Moving Tips: The Beginner’s Guide To Relocation
The best way to learn about moving for most people
After alternately dragging my dog, my husband-to-be and then an entire family of five over two continents, four countries, 12 cities and multiple homes, I’ve written this guide to pass on my lessons learned. For you, this guide is an opportunity to learn how to avoid unnecessary missteps and to relocate intelligently, efficiently and successfully.
The Best Moving Company You Can Hire:
“Unless you absolutely can’t afford it, don’t make friends and family members haul your furniture. Honestly, don’t. Spare their backs and allow them to keep liking you by hiring a vetted, licensed and insured moving company that has the right kind of equipment.”
The Most Important Idea To Learn:
The most common mistake that most people make when moving is focusing too heavily on the moving logistics and not focusing enough on the people involved.
To avoid this mistake:
So, you’re thinking about relocating, are you? Maybe you’ve browsed a few websites or talked to some colleagues about the opportunity for a job relocation. Well, good for you! In today’s mobile society, more and more people find themselves considering a possible relocation. It’s a big and exciting step and a tough decision to make, which is why we created this relocation guide. Our goal is simple: We want to help you reflect on the concept of relocation and to weigh the pros and cons of such an opportunity. If the yea overrules the nay, we will offer you recommendations on how to effectively prepare for the emotional and practical aspects of relocation. With this guide at hand, you will be able to take charge of your relocation and to actively engage yourself and others in the process. The earlier you’re ready to tackle your relocation project, the better. After all, a successful relocation doesn’t just happen – it requires some preparation on your part.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s figure out what we consider a successful relocation: In this guide, we consider your relocation to be successful when you and your party move from A to B with the least possible effort and the greatest positive outcome. What we want is for you to relocate as efficiently as possible. In line with the Pareto Principle, stating that 20% of efforts generate 80% of the outcome, our recommendations will point you to what we identify as the most effective use of your time. Since this is a guide, it will contain a number of recommendations about relocation. The recommendations are made based on both dedicated research and personal experience. Our research covers relevant publications, scientific studies, statistics and other factual information on the topic. Our personal experiences reflect the ups and downs of the decision-making process tied to relocation. Whatever your relocation headaches, we’ve had them. Whatever your relocation troubles, we’ve grappled with them. Whatever your questions, we’ve asked those, passing on the answers to you.
Some of our recommendations may seem obvious but are included to make sure you won’t forget any essential details in your relocation process. Other recommendations may take you by surprise, which is better than being surprised too late in the game. As you are about to find out, there are specific steps you can take to prepare for a successful relocation. You can prepare yourself mentally by evaluating your motivation and your expectations tied to relocating. You can also prepare yourself emotionally by becoming aware of the possible effects of relocation. This involves taking a look at the emotional impact your relocation may have on both you and the people left behind. Finally, you can prepare yourself physically by a number of practical actions. The three most important questions to ask yourself and others are:
- Why do you move, and what do you think you will get out of it?
- How do you think you and others will feel and react to your relocation?
- What practicalities do you have to take care of, in what order?
Once you figure out your answers to these three questions, your relocation will be a successful one. By pinpointing the efforts and resources most likely to generate the outcome you want, you will be able to plan, prepare for and pursue your successful relocation and still have time for Netflix.
Why You Should Trust Me
I am a restless soul and digital nomad with extensive relocation experience, both nationally and internationally. From early childhood to adulthood, I have moved to and from more than 4 countries, 12 cities and dozens of homes, alternately leaving behind and bringing along family and friends, pets and houseplants, training gear and family heirlooms. My 16 moves so far leave me with an average stay of 2.7 years per location. For my children, who by now have moved between 7-9 times depending on their age, the time in each of their many homes is less than 2 years, spanning over 5 school forms and 3 national school curricula. Don’t even ask me about the dog, a rescue from Romania with a crate and passport containing way too many stamps and stickers considering the perils and expense of international pet relocation. So why am I telling you all this? It’s not to glorify my antsyness. If anything, it is more of a chronic condition than a personal achievement. No; it is to assure you that if there is one thing I am familiar with, it’s preparing for the unfamiliar.
Moving on a Small Budget: The DIY-relocation
Here’s the good news: It is absolutely possible to relocate on a shoestring budget. You just have to be organized, be ready to let go of some stuff and be able to convince friends and family to haul whatever is left of your belongings. To organize and coordinate your DIY-relocation, use free apps like Wunderlist or Tick Tick to create a detailed to-list with tasks you can share and collaborate on. Cook some chili (delicious and cheap) and invite prospective helpers, talking them through the why’s, where’s and what’s of your relocation process. Be charming, patient, considerate and on your very best behavior – they can’t hate your guts until later in the game. Earn some well-needed cash by holding a garage sale (don’t forget to put it on the treasure map) and sell your knickknacks at thrift stores or digital marketplaces such as OfferUp or LetGo. Collect conveniently-sized free moving boxes at liquor stores and grocery stores (banana boxes work great!). Ask around for a horse trailer to borrow in exchange for mucking the stables or invest a smaller sum in renting a van and some muscle via free furniture delivery apps like Dolly or Lugg. This is how I got my couches in place, and if it hadn’t been for the sudden snow storm, everything would’ve worked out great, I’m sure. Finally, throw a budget-friendly housewarming party for whoever has helped you save a ton of money and prepare to return the favor over and over and over again.
Moving on a Medium Budget: The Average Joe relocation
With a bit more of a budget and some time on your hands, there is a real opportunity to relocate without throwing out your back or your money out of the window. To relocate with the help of a professional mover, plan your move to take place before or after the May-September high relocation season for a better deal, and compare multiple quotes with free relocation apps like Moved1Moved will even assist you with your donations and address updates via their free concierge service.. Avoid multiple pick-up locations and skip any additional services. Instead, order moving supplies like set of markers, some gorilla tape and 10 more boxes than you think you’ll ever need. Dodge the impulse to store inessential items such as your sister’s friend’s collection of Peruvian masks. Shed the emotional shackles of your youth and donate your CD collection (but keep the mixed tapes) and other hard-to-sell-but-too-good-to-throw-out items to your favorite charity via services such as PickUpMyDonation. If you are eligible for a relocation package, ask your employer for a gross-up salary, or provide you a gross-up taxable relocation benefit to match your approximate moving expenses, as these are not subject to tax deduction anymore. Once settled in, get a bunch of ready-to-serve party platters from your new favorite supermarket and chill, knowing that neither the biodegradable plates nor a truckload of dirty dishes will weigh on your conscience tonight.
