You’ve just received the big announcement – your company has decided to relocate you to another of their international offices. Corporate relocation can an extremely exciting period of your life, but unless you are well prepared, it could also be the beginning of a long and bumpy road. Here are some tips and strategies to follow in preparation for the move to ensure it’s not only successful, but also enjoyable.
1. Negotiate your relocation package:
Don’t be so excited and “flattered” about being offered this opportunity that you don’t negotiate a proper relocation package. You’re going there to work, not on holiday. Ask your employer what they are going to pay for. Remember that you and your family are facing an enormous upheaval. But be realistic; there are some companies that don’t pay the full amount, expecting you kick-in your share. Negotiate with them. Optimistically, a typical relocation packages should include the following:
- Travel arrangements for you and your family (and that should include the family pets as well!).
- If you can’t move into your new home immediately, then the company should be prepared to pay for temporary (hotel or rental) accommodation for a reasonable period of time.
- If your current home doesn’t fetch a reasonable price (selling under pressure to meet relocation deadlines can do that), they should be prepared to make up the loss or connect you with a real estate agent who can handle the sale for you.
- Relocation is usually a promotion, so there should be a salary negotiation.
- Professional moving services should be covered by the company, although there may be exceptions if your personal items are somewhat out of the ordinary. For example, moving your entire vintage motorcycle collection or your rare collection of antique Ming vases probably won’t be covered!
2. Budget properly:
Don’t underestimate your financial needs in moving overseas. Make a budget list of all the initial costs you expect in your new city, such as: renting or buying a house, buying furniture, utensils and appliances, buying a car (even if your company provides one, your spouse/partner might need one as well), insurance, health costs, deposits for utilities, cell phones and other contingencies…and that’s before buying food! Make sure you know which items you are expected to pay for and which you would like to negotiate that your company cover.
3. Research where you will be living:
As soon as you have been advised of where you will be moving to, start researching the city, country, culture, geography, climate etc. It is essential that you know your new country’s dominant culture, living conditions, and the city to where you are moving. The internet is a great source of information. Get familiar with Google street maps, and learn how to get around.
But don’t confine research to the Internet. There’s nothing like first-hand experience, so take a “research field trip” (hopefully with your spouse/partner) to check out housing, schools, shopping centers, restaurants, sports clubs and gyms, recreational facilities, etc. With luck, this will be able to negotiate this advanced trip into your relocation package.
Be aware of the cultural differences you will encounter – even if you go to an English-speaking country. The English in the US is not the same English in the UK, South Africa, or Australia – even Canada, and certainly not in India!
4. Cut through “Red Tape”
Get all your paperwork in order: passports, visas, health certificates, birth and marriage certificates, school reports, college degrees, inoculation for pets, etc. Make sure you know what’s required – have everything copied, copied again and then stored safely online in at least three different places: on your computer, perhaps in a Dropbox file and then possibly in an offline storage device, like a USB key or external hard drive.
Find out what you may have to pay duty on, what you must declare in customs, and what you are allowed to bring into the new country. Are you importing a car? Can it even be imported to your new country? If you’re going to the UK or any of Britain’s former colonies, you will be driving on the left, and they may not allow a left-hand drive vehicle from the US to be imported.
5. Know where you’re going to spend your first night:
In the case that your company will not provide housing (temporary or permanent) in your new city, you should arrange accommodation well before your move. You can opt for temporary, short-term housing for when you arrive, since it can be a challenge to find a long-term rental from abroad. Staying in a holiday rental or short-term accommodation gives you the time to research your area and find the right place for you, and can end up being cheaper than a hotel. There are plenty of online resources for finding accommodation, such as Homeaway and Airbnb. You can also search online for local resources and real estate agents in the city you are moving to.
6. Choose an International Moving Company:
Your company may have an arrangement with preferential contactors. But if you have to find your own movers, here’s a word of warning: don’t try to do this on the cheap and be VERY wary of companies providing unrealistically low estimates.
Your belongings are valuable to you and you want them to arrive in one piece and in good condition. You also want the move to go smoothly, all the paperwork to be taken care of without a hitch, and to receive efficient and pleasant service from the movers. It’s essential that you choose an experienced and professional international moving company, and put reputation ahead of price. Also make sure that the removal company is fully insured and licensed, and confirm that your belongings are fully insured before the move.