How to Negotiate a Relocation Package

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If you're considering a move abroad, the best way to ensure a stress-free move is by landing a job with a company that offers relocation assistance. With the Employee Relocation Services industry expected to grow by 1.2% in 2024, it's clear that more and more of us are taking the plunge and moving for work.

Europe is quickly becoming a hotspot, eyeing over 25.2% of the market share in 2023 due to its attractive job market for expats​​. Meanwhile, North America still remains the biggest player, holding more than 41% of the market, thanks to a high volume of corporate moves and a wealth of relocation services​​. Then comes the Asia Pacific region, the fastest-growing market with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 22.3%, powered by economic booms in countries like China, India, and Singapore​​.

But here's the catch: while relocating is enticing, negotiating your relocation package can be daunting. But, lucky for you, this article simplifies that process. We'll arm you with actionable steps and insights to ensure you secure a relocation package that suits your needs. So, let's dive in and prepare you for your upcoming move.


What is a relocation package?

A relocation package is your compensation for moving, provided by your employer to help make the transition to your new job location smoother. Think of it as a bundle of support services and financial aid designed to cover the costs and logistical headaches associated with moving for work. Depending on the company — and your negotiation skills — these packages can vary greatly, from a simple lump sum payment to a comprehensive package of services and aid.

At the heart of it, basic packages usually cover the essentials: think of visa support to ensure you're legally allowed to work in your new country and moving expenses to transport your belongings from A to B. These are your foundational blocks, ensuring you can legally enter and settle in your new home.

On the flip side, advanced packages are like the deluxe version of relocation assistance. They go above and beyond, offering housing assistance to help you find a place to live — sometimes covering real estate agent fees or temporary accommodation until you find your feet. There's also adaptation aid, which can include anything from language classes to help you blend in faster to cultural training that eases your transition into a new way of life.


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Why should you negotiate?

Negotiating your relocation package involves ensuring it thoroughly supports your move, demonstrating your value to the company, and setting yourself up successfully in your new role. Be aware that some companies might initially offer limited support, such as only providing visa assistance. The richness of your package can depend significantly on how much the company needs you and your negotiating skills.

It's common for HR departments and companies to offer the basics first. It falls on you to request more comprehensive support that meets all your needs. If you're in a position where the company is eager to have you, you'll likely have the leverage to enhance your relocation package.

So, when you are preparing for this phase, keep the following in mind:


Before you begin: Research and preparation

Prepare yourself for the negotiation process by following these steps:


Step 1: Understand standard packages

Industry norms: Start by exploring the typical components included in relocation packages within your industry. These often cover essentials such as moving costs and visa assistance.

Role-specific offers: Keep in mind that offers can vary based on your role and experience. For instance, tech positions might come with more comprehensive relocation benefits — especially because companies are in desperate need.

Company precedents: Look into any existing standards for relocation packages offered by your company or others within the same sector (examples here), especially for employees moving to your intended destination. Check Glassdoor or Blind to see what others have been offered to get a ballpark idea of what you should be offered.


Step 2: Assess your needs

Make a list: Compile a detailed list of all the costs associated with your relocation. This should include visa processing, flights, first the month's rent & deposit, moving your belongings, and any initial settling-in necessities.

Prioritise: Arrange these needs in order of importance. Critical elements like housing, flights and moving costs should be at the top of your list.


Step 3: Calculate estimated costs

Here's a practical example, moving from the US to the UK. To calculate the estimated costs of relocating from the US to the UK, let's break down each component involved in the move. This example will guide you through estimating the total expenses to comprehensively understand your budget needs.

Shipping your belongings

Packing and unpacking services

Removals insurance

Hiring storage space

Transferring money abroad

Renting a property

Getting a visa

Booking flights

Moving your pets

Buying new furniture

The estimated costs for this specific example come to approximately $19,120.92. This figure should be seen as a general guide, with actual costs likely to vary depending on specific circumstances and the chosen services. It's important to note that costs can significantly differ for a single person compared to a family, affecting the overall expense of the move.

What you should take away from this is that this is the approximate ballpark you are looking at, and that you should account for all of the above-mentioned categories when calculating your estimated costs — making sure that you are prepared to negotiate your relocation package.


How to negotiate your relocation package

Negotiating your relocation package effectively hinges on being well-prepared, direct, and clear about your needs. The timing is crucial; the ideal moments for this discussion are during the interview stages and before signing the contract. Here's how to approach it:


Step 1: Initiate the conversation

Start the dialogue with your new employer by expressing excitement about the opportunity and then segue into discussing the logistics of your move. In fact, you will probably be asked this straight up if it's a relocation role or you are interviewing from overseas.


Step 2: Present your case

Use the research and cost estimates you've gathered to back up your requests. Explain how each component of the relocation package is crucial for a smooth transition. 

You might say, "Based on my research, shipping my household from the US to the EU is approximately $5,000. Covering this expense would significantly ease my move and allow me to focus fully on my new role from day one."


Step 3: Discuss specifics

Visa and paperwork support: Start by checking if the company has a go-to service for visas and paperwork. If they don't, suggest the idea of getting external help.

"Dealing with visa stuff can get pretty complicated. Does the company use a specific service for this? If we need to find someone else to help out, it might cost about $1,000. Would the company be okay with covering that if it comes to it?"

Moving expenses: Detail the costs involved, like shipping a 20-foot container or flights for your family. If the offered package is not a lump sum, usually they will ask you for all the bills and reimburse the costs.

"For my family and me to move comfortably, covering the shipping and flights, which total around $7,000, would be incredibly helpful."

Housing assistance: Talk about the initial costs of securing housing. 

"Temporary lodging and real estate services are key for us to find a suitable home quickly. I've estimated these costs at around $3,000 for the first month."

Adaptation support: Discuss how language courses or other adjustment services, often covered by the company's learning and development budget or provided in-house — especially in startups — can aid you and your family.

"Language courses for us to integrate more smoothly into our new community would cost about $500. Including this in the package would really support our transition."


Step 4: Understand compromises

Acknowledge that it might not be possible to cover all costs — especially when it comes to smaller companies — and suggest alternatives. 

"I understand budget constraints may not allow for full coverage of these costs. Would it be possible to consider a lump-sum payment or partial reimbursements? This could give me the flexibility to allocate funds where they're most needed."

By being clear, factual, and reasonable, you can navigate the negotiation process effectively, ensuring both you and your employer are satisfied with the outcome.


After the negotiation

You are nearly there! Make sure to lock in the deal you just made by finalising the details.

It's critical to get the agreed-upon relocation package documented. This ensures clarity and avoids any future misunderstandings. Request a written summary of the package, and review it to confirm it includes everything discussed. A simple request like, "Can we put the details of our agreement in writing?" will suffice.

Plan B

If the negotiation doesn't fully meet your needs, be ready with alternatives. This could mean reassessing the job offer or looking into external funding options for your move. Consider your next steps carefully: "If the support offered isn't sufficient, I may need to explore other options or seek external funding to make my relocation work."

Ensuring everything is documented after negotiations and having a backup plan ready helps you smoothly transition to your new role, fully prepared for your move.


Find your next tech job abroad with

If you're searching for that next big opportunity and the idea of working abroad excites you, is a great place to start your search. It's a platform dedicated to IT jobs worldwide, offering detailed listings from companies that offer relocation packages and support.

Browse tech jobs in Europe and other parts of the world 

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