In an ideal world, you’ll be granted the best, most generous relocation package that corporate America has to offer. Moving costs, a housing allowance, a signing bonus, and spousal/child relocation support will be yours for the taking, helping your whole family to make the transition with no stress and low out-of-pocket costs.
If you’re making a corporate relocation sometime soon, it’s likely that you have a part of the benefits listed above (or maybe even all of them, which would be great!). However, you might be surprised at the hidden costs of a corporate relocation—especially if you’re moving somewhere you aren’t familiar with.
> Temporary Housing: Sure, you can rent or buy a place sight-unseen, but chances are you’ll end up in a bad neighborhood or with a long commute that makes getting to work every day a grind. Most people move to a temporary home for a few weeks or months while they get to know a new city and examine the housing landscape. This means additional rents, moving your belongings multiple times, hiring temporary storage, and being unable to fully unpack right away (which typically translates to more meals outside of the home). All of these costs can quickly add up.
> Trips to and From the Destination: If you have never been to your relocation city before, you’ll want to visit before you agree to the move. Your family might also wish to accompany you. One trip will make you a tourist; two will give you a chance to get to know the area. However, by the time you do your home search and get everything settled, you’re likely to become a frequent flier. These airline miles and/or gas-fueled road trips can add up.
> Lost Productivity: Relocating anywhere takes up a huge chunk of your time; moving somewhere new and unfamiliar is even more time-consuming. You might not be prepared to budget for quite how much time, stress, and effort will be required before you finally feel “settled.” This can lead to lost productivity at work, which, if you work on commission, can directly translate to your income.
> Local Transportation: Chances are you’ve worked out all the kinks in your daily drive at your current home/place employment. You know when to leave for work, what roads to take, and what kind of public transportation options are best. You’ve adjusted your home life to fit your work life to maximize the amount of free time you have while minimizing your costs. In a new, unfamiliar city, you’ll have to start all that over again.
> Trips Home: Another cost you might not be anticipating is related to traveling back home for work, for play, or for homesickness. It’s difficult to completely sever ties to an old home, especially if you have family or close friends in the area. You may end up spending quite a bit of your new income on regular flights back for holidays and/or special occasions.
Although working for a supportive company is a great first step, there’s rarely a guarantee that your entire move will be covered from a financial perspective. Expect there to be hidden costs and build in a monetary cushion, and you’re more likely to enjoy the whole experience.