Job Relocation Package: What Is It and What Does It Include
What is a Relocation Package?
By simple definition, a job relocation package is a compensation offered by an employer to existing employees or new hires to cover their house moving expenses when the employer is the reason behind the move – usually by offering the employee a new role or job that requires switching locations.
Moving is an expensive undertaking without a question. Doesn’t matter whether you are renting a truck for a DIY move or hiring the services of a moving company. An interstate move in particular can set you back a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the distance you’re covering and the volume of inventory you are moving.
Concerns about footing the moving bill are therefore bound to arise when a job opportunity out of town presents itself. Which is understandable, especially if you’re relocating to a new city in a different pocket of the country.
Americans move houses for various reasons, and since the days of the Industrial Revolution, the search for greener pastures has always been right up there on the list of top reasons why people move cities.
But we don’t live in the Gold Rush era anymore. Moving to a new city for a job these days involves more than just picking your backpack and hitting the trail. It comes with its fair share of costs and challenges. If you’ve got family, it’s an even bigger conundrum.
Luckily, some employers offer job relocation packages to cover moving expenses, either partially or in full. If it’s a new job in a new city and the employer is unwilling to provide relocation reimbursement, that can be telling, and the opportunity is likely not worth it.
But if they do, the onus is on you to decide if to take up the offer or stay put.
How Does a Relocation Package Work?
A relocation package is not mandatory by law. It’s just one of the many perks employers provide.
Job relocation packages vary amongst employers. Some cover the full cost of moving, others offer a flat dollar amount to cater for your expenses.
A company may, for instance, have it in their policy to have a standard relocation package that advances a set amount in dollars to each employee to cater for their moving costs. Another company may opt to cover certain expenses such as the cost of hiring a moving company, storage unit expenses, family relocation assistance, and so on.
Usually, typical relocation packages differ from company to company. Even within the same company, the employee relocation package may depend on their role or status within the company.
Regardless of the company, it is important to be privy to the contents of your job relocation package before agreeing to the offer to allow for proper planning and budgeting. We’ll go into more details about the contents of your typical relocation package later, but first…
Types of Relocation Packages
Job relocation packages can be structured in different ways. Some of the most common relocation packages include:
A direct billing package sees the employer directly foot the costs of moving services and other relocation expenses for their employees.
In other words, the invoice is sent directly to the employer without having to involve the employee involved in the relocation.
A type of employment relocation package whereby the hiring company advances the employee a set amount of funds to facilitate employee relocation costs.
If you receive a lump-sum work relocation package, it is up to you to budget for the money and decide how you will use it.
A lump-sum can be super convenient as you’re literally being advanced money by the company to cover your moving expenses. However, if the package has not properly factored in the expenses involved, you could be forced to go back into your pocket.
A reimbursement is a relocation package that involves you – the person moving – agreeing to cover the costs of moving (sometimes up to a certain agreed limit) which the hiring company compensates you for after the move.
It’s important to do your calculations first, lest you fall short of funds to cover all the expenses.
As well, a reimbursement relocation package typically requires you to keep receipts as most employers prefer actual proof over word of mouth.
In this arrangement, the employer selects an outside relocation service and tasks it with arranging moving and storage services (transportation included) for the employee.
In other words, the employer is not directly involved in the relocation process.
This covers job relocation expenses for employees moving to a new country. This form of corporate relocation package covers more than just moving and transportation expenses.
Usually, the company will take care of things like immigration, tax or administration procedures for the employee and their spouse, in addition to other perks such as sorting out commutes for house hunting in the new location, as well as helping employees with cultural assimilation where applicable.
NOTE: Some packages can blend two relocation packages together. For instance, if you’re offered a lump-sum amount and the company agrees to compensate you for any additional expenses you incur, you can be reimbursed the amount post-move – that is, lump-sum relocation package + reimbursement package. Much like the way some companies structure their travel expenses.
What Can Be Included in a Relocation Package?
So, what is included in a relocation package exactly?
As alluded to earlier, all relocation packages are not equal. However, a comprehensive relocation package will cover the following job relocation expenses:
- House hunting trip costs – covers the cost of at least one house-finding trip as the employee hunts for a new home in the new location prior to the actual move. It could cater for transportation costs, food expenses, accommodation, and child care costs.
- Job search help for your partner – some companies go one further to include job search assistance for your spouse or partner in their relocation packages.
- Home-selling assistance – if you intend to sell your home, some employers can help through, say, running paid advertisements. Or compensate you for missed profits arising from the quick sale.
