A 9-Step Guide to Relocating for a New Job

family unloading pickup truck and moving into new house

Adobe Stock / Joshua Resnick

Profile Picture
Lorelei Yang718
Wonky consultant with a passion for words
  • Find out what resources are available to help you with the move and do your research to understand the new place you'll be moving to.
  • Then, figure out a short-term rental for the beginning of your move, with an eye to finding a long-term plan after you've settled into the new area.
  • Finally, make your travel arrangements as soon as you've determined a moving date and prepare to pack the things you actually want to move.

Ready to take control of your job search? Make a FGB profile.

So, you've landed a new job in a new city! Congratulations — this is an exciting time that's filled with new possibilities. However, it's also stressful and fraught with big bills. Preparing to move for a new job can be anxiety-inducing. Once you've decided to take this major step, it's important to make sure you're preparing properly. These nine steps, along with some ballpark figures and information about the potential for relocation assistance from your new job, can help you prepare for a successful relocation.

How to prepare for a job relocation

1. Find out what resources are available to help you with the move.

When companies hire new employees from out of town, they'll often offer relocation assistance in the form of paying for house-hunting trips, transportation of vehicles, services for buying or selling your current home, rental search help and even movers to help you move into your new place. Sometimes, they'll even offer help with placing your spouse or significant other in a new job in the city you're moving to. 

2. Do your research to understand the new place you'll be moving to.

If you're able to, take some time to research the new area you'll be moving to for the job. Exploring the neighborhoods in the area you'll relocate to  can give you a good sense of which one is best suited to your lifestyle and personal preferences, as well as what you can expect in terms of the cost of living.
Talking to locals while you're visiting neighborhoods can also help you understand the locals' cultural attitudes, behaviors and sense of community. This provides important insight into what day-to-day life will be like after your move. To further understand the area you'll be moving to you, you should try to read the local news and a few local blogs to understand the overall vibe of your new neighborhood and get the pulse of current events.

3. Get organized.

With all the moving parts associated with getting ready for and successfully executing a big move, it's important to get organized. To do this, you'll want to:
  • Keep all move-related documents, checklists, paperwork and more in a "moving" folder on your computer or paper (choose what works best for you based on whether you prefer digital or paper documentation).
  • Download a pre-written moving checklist online or create your own based on your own personal needs.
  • Take an inventory of all your items, which you'll use to estimate the cost of your move and check that your items arrive safely after the move.
  • Set a budget for the move, settling into a new place after the move itself and other move-related incidentals.
  • Research moving options (hiring a moving company, booking a moving truck, shipping your car, driving your car yourself, etc.) and determine what works best for your needs and budget.

4. Figure out a short-term rental for the beginning of your move, with an eye to finding a long-term plan after you've settled into the new area.

Assuming it's possible, it's best to rent for a bit when you first move. This is a good, no-commitment way to settle into your new area without having to commit to a long-term lease or new home purchase in a neighborhood that you may or may not end up liking.  In some instances, you may find that your new employer provides temporary corporate housing (such as apartments or condos) to new employees for fixed periods of time — if this is something your new employer offers, you should consider taking advantage of this perk to serve as a convenient starting point for the immediate aftermath of your move.
In addition to your short-term plan, you should also have a sense of your long-term plan in mind ahead of your move. Want to buy a new house? Start thinking about what you'll need for a down payment. Considering a long-term rental? You'll want to have a general sense of the rental market in the area to which you're moving.
An important note for parents: if you have children in school, you'll likely want to know what schools are like in the area(s) you might relocate to. This is especially true if you're planning on sending your children to public schools.

5. Make your travel arrangements as soon as you've determined a moving date.

Book travel (airplane tickets, a rental car or whatever else is needed to transport you, your family and any pets) as soon as you've determined a moving date. If you're taking pets with you on a plane, it's important to understand the airline's policy with regard to traveling with pets and to know what containers are required.

6. Prepare to pack the things you actually want to move, and pack them effectively.

A big move is an opportune time to pare down your belongings so you can move only what you're committed to getting to your new location. Going through your home's contents well ahead of your move is an opportunity to get rid of what you don't need by donating, selling or giving them away (if you choose to donate items, make sure to get receipts for potential tax deductions down the line).
After filtering through your possessions to distill them down to the items you want to move with you, pack them effectively. Assuming you aren't moving under significant time pressure, the best move is to pack your home in stages: start by boxing up off-season clothes and items you don't use often (especially if you aren't going to use them before you move). Then, move to packing room-by-room, beginning with rooms that you use least often. The last items you pack should be important documents, moving-day necessities and an "open first" box with the items you'll need for the first few days in your new location.

