Job Relocation Basics

Employers move about 800,000 households in the United States each year. The type of relocation package you receive from your employer—whether you're being transferred or newly hired—depends on how badly the company wants you, the size of the company, or its policy for your job level.

Getting the most from your employer's relocation program starts by looking at the benefits that other companies offer. This information might help you negotiate a better package.

Here’s how a good relocation program should work:

An assigned relocation counselor: First, someone in the human resources department will give you a copy of the company's relocation policy and discuss the relocation schedule. They should assign you a personal relocation counselor who will answer questions about finances and other concerns you might have. Covering Your House-Hunting Costs: About 46 percent of companies pay for one house-hunting trip to the new city and 49 percent cover two or more trips.

Selling your current home: Nearly all companies will help if you have trouble selling your house. Your employer might buy the house at market value, or more typically, contract with a professional relocation company to buy and resell your home. The price is usually derived from the average of three appraisals. They also require home inspections and may deduct for major problems like termites and such.

Covering your closing costs: Most moving companies cover normal closing costs of buying a home but typically limit coverage to employees who are prior homeowners or those at certain job levels.

Finding the best schools: Either your company's relocation counselor or real estate companies you normally work with will provide information on local schools.

Job placement for your spouse: About half of U.S. moving companies offer employment assistance to spouses, usually through an outside job-placement agency. About one-quarter of companies offer employment assistance to unmarried partners under formal company policies; 19 percent more do that on a case-by-case basis.

Elderly care and day care: You might not find these in typical relocation policies, but employers are becoming more flexible about such quality-of-life issues.

Temporary housing: Most companies will cover costs of temporary housing while you are in the middle of your relocation.

Covering Moving Costs: Most company-paid moves include shipping, packing, unpacking, storage and other costs charged by the moving companies.

Other perks: Many moving companies offer one month's salary to cover costs such as appliance installations and auto registration. Most don't require itemized receipts. If you have moving expenses that are not covered, save the records for tax purposes.

Online help: Some companies might offer a Web site where you can find current information about home buying and selling status, moving dates, progress of shipments, utility hookups and other service connections.