Not everyone gets the same entitlements when it comes to relocation. Although allowances and benefits improve as your employment level goes up, the main difference in support can be seen between a firm-initiated and a personally-initiated move. If the firm or the company instructs the assignment or transfer, then you can expect full support. But if there’s no urgent business need and the relocation is your idea, then expect that you will cover much of the cost.
These are the entitlements that you may receive:
- Economy-class airfare. This is what you’ll get even if your flight takes more than five hours (e.g. Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles).
- Shipment. Normally, an allowance will be provided to cover relocation costs, so you have to be conscious about spending. If you’re only moving to another state or city, then rent a personal truck from Home Depot. They have daily, monthly, and weekly rates.
- Housing. If you’re lucky, you’ll be provided a two-week stay in a serviced apartment, while you look for your own place. If you will get an allowance for this, better stay with a friend, if possible and if the policy allows.
- Business-class airfare, depending on the company policy. Some will get economy-class flights no matter what, but big firms will allow business class for long flights.
- Shipment. The company will hire a moving company who will ship your household goods. If you’re familiar with a different but trusted shipper, check if you can use them instead.
- Housing. Aside from covering a short-term accommodation, they can either give you a monthly allowance to pay for the rent of a long-term apartment, or they can arrange payment directly to the landlord. The process can sometimes depend on the state and country’s tax rules. For example, reimbursements are not taxable, but allowances are.
- Relocation and monthly allowance. The relocation allowance is a one-time payment to cover miscellaneous moving expenses, like furniture purchases. The monthly allowance should cover the difference between your expenses in the home and host location. If you’re going to a ‘hardship’ country, where you may find it hard to adjust (e.g. lawyer from the US going to Saudi Arabia), then you may also receive a monthly hardship allowance.
- Home leave flights. This is normally given once or twice a year so you can reconnect with your people back home.