I am considering a new (IT) job that would involve relocating to a different state and would like the company to help with the relocating costs.

Is there any difference between them paying for a relocation vs giving me roughly the same amount as a sign-on bonus? Should I ask for both? Should I ask for one instead of the other?

edit: more info

this is for a full-time employee (non-contract) position in a fairly large company (~8000 employees)

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    Keep in mind that you have to pay taxes on the relocation costs. The amount the company pays counts as income to you.
    – Dunk
    Jul 22, 2014 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


is there any difference between them paying for a relocation vs giving me roughly the same amount as a sign-on bonus?

It depends. Some companies will allow relocation but not have sign-on bonuses. If you are hiring as full-time vs contract this increases your liklihood for receiving relocation.

Generally, a relocation assistance package is intended to cover relocation costs. Many people can make considerable money on relocation however depending on your current living expenses. These are also subject to IRS regulations (in the USA).

A sign on bonus is normally more intended to sweeten the deal or convince the candidate to accept the offer.

Broadly speaking, a signon bonus is something a manager would likely initiate. Relocation is more likely to be standard for the company.

Neither of these are mutually exclusive.

Should I ask for both? should I ask for one instead of the other?

If you do ask for both, I would ask for a signing bonus first. It is far more likely you will receive a relocation assistance package as standard from a company - especially larger companies.

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    One thing I'll mention from personal experience: when I requested moving assistance, I was instead offered a signing bonus. When I inquired as to why, I was told there are tax implications for relo assistance that are not applicable for signing bonuses. Jul 22, 2014 at 15:30
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    These sort of bonus payments CAN place you into other income brackets. So be prepared for the additional costs at the end of the year during tax season. You still have to pay income tax ( USA ) on any income, so I am not sure, if the tax imlications are any different. The best way is to submit the costs directly to the company, if that happens, the tax implications have already been paid for and your just paid back on those expenses.
    – Donald
    Jul 23, 2014 at 11:40

is there any difference between them paying for a relocation vs giving me roughly the same amount as a sign-on bonus?

Often these are budgeted differently, so that is one difference from a company point of view.

Some companies standard practices grant one of these costs and not another. For example, my company sometimes pays relocation expenses. As far as I can tell, they never pay sign-on bonuses.

From your point of view, I think one-time money is just money.

As @Ida correctly points out, some companies (particularly large companies) offer relocation assistance on a regular basis - sometimes to the point of having a contracted rate for those services. In that case, it's not money - just the service - that you receive.

If you don't know the company's standard practices in this area, you could always ask for both. (It seldom hurts to ask.)

How far you want to press the issues is very context-dependent. You may be in a very high-demand industry, or may individually be a very desirable candidate - someone at whom companies will throw money.

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    For a very large company, they may also offer specific relocation help (such as movers) where they have negotiated a bulk rate - so you don't get to choose how the money is spend. Usually companies will note that 'relocation provided' in job adds though. You will still be taxed on the 'value' of the service, though.
    – Ida
    Jul 22, 2014 at 16:32

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