My relocation brings a pay raise, if I move across the country. I need some advice.

March 30, 2015

A relocation brings a pay raise to about two hundred-fifty thousand Fortune 500 company employees every year. When you have a family it can also bring challenges.

© 2015 Richard Montgomery

Reader Question: My relocation brings a pay raise and more opportunities, but because it involves a cross-country move, I am expecting this news will be unsettling to my family. Any insights on how to proceed are appreciated? James W.

Monty’s Answer: It is normal that your family may be unsettled by this news. They are all living their own lives and the thought of a move will bring questions. There are many factors to be considered for both you and your family. For example, you may want to determine if the pay raise meets the difference in the cost-of-living between the locations. Your spouse and children will have their own measurements to consider based on their activities. Here is a path for you to consider.

Go to the source

Seek out the person that administers the company’s relocation benefit immediately. Do not depend on the water cooler talk with other employees as it may result in misunderstandings. The water cooler is not aware of a variety of internal and external communications that can affect timing, conditions of the benefit and implementation. Relocation policies are not one size fits all. Policy is often “tiered” as employee circumstances vary widely within an organization.

Verify your benefits

Most companies have a written policy that describe the relocation benefit and where you fit in the benefit package. Obtain a copy, read the policy and arrange to meet with your human resource administrator. They will be able to answer your questions correctly. Start a notebook because the process involves a wide variety of tasks and deadlines.

The role of the relocation company

Many employers contract with an outside relocation company to advise about and manage the upcoming move. The relocation company will provide highly detailed instructions and checklists to follow throughout the process, which is complicated on the accounting and taxation side. Other companies manage the process internally through their tax or human resource department. In either case, the company’s designated point person is a liaison to guide both you and the local real estate agents through the entire process.

Talk with your family

By involving the entire family with the relocation decision you increase the chances of a successful move. Knowing about the new location, the school systems and opportunities for other family members reduce the chance of a “failed relocation,” which do happen. A failed relocation takes place when a family member is not happy in the new environment. It could be you, your spouse, your children or some combination of the three. The result of a failed relocation can be devastating, and expensive. Avoiding a failed relocation is one good reason to get everyone at home involved in the process early.

A relocation can be a great opportunity

There are many positive aspects to relocating for the entire family. Advancement within the company, a pay raise, better employment opportunities for the “trailing spouse” are just a few of the possibilities. Children can experience additional, or even improved, choices for scholastic, sports, extracurricular activities, hobbies or adventure in the new location. Many families view a relocation as a great way to see the country in slow motion.

Get some facts about the destination

There are many websites offering relocation information. Here are a few resources to utilize and gather information about the destination city or area where you are moving. You should check out other sites as well.

Cost of living: http://cnnmon.ie/1cx2PLW;   http://bit.ly/1wO6KTN;   http://bit.ly/1a9br25

Demographic: http://zipwho.com/;   http://bit.ly/1mpwnFb;   http://1.usa.gov/1BIHwUZ

Community: http://bit.ly/IKj5lU;   http://bit.ly/1ooes3m;   http://bit.ly/1iWE97w

When at all possible, before accepting the relocation, take a family house hunting trip to the new location. The entire family can experience the new community firsthand. In some cases, the relocation benefit may cover part or all of the cost of such a trip. It is a question to be sure to ask your relocation counselor.

Trust, but verify

Advice such as Dear Monty provides about the real estate process when buying and selling real estate is a valuable resource for transferees. While the company’s point person knows their relocation policy, they are not the end-all authority with real estate advice. In fact, relocation companies can unwittingly be the perpetual source of some of real estate’s biggest myths.