Moving on a Large Budget: The All-Inclusive relocation
For the really busy bees (and the ones who can afford to pretend to be), relocation can be a breeze – you just get someone else to do the heavy lifting! Spread out decoratively on the chaise lounge and talk your loved ones through your motivation and the logistics of moving. Bribe them for their cooperation, you can afford it. Be shameless – I threw in a trampoline and a driver’s license last time around and gave up the master bedroom for what is essentially a glorified broom chamber. Review and hire a licensed and insured moving company via a relocation app like Move Advisor, and treat yourself to additional services such as the packing, disassembly and reassembly of your household items. For the control freak with deep pockets, activate the premium account at Sortly to geek out on your visual home inventory lists complete with QR-codes, a barcode scanner and the option to include detailed warranty reminders. If that sounds like too much work, check out luxury relocation services such as Greystone for a scruff-free customized concierge service tailored to your needs. Store your generous array of seasonal decorations in any of your three garages or consult Storage Seeker to find a climate-controlled storage unit nearby. Once you’re all settled, get a catering service for your housewarming party and focus on the fancy party favors. Cin cin!
About relocation in general
As someone with relocation on your mind, you are far from being alone. You are simply a new member of the long-standing club for migratory birds in America. Even though the number of relocations is lower now than ever on a national level, you are still in good company. According to the United States Bureau of Census, approximately 11% of Americans relocated in 2017, which adds up to roughly 35,000 Americans and their families2The average number of household members upon relocation is 2.3, see this report. packing to seek better pastures elsewhere. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the perspective of a residential move, you may find some consolation in the fact that you are far from being alone in the process.
Even if you are in the same club, so to speak, you and your fellow club members may have different driving factors or reasons for relocating. What is the reason for your relocation? Whatever it is, you have surely asked yourself if it is good enough to justify such an important step. How do you know? Well, you are the one to determine that! People relocate for various reasons3Science tells us that people who relocate frequently are likely to be risk takers – adventurous souls nurturing the idea of a Goldilocks Zone – a place that is just right for you. See: https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2003/02oct_goldilocks To find this place, they are on a continuous – and potentially life-long – quest to find it. Frequent relocation may be grounded in the belief that moving to a new place will let you escape your problems, see https://www.amethystrecovery.org/the-myth-of-the-geographical-cure/ Unfortunately, you tend to take yourself with you upon relocating, which renders a relocation futile.. Some of the factors are internal and have to do with abstract concepts such as love and happiness. Other driving factors are external such as the pursuit of financial advantages and a climb up the career ladder4The latter aspect ties to ongoing company expansion and improved financial performance, resulting in a relatively low rate of budget constraints combined with the lack of qualified local talent. This in turn leads to companies hiring new employees as well as from offering to transfer existing employees to new locations. In other words: There are more qualified jobs, with less qualified people to perform them, who need to move in order to get the jobs done.. All of these reasons can be valid, depending on who you ask. My latest relocation was driven by a lust for adventure paired with a work opportunity that presented itself to my spouse – a good enough factor for both him and I, even though only I came close to committing career hara-kiri in the process. You win some, you lose some. Zooming in on the four most common reasons behind relocation in the US, recent census data by the United States Census Bureau tells us that housing, family and employment are the great motivators. When asked to name the reasons for their relocation, people cite opportunities such as a new and better home (16%), the establishment of a household of your own (11,5%), other unspecified family reasons (11,3%) as well as work (9,9%)5raw data: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/tables/geographic-mobility/time-series/historic/tab-a-5.xls. So, if your reason for relocation falls in any of the above-mentioned categories, you may find solace in the fact that you are driven by motivators commonly accounted for in the relocation community.
Considerations for Friends and Family
Relocation is – by its very nature – a process of change. Moving from one place to another obviously involves a change of your physical location. However, it also involves a change of your emotional state. Sorting, packing and shipping what may be a life’s worth of belongings is potentially stressful, even if the decision to relocate is voluntary. Relocation is a very intense emotional experience due to the underlying psychological issues involved. A residential move carries with it the hope for new beginnings and opportunities and mixes it with the fear of crushing disappointments and loss6The New York Times has a deeper analysis here7. The process of relocation is thus associated with complex emotions: On the positive side, there is a feeling of excitement, as you are off to a fresh start. On the negative side, there is the feeling of anxiety, as this new chapter of your life means leaving behind an environment that is safe and familiar.
Relocation has people move towards a prospective location and leave their previous one. But it is not just a location you leave – It’s the people there, too. Oftentimes, this means leaving behind family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, gym buddies and other acquaintances. These goodbyes can be gut-wrenching, not only for the person leaving, but for the people involuntary parting with a loved one. People hesitant to relocate – as in themselves and others – may see no reason to do so. In urban economics, a locational equilibrium occurs when there is no incentive to move. People without such an incentive may simply be happy where they are, or may experience a fear of change, in which the prospect of leaving their home evokes worries of looming social isolation. I have a close friend who, after a brief stint in a neighboring city, moved back into her childhood village to raise her children close to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was a conscious choice, and she is very happy with it. It is also a common one: Of those who decline to relocate, most (64%) state close family ties as well as spouse employment (55%) as reasons. This of course touches upon another aspect of relocation, which is the emotional effect it has on the people who relocate, as well as the people who love them.
When you do decide to relocate, don’t expect for everyone to be your cheerleader. You are essentially telling someone that you are leaving them behind, which will evoke mixed emotions such as fear and sorrow. Respect these emotions and expect the reactions they are likely to cause. A parent may feel neglected and scared about the prospect of you being far away and out of reach. A spouse may feel pressured to oblige and sacrifice their own career and social network. A child may feel frightened by the prospect of changing schools and leaving their friends behind. All those feelings – separately or combined – may very well result in heated discussions involving shaming, blaming and slamming doors. Take a deep breath and let any eventual tsunami of accusations wash over. Acknowledge that no man is an island, and that your decision to relocate will leave people to feel de-prioritized and shoved aside. I myself moved from my birth country in my early twenties, which it is a matter of great sorrow for my parents who are saddened by the distance between themselves and their child and grandchildren. As their only child and initiator of their distress, their grief is a responsibility I must bear. Actions lead to consequences, and your intention to relocate may unintentionally hurt some people. This is what you can do:
- Own your decision and recognize the possibly negative reactions it causes – the questions, the arguments, the bitter remarks – for what they are: an expression of sorrow and love.
