Consult our Top 10 Reasons to Move to London. But if it’s the case where you may have to—i.e., for work—then let’s discuss what points you should address with your employer. But first, where do you fall along the continuum of global mobility?
If you’re moving with a job, is it a new or existing one? If it’s a new one, you will not be relocating under expat status, thus not entitled to a relocation package beyond what the company might still automatically offer you. Why not? Because they have no history with you as an asset to the company. Sure, they’re happy to have you on board, but they interviewed local candidates as well, and you’re the one who put yourself forth for this job. No one’s forcing you to move; it’s just something you want to do. My husband and I fell into this category and only received what moving allowance we did as a result of my husband leveraging another London job offer. Otherwise, no additional moving monies were offered, and we certainly received no relocation support in finding a flat, paying for it, or otherwise getting settled in. This is where a relocation specialist would have been very handy for us had we been aware of how much they can be worth their weight in gold!
If it’s an existing job, did your employer ask you to relocate, or did you request the transfer? Again, in the latter case, no one’s twisting your arm, so you’ll have less leverage in negotiating a moving package. It’s still worth asking for the transfer, though, if the move will bring you professional and personal satisfaction, and if there’s a role that suits you well in that overseas office, your employer may be delighted to offer it to you. No harm in asking, then, if they’ll provide some form of moving compensation as well. They shouldn’t have to, but they just might if you’re a valued employee and they have deep enough pockets.
In the former case, in which you’re asked to relocate, how much choice do you have in the matter? Is it move-it-or-lose-it, or can you respectfully decline and stay securely within the status quo? If it’s an ultimatum, while you’ll have more negotiating power than the above scenarios, you’ll have a bit less than if there’s room for decision. If the employer wants you to move, they’ll do what they have to in order to sway you; if you’ve been content with your current position, they should respect the fact that a transfer is asking a lot of you (and your family), as you’d be undergoing changes you might not have otherwise, left to your own devices.
So. If you have any semblance of negotiating power with your employer before your international job transfer, here are a few key items you may be entitled to, or should at least ask for:
- Moving allowance – All costs related to packing/shipping/delivering your possessions overseas, as well as any necessary storage back home or abroad.
- Flights home – Expense of roundtrip airfare back home a few times per year.
- Housing costs – With regard to the apartment, some tranferees are compensated in full for their rent, some are compensated in part (perhaps relocation agent fees, initial deposit, first few months’ or year’s rent, utilities, etc….it depends), while others are accorded none at all. Conversely, you may be put up for free in corporate housing. With regard to your apartment/condo/house back home, if you rent, they may cover any fees related to breaking the lease, and if you own, any expenses related to the rental or sale of your property as well as perhaps costs like association dues or property taxes.
- Transition services - As money is usually the first issue to come to mind, I think many employees neglect to ask about the qualitative support they might receive to help get acclimated to a new culture and environment. Accompanying spouses and other family members will undergo a great amount of stress in light of what they are leaving behind to follow your work. So, be it geographical or cultural orientations, expat lunches or other events, life coaching sessions or counseling, explore all options available. But to get back to money, consider asking if there’s any compensation available to help temporarily offset your spouse’s loss of income until she/he can find new employment in London (and ask if they’ll help your spouse find that employment).
In the case where your company doesn’t provide in-house or affiliate services mentioned above such as London relocation services or family orientation, do at least ask if they will reimburse your costs should you research and utilize these on your own.
I realize that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should help give you a general understanding of what compensation may be within your rights (and definitely within your needs!) as you approach expat package negotiations for your move.