One of the biggest concerns for anyone considering a corporate relocation or change of job is the real estate market in the destination city. After all, you’re packing up your household and family and moving them to an entirely new location… What if there isn’t anywhere to live? What if you can’t afford the rents? What if you prefer to buy instead of rent your home?
Before you say yes to that corporate relocation offer, here are a few things to consider about the housing market you’ll be trying to break into.
> Length of Relocation: Some promotions/job changes are permanent ones; others are temporary or don’t fit into your long-term goals. If you don’t love the idea of buying a new home only to turn around and sell it in a few years, you may look to rent instead of buy. If this is the case, you’ll want to pay much more attention to the local rental market.
> Current Ownership Situation: If you currently own your home and are considering a relocation, you might be facing the monumental task of selling a house in one city while buying another somewhere else. Many people find that it’s easier to rent an apartment or house while you wait for the first to close – and this has the added benefit of allowing you to get to know your new city for a few months so you can choose the best neighborhood for your family.
> Employer Assistance: Many companies will help you cover the cost of moving to a new home, up to and including covering all your moving costs and/or providing a housing stipend. While this can be a great incentive, be sure and look at the difference in housing costs. California, for example, is known for its huge rents and home prices, so even a stipend might not cover everything.
> Furnishing Options: If you do a lot of traveling and moving (or if you’re headed overseas), it might make more sense to rent or buy a furnished home instead of packing up and shipping your own goods. Cities with high rates of relocation tend to offer more in the way of furnished homes and apartments, but you’ll want to check to see what’s available before you sell or give away all your stuff.
> Changes over Time: The real estate market is always changing, which means that in order to see a profit on your investment, you may need to give your home purchase a few years (or even a few decades) to settle in. Work with a real estate agent and/or financial planner who knows the area and can look at changes over time – it may be a good time to buy or a good time to wait, and you want someone who can advise you accordingly.
Most relocation experts also suggest that you avoid renting or buying any sort of residence sight-unseen. Until you get to know a city’s neighborhoods and general pricing structure, it’s hard to know what’s going to end up being right for your family. Even if that means you have to move your belongings into storage and spend a few months renting, most people find that it’s better to wait and be sure of the housing market rather than jump in and regret your choice.