- Show that you listen to the concerns raised and ask how you can help to ease worries short of deposing of your plans altogether.
- Develop an action plan to tackle the most pressing concerns, such as finding a substitute for the care you may have administered in-person or locating a service to make up for the gap left by your decision to move.
Now, this does not mean you should reconsider your relocation. Find solace in knowing that people adjust to new situations, and that boiling emotions will eventually simmer down and cool off.
The Effects of Relocation
Back to you and the effects relocation may have on your own person; relocating to a proposed location has the potential to affect you both positively and negatively. On the upside, relocating is good for your memory: A research study from 2016, cited by the American Psychological Association, shows that people are more likely to remember events that occur around a relocation. This has less to do with your destination than it has to do with the transition: Somehow, the process of transitioning from A to B creates a clean slate or heightened awareness which influences how well you recall an event. Have you ever stopped to realize that you remember more – and better – of what happened to you in your late teens and early twenties than you do of what happened before or after this period of your life?8The lifetime temporal distribution of autobiographical memories peaks during the transitional period of late adolescence and early adulthood. See: http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fxge0000188 This very age-specific phenomenon, known as the reminiscence bump, has led scientists to conclude that a period of transition – including transition by relocation – may provide increased opportunity for autobiographical memory.
To test this hypothesis, the aforementioned study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General examined if and how older adults’ memories – we are talking about people between ages 40-60 – were categorized around whether or not they had moved within a specified time frame: Would the adults in question have more frequent and intense memories around the time of their relocation? Yes! Data showed that there was a significant increase in memories around the time of what was considered an important residential move9For this study,149 participants over the age of 65 were asked to recall five memorable experiences they’d had between the ages of 40 and 60. Then, participants were asked to identify the most important residential move they had made during this time. The calculation was that if participants’ memories of life events were distributed across the relevant time period, an estimated 13% of these memories should fall in the 3-year period around each individual’s residential move. Yet, significantly more did: 26%.. The findings suggest that physical transitions such as a relocation may have a positive effect on autobiographical memory. Researchers dub this effect the relocation bump – an effect which will generate more and more intense memories for you upon relocation.
On the downside, relocating is potentially bad for you when you do it often, especially for teens10There are potential long-term negative effects as well: Adults who moved frequently as kids have fewer high-quality relationships and tend to score lower on well-being and life satisfaction. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2016 states that people who have lived in a number of different places when they grew up have an increased risk of suicide, substance misuse, and early death, with each additional move increasing the risk of negative health effects.. A research study published in the Journal of Social and Personality Psychology in 2010 states that frequent moves are tough on kids and teens mentally as well as academically, especially those who are introverted and anxious – something that I can attest to as a parent. A move disrupts important friendships as well as daily routines, and not all of us, children or adults, are equally well equipped to deal with such an interruption. The timing of a move seems to matter as well: moves are more challenging for kids in the midst of other transitions like puberty.
Luckily, there are ways to decrease the negative effects of frequent relocation. Mutual emotional support is important, as is free access to open peer networks. As a parent you should consider putting your kids in an environment where they can move in social circles made up of people that share their relocation experience, such as an international school. The schools my children are presently attending all feature a highly diverse student body, as many of their peers’ parents have been recruited from abroad. This allows for many of them to draw from a common relocation experience. Another way to help your kids cope with relocation issues is to help them in maintaining important relationship, such as by scheduling visits from now far-away friends over the holidays. Social media can also help to sustain long-distant relationships – one of my daughters spends literally every morning of her summer break in hour-long conversations with her BFF from another part of the world. Finally, you can encourage your kids to engage in shared activities such as collaborative gaming to bond without the pressure of just talking.
But there is some middle ground, too. Relocating, it turns out, makes you less attached to both stuff and people. People who move frequently are more likely to view their belongings and their relationships as non-essential, compared to people who move less often. Four studies examined11Generalizing disposability: Residential mobility and the willingness to dissolve social ties by Omri Gillath and Lucas A. Keefer, Pages: 186-198, First Published: 22 February 2016 whether residential mobility – the frequent change of residence – leads people to view objects as disposable and, in turn, view social ties as disposable as well. Researchers indeed managed to establish a connection: The more we move, the less we become attached12The first study showed that tendencies to dispose of objects and social ties are related. The second study demonstrated that a history of residential mobility increases the willingness to dispose of objects and social ties. The third study showed that an increased sense of residential mobility increases the willingness to dispose of objects and social ties. The fourth study showed that the relational aspect of residential mobility is crucial in affecting relational disposability.. On one hand, this detachment is a concern as it has a negative impact on the overall quality of life and society. If your nomadic lifestyle leads you to trivialize social ties, you will be less likely to get what you need from your social network. I for instance like to throw themed dinner parties, but with no social network to speak of after my most recent relocation, who am I going to invite? This deficit of fulfillment can negatively affect my mental and physical health as well as longevity – probably because it leaves me moping on the couch in my slacks, emptying a bag of potato chips instead of graciously opening hostess gifts with a fruit knife.
On the other hand, the ability to detach yourself from objects and people may be a blessing, too. After all, it provides you with less physical and emotional ballast and allows you to move freely. The mental and emotional upheaval my father experiences at the idea of selling his childhood home feels positively foreign to me, who has called so many places my home. It is my personal belief that life provides many opportunities for those open to change and adjustment. The better you are equipped for them, the more of these opportunities you will be able to take. Hopefully, the satisfaction you take from these opportunities will make up for the loss in emotional ties.