Packing services – depending on the type of job relocation package, some companies are happy to foot the costs of hiring professional packing services so you don’t have to stress yourself. This package will usually come complete with unpacking services.
- Moving company costs – most employers who provide relocation compensation typically cover the cost of hiring the services of local or long-distance movers. This cost will mostly hinge on the mileage involved and weight of your belongings. The package might also cater for storage expenses if you need a storage unit to hold your stuff. Many movers offer moving and storage services.
- Temporary rental housing – this is another expense covered by most standard relocation packages. It might take a while to find an ideal place when you move to a new city, so most companies factor this into the equation and are willing to put you up in a temporary furnished housing or hotel for a stipulated length of time. This includes rent and utility fees.
- Compensation for travel and vehicle transport – a good job relocation package will also factor in the cost of moving your car to the new city. This could come in the form of gas that was used or the mileage clocked. If you took a plane or train, the employer may also compensate you for the costs involved in transporting your vehicle to the destination city, not to mention the travel expenses incurred.
- Car rental costs – many job relocation packages will also include compensation for car rental services for a specified amount of time, either partially or in full. If you’re not bringing your car to the new city, check to see if this provision is included.
- Lease break coverage – job opportunities in a new city or country might sometimes force one to break a lease. In such instances, some company relocation packages might cover fees associated with breaking the employee’s existing lease.
- Meals and restaurant costs – relocation reimbursement may also involve the costs of meals and restaurants incurred during the relocation. Unless you’re on a lump-sum relocation package, though, it is recommended to save all receipts for accountability issues. The unsung rule here is that you’re required to be reasonable in your choice of food and/or establishment. Although some employers don’t mind, picks such as caviar or lobster in five-star hotels washed down with a bottle of Chardonnay are not really a good look, but you should know what!
- Language course – if you are moving to a non-English-speaking country, you may be required to take up language classes before and after the move. Cultural training too. Confirm with your employer if these classes are part of your relocation package.
- Family relocation assistance – this will usually cover the cost of hiring a babysitter during or after the move. Or elderly care assistance.
- Small expenses – additional expenses may also be included in your relocation package. These may typically include out-of-pocket expenses like vehicle registration, drapery installation, carpet cleaning, utility connections, and so on.
Please note that this is a relocation package example and not an exhaustive list. Some companies might offer more, others less. It is important to clarify with HR on the actual particulars for better planning.
How to Negotiate the Job Relocation Package?
Speaking of HR, when it comes to relocation packages, the specifics will differ from company to company. Some packages might not address aspects that are central to your relocation experience, while other company relocation packages might cover things that may be deemed surplus as far as you are concerned.
In such cases, it would be best to negotiate the relocation package with the employer. While some operate on a strict relocation compensation policy, it is possible to discuss the package details to suit your needs better.
Here are some tips you could borrow towards that end:
- Review the details of the relocation package – first, go through your job relocation package to find out the list of things the package covers and how you will be compensated.
- Identify areas that are not addressed – again, not every relocation package will speak to your needs sufficiently. Remember, corporate relocation packages are generic and designed to suit employees across the board. Therefore, what works for Lisa might not suit your family’s needs well. While every relocation involves an adaptation period, pinpoint aspects in your job offer relocation packages you feel are not adequately catered for that are likely to affect you.
- Consider competitor packages – comparisons never hurt when you’re reviewing a job offer as it gives you a better perspective of what you have on your hands. Look at offerings from industry competitors and juxtapose them with your employer’s offering. This way, you will be speaking from an informative position when you sit down to discuss the employment relocation package with your employer.
- Discuss your specific needs with the employer – if there are aspects in your relocation package that are not of much help to you, talk to your employer to find out if these can be switched out with something more helpful to you that is not included in the package. For instance, if you don’t have kids, maybe you could swap childcare expenses for lease break coverage if the latter is not part of the package. There are always aspects like these, but be reasonable in your negotiations and remember that some employers might have a fixed relocation package policy that’s difficult to veer away from.
And there you have it; the complete lowdown on job offer relocation assistance.
A relocation package is a benefit not all employers offer. While it might feel inadequate if you land a job with a company that has this provision for its employees, remember – it’s always a bonus! It tells you a lot about the company and its regard for employee satisfaction.
At the same time, however, you should not sign a job relocation package without going through it in detail and trying to negotiate with your employer first if you feel it misses the mark vis-à-vis your situation.
To take or not to take? At the end of the day, the decision ultimately lies with you.