Negotiating Your Move

Been offered a big opportunity? Here’s how to relocate successfully

When Torra Haynes, manager of merchandising operations for Limited Brands in Columbus, Ohio, was offered a promotion that required her to relocate from New York, she balked at the idea of moving—even though the new position would benefit her career. With multigenerational roots in Brooklyn, it was difficult for her to envision her family transplanted to the bucolic suburbs of a city they’d never even visited.

After much introspection and a hard look at career prospects and lifestyle priorities, she changed her tune. “I’d been considering leaving New York because I was tired of paying top dollar for a mediocre lifestyle. Working to pay bills and always having to catch up was overwhelming.”

With Haynes’ promotion came greater project management opportunities. The company also sweetened the deal by giving her a three-month trial period during which she would return home on weekends.

Before you accept your company’s relocation offer, here are a few considerations:

Look beyond the package. Most companies provide a generous relocation package in addition to helpful resources and information to help you get settled in your new city. Haynes was unable to disclose the confidential terms of her package but she says relocation was covered in full and her personal expenses were minimal. She received personal home-finding assistance, financial assistance, and a short-term car rental, to name a few.

But once you move, you have to live. Lisa J. Whaley, life/career coach and founder of Woodbridge, Virginia-based Life Work Synergy, advises, “Fully assess if you can afford the lifestyle you’re accustomed to or desire after the dust settles. This means an unflinching comparison between the cost of living in the new town and the old.”

Though Haynes found a two-bedroom townhouse with full amenities for $955, there was no public transportation between her home in the suburb of Gahanna and her job in Reynoldsburg. And since she didn’t have a car, the 15-minute taxi ride to and from work cost her $35 each way. Some additional costs to consider are single-handedly footing household expenses until your spouse secures a new job and possible private school tuition for your children.

Read the fine print. Andrea Bradford, senior vice president, organizational consultant of Right Management, says there are costs and clauses that can affect your budget and quality of living. “Be sure to check the process and length of time for reimbursement. Some companies take several months—which might mean keeping furniture in storage longer, renting longer than you anticipated, or living out of suitcases for a while.” Whaley suggests looking for clauses or conditions that make you liable for expenses if you leave within a certain period.

Always negotioate. “Don’t be afraid to ask for something that’s not included,” Whaley adds, “such as additional time to get settled, or if the company can purchase your home if it doesn’t sell quickly.”

Understand the impact on your family. “Be realistic about the effect,” Whaley advises, “because no matter how great the job or how much money you’ll make, an unhappy child will have great repercussions on the family.”

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