Relocation expenses can be significant whether you are moving to accept a job with a new employer or relocating with your current employer. In either case, employers often pay the costs of your move, either as a reimbursement or as an advance against which you must provide documentation in the form of receipts and service contracts.
Project a budget of relocation assistance items prior to your job interview to avoid being caught trying to do the math on the spot.
Request copies of all written benefit and compensation policies prior to your final interview, but delay specific discussion of relocation assistance until the appropriate time in the hiring process.
Negotiate your relocation assistance package after you have been offered the job or told explicitly that you are the person your employer wants to hire for the job.
Include any of the following items for which you anticipate significant expenses: moving your household belongings, temporary lodging during the move, assistance in selling or renting your existing home, exploratory trips while you look for permanent lodging or work in your new office prior to the actual move, gas and food expenses until you are situated and trips to spend time with your family if, for instance, they remain in the previous home through the end of the school year.
Put other items on the table if you have a legitimate case for them in negotiations: child care, mortgage points or a bridge loan to help you transition from one house to another.
Try to negotiate an advance against the full amount of your relocation budget, since many costs need to be paid on the spot and this can create a serious cash-flow burden if you have to meet them out-of-pocket.
Get your relocation assistance package in writing, even if in an informal memorandum, before you sign an employment contract or take any irrevocable steps that commit you to accept the new position.
Make an effort to save your employer on your relocation costs after you negotiate your package by bargaining effectively for services such as a moving van. It will help to stamp you as a fair team player if you are able to refund a portion of your advance when you submit your receipts after your move is completed.
Be flexible if your employer is concerned about issues of precedent. It's fine if your employer calls it a signing bonus, but the burden will be on you to maintain documentation to ensure that you can deduct appropriate relocation expenses.
Relocation assistance payments are normal business expenses, but you and your employer must be prepared to document them for federal, state, and local tax agencies lest they be construed as personal income.