Liz Taurasi @LizTaurasi

7 Questions You Should Ask Before Relocating for Work

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Moving, for anyone, can be a challenge. Add the prospect of relocating to a new area for a job, and you’re upping the ante on the stress levels for you and your family.

But, by asking your employer the right questions, you can set yourself up for a smoother transition. Whether it’s about which expenses your new employer will cover to what kind of commute you can expect, getting your questions in order before you relocate can make all the difference.

We talked to relocation expert Maureen Campbell, president of Pearce Plus, LLC, to collect a few tips about what you should be asking your employer before relocating for work. 

1) Will You Provide Temporary Housing?

Most likely your new employer is going to want you on the job sooner than your family can get there, and oftentimes this means the need for temporary housing before finding your new home. Find out what your employer offers in terms of temporary housing. Will they cover the expenses of temporary housing? Will they help you find a temporary location to land until you find your new home?

2) What About My Family?

Now that you have your job offer in hand, be very open with your new employer about your family structure and family needs. If you have children, or an aging relative you’re looking after, will your employer provide benefits to assist meeting child care or senior care responsibilities? Or if you’re a pet parent, can your employer connect you with a reliable dog-walker? And don’t forget to inquire about things like day care centers, schools and recreation options -- all important considerations before settling on a new home.

3) How’s the Commute?

You might be excited to get settled in your new home, but make sure not to overlook the commute. Nearly half of parents have home-buying regrets and their new commute is their top regret, according to a new survey of parents and real estate agents from and Zillow. Be sure to ask your employer about various commuting concerns, such as public transportation, major routes, traffic patterns and even alternative transportation options before you settle on an area.

4) Can We Talk Compensation?

The economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, thankfully. And in some regions, like the Midwest, unemployment is low, so employers are more willing to offer strong incentives to entice the best candidates. Now is not the time to be shy. Plus, if you have to make a big move for a job, it’s a rare employer who would balk at negotiating at least some form of relocation assistance.

5) What Kind of Relocation Assistance Do You Provide?

Find out if your employer is offering relocation monetary assistance and what that entails. From temporary housing to moving costs, what is your employer offering to make the move happen? Most companies will provide a lump sum payment, so you’ll need to do your due diligence to be sure it’s going to be enough to cover the expenses of your move.

Additionally, some companies have relocation specialists they work with to help you with everything from finding the best communities to live in to helping you with the sale of your old home. Ask if your employer has a company they work with, as this can help offload a lot of the responsibility you’ll have during a time when things are very stressful.

6) Are There Strings Attached?

Find out if that relocation money your employer is giving you to help with the cost of moving has a payback agreement. Approximately 90 percent of organizations have these in place for newly hired employees. Many require you to pay back all relocation expenses if you leave the company within a certain time frame, while some require paying back a prorated portion. Whether you plan to stay at your new job for a long time or not, this is something you should definitely ask about -- because you don’t want to be stuck having to pay back money you weren’t aware you were responsible for.

7) What Are the Tax Implications

You’ll also want to understand your relocation package from a tax perspective -- really, really understand it. You may be surprised at how much Uncle Sam will shave off the top. Talk to a tax or HR professional who is not part of the job negotiation before signing. Ask them: Is this a fair package for a family of my size? What will this look like once taxes are taken out? What receipts will I need to keep come tax time? Call a mover and get an actual quote. It’s important to speak to your accountant about what items are deductible and what are taxable when getting relocation money.

Have you recently relocated for a job? What questions did you ask your employer? Share them in the comments section of this article.