Congratulations! You have just been offered a promotion with your current company or perhaps a new opportunity to join a new company. The only catch is that the job requires you to relocate to another city.
Are you open to this possibility? If so, it is essential that you do your due diligence on the frontend and weigh the pros and cons to make sure that this is the right move for you. And if you have a spouse or partner and a family, then there are additional factors that will be an integral part of this equation and your ultimate decision.
Obviously, you will have many questions about the relocation in general, who pays for what, how it all works, what is expected of you, what the company will provide, etc.
So, to assist you in making a well-thought out, educated decision, we have created this list of top 10 FAQs when relocating, and what the possible ramifications are of each.
What type of relocation assistance will be provided by the employer?
This is the number one FAQ on our list for good reason. Relocation is a very costly enterprise, so it’s important for you to know which move-related expenses will be paid for by your employer, and which ones will be your responsibility.
Although every company is different, and every employee’s situation is unique, there are some typical costs that are often paid for by the company. This can include any or all of the following:
- Packing/unpacking, shipment, and storage of household goods
- Home sale and home purchase assistance
- Mortgage assistance
- Temporary housing
- Vehicle transportation
- Home-finding and rental assistance
- Travel costs
- Educational consulting
- Spousal/partner career counseling
- Miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses
In the case of an international move, the list above might be further enhanced to include additional relocation benefits, such as:
- Destination services
- Cross-cultural training
- Language training
- Tax services
- Legal services
- Immigration services
- Tenancy management
So, make sure that you know exactly what relocation benefits you are eligible for and which ones will be provided by your employer.
How will my relocation expenses be handled?
Once you have a full understanding of the relocation assistance that will be provided by your employer, you want to make sure that you understand how your relocation expenses will be handled. For example, will you be provided with a lump sum of money that is meant to cover all of your relocation expenses, or will you be reimbursed for them? Different companies have different policies around this, so you need to know what is entailed, and how it can impact you financially and/or with regards to your income tax burden.
What if I own a home and need to sell it before I can relocate?
Many employers offer their relocating employees home sale benefits as part of their relocation package. Since this is not necessarily a given, be sure to ask the question as early in the process as possible if it has not already been explained to you.
It is also important to note that there are various relocation home sale programs that employers utilize, which are designed to assist the employee in selling their home within a relatively short amount of time. Each program has specific benefits for both the employer and the employee and can affect your tax burden. You might want to consult with a tax accountant in order to best understand how it will affect your bottom line.
What if the cost of living is higher in the destination city?
If you are considering a move to a city with a higher cost of living than where you currently live, you want to make sure that your new salary will make up the difference. A great way to compare cities is by using a cost of living comparison tool. There are several available online, including this one from Payscale:
Will relocating be good for my career?
The short answer is, it depends. For many career professionals, relocation represents an opportunity for career advancement and professional growth. It allows them to gain new skills, insights, and experiences that will help propel them forward on their career paths.
It also demonstrates an investment that the employer is willing to make to further develop the skills of the employee. Relocation is an expensive endeavor for any company, and so it shows a commitment to the employee in terms of the value that they believe that he or she brings to the organization.
And again, this is a conversation that you want to have early on with your employer, so that you can gain important insight as to what your career path will look like beyond the relocation.
Is the company a good fit for me?
If you are considering relocating to join a new company, you want to make sure that it’s going to be a good fit. Sure, the relocation benefits package might sound great, and the salary and opportunity might seem too good to pass up, but is this the company for you?
This one might be a difficult question to answer. So, it is always a good idea to get a good understanding about the company’s culture and values, as well as their reputation within the industry that they represent. A lot of research about this can be done online, including reviews from clients and customers, and from other employees about their own relocation experiences.
What if the relocation and/or the job just don’t work out?
Well, that certainly can happen. Some employees might find themselves in a move it or lose it situation, meaning that relocation is the only way to stay with the company. For others, the relocation and opportunity are a choice, but that is not a guarantee of success. As such, you should always do your research about the job market that you are moving into, so that you know the prospects that exist for you in that location. Ideally, you want to know that there is a relatively high demand for someone with your skillset and experience in your industry. This will give you options in the event that things just don’t work out as planned.
You will also want to ask whether your company would require you pay back a portion of the relocation costs if you were to leave the company within a specified period of time. This will be an important factor as you evaluate the financial benefits and risks associated with the relocation.
How stable is the company?
Whether you are contemplating a relocation with your current employer or as a new hire with another one, the last thing you want is to move your whole family across the country only to find out that the company wasn’t as stable as you thought. This could be devastating if you relocate only to lose that job a short time later.
Be aware of the risks, and make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. It’s always a good idea to inquire about the history of the company and how fast, steady, or slow the growth has been. Likewise, you want to ask about the future business plans of the company and see if they seem to have a solid strategy for making that happen. This information will be vital in evaluating the solvency of the company, and your own potential to grow along with it.
How permanent is the relocation?
This will generally depend on a multitude of factors. If the company has offices all over the world, and they tend to keep a high population of their workforce mobile, then “permanent” might only mean a year or two or three. This is an important aspect of relocation, so make sure that you are aware of their expectations of you as an employee, and whether your career path is tied to continued mobility within the organization.
Is the opportunity worth the risk?
With greater opportunity comes greater risk. And the best way for you to mitigate that risk is by carefully weighing the opportunity that you have been presented with against that risk.
Ask yourself the difficult questions:
- How will this move affect my spouse/partner and family?
- Will I have a support network in my new location?
- What will I miss most about my current city?
- What will the commute look like in my new location?
- What is the housing market like in my new location?
- How will I be able to establish myself in a new community?
- What is the culture like in my new location?
- Will there be lifestyle changes?
- What amenities exist in the new location?
These are indeed big questions with the potential for both big payoffs and big consequences. And in the end, only you can determine whether the opportunity is truly worth the risk.
Today, everyone’s priorities have shifted in light of recent events surrounding COVID-19, and the health risks associated with it. Thus, many companies have slowed and halted various relocation plans for their employees. But, as things begin to heat up again, and you find yourself faced with a potential relocation, just know that you never have to go it alone.
At VERSA, we are always here to answer all of your questions about relocation, so please contact us anytime!