7. Work out pre-move details before moving.

Before your actual move, you should work out a number of pre-move details that will ensure you have a smooth transition away from your current place and to your new location. These include:
  • Changing your address with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and setting up mail forwarding
  • Updating your mailing address for bills and magazine/newspaper subscriptions
  • Updating your billing address for credit cards and online subscriptions
  • Transferring utilities before moving day
  • Updating your voter registration information
  • Canceling trash and recycling services
If you're a renter, you'll also want to make sure you let your landlord know about your upcoming move within the time period required by your lease (generally 30 days). Assuming everything goes smoothly after you've moved out, you'll also want to ensure that you get your security deposit back within 14 to 60 days' time.

8. Prepare to leave your old residence.

The biggest and most important thing to do when you're preparing to relocate for work is to ensure that you're ready to vacate your old residence. 
If you're a homeowner, that means either selling or renting your current home. If you want to sell your home, you'll need to decide if you want to sell it yourself or enlist a professional broker's services to do so. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach: if you handle the sale yourself, you don't have to pay a commission to a broker, but you will have to work out all the details yourself. If you work with a professional broker to handle the sale, you won't have to be as involved in the day-to-day mechanics of the sale, but you'll have to pay a commission (the standard commission is six percent), which will cut into your profits from the sale. 
Should you decide to rent your current home, you'll again have to choose between managing the house as a rental property yourself or hiring someone (such as a rental manager) to manage it as a rental property. If you manage the home yourself, you may find it challenging to be a landlord from afar insomuch that it may be difficult to attend to necessary repairs if your tenant requests them. On the other hand, if you hire a property manager, some profits from the rental property will need to be used to pay the property manager — so your earnings from the rental property will be lower than they would have been otherwise.
If you're a renter, your responsibility with regard to your soon-to-be former residence is a bit simpler. You merely have to provide notice to your landlord of your intention to move out (usually, 30 days' notice is required) in advance of your move if you're moving at the end of your lease; however, if you still have a number of months left on your lease, you may need to find someone to take it over in a sublet arrangement.

9. Prepare for a smooth transition to your new residence.

Attending to a few important details will smooth the transition to your new home, whether it be a rental or newly-purchased home. Cleaning, painting and insuring your new residence ahead of moving in will be much easier to do when it's empty.
Making sure some essential services are set up ahead of your move will ensure that you have the creature comforts and amenities you need in your new home. These include electricity, water, gas and internet.
Contacting local utility companies to ensure your new abode is set up for electric, water, and gas services in advance will allow you to have the utility services you need to turn on the lights, cook and shower in your new home. You should also set up an appointment for internet service installation ahead of your actual move-in date. 

How much does it cost to relocate for a job?

The cost of relocating for a job depends on the distance covered for the move, weight of items moved, labor costs and the means by which you move. As a general rule, the American Moving and Storage Association estimates that the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,300. To get a better sense of what your specific moving costs may be, Moving.com has a handy moving cost calculator to help estimate moving costs based on move size, distance, packing services and date.
One important additional thing to note: moving expenses can be tax-deductible. In general, if you're moving for a new job that's at least 50 miles away from your old job and you work full-time for at least 39 weeks in the 52 weeks after your move, you'll be eligible for partial reimbursement of your moving expenses.

Do jobs help you relocate?

Some jobs will offer relocation assistance. Generally, high-paying jobs at the mid- to senior-level are more likely to do so.
If a job offers relocation assistance, it can take many forms, including: 
  • Direct cash assistance to help with the costs of the move itself
  • Help with your spouse's or partner's job search
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses associated with seeking a new home in the city you're moving to
  • Storage unit rental reimbursement
  • Lease break coverage
Even if a company that you're taking a job with doesn't initially offer relocation assistance, you can try to negotiate it as a benefit. From a company's perspective, covering relocation expenses can be an intelligent, cost-effective recruitment tactic that helps it attract candidates from other job markets. It can also be a good way to retain internal candidates and entice them to move to different sites, which is often cheaper and more effective than paying the costs to hire and train a new employee.
By now, you should be prepared to successfully manage relocating for a new job opportunity and navigate the exciting, stressful and sometimes-challenging experience of uprooting and changing zip codes. Once you've made the big move, enjoy the adventure of getting to know a new neighborhood!
Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.