Whether you’re moving to a new city for a new job, or you’re moving without a job in place, there’s one thing that’s always true: moving for a job costs money, and you’ll need to figure out how to bankroll your big move.
Your options for doing that are pretty dependent on which of those two situations you find yourself in before you move. Is your company transferring you? Or is this a self-motivated move? Regardless of which one it is, here’s what you need to know to make sure your job-motivated move doesn’t ruin your budget.
So… will they pay for my move?
The dream situation is, of course, that a company will bankroll your move. There are usually only two cases where that would happen. One, you work there already and you’re being transferred to a new location. Two, you applied for (and got!) a job with an out-of-town company, and they offered you a relocation package to sweeten the deal.
Even if those two things aren’t true, and no one has brought up relocation costs to you, it’s always worth asking if you’re staring down a big move. You never know when the company might be open to offsetting some of your costs, so when in doubt? Ask. (Politely, of course.)
In a pinch, just go with this: “Is there a standard relocation policy at Awesome Co.?”
If there isn’t, they’ll tell you – and if there is, you might find out important details, like the terms of your relocation package.
That’s right, terms. If the package is substantial, it’ll likely come with a repayment clause. That means that if you leave the company before a set period of time has elapsed, you’re on the hook to repay all of your relocation benefits out of your own pocket.
How much will it cost you, though?
Whether you have a relocation package on offer or not, how much a particular move will cost is entirely dependent on one thing: you. Specifically, your current situation. To get an idea of your total cost, you’ll want to consider the following questions – and their associated impact on your relocation budget.
Do you own a house?
Do you have a family to move along with you? (And yes, your dog totally counts.)
How much stuff will you be bringing with you?
How expensive is your new city?
How long do you think it’ll take you to find a place?
All those factors and more can have hidden and not-so-hidden costs. Let’s say your company will cover a hotel and a rental car for four weeks when you first get to town – what happens if you haven’t found a place to live by the end of that four weeks? Is that a possibility in your city? (Hint: if you’re in a competitive rental market like NYC or San Fran, the answer is yes.)
Even if you’re offered what seems like a generous relocation package from your new or not-so-new employer, make sure to run the numbers for yourself. If the move will cost more than your package, you need to be ready to handle those expenses.
Savings accounts, to the rescue!
I don’t care if you think your move will be fully funded by a company, or if you’re taking the leap on your own, as soon as you get the “I should move to a new city” twinkle in your eye, it’s time to start saving money. To set up a realistic savings plan, take into account all of those costs you estimated and how soon you’d like to make the move.
From there, look at how much you could squeeze out of your monthly budget, and try to set aside as much as you can to make your relocation dreams a reality. In an ideal world, you’ll just divide your total costs by the number of months you have until the Big Move, and save that amount every month. Even if you can’t quite hit that number, something is better than nothing!
If your move is happening really soon, and really urgently, you could likely even justify scaling back on some of your other savings goals to make sure that your move isn’t funded by Visa or Mastercard. It really just depends on how much of a priority it is for you.
Set up a job-searching fund before you jump in
The last, but not the least important, thing to consider is the job-searching expenses you might have if you’re moving to a new city without a job in place.
Things like business cards, coffees, and bus tickets to and from your many, many interviews aren’t free, and while there are definitely ways to build a network and go on interviews without breaking the bank, better safe than sorry.
At the end of the day, funding a move for a job isn’t all that different than any other major life expense. Consider how much support you’ll have – in this case, from your employer – and then make a solid plan to cover the difference.
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