So, how can you prepare yourself to manage all these complex emotions? For one, you should be aware of what is likely to happen when you relocate: As it turns out, the initial excitement doesn’t last long; people who relocate become quickly habituated to their new surroundings – habituation here being a psychological phenomenon in which you progressively get accustomed to what only weeks ago felt new and exciting. That cute little town center you were so excited about will quickly lose its glister once you’ve browsed the same ole shop inventory for the 100th time, just as big city perks will feel less buoyant when you attempt to squeeze yourself in an already jam-packed metro wagon along with a bazillion other commuters. In order not to feel let down by this gradual process of habituation you ought to prepare yourself by considering the complexity of your life satisfaction. Your life satisfaction is influenced by where you live your life, for sure. However, it is also influenced by how you live your life. There are other factors in play than merely your physical location13For more information and strategy advice, see http://thehowofhappiness.com/. Think of what makes you happy: Is it your family? Your job? Your health? Are you most happy tending your garden, or taking a walk on a beach? Are the things that make you happy things that will be available to you after a prospective relocation, such as an artisan cappuccino? Or are they tied to the here and now, such as sipping your coffee at your Grandma’s house?
If you are like me, you will be able to take most of what makes you happy – your family members, pets, job – with you when moving. If you are like my teen, a move will force you to leave most of what makes you happy – your boyfriend and circle of friends – behind. Naturally, the availability of influencing factors impacts the drive: Whereas I am more inclined to relocate due to the continued access of subjective happiness factors, my teen will be less inclined as a relocation will result in the absence of subjectable relevant happiness factors. Happiness is subjective, and so is the relative weight of its contributing factors – what makes me happy is simply not the same as what makes you happy. If it only were that easy! Findings from The World Happiness Report (2018) show that happiness is not solely defined by our physical whereabouts. There are other subjective and commonly used socio-political and economic factors that contribute to happiness, whoever you are and wherever you are located14While the report recognizes the human universality in the experience, it also acknowledges heterogeneity in the relationship between the experience and its drivers: We all know how it feels to be happy, but the factors that make us feel happy may differ. See: https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2018/CH6-WHR-lr.pdf. On the common side, factors that contribute to happiness and life satisfaction are the availability of positive social relationships, the possibility to learn, adapt and be productive, the experience of socioeconomic stability, the alignment of your personal values with the values of your surrounding culture and a positive thinking style (the glass being half-full and all that). On the subjective side, factors that contribute to your personal happiness are only known to you – so think about them and consider them in your decision to relocate. Imagine there being a checklist of happiness factors:
Use this list to prioritize the factors that make you happy, and to prepare both yourself and your relocating party mentally, emotionally and physically for the changes a relocation opportunity brings along. Consider Harvard’s much talked about Grant and Glueck studies, a collection of separate studies tracking 724 participants over the course of 75 years. These list the availability of close relationships as key factor to long-term happiness and life satisfaction15See this summary. With the quality of your relationships directly proportional to the quality of your life, your emotional, physical and mental health and happiness depends not on the amount of people you know – such as the number of colleagues, LinkedIn contacts or Facebook friends – but on the depth of these relationships. Consequently, you have to take care of your relationships and make sure that your relocation won’t negatively impact these. To quote Robert Waldinger, current study director at Harvard Medical School: “Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” While relocation does not automatically have to pair with loneliness, it is a factor to consider and plan for. So, how does one do that?
Firstly, you have to understand your motivation for moving. Ask yourself some tough but necessary questions:
Why do you want to move? Are running away from something? If so, what is it, and is there a chance that it will tag along? If you think a move to a new location will solve your relationship struggles of fix your self-esteem, think again: internal problems can’t be escaped by relocation. Are you running towards something? If so, what is it, and will it be there to greet you? Be aware that the movie you’ve been playing in your head for months may not match the realities of moving. Do you understand your expectations of moving: What do you hope will happen once you reach your proposed destination? Will you be smarter, richer, skinnier? How will the new location positively impact your life satisfaction? To evaluate if your expectations are sensible and realistic, compare your existing location with the proposed location. Some research into relevant statistics can give you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into. As race car driver Bobby Unser said so wisely: “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” It turns out, this is true for relocation, too.
How To Negotiate Relocation Packages With Your Employer
Finally, the practical advice: To tackle your relocation project you need to do some serious digging into the resources available to you. According to The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), most relocations (1.35 million) are carried out unassisted by the consumers themselves, followed by consumers renting a truck (1 million). Only then are consumers willing to pay for professional moving services (650,000).
Now, there may be many reasons for taking care of the transportation of your belongings yourself. In all probability, they have to do with money, or the lack of it. Why spend time carrying banana-boxes full of paperbacks in a borrowed horse trailer when you could have them professionally insured, packed, shipped and delivered? Hiring a professional mover for the job may be more affordable than you’d think!
If you are relocating for work, evaluate the relocation package offered by your company. In today’s mobile society, many companies have a relocation policy covering the nuts and bolts of relocation assistance made available to their employees. In this context, size does matter, as larger companies are more likely to administer domestic relocation policies than companies with a limited number of employees. Still, recent data from a survey by Atlas shows you ought to expect your company to have some sort of plan for the relocation of its employees – what this plan encompasses is a different matter altogether.
While a company is generally not obligated to offer any relocation assistance, many of them offer multiple reimbursement methods tailored to the needs of their employees. When Allied Insurances asked 3500 of their customers about their job relocation experiences, answers revealed that the majority of employers (60.2 %) offered some type of relocation assistance. The larger the company, the higher the probability of a relocation package offered. No relocation package is the same – basically, it is up to your employer to decide what is included, and what is not. Relocation assistance may be provided in a number of different areas, such as finding and purchasing a new home, selling or renting out your existing home, short-term lodging and storage at your new destination, transporting yourself and your belongings from the old to the new place, even helping your spouse to find a new job. With the transportation costs on the forefront of many people’s minds, it may be interesting to note that more than half of respondents had their employers cover the cost for transportation (54.3%). Consider this before borrowing that horse trailer!
Some companies – about a fifth (20.9%) of the employers cited in the aforementioned Allied survey – may offer you a flat dollar amount to account for your relocation expenses. This practice seems to be becoming more common for domestic relocation: According to a recent survey from Atlas, about a fourth of the relocations covered by this particular relocation provider are covered by a lump-sum payment only. Others include the payment of a lump-sum as part of the relocation deal, most often to cover temporary housing costs (50% in 2017).
