The Employment Clinic
By Lawrence Alter
You’ve just received a wonderful new job offer or your current employer has offered you a promotion. The money is great, the benefits outstanding, but you will need to relocate to another state.
Any job that requires relocation necessitates proper due diligence. You will want to determine the financial stability of the new employer. You should make sure that the area in which you will be living is comfortable for your family. What is the employer willing to do to assist you in your relocation? Are they willing to pick up the full cost of your moving expenses including packing and unpacking, and if necessary vehicle transportation? Will the company allow you and your wife to take a few trips to find the best area in which to live, investigate school systems, and arrange for the purchase or rental of a new home? Do they have a realtor who they use to assist employees in finding a new residence and show them the lay of the land? Will they arrange and pay for interim living accommodations until such time as you have found a new home? Ask whether they would be willing to pay points or provide a no-interest bridge loan on the purchase of a new house – until your home has sold. If your existing home does not sell within a reasonable period of time, would they be willing to purchase it? These questions need to be answered before you accept a position – not afterwards when you have no negotiating leverage.
Hindsight is a wonderful teacher. So do your research in advance and be informed about the following:
- Investigate the cost of living. A $60,000 salary may be comfortable in the Twin Cities, increase your standard of living in Arizona, or by contrast, barely allow you to survive in San Francisco or Manhattan. Cost of living includes housing, energy costs, local and state taxes, medical and insurance costs, etc. If you own a home in Eden Prairie that is worth $300,000, it may cost you $750,000 to replace it in a similar neighborhood in the Bay area. Make sure that if the employer offers a $60,000 salary that it does not have only $45,000 of buying power in your new location. Monster.com and Homefair.com are two websites that can assist you to determine cost of living differences.
- Investigate the climate, the school districts, and the community. You and your family need to be comfortable. If you enjoy seasons or find hot weather challenging, you may not wish to look at Phoenix as your new home. Is this a white or blue collar community? What is the reputation of the educational system, and will your local school district be a quality operation or would you want your children attending a private school? What about the city’s transportation and cultural offerings? Again be informed. Quality of life should be a primary consideration.
- Investigate the neighborhood. Once you have found an appropriate home, you should want to meet some of your neighbors. It is always distasteful to live next to someone who may be very unpleasant or not share your community values. If you have children, are there playgrounds, planned activities, local child-care facilities, etc. Check on the crime level, the location of the closest hospital and 24-hour clinic, and if you are living in an Association Maintained Community – meet one or two board members and read the bylaws so there are no unpleasant surprises when you decide to put up a flagpole or add a storm door.
- Negotiate your income and relocation package. Websites such as Salary.com, Careerjournal.com, and Dice.com can help you determine what your skills are worth in many geographical areas as an aid in assessing the fairness of the compensation being offered. Will a company be willing to adjust income or provide some other type of compensation to offset the difference in housing costs? Would they be willing to pay a hiring bonus as an incentive to relocate to a less desirable area? Is there some type of Spousal Transplacement allowance to help your spouse find new employment? Some companies will give you a credit card with a preset spending allowance to cover many of the costs associated with relocation so you don’t have to front your own money. Is it possible to negotiate a written agreement or severance package as a contingency if your new position does not work out.
- All commitments must be in writing. All elements of the offer including salary, incentive compensation, relocation package, benefits, any special considerations, severance agreements, etc. should be provided to you in writing on corporate letterhead.
Relocation is stressful. Having all the information eliminates confusion and usually results in a more informed decision.
"Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques. Send ideas or questions via email to: LDA@EmploymentClinic.com. Website address: www.EmploymentClinic.com