I relocated for a job this past Spring and would never do it again.
Despite the fact that:
- I got more money out of the deal.
- I got an amazing job opportunity.
- I got the chance to live in a new state.
I’d still never relocate for a job.
Are you Willing to Relocate?
When I was filling out my job application I checked off the box that I was willing to relocate.
I wasn’t really thinking about the true meaning of relocation.
I knew I’d have to uproot my life, move to a new place, and start a job in another state.
I wasn’t thinking about the financial and emotional costs of a relocation.
Relocation Assistance is Great but not Everything
I can’t imagine relocating without the generous relocation assistance I received.
My job offer included a relocation package with the following relocation services:
- I had a dedicated relocation coordinator who helped me schedule relocation services.
- I received a lump sum payment that could be used towards selling my home and any other expenses.
- I had a moving company come and completely pack and move my stuff with no cost to me.
- I rented a car for a month in the new destination at no cost to me.
- I stayed in temporary housing for a month in the new destination at no cost to me.
- Among other services..
All of this sounded great when I signed the offer but in reality it didn’t cover all of my relocation expenses.
Below are the relocation expenses that weren’t covered by my relocation package.
A Home That Doesn’t Sell
The relocation got really expensive when I wasn’t able to sell my home. My house sat on the market for 5 months until we took it off the market and rented it out.
For 4 of those months we paid double rent and mortgage.
Especially in one of the most expensive rental markets in the country.
A Partner Who Needs to Find a New Job
My fiancé quit his job and moved with me.
He wasn’t able to find a full-time job right away and took a part-time job.
His part-time job has evolved into something he loves but he is still working part time.
We lost about 70% of his salary for a few months in the move.
Since my salary has increased, our household income has increased overall but this was still a relocation expense that we didn’t anticipate.
A Higher Cost of Living
We knew that we were moving to an area with a higher cost of living but we didn’t realize exactly HOW much higher.
We downsized from a 3000 square foot house to a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment – and we pay the exact same price in rent as we did for our old mortgage.
We did sell one of our cars since we are now in walking distance to everything (which is AMAZING – I highly recommend that part).
The lack of a car payment combined with the lower utility bills put us ahead on housing costs overall.
I would be lying if I don’t mention that I miss the space sometimes.
I used to sprawl out in the old house and now my big dog, fiancé and myself are living in tight quarters.
It’s also more expensive when we go out to dinner or go grab a beer.
We live so close to town and really enjoy our occasional date nights but they’re more expensive here.
The Stress of Moving for Work
Moving was super stressful.
We downsized and I needed to get rid of 80% of our belongings.
While the minimalist lifestyle definitely feels good, it was SUPER STRESSFUL getting there.
It was even more stressful when we couldn’t sell our house.
We moved so that we could get to financial independence faster and yet we were eating away at our potential savings by supporting two houses.
I was balancing all of these worries with a new high-stress job.
It didn’t make things easier.
The Truth About A Company Relocation Package
I knew the new job would be a lot of work but I wasn’t anticipating just how much work.
I worked 24/7 last month.
I gladly took all of these great benefits when I was relocating (like driving a rental car for my first month) but I didn’t think about what I had obligated myself to do.
Per the terms of my job offer, I have to work at this company for a year or pay back the signing bonus (which I negotiated into the offer) and relocation expenses.
My paycheck shows that those two benefits total out to over $80,000. UH OH.
As much as this job is an amazing opportunity and I’m well paid, I have to admit that sometimes when I’m working late – I regret that I am obligated to keep going.
I can’t quit or I owe money.
Whenever my boss sends me a micro-manage-y email, I realize that I’m stuck.
I’m not someone who likes to feel trapped but I am trapped.
I have $80,000 of relocation benefits hanging over my head.
It’s kind of like debt that goes away after I’m there for a year.
If you’re shocked relocation costs that much – I’m shocked too – Apparently it’s very expensive!
I’m not saying that I want to quit my job, I’m just saying that I’m very well aware that I can’t quit my job.
Can You Get Out of a Relocation Contract?
In my research, I’ve found that you typically have three options when you want to break a relocation contract.
- You can negotiate with your HR department to only pay pro rata. Meaning if you worked for half the time required in the contract, you only have to pay back 50%.
- You can negotiate with your new company (if you have another job offer) to pay back your previous company with a large signing bonus.
- You can pay the full amount.
Skipping out is not an option for anyone. No one wants the ghosts of debt past haunting them.
You have a fourth option though and that is the option I am pursuing.
Deal with the stress and finish out the contract.
I think after one year, I’ll be happy that I had this opportunity and consider it a great experience.
Relocating for a job is more than just packing up and starting a job in a new place.
It can be less complicated if your life is less complicated (single, renting, etc.) but it’s still stressful.
I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given and think it’s a great career move long term but I want to present a balanced perspective about job relocation.
I’ll probably never relocate for a job again.
The Benefits of Relocating for a Job
Since the majority of this article was a debbie downer on relocation, I’ll end on the benefits of my job relocation.
- The higher salary means I am now closer to financial independence.
- I have a strong brand on my resume that will pay forward in my next job.
- I had a chance to live in a new place and go on adventures (like the one pictured below).
Have you relocated for a job? If you haven’t, would you ever consider it?
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