Consider that may companies have certain built-in limits to control expenses. There may very well be a dollar value limit on total relocations, as well as on individual provisions covered. For example, a company may choose to only relocate employees for a cap sum of $50.000 a year. If the company has a fixed relocation policy, this may mean an allocated sum of $10,000 per individual relocation. If the company has multiple polices however, this may mean that an executive’s relocation will be allocated with $20,000, while a new employee in an entry-level position will be allocated a mere $2,000. Even individual provisions may be subject to cap sums, such as a fixed sum allocated to temporarily storing your household goods16Data sourced from: http://files.constantcontact.com/6146563d001/7601a5d0-00f4-4a67-b41a-a633f72d4649.pdf and https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/companies-offer-flexible-benefits-relocating-employees.aspx. As always, the relative value of your relocation package will be determined by the relocation policy of your company and the professional value you represent. The correlation is simple: The more you kick ass professionally, the fancier your relocation package will be.
Research average relocation costs specified by type of relocation: Let’s pretend you are moving a four-bedroom house. The cost of moving locally can range from $800 to $2,000 with an average hourly charge of $80-$100 for two movers and a truck, who will need about 10-12 hours for the job17Any additional mover will cost an extra $25 – $50 per hour. See: https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/storage-and-organization/hire-a-moving-service/#entirehouse. However, if you are moving across state lines, you can expect to pay up to $1,000, – per room, quickly adding up to $4,000 plus extra charges such as fuel and vehicle expenses.
In December 2017, the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effectively eliminated the moving expenses deduction from January 1st, 2018 onwards18Previously, there was a time and distance test you needed to pass, along with proof that your relocation was closely connected to your employment. To research previously valid criteria, consult Publication 521 for information on deductible and nondeductible moving expenses. For more information, consult the IRA website for information and/or ask your tax accountant.. Beforehand, some of the relocation expenses paid by your employer on behalf of you may have been tax deductible. Now, they are classified as taxable income. The expenses, whether they have been paid directly to you or to a relocating service on your behalf will be taxed at your full salary rate at the end of the year and are subject to applicable State and Federal income tax withholding and FICA19FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax, passed in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act. taxes, including social security and Medicare taxes20There is an exemption of active duty members of the military, who will be exempt from paying Federal income tax on relocation. See: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/05/tax-law-changes-that-affect-employees-and-their-benefits.html. For your company however, relocation costs remain deductible business expenses.
Now, what may this mean for the future, and how will it influence relocation? This new tax law will likely trigger certain organizational policy changes. Examples of such changes may be an increase in gross-up taxable relocation benefits in order to appropriately match the net benefit with approximate moving expenses and the streamlining of relocation processes to cut costs and increase efficiency21As tempting as it may be for a company to have their employees absorb the additional text burden, this scenario is unlikely to unfold on a larger scale, as it would not only create undue hardship for the relocating party, but also decrease the willingness of scarce qualified personnel to transfer from one location to another. See: https://www.atlasvanlines.com/corporate-relocation/survey/2018/tax-reform To reduce the tax burden, Payroll may spread the reporting over the remaining pay periods in the tax year22For more information on taxable move/relocation expenses, see https://blink.ucsd.edu/travel/move-transfer/expenses/taxable.html#Move/Relocations-Paid-in-2018. Who knows, your employer may even choose to temporarily increase your salary to make up for the now taxable relocation expenses?
Since it is too early to tell the effects of the new US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, predictions are a bit like reading tea leaves. However, an educated guesser such as yourself may expect a relocation package that includes a combination of different relocation compensation measures. Such measures may include a lump-sum payment, a list of pre-selected relocation service providers to choose from and a taxable benefits package. There is a wide range of lump-sum payments per cost type, oftentimes depending on the size of your company. Data collected by Atlas in their 2017 Corporate Relocation Survey for instance states median amounts of lump-sum payments for entire relocation costs to range from $10,000 for a company with less than 500 employees to $ 15,000 for companies with 5,000 or more employees23For a more detailed break-down, consult https://www.atlasvanlines.com/AtlasVanLines/media/Corporate-Relo-Survey/PDFs/2017survey.pdf.
The amount of a lump-sum as well as tax deductible relocation benefits are negotiable, so get into bazaar mode and flex your negotiation skills. To negotiate your payment from a point of strength, search the Internet and talk to colleagues, family and friends with relocation experience. Is there anyone that has been in your shoes? What are their experiences? Collect relevant data and stock up on statistics to show the applicability of your data:
- Research industry-specific information on average relocation compensation
- Filter the information by type of employment and company size
- Research information on average relocation costs
- Filter the information by distance and amount
- Merge the information to create an overview of your costs and compensation needs
- Visualize it for easier comprehension
- Break it down into specific numbers
- Exemplify the overview with collected anecdotes and personal experiences
While the research and negotiation of your relocation expenses is a valuable use of your time, don’t waste your hours upon proving your worth to the company. In all likelihood, your company has already weighed your chances of a successful relocation prior to offering you the opportunity to relocate. You have already been found deserving of such an offer, which means you don’t have to prove your worthiness. Instead, puff your chest a bit: You are a valuable resource to your company, and as such, worth the price of relocation. Don’t be timid, assuming you are asking for a favor. Consider your time and effort leading up to the relocation offer as down-payment and expect your employer to cover the rest.
Run the numbers (see moving calculator sources below) to provide your employer with a realistic estimation of the time and expenses your relocation will bring about and ask them to reimburse you accordingly. There are online services that can help you to calculate your expenses. Check out sites like Movers Cost Navigator, fivemovers.com, MerakMoving and Thumbtrack to figure out your costs of transportation. Make sure to include factors such as the distance of your move, the amount of household items and automobiles to move, the timeline for your move. Add in other contributing factors such as the number of pick-up locations and additional services such as storing, packaging and assembly. There are also plenty of mobile applications to help you estimate your expenses and organize your relocation. With the ever-shifting online environment in mind, consider the following free-of-charge tools to plan, compare, book and manage your relocation. All of them allow you to get your hands on free guaranteed quotes by vetted, licensed and insured moving companies:
Move Advisor includes a home inventory by room with drag-n-drop household items, integrated shipping volume and weight calculator including estimated number of moving blankets and boxes and size of moving truck; a presentation of licensed and insured local movers including performance ratings and moving reviews; the option to acquire free and binding moving estimates (in- or excluding auto transport) based on home inventory and moving distance with the option of scheduling an in-home visual estimate; a week-by week moving timeline with pre-determined task sets and note function; a moving checklist with action buttons and customized reminders.
