How to Negotiate a Job Relocation Offer

Job relocation can be a big decision. It can catch people at the wrong time, in the middle of school commitments or other major financial issues like mortgages. Negotiating a job relocation can also be very difficult because employers have to work with their own priorities, and need to know who can relocate ASAP in some cases.

Basis of Negotiation

One of the basic principles of negotiation is to negotiate from a position of strength. An employee may not consider themselves to be in a position of strength, and see the relocation as unavoidable.

That's not the best mindset for handling the problem. You can manage a relocation, and create a stronger position for yourself.

These are the basic principles of initial negotiation in this case:

  • Give a clear statement of your position.
  • Ask for clarification of any unclear issues.
  • Make it clear that you need to manage the issues the relocation creates.
  • Do not be negative about the proposal, or imply any lack of interest.
  • Explain that you need time to make a decision and ask when the employer needs an answer.
  • Make no commitments, verbally or in writing, because you can be held to them.

This is now a dialog, not just a yes or no answer. You're within your rights to have the information you've requested. It's also reasonable that you will require time to assess the situation. You're feeling out the employer in the process, getting information from reactions about the employer's priorities.

Decision Making

The question at this stage is whether the relocation is viable. These are some of the primary issues:

  • Financial viability: Does the relocation cost you money in real terms?
  • Family issues: Is the relocation workable for the family?
  • Career situation: Does the job create any opportunities? Remember, some others won't relocate. There may be promotional or other opportunities.
  • Property: Although this is a financial issue, it can also be a real problem. If you have to sell up and move, you could lose money. It could also take some time to straighten out and finalize the mortgage commitments.
  • Social or other issues: Would you be moving to a strange place, or somewhere you really have reservations about moving?

The decision to relocate has to be realistic. The risk in this situation is committing to a situation which could be difficult and expensive.

Second Round of Negotiations

You only need to negotiate further if you've decided to relocate. Unless you have other possible job options with the employer that don't involve relocation, at this point the real issue is keeping the employer on board with your needs.

  • You confirm you can relocate, but you need some time and space to do it.
  • You clearly explain the obstacles to an instant move, and ask if you can be given a free hand to deal with them.
  • Give a realistic time frame for what needs to be done.

This round of negotiation is a simple statement of fact on your part and the employer's response. Most professional managers will understand and react proactively and often helpfully. Negotiation is a two way process.