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I have received an offer for a company, and on the company website, it says they provide relocation assistance under the benefits section. When I received the job offer, he never mentioned relocation assistance. I would be moving three hours away and need to rent a truck to move.

If he did not mention it during the job offer, does that mean I do not get relocation assistance? Is renting a truck involved in relocation assistance? What about a security deposit on an apartment? I don't want to ask for too much and have never had to negotiate relocating before. It would determine whether I lived in a dump or a nice apartment/house.

What typically can be included in relocation assistance? What should I do to confirm what assistance I'll get?

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17  
Ask them. No two companies offer the same thing and there is no standard for "relocation assistance". I would also expect it depends on the kinds of assistance the individual requires. –  Oded Jan 18 '13 at 16:11
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Ask, as it can entail just about anything related to your move, including the purchase of your home in the area you are leaving. (Caveat: the employer buying your old home is rare, but not unheard of, IME.) –  GreenMatt Feb 15 '13 at 20:25

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Definitely a point you can ask with no concern about sounding crazy. It's highly variable.

Relocation assistance typically covers two factors:

  • how far away you are relocating (generally in distance, not drive time)

  • a variety of elements paid for the company

Distance

There's usually a minimum. In practice, I've noticed that it will be somewhat defined around campuses - for example, companies I've worked for with a 45 minute drive between two campuses would manage a relocation distance requirement that meant that the company would NOT pay just because you moved between these two nearby campuses. The details of whether they mean distance moved in terms of home or place of employment is another thing to ask about.

Coverage

I've seen relocation include:

  • cost of transporting your typical belongings between the locations - whether that's renting a van and doing it yourself or paying movers. Having worked in big corporations in the US, I found movers to the be typical expectation, but your mileage may vary.

  • affiliated costs with leaving and procuring a new dwelling - rental or real estate agent fees, sometimes security deposits, especially anything having to do with accelerating the process (like losing a security deposit on your old apartment because your are breaking your lease).

  • transport for yourself - if you don't have a car, or if your car is being moved as part of the relocation (usually for distances over a certain size), may also include your family.

Luxury items are more problematic and much more a factor of the given company. I was amused many years ago by all the "we won't cover this" clauses in a relocation agreement I signed a while back. It excluded boats and other personal conveyances beyond cars as well as pets.

They can get very specific, so it's good to know the deal before you book your move.

I wouldn't try to interpret the hiring manager's lack of mentioning this one way or the other... in a big company, it's not something the hiring manager knows a lot about and he may have assumed HR was going to cover it. Or he could have simply forgotten.

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+1 for the distance requirement. This might even be a federal standard in the USA, as every time I have heard a specific number for this it has always been 50 miles. –  enderland Jan 18 '13 at 16:44
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Additionally, please be aware that for a given company (such as mine), relocation assistance may be offered for some positions but not others, even if the circumstances of the relocation are the same. –  JAGAnalyst Jan 18 '13 at 18:57
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As usual, federal regulations won't prevent a company from paying you relocation, or force them to do it. But it might affect whether they are taxable. –  DJClayworth Jan 18 '13 at 22:17

Besides asking if your company will pay moving expenses, there are tax implications Covered in tax publication 521 - Moving expenses.

If they don't reimburse your expenses there are some costs you can deduct. If they do reimburse the publication discuss what items would be taxable, and how to declare.

The publication also discusses the distance test.

Your move will meet the distance test if your new main job location is at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your old main job location was from your former home. For example, if your old main job location was 3 miles from your former home, your new main job location must be at least 53 miles from that former home. You can use Worksheet 1 to see if you meet this test.

Deductability hinges on if the plan is Accountable or nonaccountable:

To be an accountable plan, your employer's reimbursement arrangement must require you to meet all three of the following rules.

  • Your expenses must have a business connection – that is, you must have paid or incurred deductible expenses while performing services as an employee of your employer. Two examples of this are the reasonable expenses of moving your possessions from your former home to your new home, and traveling from your former home to your new home.>

  • You must adequately account to your employer for these expenses within a reasonable period of time.

  • You must return any excess reimbursement or allowance within a reasonable period of time.

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You should absolutely ask about it. Mention that you saw on the website that the company provides relocation assistance, and ask what the details are and if they would provide you with the assistance.

When I received the offer for my current position, no mention was made of relocation assistance (and none of my coworkers were aware of it either!). I found out somewhere (most likely the web site or some benefits flyer I got at the interview or as part of an informational packet), and asked the HR person about it. The response I got was along the lines of "it looks like you qualify (distance), let's see if we can get the money approved", followed a day or two later by "here's your relocation assistance".

The actual relocation was contracted out to a relocation company, so if you're looking for a general guideline of what to expect, I'd suggest searching the internet for such companies to see what they offer (although the most accurate/informative way to find out is from the company making the offer).

Things that I recall were available through my relocation package included:

  • temporary housing near the employment location (choice between hotel or furnished apartment)
  • access to a realtor (to help find a permanent place)
  • a chunk of spending cash (not sure how common this would actually be)
  • covering/assisting with costs associated with selling a house or breaking a lease
  • shipping of household items.

I didn't have need of all of them, but it was nice to have the option open.

One potential thing you may have to consider: some companies may just pay the cost for this upfront, but it's also likely that since they are making a bigger initial investment in you, they'll require that you pay back some (or all) of their costs related to relocation if you leave the company within a certain time frame (6 months, 1 year, or similar, probably depending on their costs).

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Generally if there is relocation assistance prior to the offer it will be included in the offer letter. What is offered varies. Some companies have a calculated allowance; some companies will reimburse for actual expenses; and other companies will pay for movers to come in, pack up your house, and move you to a new home and purchase your old home for market value. But to find out the specifics you will need to ask your company.

Many companies have taken to a policy of reimbursing for relocation expenses after a certain number of days in employ, usually 90 or 180 days. Generally if relocation will be offered it is discussed prior to accepting the position. I would ask them about this before you start or you are liable to find that it will not be offered to you.

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