For most people my age, short or long-term relocation has become the norm. It has also become the norm for people my age to be in debt with school loans and the cost of living expenses growing every year. So even though each move brings the excitement of new experiences, relocating is more financially and emotionally costly than ever. This is why it is vital to negotiate with your employer for the best possible relocation package.
Having moved from Ithaca, New York to London, UK and back to Chicago, I thought moving would advance my career at Goldman Sachs. But it just served to put me in debt because Goldman Sachs did not pick up most of the relocation costs due to recession concerns. These expenses eventually caused me to take out additional loans just to make ends meet. As a result, this experience was so stressful that when faced with the prospect of moving again, I arranged a meeting with my boss.
What I discovered after my meeting was that relocation assistance packages are not as generous as they once were, but that most companies still offer them. They just don't advertise it. Since I had a great relationship with my boss, he was keen to help secure the best relocation package because I had been asked to move three times for the company. He then informed me there are four relocation options offered by each company: moving costs for the entire household, house-hunting trips, closing costs for a new home, and short-term rentals into the new city.
This was comforting to know due to the fact that relocation is a common issue faced by most young people because we are often the lowest on the corporate ladder. Above all though, we are looking to save what little money we have to make sure the relocation process is as cost-effective as possible. As Naftali Garber, Sales & Marketing Coordinator for Golan’s Moving & Storage in Chicago, puts it: "If your company cannot afford to move you, then they should not ask you to move."
Garber recommends two important tips to negotiate a relocation package without souring the relationship with your company. "Remember that relocation assistance is part of your benefits package, like vacation pay and health insurance," he explained. "So you should review your employment documentation to find out exactly what your employer offers, and negotiate a relocation package from there." He informed me that a corporation like Goldman Sachs will most likely have connections to get me a better deal or offer vouchers for moving and storage companies as well. However, above all, it is important to negotiate carefully, offering counter proposals within reason."
It's possible you cannot afford to relocate, even with your company's relocation offer. This is why a counter proposal is necessary at times. In Garber's view, it is important to know exactly what you need and submit it in writing to your employer, as in any other negotiation process. "In my experience as a consultant on relocation packages, I find that a diplomatic letter to emphasize your excitement for your job and your relocation, while laying out your counter proposal within a reasonable amount of the company's initial offer works best."
This proposal will include research on real estate in the new location, the average cost of living in these areas, and the cost of moving companies in the area. "You’re relocating to a new place with a whole list of issues, the last thing you need is to actually absorb the cost of the move yourself."
Garber's best advice for saving money during relocation negotiation is to stay put if possible. As Garber explains it, "With GChat, Facebook and Skype, companies can save more money on relocation than ever before. But sometimes, they need to be reminded of that. This is the type of information you need in your initial proposal so your employer knows how staying put can work. But it can also be the difference between keeping your job and looking for a new one."
If you've got multiple job offers in different cities, use Salary.com's Cost of Living Calculator to help you decide whether relocation is your best bet.