Moved provides you with multiple moving quotes from licensed and insured moving companies based on the distance, amount of household items, timeline and additional services (packing, assembly). It coordinates moving logistics, helps you to order packing supplies, find storage units, sell, donate and discard unwanted household items, update addresses. It also provides discounts on cleaning, painting and home goods insurance services, a free concierge service (basically a personal moving assistant) and protected payment24Payment option by monthly installments available on request. as late as two days prior to moving through Affirm.
Unpakt includes an inventory list with a detailed break-down of cost per item and the option to purchase recommended amount of adequately sized moving boxes; a comparison of available licensed and insured movers by company profiles and performance scores; the option to book an all-inclusive moving package after receiving a guaranteed price based on your inventory list and detailed moving instructions; protected payment through Unpakt with free cancellation until 2 days prior to moving.
Sortly allows for the creation and management of a detailed visual home inventory grouped and labelled according to location, box, value, condition or topic; the option of searchable notes, tags, and alerts; a week-by-week moving checklist with additional customization (custom labels, QR-tags, built-in barcode scanner, data backup, web access) available for premium account members25A premium account at Sortly will cost you $4.99 a month or $47.99 a year..
Keep in mind that the quotes are only as good as the data you provide, so be as specific and accurate as possible. Factors which will determine your expenses are distance, volume, number of pick-up stops, storage needs as well as additional services such as packing and assembly. The farther and more complicated your relocation, the higher the anticipated expense. If you are like most people, who according to data26Raw data here: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/tables/geographic-mobility/time-series/historic/tab-a-6.xls from the United States Bureau of Census relocate within the same state and over a distance of less than 50 miles, your relocation expense will be limited compared to the expenses of the minority who relocate farther away. Add this to the amount of household items (a factor usually tied to the size of the moving party) and weigh in additional services as well as the size of your company to justify your ask. The firmer your grip on your moving expenses, the easier it will be for you to justify your expectations, increasing the probability of your employer meeting these.
Once you have come to an agreement with your employer, get it in writing. While a firm handshake is something to admire, it won’t help your case when payment becomes due and unexpected expenses creep in. There are free printable templates available online, such as SHRMs Moving and Relocations Expense Agreement. Just as you’ll want to be specific in what you ask for, have your employer be specific about the assistance you’ll get. For instance, if you are offered a relocation package that includes a lump-sum, reimbursement, direct billing and third-party relocation services, have each of these pillars specified. Ask questions such as
- How large is the lump-sum?
- When will the lump-sum be paid?
- Which services of your relocation will qualify for reimbursement?
- Which services will be billed directly to your company?
- By which means do you need to hand in receipts to get reimbursed for your expenses?
- How long will it take to get reimbursed?
- Which coordination services will be covered by a third-part moving coordinator?
- Which aspects do you need to coordinate yourself?
See it this way: Your company has already offered you a leg up, so ask what that means and get it in writing to avoid confusion. This, after all, is not marriage: There is no room for fuzzy expectations, and no time to muddle your way through in the decades to come.
How To Choose A New Place To Live
If you are free to decide on the location of your next move, start by prioritizing your relocation criteria. Create a spreadsheet and decide which aspects are most important to you. Assign each criteria a value, and rate them accordingly. Research aspects such as climate, recreation, crime, cost of living and qualities of schools via databases such as Numbeo, City-Data and SafeWise. Platforms such as StatsAmerica lets you build a customized neighborhood profile based on available statistical data. If you’re not much into lists, check out The United States Census Bureau, which supports many of its statistics with infographics and visualizations and has a list of recommended interactive applications to choose from. There is also a quick facts search for popular topics such as housing and healthcare. If you are considering to own your home upon relocating, research the real-estate market and utilize ranking sites such as US News Real Estate, Niche, Wallet Hub and Neighborhood Scout. Even for prospective renters, real-estate websites such as Zillow and Rent.com offer valuable ratings.
Consider the type of environment you want to move to: Are you looking to relocate to an urban, suburban or rural setting? Do you prefer a quiet and tranquil vibe, or do you like it busy and energetic? In this context, think long and hard about how much of a commute you can live with. If your new job is located downtown, check out public transportation options available to you. To take a virtual stroll around interesting locations, use Google Earth and Geology.com to explore neighborhoods if you can’t visit the area in person. Think about your health and look at traffic patterns and their effect on air quality for the area you are considering for relocation. Be aware that noise pollution equals air pollution in health impact and weigh exhaustion fumes in a central location downtown against a fresh breath of air farther out in the suburbs. I myself live in a rather quiet suburban area, with a bedroom window facing a street. Early commuters as well as an unfortunately placed streetlamp paired with white blinds and my somewhat obsessive need to sleep with an open window have occasionally made me regret our otherwise pleasant choice of living quarters. Last but not least, poll family, friends and acquaintances for first-hand experiences and advice on the area you are considering relocating to – online research can only get you so far.
The following checklist is designed to help keep you sane before after and during your upcoming move!
Before Moving Day:
Hire a moving crew:
Unless you are fresh out of college or completely broke, don’t make friends and family members haul your couch up the stairs. Honestly: Don’t. Spare their backs and allow them to keep liking you by hiring professional and insured movers with the right kind of equipment. A piano is still a piano, and while your parents may be happy their investments on your musical education has paid off, they’re not asking for a late revenge on your part.
To find a moving service, do the following:
Ask family and friends for referrals based on their relocation experience.
Accept for your relocation to be a personal experience, and keep in mind the perfect mover for you may be different from the perfect mover for someone else, depending on your needs and requirements.
If you’re planning to forego the option of a professional moving company, put your smartphone to good use and check out some of the furniture delivery apps on the market. These include
Dolly, an app that allows private and retail customers to schedule and order the appropriate muscle (choose between 1 or 2 movers) and vehicle to pick-up and deliver their household goods with optionable donation services.
