You nailed the interview and got the job—time to celebrate! The only thing is, it’s in an entirely different city and now you have to relocate. And not only do you have to move, but you also have to do it quickly because the new job starts soon.
Figuring out how to get all of your stuff moved and how to manage the money aspect of a move is stressful at the best of times, but when you’re on a tight schedule it can quickly become overwhelming.
Enter the relocation package. You may have heard of them or even received one before, but what exactly is a relocation package, what should it include, and how much should you expect it to cover? Let’s talk numbers.
What is a relocation package?
A relocation package typically covers all or part of an employee’s moving expenses.
Many relocation packages can be negotiated as part of the employment contract, and—because what it includes will vary depending on your experience, the size of the company, and your current living situation—the average range is all over the place. Relocation packages typically start at $2,000, but they can go as high as $100,000. For renters, they usually land in the $20,000s, and for homeowners, anywhere from $60,000 to upwards of $80,000.
It is important to remember that an employer is not legally obligated to cover 100% of moving costs for any employee. However, many will do it to acquire or retain exceptional talent.
PRO TIP: Most relocation packages or expenses paid by an employer are considered taxable income to the employee by the IRS and state authorities, so make sure you keep that in mind when setting aside savings for tax season.
What should be included in a relocation package?
Since relocation packages are not a legal obligation, what is included can vary across companies and even among employees. If a relocation package is offered, it might include the following:
- House hunting expenses - Your new company may cover the cost of a house-hunting trip, including lodging, dining, and travel expenses.
- Home buying and selling - The costs associated with buying and selling a home are usually included in relocation packages. This typically covers things like closing costs, real estate commissions, reimbursement for lost profit from a quick home sale, title search costs, attorney fees, statutory costs, appraisals, utility transfer, and inspections.
- Job services for your partner - One issue with relocating when you are in a committed relationship is ensuring that your other half also has a job lined up in your new hometown. If they’re having trouble finding a good fit on their own, some employers will provide job search assistance for your spouse.
- Travel expenses - Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, the expenses associated with travel are usually covered by most relocation packages. This can also include the cost of moving your car if you aren’t driving it to its new home.
- Temporary housing - Buying a house can be a long, drawn out process, and one that has proven exceptionally difficult since the start of 2020. Your relocation package may include temporary housing, such as a rental or hotel, so you can start your new job sooner and continue your search after moving to a new city without the added stress.
- Moving - Moving costs can add up and your relocation package may cover all or some of the items you may need, including: hiring movers, renting a moving truck, moving insurance, packing materials, and storage facilities.
- Packing services - A white glove or full packing service is occasionally included in the moving services offered in your relocation package.. This means professional movers will be sent to your home to pack up your belongings, prepare your furniture for the move, and load, unload, and sometimes even unpack your items.
- Lease break coverage - If you have to break your rental agreement early, you may be required to pay additional money to your landlord. Some businesses will cover this expense.
- Other relocation expenses - You may also be given some additional cash to handle any other relocation expenses. These could include school relocation assistance for children, childcare services, state driver’s license fees, language classes, or car rentals.
3 types of relocation packages
There are a few different ways that you might receive your relocation package. Here are three of the most common:
- Lump-sum - You’ll receive an agreed-upon amount in a single payment. You then have to use it to cover all of your moving costs.
- Reimbursement - You pay your expenses, retain your receipts, and your employer will reimburse you for most if not all of your moving costs.
- Direct billing - In this arrangement, your employer pays directly for your moving expenses. This can mean using companies they already have an established relationship or an account with, or having them put you in the hands of a sub-contracted third party who specializes in employee relocations.
Negotiating your relocation package
Moving is stressful and can be expensive, especially when you are on a crunched timeline. If you feel comfortable with negotiation, don’t be afraid to discuss your needs and ask for services you want to be included in your relocation package so that it covers as many of your expenses as possible. This can help alleviate some of the financial strain and make the entire moving process smoother and less stressful.
Start by reviewing what the initial relocation package offers—what does it cover, what type of payment does it involve, and what is missing? If there is anything missing that you have identified as helpful to your move, simply start a discussion about adding it to the package. It may be useful if you can bring the approximate cost of the service or item and whether or not it is included in what competitors offer in relocation packages.
Make sure you get your relocation package, including any changes or additions you do manage to negotiate, in writing.
Relocation packages can vary depending on your experience, the size of the company you’ll be working for, and your living situation. Typically, you can expect to receive at least $2,000, but if you’ve been in the industry for a number of years and the move is a big one, you may see numbers as high as $100,000.
While you may not have the experience necessary to demand the highest figures, don’t be afraid to negotiate if you need more—since it is a one time expense, many employers can be more easily swayed on relocation packages than say salary, benefits, or vacation time.
Relocating for work?
TSI specializes in long distance small moves, including moving for work.