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Making Moves
A Step by Step Guide to Negotiating Your Relocation Package
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Allison Evelyn Gower
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Allison is a writer and yoga teacher.
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You’ve landed your dream job - in a brand new city. And you’re definitely taking it. At this point you’re tempted to scream, “Yes, I can move across the country ASAP. Can we start Monday?!” However, as the sensible human you are, you know that there's a lot more to moving than hopping in the car and blasting ABBA as you drive to your new home. That’s why I put together this guide for you.

If there's no relocation policy, negotiate:

In cases where your company has no policy in place for relocating employees, you may have to negotiate from scratch.  

What is covered in a relocation package? Or better: how much is a good relocation package?

It’s a must to find out the realistic moving costs. Compare affordability so your employers will be happier about covering the fees. Pro-tip: This moving calculator shows exactly how much moving with different local companies will cost.

Before entering into the negotiation, no matter how great the working relationship, results will come if you enter with the right negotiation tactics. 

Here are 3 tips for relocation negotiation:

1. Speak less.

A Washington Post piece claims one tip is the biggest, most impactful secret to negotiation: The power of silence. As a law professor at the University of Hawaii, John Barkai shares, “By using silence, you hope the other side will speak (to their disadvantage).”

Not only can silence convey power, it implicitly implies the quiet person is the one more ready to walk away from the situation. The one who cares more is, after all, is the one more likely to come down on terms and agree. 

2. Know your numbers (or at least where to get them).

Prepare! No matter how silent you may be, at some point you’ll have to speak. That’s why you’ll want to take time beforehand to calculate the cost of moving. Vague details will not influence an employer. They’ll be more impressed and likely to agree if you come with fleshed out information, numbers and a plan. 

3. Don’t ask “yes” or “no” questions.

When the tables are turned and questions are put to your employers, ask open-ended questions. As shared by Inc., “yes” or “no” questions narrow outcomes. When asking broadly, it gives a chance to elaborate and tap further into emotion. For example, rather than ask, “Can I get funds for a rental truck?”, try phrasing the question as, “I’ve compiled 3 companies and their packages. How do you feel about one of these options?” 

This latter phrasing much better opens them up to agree on one, rather than shoot to a simple no. 

If there is a relocation policy, still negotiate (just differently):

Sometimes a company will already have a policy on relocating employees. In this case, when walking into the belly of this beast, heed these words by Naftali Garber, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for Golan’s Moving & Storage: “Remember that relocation assistance is part of your benefits package, like vacation pay and health insurance... so you should review your employment documentation to find out exactly what your employer offers, and negotiate a relocation package from there.”

First, ask: "how much is the relocation package?"

Depending on the employer and the given situation, you may have your moving expenses accounted for. This may include: 

  • Professional movers 

  • Rental truck 

  • Moving materials

  • All your new home new set up fees — from internet to cable 

But there are other factors to bring up to your employer. For example, if you are only given 3 weeks, that is not a fair amount of time to sell and move. So, bring these extra financial details up and negotiate with the above. Costs to include: 

  • How much money you’ll lose on an overlapping mortgage

  • Travel costs — such as those of your vehicles, children and any pets

  • Personal moving expenses

What if I have to cover some of the costs?

Depending on your negotiation, it may fall down to you to cover some costs. If that is the case, you’ll want to investigate the tax opportunities. Although tax law may not be the most fun topic, the great news is there are potential ways to save - all shared via IRS Publication 521

The three main ways to save are if: 

  • The move is for your first job, a new job, or being relocated with the same company. 
  • The move is at least 50 miles from your own home. (So if your company moves two blocks down the street … alas, this will not be valid!)
  • For jobs where you will be working a minimum of 39 weeks in that first year of employment (self-employed? The rules are a tad different. You’ll need to work at least 78 weeks in the first two years at the new home.)

If you meet these qualifications, you are up for tax deductions for costs related to packing and moving, travel expenses for getting to the new home, costs for moving immediate family along with you and even some storage fees. 

In the corporate relocation process, always remember this: 

Throughout the entire experience, remember that this employer is wanting to move you because they believe in your skills and talent. Amid the stress, there is power already on your side based on their desire to have you at their company. Use that to your advantage.

--

Allison Evelyn Gower is a writer at HireAHelper.com. You can find her teaching yoga, sipping a hipster coffee drink or watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lots of Buffy.

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