Negotiating a Relocation Package
So you’ve accepted a new job offer, promotion or temporary assignment. Congratulations! But what if it’s more than just a career move, but also a physical move from one city to another? Fortunately you don’t have to go it alone, as many companies will offer a relocation package—a set of funds, resources, benefits, terms and/or agreements—to assist with your move.
Relocation packages come in all shapes and sizes, and just like job offers themselves, there’s often room for negotiation. This blog is your guide to negotiating a relocation package, from transportation to moving expenses to housing needs.
What can be negotiated for in a relocation package?
First of all, it’s important to know what a relocation package will frequently include. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “standard” relocation package, but there are a few things that are commonly covered, such as:
• Finding a home — A trip dedicated to finding a place to live in your new location.
• Home buying or selling costs — Expenses incurred while buying or selling your home, such as closing costs, realtor commissions or taxes.
• Transportation — Travel to your final destination via plane, train or automobile.
• Shipping or transporting belongings — Boxes, moving trucks, shipping costs, etc.
• Temporary living — Instead of requiring you to find a permanent place to live, some relocation packages will provide you with temporary housing in your new city. This housing is often furnished, move-in ready, fully equipped and includes utilities, WiFi and regular housekeeping.
What else can be negotiated for in a relocation package?
Relocation packages may also include:
• Spousal and family support — If your spouse and/or children will be moving with you, your relocation package may include assistance for them, such as help finding employment, childcare options or a new school district.
• Packing and unpacking — Workers may be provided to pack up your belongings and/or unpack them when you arrive at your destination.
• Storage — Storage can be useful if you’re relocating temporarily and don’t need to move all of your belongings, or for holding your things while you search for long-term housing.
• Vehicle transfer — Help with moving your automobile to your new location (e.g. driving or shipping it).
• Lease breakage — If you need to break the lease on your apartment in order to relocate, the relocation package may cover any associated fees or penalties.
• Immigration assistance — For international moves.
• Cultural training — Also for international moves, training may be provided to help accustom you to your new country and its language, laws, culture, etc.
Again, remember that all relocation packages are different and depend on several factors, such as the distance of the move, the company’s resources and the employee’s needs.
Types of relocation packages
Another way relocation packages differ is in how they cover the components and expenses of your move. Four common forms are:
• Lump sum — An allotment of money is provided to you to cover your moving expenses. It’s up to you to decide how to use it.
• Reimbursement — Your employer fully or partially pays you back for your moving expenses.
• Direct bill — Your employer pays directly for the services of third-party vendors—shipping companies, movers, airlines, real estate firms, etc.—needed for your move.
• Third-party relocation — Your employer uses a third party to handle your relocation. These third parties are often called relocation services companies.
Determining your relocation package needs
Before you negotiate your relocation package, you should determine what you’ll need to complete your move. An easy way to do so is by asking yourself some questions, such as:
Is this relocation temporary or long-term?
Temporary moves obviously call for different needs than longer term ones, such as storage or temporary housing. Long-term moves require finding more permanent accommodations, selling your home or breaking a lease. Make sure the relocation package reflects this.
How will I find a new place to live?
Before beginning to negotiate your relocation package, you may wish to take a trip to your destination city for the purpose of house hunting. If so, your relocation package should partially or fully cover the cost of that trip. You can also stay in temporary furnished housing in different neighborhoods to scope out where in your new city you’d like to live.
How far am I moving?
Make sure the relocation package adequately provides for the transportation, shipping, vehicle transfer, house hunting trip or other things you’ll need to get you and your belongings to the final destination.
How much stuff do I need to move?
If you have a lot of belongings to move, you may want to negotiate that your relocation package includes help packing and unpacking. This question will also help you determine how much shipping is needed and whether you’ll require a moving van.
Will my family need assistance too?
If you have a spouse and/or children moving with you, your relocation package should accommodate them. It should account for their travel and belongings, and if necessary, it can include other assistance with employment, childcare, education and more.
Do I need to sell my home or break my lease?
If you have to sell your current home before moving, think about what that will entail and find out how much of it your relocation package will cover. This can include listing fees, closing costs, staging, realtor expenses and taxes. If you’re a renter and need to break your lease, see if your relocation package will pay the fees and penalties for doing so.
Am I moving internationally?
Relocating to a new country brings its own set of requirements, many of them having to do with immigration. You may need legal assistance and there will likely be financial costs involved. Depending on which country you’re moving to, you may also want to receive training on the language, culture, laws and customs to help you assimilate. Your relocation package should take these considerations into account.
Use your answers to these questions to help you negotiate your relocation package and determine if it meets your needs. If it’s lacking in any way, get ready to negotiate.
Tips on how to negotiate your relocation package
Nearly everything is negotiable, including a relocation package. You probably negotiated your initial job offer and salary with the company, so why stop there? You might not be able to negotiate for everything you want, but you can at least make some small victories or compromises.
• Read everything thoroughly, including the fine print. If you don’t understand something, ask and get it clarified.
• Be clear about your relocation package needs, and how meeting them will benefit not just you but your employer. The better your relocation package fulfills your needs, the smoother your transition will be, causing you less stress and making you a better employee.
• Have end goals in mind, and prioritize them. Decide what you absolutely must negotiate for in your relocation package in order to make the move worth your while. Try to prioritize which are most important to you—for example, accommodation for your family—and make that clear to your employer.
• Be firm, yet flexible. You don’t want to be taken advantage of by appearing too complacent. At the same time, however, be willing to compromise where you can.
• Be specific and thorough. It’s easier for your employer to meet your needs if you’re specific about them when negotiating. Be prepared to provide numbers or names of suppliers you’d prefer to use. Also be specific when asking your employer questions.
You and your employer should both leave the negotiation feeling satisfied and excited for what’s to come. Moving is always stressful, but a relocation package that suits your needs can take much of the edge off.
Bonus tip: taxes
Did you know that some parts of your relocation package may be considered taxable income by the IRS? Don’t hesitate to ask your employer about this and take it into consideration during the relocation package negotiation process. You may also want to consult a tax professional when preparing your return.
Is temporary housing one of your relocation needs?
Furnished Quarters provides furnished, fully equipped apartments perfect for those who’ve recently relocated for work. Search our furnished apartments and be sure to check our blog for more relocation tips.