Negotiate Before You Relocate: A Guide for Clueless Millennials

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The good news is that the economy is projected to generate 2.6 million jobs in 2014, according to USA Today. The bad news is they’re located all across the country, which means job relocations are likely to increase as well. Actually, moving might not be a totally bad thing for a newly employed millennial, but lacking experience in relocation negotiation could make you end up with the short end of the stick.

Couple lack of experience with the hopeless idealism of youth and you’ll end up in a situation where adjusting takes six months. But let’s rewind. Your boss recently asked you to relocate. Here’s what to do:

1. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?”

The only way to determine what an appropriate job relocation package would include is to weigh it with the advantages you’ll have from the move. Figure out the difference and come up with your compensation requests from there.

2. Research your (potential) new home.

Sure, there are some places that you’ll immediate know will add to your expenses (New York City, San Francisco), but you may be assigned to a city where the cost of living isn’t all that obvious. Even if you have a ballpark idea of the cost of living in a proposed city, calculate precise figures before going in to negotiate. Numbeo is an excellent resource for sorting out the details, since the site reports not just mortgages and taxes, but minute details like the cost of a gym membership and a carton of eggs.

3. Consider short-term and long-term housing options.

If you’re single without any children in tow, it’s usually more practical and economic to look for apartment housing. If you’re curious about median gross rent prices in a particular location, such as Raleigh, N.C., which in 2012 was $877, you can do research online at the Department of Numbers. You not only want to find out the cost of rent and utilities, but also the safety ratings, nearby businesses and aesthetic concerns. Avoid Craigslist and opt for quality, trustworthy rental sites. For example, if you want to find Raleigh apartments at ForRent.com, you could narrow your search to specific pet policies and the presence of a home alarm system.

4. Know what to expect.

Recent college graduates can be clueless when it comes to measuring adequate compensation. Moreover, millennials live in an age where the news headlines make them feel lucky that they even have a job at all. Of course, it’s always good to be humble and flexible, but you should still have a good idea about how this kind of thing usually works. Find out the company’s policy on relocations. These won’t typically be advertised overtly, so contact higher authorities at your business to get a copy.

You also can simply ask around. Have any of your co-workers ever had to relocate at this company or another? If you know someone else in the company who also was asked to relocate, find out what his strategy is and keep it in mind. In addition to understanding the specific details of the company itself, you also should compare your relocation package to those in and outside of your industry.

According to Jill Heineck, a relocation expert, the average cost for a full relocation is $97,166 for a current employee and $72,672 for a new hire homeowner. What do these costs account for? A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management reported the following:

  • 29 percent of companies offer a lump sum
  • 19 percent reimburse employees for shipping fees
  • 12 percent compensate for your spouse’s relocation
  • 6 percent reimburse the loss of a home sale
  • 3 percent offer assistance with a new mortgage

5. Be confident and honest about your concerns.

Your employer may have an interest in saving as much money as possible, but she also values employee satisfaction. Come with suggestions and make the negotiation a collaborative, problem-solving process, rather than an argument.