The Art of Negotiation: Tips for Relocation

Congratulations! Your employer has promoted you to a new position within your company—however, it requires a long-distance move.

Depending on the location and specific package selected, a full-service move ranges anywhere from $5,000 to over $80,000. While employers may offer impressive relocation packages, transferees are often unaware of the negotiables. ARC Relocation wants to equip you with the right questions to ask and tips to assist your negotiation!


Defining the Options

While employer relocation packages differ, most tend to fall into one of the following categories:


Reimbursement (not recommended)

The typical procedure for full reimbursement finds the employee paying for all relocation expenses upfront and is later compensated by the employer. (It’s important to know this isn’t a blank check. Employers usually provide a price limit.)


Lump Sum Payment (not recommended)

An employer offers a designated amount of money to cover moving expenses. The perk of this payment option is found in its flexibility. Employees maintain control over how and where their relocation funds are allocated.


Third Party Relocation (industry best practice)

This is gold standard of relocation benefits, where employers pay for all incurred expenses through a relocation management company. While the amount of coverage depends on the employer, many outsource to relocation brokers who provides comprehensive coordination for all aspects of a move. This can offer tax protection and ensures that relocation events are covered!


No Reimbursement

Unfortunately, this option speaks for itself. An employer has declined to offer any relocation assistance. The assumption of “what isn’t offered in transfer payment can be offset by a salary increase or bonus” neglects the stress that relocating on your own places on your family and the difficulty of successfully starting a new position without any relocation assistance.


When it Comes to Reimbursement, Company Size Matters

According to Atlas Van Lines 2019 Relocation Reimbursement Survey, full reimbursement for transferees’ hovers around 64% (an increase from 55% in 2016). More companies have resorted to providing lump sum payments in 2019 than previous years. Company size plays a significant role in transferee reimbursement, with large companies (over 5,000 employees) providing full reimbursement, while mid-size and small companies reimbursed about one-third of the move’s total cost (1 in 7 didn’t provide any reimbursement).


You Can Negotiate

Many employees don’t even realize they have the power to negotiate their relocation package. Ask your HR department for a copy of the company’s relocation policy. If they don’t have one – send them an example policy to benchmark from. Learn what is and isn’t covered. Engage in research. Seek out relocation policies of similar companies to compare it to. Do you have a former colleague who recently relocated? If so, bend their ear about not only the relocation negotiation but their lessons learned about the entire process.

Preparation is key, so organize your talking points, know your data and associated costs, and be prepared to confidently ask for what you want.

Remember that time is money to your employer. The quicker the process is expedited, the sooner you can begin working in your new position.

Last and most importantly – ask an expert! ARC Relocation receives calls and emails every day from employees asking for guidance and counsel so that they are covered in their relocation!


Aspects to Negotiate

The needs of a young, single employee seeking an apartment rental differ from someone with a family and a home to sell (as well as one to purchase). Be sure to assess your particular requirements for a move. Although it varies, common relocation expenses covered for transferees include:


Travel Allowance

Scouting out the new area before a move is a necessity. Airfare, car rental, and hotel stay are all reasonable costs employers can cover. Consider meeting with a realtor to discuss home and area, and if children are a part of your family, check out schools as well. Travels costs can also cover the family’s final move.


Home Sale Assistance

Some relocation packages help with realtor fees, closing costs, and additional expenses related to both selling and purchasing a new home. If your current home doesn’t sell in time before the relocation, ask about a bridge loan. This short-term loan allows the purchase of a new home before finalizing the sale of your current home.

A high level policy (know as a “Buyer Value Option” even covers all of the taxes so the employee is completely protected in a home sale transaction!)


Household Goods Moving Fees

This is a big one, in both reality and price tag. Most moving companies should disassemble large furniture and pack, ship, and deliver all household goods. Remember to account for items requiring special care, like a grand piano or family heirlooms. Vehicles are another consideration.


Temporary Accommodations

Temporary housing is a great option when a transferee is planning to purchase a home in a new area. It allows time to become acquainted with the different parts of town to determine which best align with your needs. Fortunately, with sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, temporary housing is quite accessible.


Spousal Assistance

If a working spouse is leaving their job for a relocation, some companies will set them up with a recruiter.  Additionally, if moving to a more expensive area of the country, inquire about a cost-of-living allowance.


Expert Advice

An authority in the business, ARC Relocation’s Director, Bill Mulholland, offers his valuable input. “Relocation costs are very fluid and depend on a number of variables. The main advice I give customers when negotiating relocation benefits is to not request a fixed dollar amount.” Mulholland references the shipping of household goods as an aspect of moving that the average transferee wouldn’t be familiar. While 5,000 pounds sounds like a reasonable amount for an employer to cover, Mulholland explains this is the average weight of a one-bedroom apartment. A single-family home with four-bedrooms hovers around 18,000 pounds, which means that the transferee would end up paying over 70% of their shipped items cost.


Read the Fine Print

Once the terms of the transfer contract have been reached, review it carefully. Ensure that nothing was omitted and all the agreed upon conditions have been properly accounted.


Additional Considerations

Practice your negotiation skills. Since this is imperative to your bottom line, we wanted to provide more than one resource. Be sure to review these talking points from Inc. and Harvard’s Program on Negotiation.

As you prepare for a move, see how much home you can afford with this helpful mortgage calculator and compare mortgage rates to find the best fit for your finances.

Check out NerdWallet’s top-rated budgeting apps for 2020.


When ready to advance with this next stage of your career, ARC Relocation is there to assist!


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