because we had planned well and had zero out-of-pocket expenses, we were able to apply that entire lump sum toward the closing cost on the purchase of our new home at the time.
It was completely legal under the terms of that specific relocation package — and was clearly very helpful.
Other uses for this sort of money might include additional rent or mortgage payments if one family member has to stay behind, transportation to your new location, or even a rental car if you only have one and your family is split in two locations.
I don’t know anyone who looks forward to uprooting for a new job, but sometimes it’s necessary. That’s why it’s so important to know relocation packages vary greatly from company to company — and some of them include some pretty great perks to ease the move. So, once you have an offer in hand, be sure to ask about the specific relocation details and components.
There’s an old proverb that states, “You don’t have, because you don’t ask.” Now you’ll at least know a few things to ask for when it comes to relocating for a new gig.
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This article originally published at The Muse
Business, career advice, employee benefits, Jobs, moving, relocating, Work & Play