Lugg, ‘the Uber for moving´, an app which allows you to similarly schedule the pick-up and delivery of your household items27Scheduling with Lugg may occur up to 30 days ahead of time or on-demand with as little as 30 minutes to go.. A Lugg package includes a truck as big as you need, two vetted
Work on your timing:
If at all possible, try to avoid peak moving times from May through September. Especially for families, it may be tempting to move during the summer months when the weather is nice, and school is out. However, if you can move before or after
If you can comfortably afford to purchase new moving boxes of all sizes, please do. If you’re on a tight budget, ask around in grocery stores, drug stores and similar. Inquire with family and friends and use your network to shout out for free boxes. We got the entire set of boxes for our latest family move from the folks who moved out of the house we were moving
Know your rights:
Cancel & transfer & return:
Cancel any services tied to your current home address and update the service providers about your relocation:
- Make a list of utility providers and cancel or transfer their services one by one (electric, gas, heating, cooling, water, sewer, trash removal, internet, phone, cable). Determine a realistic date for moving and stick to it,
cancellingthe utilities 2-3 weeks prior to that date. Ask for a final reading and leave a forwarding address.
- If there are any items you need to return, such as an Internet router or water dispenser, do so. Ask for your deposit back, and do not assume that your utilities will be automatically set up for you once you’ve arrived at your new location. Check with your new landlord and/or
previoustenant, as this is something you may need to do yourself.
- If you are in the habit of receiving any daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly shipments (water and food deliveries, magazines, clothes), remember to let these providers know as well. It’s especially easy to forget about the stuff that is only delivered once every blue moon, so check your inbox for any odd orders you’ve made. I myself am a
snackoholiceffectively addicted to a vegan snack box delivered bi-weekly to my doorstep and was crushed to miss at least two deliveries when I forgot to update the provider with my new address.
Stock up & refill:
Stock up on specialty items prior to moving. Refill your prescriptions if you or anyone in your immediate family need medication. It may take you a while to figure out the availability of specialized items and to get the chance for a pharmacy visit at your new location. If you are dead set on a certain type of cereal only to be obtained on a particular stand of the local farmers market every other Thursday, you have three options available to you: grow up, get over it or stock up while you have the chance. My dad will ask for a Swedish brand specific muesli delivery every time we visit him in Germany, but he has managed to find a working alternative for the time in-between visits. Whenever he gets a hold of the item himself, he buys in bulk.
Donate, donate, donate:
There are plenty of organizations that will happily take your donations. While some of them may require you to drop off your stuff, others may be open to picking it up. There are some great services such as PickUpMyDonation that will let you know about which local non-profits will be available to pick up your donations depending on your zip code. If you have a particular charity in mind, check their website. The Salvation Army lets you schedule a pick-up online, so does Habitat for Humanity. To support the military, consider donating to the Vietnam Veterans of America with their PickUpPlease service, or choose the pick-up service of the Order of the Purple Heart.
If you are tight for cash or simply feel less inclined to give away your household items for free, visit your local thrift store with a consignment policy. Even better, use free mobile marketplace apps to make some money by decluttering your home:
- OfferUp is a large local marketplace allowing for the presentation of items by picture and text; seller messaging service for negotiation and in-depth seller profiles with TruYou verification, ID-badge, transaction history
- LetGo is the largest and fastest growing app to buy and sell locally, this app allows you to list and purchase items by picture and text, negotiate your deal via the in-app messenger service and check out seller profiles.
- Gazelle is a
technicalmarketplace with free guaranteed quotes based on the condition of the item sold, free boxed shipping for qualified orders28Qualified items are defined as small electronics over $30.00., same-day payment and the option to sell your items via conveniently located ecoATM kiosks.
- ThreadUp is the world’s largest marketplace for used fashion items for name brands with the option to sell by consignment (with an additional 10% payout on luxury designer brands) and/or receive
upfrontpayout for high demand items. Clean and intact items are collected via a Clean Out Kit with pre-paid shipping. Payouts can be estimated with an in-app payout estimator and turned into charity donations generating a donation text receipt.
- Tradesy is a higher-end marketplace for new and used fashion featuring a choice of free, printable USPS priority shipping labels and pre-paid sales kits to ship and return items to
customer, a step-by stepsellers guide and flat commission rates with guaranteedpayment for return items29The flat commission rate is $7.50 for sold items less than $50. On sold items $50 or more, Tradesy deducts a commission rate of 19.8%..
Store or don’t store:
There are many public storage companies, local and national, that will be happy to hold on to your belongings for you. Examples of national chains are UHaul, Public Storage, Simply Self Storage, Cube Smart
Stick to your schedule:
Use free to-do apps to create a weekly moving schedule with realistic time frames for each step of the way. Expect things to take longer than you would normally anticipate and be happily surprised if not.
- Wunderlist includes unlimited printable to-do lists categorized in folders with the option to tag, prioritize and create sub-tasks created by text; the option to set reminders (one for each to-do), add single and reoccurring due dates, notes, hashtags and activate in-app notifications; a collaborative sharing, assignment and comment function; integration of web content and emails to turn into action items.
- TickTick offers unlimited to-do lists with the option to tag, prioritize and create sub-tasks created by text or voice; automatic multiple reminders (time and location) by smart date parsing; data back-up; a collaborative sharing and assignment function, drag and drop function for tasks and due dates; a calendar overview and scheduling option with time duration and custom repeat options; the option to turn emails into action items.
With a timeline in place, schedule your moving chores and stick to it. Do not assume to get any packing done on moving day. Have your belongings wrapped, packed and ready to go.
Categorize, pack & label:
Categorize your belongings and create a moving inventory. Purchase an entire set of Sharpies and save yourself frantic searches. There is a very real chance of you displacing them only to discover them in the box upon opening it at your new place. Mark the contents of each box as well as the assigned room on all
Whip up a VIP box:
Pack and label one or two VIP boxes with stuff you’ll need immediately upon your arrival. Think towels, sheets, bathroom necessities, your phone charger
On Moving Day
Get up & ready:
This is going to be a long day, so wake up early and prepare by taking a quick shower, eating a healthy breakfast and getting coffee in case your espresso maker is already packed. Greet whoever is helping you to move in time, freshly shaved and with a smile – nobody wants to see you woken by the doorbell in your pajamas. Be ready to sign some final papers and provide your mover with information on how to get to the proposed location with the least number of miles. Hand out important phone numbers should the need for communication arise, and do not mute your phone. This is something I frequently do, and it has cost me dearly on more than one occasion.
