Avoiding the moving blues

You've finally landed that new CIO job you've dreamed about. The only problem is that the job is 1,000 miles from where you live now. Rita Osborn offers some tips to making the relocation go smoothly.

Your boss has just offered you the promotion with the triple-digit raise you've been coveting for the last two years. It requires pulling up stakes and moving to a large city 1,000 miles away. You're excited and overwhelmed, and as the panic sets in you ask yourself, "Where do I begin?"

According to relocation expert Carolyn Janik's Positive Moves, the first step is to ask for your company's relocation policies and determine what your company will assist with and what you must handle yourself. A 1999 survey by the Employee Relocation Council (ERC) found that the average cost for relocating current home-owning employees is $53,686; the concurrent cost for employees who are renting is $15,604. For home-owning new hires, the cost is $40,676; it’s $11,491 for new hires who are renting.

What can those negotiated costs involve? Janik says they include assistance with:
  • Sale of your home (commissions, appraisals, unexpected profit protection)
  • Locating, renting, or purchasing a home (relocation counseling, house-hunting trips, agent's fees, home inspection fees, interest rates, closing costs, interest-free bridge loans, decorating allowances, temporary housing costs)
  • Relocating an employed spouse (job placement assistance, networking sources, resume assistance)
  • Moving, transportation, insurance, and storage costs (also, who chooses the moving company, and who pays to ship the pets and/or the second car?)

Suppose your company doesn't offer any moving perks, or only limited assistance. Don't panic! There are resources to assist you, and many are free or available at minimal cost.

Relocation companies can be found nationwide, with some deriving their consulting fees from referrals and advertisers rather than from clients. Others' rates may depend on the breadth of services and the region(s) involved. However, Janik recommends seeking help to preserve both your money and your happiness. Begin with the local Yellow Pages, or ask friends for referrals. Competition is great among relocation specialists, so shop around.

Another excellent resource for anyone planning a major move is Beverly Roman's The Insiders' Guide to Relocation, which offers 192 pages of comprehensive advice and relocation tips. Topics include everything from buying a new home to spouse relocation to moving your kids, pets, and plants to international moves. You can also find much of Roman's information at Insiders’ Guide Online .

Myra Ford, of ReMax Realtors, suggests that you:
  • Interview several realtors, then choose one with whom you are comfortable from your new city. Give your requirements and price range, and then let him or her do your legwork. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a realtor with your organization’s chosen relocation company as long as your realtor agrees to pay the fee to that relocation company.
  • The peak moving season is between May and September, so if you plan to relocate during this time, schedule a mover several months in advance.
  • Movers' rates are always higher on the weekends, particularly the last weekend of the month.

Moving your valuables
Moving household goods is the most expensive part of relocating, says Joanna Phillips of The Alternative Relocation Management Company. "Cheap is not always better. Stay with a reputable company," she suggests.

Phillips also advises to be careful trying to cut costs by doing your own packing because movers are not liable for breakage except if there is damage to the box. Unless you purchase "valuation coverage," a mover's damage obligation is limited to 60 cents a pound. If your computer weighs 20 pounds, that’s only $12! Phillips highly recommends valuation coverage. (In the relocation industry, it's not referred to as "insurance.")

The physical aspect of moving challenges the most seasoned veteran, but relocation also takes a psychological toll. Smart Moves: Your Guide through the Emotional Maze of Relocation examines the transitions related to relocating—the grief issues, social and cultural adjustments, and stress on relationships—for both adults and children. Using an interactive, workbook approach, the authors guide you step-by-step through all these issues and provide suggestions for easing the transition, especially for children.

If you want to turn to the Internet for relocation resources, here are some suggested sites:
  • U.S. Postal Service’s MoversNet —Tips on packing and moving; maps and travel routes; changing government information; a checklist for after the move.
  • Virtual —Everything from locating a mover and realtor to doing a cost-of-living analysis; contains links to many other relocation information sites.
  • America Mortgage Online —From figuring mortgage costs to a time line checklist for moving; includes mortgage rates, loan sources, calculators for payments and mortgage amortization, and credit and lender information.

So whether it's your first move or your tenth, according to the ERC survey, you are among the average 210 current employees and 99 new hires that domestic companies will relocate this year. Isn't it comforting to know that you aren’t alone?

Rita Osborn is a writer and editor. She is a former public relations and marketing consultant who has written exclusively for business and print media. Rita is currently working on her first book.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox