Is your job sending you overseas? Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Relocating to a new country can be an exciting, eye opening experience. But when negotiating the terms with your employer, it is crucial to make sure you’re getting duly compensated. All of the logistics should be sorted out before you fly out. You don’t want to wind up in a new country without health insurance for yourself or spouse, or having left behind the prized heirloom that’s been in your family for six generations.
Negotiating relocation terms is like bartering for your new lifestyle. Before you board the plane, you want to know that all of the necessities you have at home will be in place when you arrive, ready to serve your new expat lifestyle.
This includes everything from obvious issues like how much you will be getting paid and where you are going to live, to less apparent items like choosing a shipping company and considering the need for security. Overall, the process should take care of all your needs in the least stressful way possible. (Click here to tweet this guide.)
For those who are relocating to Europe, applying for a work permit or visa is country specific, and your company will need to sponsor your application. It’s a good idea to see if they can secure visas for your family, as well. You can even ask if they can apply on your behalf. This article on Matador Network describes the process in more detail.
For those who are relocating to the Middle East (another in-demand area for professionals), your company should take care of the visa application for you as well, but security and safety could pose a much larger concern.
Security, If Needed
Depending on the country you’re relocating to, safety and security may be legitimate concerns for you and your family. Discuss with your company what options are available. They may be able to provide housing in a gated community, a security system, bodyguards, and drivers.
Housing or Housing Allowance
According to U.S. News, in most relocation negotiations it’s up to the employee to research housing. However, most companies typically offer temporary housing or a housing allowance, especially if you’re moving to an area where residential costs are high. U.S. News suggests being up-front with your employer if you need housing assistance.
Once you have secured your visa, work permit, and your company has set up temporary housing for you and your family, the next step is to figure out how you are going to get around.
Companies know that selling your car and buying a new one in a foreign country is not always a smooth process. It is worth your while to ask them for the use of a company car or to include the cost of a car for you in the overall negotiation package. They may even hook you up with a personal driver. Don’t forget the old platitude: The answer will always be no unless you ask.
Your company should also include the cost of moving in your package and possibly set it up for you. If they don’t mention this in the beginning, have a discussion about it.
Most companies will pay your moving costs, but they may not budge when you ask them to set it up. In that case, you are going to have to find an all-inclusive service to ship your belongings overseas.
There are certain services available that will take care of everything for you. You choose between air or ocean freight, and the total number of cubic feet or kilograms of your belongings is typically used to calculate the costs of the container shipping.
Transportation costs and vacation time
Don’t worry, you’re almost there. It is now time to negotiate who is paying to fly you and if necessary your family over. It’s also a good time to see if your company will sponsor a short leave of absence to get moved and settled.
According to Expat Arrivals, companies expect to pay for at least one return flight to your home country per year. This includes your family. The employee may pay initially with the company reimbursing the total cost.
Companies may also include extra vacation days for trips home for the holidays and to make up for time spent flying. If none of these are mentioned when first discussing your relocation contract, make sure to throw them onto the negotiation table and provide compelling reasons for why they should be considered. Remember, you’re in the better bargaining position because they need and want you abroad.
If you’re a parent, this would be one of your first concerns. Do some research and decide whether the surrounding area offers adequate schooling for your children. Note that many foreign countries do not offer free public school, so your employer should cover the cost of private schools.
Another thing to consider is homeschooling; there are a number of excellent, academically acclaimed online learning institutions available now for children of diplomats, expats, and other people who choose to homeschool for one reason or another. Still, these curriculums are not necessarily cheap and you may need to hire a tutor, as well.
It is especially important to include education in the negotiations if your children are entering, or are enrolled in, college. Universities overseas can have waiting lists that make it next to impossible to get accepted once you arrive.
Full medical and health insurance should be prerequisites in relocation contracts. If private healthcare is not provided, make sure that you’re being compensated enough to pay for insurance out of your salary.
Healthcare plans and coverage should be specific to the country you are entering.
From Expat Arrivals: “At some point you will want to return home. Negotiate for the costs of this process to be covered and, crucially, lock-down the precise length of your overseas assignment.”
Employers can easily allow the scope of your agreement to creep beyond boundaries if this part of the contract is overlooked. Either set strict guidelines for the length of stay, or implement compensation if the stay goes over the agreed upon period.
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.