Life Changes

Top Money-Saving Tips for Relocating

Relocating for a new job can be expensive, but planning ahead and knowing when to get professional help can ease the financial burden.

by Heather Johnson - May 08, 2017

It’s one of the most difficult decisions for many workers and executives to make. A great job is available that would be perfect for your career, but it’s in a different city. What do you do?

If accepting a new job means relocating, you have a lot of decisions to make before your first day of work. Whether you’re moving across the state or across the country, it can be a costly process. Advance planning and smart research may help make your move as cost-effective and stress-free as possible.

Negotiate the best relocation package

It never hurts to ask your new employer if they will pay for your moving expenses. While they might decline, many companies do offer relocation packages that include the cost of your travel, cost to move household goods and automobiles, and reimbursement for any storage expenses. Others offer a lump sum, which may or may not cover the full cost.

“Most corporate recruiters I talk to say they no longer need to offer huge relocation packages to land great hires,” says Ryan Carrigan, cofounder of moveBuddha, an online moving resource. “They can get away with $5,000 to $10,000 lump sum packages.”

Worldwide ERC, an association that tracks relocation trends, reports that it costs between $23,766 and $85,673 to move an employee. Costs vary depending on whether the employee rents or buys a home or is a new-hire or current employee. No matter the situation, it’s a hefty sum, and getting your employer to pay some of the costs will ease the financial burden.

According to the 2016 Atlas World Group Corporate Relocation Survey, 80% of companies have a formal relocation policy.

Plan early

“The earlier you plan your move, the less stressful and expensive it will be,” says Ali Wenzke, cofounder of the blog The Art of Happy Moving, which provides moving tips and how-to advice. With an early start, you’ll have time to sell or donate items you don’t need, which can help reduce transportation costs.

If you know you’re moving a few months ahead of time, start collecting boxes. “Most people don’t realize moving supplies can add up to several hundred dollars,” says Carrigan. Pick up free boxes from local businesses or search sites such as Craigslist and NextDoor for offers.

Research your options

Whether you hire professional movers or rent a truck and move yourself, transporting your belongings is the biggest moving expense you’ll face. As you consider your choices from how you’ll get your items from point A to point B, ask yourself the following:

  • How much space will I need?
  • Will I need storage at either location?
  • Do I have items that require special handling?
  • Am I shipping or driving my cars?
  • By when do I need everything delivered?
  • Do I have available parking at both locations?
  • Can I pack myself or do I need help?

If you need temporary storage while you house-hunt, Carrigan says you may be able to save money by renting a portable storage container from companies like Pods or Smartbox.

Whether you hire a transport-only company or professional movers, get at least three estimates to compare price and services. Balance those numbers with company reputation and customer service.

Don’t rely on Internet-based quotes, which are often inaccurate, and be wary of websites that provide quotes from multiple movers, which Carrigan says are “notorious for selling your information.”

Save your receipts

If your employer won’t cover relocation expenses, you may be able to deduct moving costs from your income taxes. You may also receive a deduction for items donated to charity.

Meet with your tax advisor before you move to determine what’s tax-deductible, and keep all your receipts for documentation purposes.

It’s unlikely moving will ever top your list of fun things to do. But with careful planning and research, you can make the relocation process as affordable and stress-free as possible, so you’ll be relaxed, rested, and focused when you start your new job.

Heather Johnson writes about small business, finance, real estate, and other topics from Oakland, California.

Image by iStock

Additional Resources

If you’re planning to talk to your new employer about paying for relocating costs, use these helpful negotiating tips.