Leave & bring along:
Lock the door and dispose of the keys as arranged. Bring the new keys along with you – it’s no fun to get to your new place after a 10-hour drive only to have to call the locksmith. On that note, do you have your wallet and phone? Do you?
Take care of business:
Spoil yourself and your moving crew with snacks and attention. Pre-order sandwiches and have water bottles available. Tip your movers for their services before, not after moving. People that like you are more likely to treat your furniture nicely too. T’is my firm belief that many a scratch can be avoided this way. Once the move is concluded, have the agreed amount of cash, a check or your credit card available for payment. Check the inventory sheet meticulously and keep the bill of lading. Treat these documents as
Unpack & unwrap:
Upon arrival, be ambitious and wrestle your things out of the bubble wrap immediately. While it may be tempting to save the last boxes for later, later will never come. More likely, you will move the same unpacked boxes time after time. If this has been the case previously, consider if you really need to bring that stuff along.
Get rid of both kids and pets on moving day – find something fun for them to do and make it an all-day thing. There is only so much distraction you can take on moving day, and your patience will be tested as it is.
Pack the kid’s room last and unpack them first. If your kids are present upon arrival, let them unpack their own toys – it’ll keep them busy and out of your hair. Hide (prewrapped) candy and small surprises in their boxes for a scavenger hunt and some extra motivation. On that note, bring a charged iPad along to distract cranky kids with games, movies and YouTube clips. It works for cranky adults too, you’ll see.
Don’t even think about making dinner. Most likely, you’ll be too tired and stressed out for eating out as well, so check out local takeout options and order whatever feels good. Add deserts, too. Calories don’t count on moving days.
After Moving Day
Toss & turn:
Get rid of the cardboard boxes by driving them to the nearest recycling plant the day after moving. Your home will feel less chaotic with the boxes and wrapping materials
Explore the area:
Take a break from it all and get out. Stroll the street and explore your new neighborhood. Find out the location of facilities like hospitals, police stations, fire stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and similar. Talk to people and introduce yourself to the ones you’re likely to encounter often. Try lots and lots of different coffeehouses until you decide on the one you like best, then make friends with the baristas. You will eventually forget your wallet and keys and it’s nice to know where to take refuge until the rest of the family gets home.
Don’t be a snob. Keeping up with international events is important but zoom in once in a while and watch the local news to get an idea of what’s going on locally. Subscribe to the local newspaper, or at the very least, check out their website now and then. For the technically inclined, get the app.
Find like-minded people via meetup.com or local clubs. If you’re into cooking classes, look for the local PCC. Check out the local Parks & Recreation
Register the pooch:
Get a pet license for your pet and update any online register with the new address. Update your pet’s microchip online and don’t forget the address tag on the dog or cat collar. If there is a great dog park nearby that required paid parking, consider getting a yearly parking sticker for your vehicle. Those one-dollar bills tend to get scarce at the most inconvenient times.
Stay in touch:
Invite friends and family left behind with a virtual tour of your new home. Use social media to stay connected and establish a routine to help bridge the distance. A regular video call on Saturday mornings can be something to look forward to and minimize the risk
Let’s be real: Any relocation – whether it’s yours alone or involving your immediate family – may feel like an intimidating task. Heck, the sheer number of subtasks immediately springing to mind can be overwhelming. However, it is intimidating only if you let it become just that. If you, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of moving residency, chose to embrace the challenge, it’s nothing you can’t accomplish. There are plenty of actions you can take to work for a successful relocation. Some of these actions will require practical action on your part and are often in the forefront of attention. There will be to-do lists, weekly tasks and boxes to pack and check. There will be stuff to buy and stuff to get rid of and stuff to move and stuff qualifying to simultaneously belong in any and none of these categories, depending on who you’ll ask.
Other actions will require you to analyze your decision to relocate and prepare yourself and others for the emotional consequences of such a decision. There will be family powwows about the pros and cons for everybody involved, there may be yelling and excited laughter, slammed doors and celebration dinners. The emotional aspects of relocation are easy to neglect in the whirlwind of practical necessities, but their impact on everybody’s emotional and mental wellbeing is just as great as utilities to satisfy your basic physical needs, so don’t duck the drama. Think of it this way: Your happiness and life satisfaction are the result of many contributing factors to be balanced upon relocating. To be successful and happy in your new home, you need to make sure to meet all of your needs. With good planning and good, honest conversations, your relocation will be the success story you’ll write for yourself. Now get moving!
The Best Moving Company You Can Hire:
“Unless you absolutely can’t afford it, don’t make friends and family members haul your furniture. Honestly, don’t. Spare their backs and allow them to keep liking you by hiring a vetted, licensed and insured moving company that has the right kind of equipment.”
The Most Important Idea To Learn:
The most common mistake that most people make when moving is focusing too heavily on the moving logistics and not focusing enough on the people involved.
To avoid this mistake:
- Migration/Geographic Mobility Data – United States Census Bureau
- The Psychology of Moving – The New York Times
- The relocation bump: Memories of middle adulthood are organized around residential moves. Enz, Karalyn F.,Pillemer, David B.,Johnson, Kenneth M. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 145(8), Aug 2016, 935-940
- Adverse Outcomes to Early Middle Age Linked With Childhood Residential Mobility – Roger T. Webb, PhD’Correspondence information about the author PhD Roger T. WebbEmail the author PhD Roger T. Webb, Carsten B. Pedersen, DrMedSc, Pearl L.H. Mok, PhD
- Children’s social, academic functioning is impeded when their families move more often – Science Daily
- Moving is tough for kids – Psychology Today
- Will Moving Make Me Happier? by Brad Waters – Psychology Today
- Habituation Revisited: An Updated and Revised Description of the Behavioral Characteristics of Habituation – US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
- About Our Industry – American Moving and Storage Association
- 51st Annual Atlas Corporate Relocation Survey Results – Atlas
- Taxable Move/ Relocation Expenses – University of California San Diego
- Main featured photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash