My employer has created family uncertainty asking us to move across the country. We have never done this before. What is your advice?

November 17, 2011

So, you’ve been transferred. While the relocation counselors that assist with your relocation have specialized training to manage your move, they are not the end-all authority with real estate advice. Here are our thoughts about a path for you to consider.

© 2015 Richard MontgomeryWhen you have been transferred, seek out the person that administers your relocation benefit immediately on notification of the new assignment. Do not depend on the water cooler talk with other employees as it may result in misunderstandings or miscommunications. The water cooler is not aware of a variety of internal and external communications that can affect timing, conditions of the benefit and implementation.

Verify your benefits

The common denominator with relocation policy is the basic fact they are a benefit. Corporate relocation policies are not one size fits all. The benefits vary widely by company, by industry, by company size and company culture. There are many factors considered in policy design. The company devotes both human and financial capital to manage the relocation process. Competition for human capital, level of responsibilities and other factors also play a role in policy design. Relocation policy is often “tiered” as employee circumstances vary widely within an organization.

Most companies have a written policy that describe the relocation benefit and the parameters that encompass your qualification for inclusion. Obtain a copy and arrange to meet with your human resource administrator after reading the policy. They will be able to answer your questions correctly. Consider starting a notebook because the process often involves a wide variety of tasks and deadlines.

The role of the relocation company

Your employer contracts with an outside relocation company to advise about and manage the upcoming move. The relocation company services are different from the services of your local real estate brokerage company. The relocation companies provide highly detailed instructions and checklists to follow throughout the process. The actual work in showing homes in the new location and the sale of your “old” home is where the local real estate agent takes over. Your employer recognizes the complexities of managing long distance relocations and utilizes relocation companies to facilitate the process. They are a liaison to guide both you and the real estate agent from beginning to end.

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 may want to check out other sites.  

Cost of living comparison:

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/

http://swz.salary.com/CostOfLivingWizard/LayoutScripts/Coll_Start.aspx

Demographic differences:

http://zipwho.com/

http://www.city-data.com/

http://www.census.gov/cbdmap/

Community history and information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

http://www.britannica.com

http://www.tripadvisor.com/

When at all possible, before accepting the relocation, take a family trip to the new location. This trip is especially helpful if you are not familiar with the community. 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.

Check out Dear Monty.com

Following the advice Dear Monty provides about the real estate process when buying and selling real estate is a valuable resource for transferees. The company human resource contact and the relocation counselor are not the end-all authority with real estate advice which is one reason they use a local real estate agent. In fact, relocation companies can unwittingly be the perpetuator of some of real estate’s biggest myths.

For example, Dear Monty recommends interviewing three agents with three different real estate companies before settling on an agent. This advice holds especially true when moving to a new community. Your relocation counselor may only suggests only one company and one agent. Our experience is that interviewing three agents allows you an informed choice in an important decision. Real estate experts agree that your choice of real estate agents can affect the quality of your real estate experience. Ask the relocation counselor if they have agent options to consider. Also, ask if you can identify an agent utilizing your resources.

Our observations as both a relocation company and as a real estate agent on the receiving end of relocation referrals provided insights rarely experienced in real estate. Whether this is your first move, or you have relocated multiple times, we are confident the information contained on this website provides vital and valuable information.