The Cost of Relocating
Last summer, Ingrid Parl packed her bags and drove cross-country for a new job.
The 23-year-old had landed a spot in a two-year rotational program at an investment-management firm in Los Angeles that would lead to travel opportunities and international experience.
“Any opportunity to have more of a global understanding is incredibly helpful, especially in today’s environment,” she says.
Relocating for a job can be a great career move for someone starting out. And with the still-high unemployment rate, more young job seekers are willing to expand the geographic parameters of their searches. According to a survey by consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 9.4% of job seekers relocated for new jobs in the first half of 2011, up from 7.6% a year earlier.
But a move to a different city, state or country can be complicated, with many factors to consider — such as what, if anything, a company will pay to help you move, the cost of living when you get there and if you can adapt to the new culture.
First, you need to consider what career-advancement opportunities may be available beyond the specific job you are considering. You don’t want to move to a new location and find that the job is a dead end. Or, if the job doesn’t work out, that you can’t find other employment in your field.
Once you’ve narrowed down a job and location, it’s time to find out if the company will pay for you to get there. With all the belt-tightening over the past few years, companies are less generous when it comes to covering relocation costs. If you’re being recruited and were asked to move, relocation costs should be a part of your sign-on package. What is covered — and how much — varies by company. But businesses typically pay for moving costs and temporary housing. If you’re taking the initiative to move, your relocation costs likely won’t be covered. Still, you can ask if the employer will pay for at least transportation expenses, such as airfare or gas.
Companies recruiting nationally for positions in engineering, IT or financial services are more likely to cover relocation costs than for administrative or entry-level positions where they can hire locally, says Steven Kane, a human-resources expert in Hillsborough, Calif.
If you’re paying relocation costs upfront and getting reimbursed, be sure to keep all paperwork, receipts and deposit details. If you’re footing the bill, you may be able to deduct some expenses on your taxes. Go to the Internal Revenue Service site (www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc455.html) for more information.
You should take into account not just moving costs, but also how much it will cost you to live in a specific city. Research costs for housing, utilities, transportation, food and even health care, which can vary by state, says Bert Sperling, president of Sperling’s Best Places, a cost-of-living research firm in Portland, Ore.
James Plummer had to consider those expenses when he moved from Charleston, S.C., to San Francisco three months ago to take a position as a user experience designer at Google. Since the 27-year-old was recruited, he was offered a package that included relocation reimbursements. But Mr. Plummer did online research to compare cost-of-living changes such as rent.
Since twentysomethings often relocate alone, it’s also important to think about building a new social network and support system. When Ms. Parl moved to California she lived with a college friend and joined a few soccer leagues. “I had three days a week of organized social activity,” she says.