The Best Ways To Spend Your Relocation Allowance Effectively

Maximizing your relocation allowance begins with understanding how to use relocation allowance effectively, ensuring no dollar is wasted. Whether you’re determining which moving costs are covered, planning your budget, or looking to save every possible cent, this article delivers straightforward, actionable steps to stretch your relocation funds efficiently. Here’s how to make every part of your move smoother and more economical, without spoiling the journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Relocation allowances vary by company and may include comprehensive packages, assistance, stipends, or capped plans, influenced by factors such as employee position, distance moved, and financial health of the company.
  • Effective use of a relocation allowance involves meticulous planning, prioritization of expenses, creation of a comprehensive budget, and tracking of spending, especially with potential tax implications in mind.
  • Cost-saving strategies when moving include DIY packing, careful selection and negotiation with moving companies, and utilization of company-provided services such as temporary housing, real estate, and expatriation assistance.

Understanding Your Relocation Allowance

Relocation allowances are financial aids provided by employers to cover moving expenses for employees relocating for work. The type and amount of allowance depend on various factors, such as the employee’s position and the company’s policies.

Gaining an understanding of these allowance categories can help you make the most of the financial support offered by employers to offset moving costs. The awareness of the type and amount of employee relocation packages available can assist employees in effectively budgeting and planning their relocation.

Types of relocation allowances

The various categories of relocation allowances offered by companies include:

  • Comprehensive relocation packages that cover expenses beyond moving and transportation
  • Relocation assistance that aids employees with the process of relocating
  • Relocation stipends that provide a set amount of money to cover moving expenses
  • Capped allowance plans that set a maximum amount for relocation expenses.

Different types of relocation allowances include:

  1. Lump sum payment: a cash payment provided to cover some or all of the relocation services.
  2. Direct billing: a portion of the allowance is allocated for direct payment of moving services, insurance, and temporary lodging.
  3. Reimbursement: the employee covers all relocation expenses initially and is later reimbursed by the employer.
  4. Outsourced relocation services: employers can revamp their relocation programs, improve services, reduce expenses, and provide customized mobility benefits tailored to their organizational requirements.

Factors affecting the amount

The amount of the employee relocation package for an employee is influenced by various factors, including their position. Higher positions often command a larger allowance, as companies typically offer greater benefits to senior positions, which can include larger allowances. Employee retention is also a factor that can influence the amount of relocation allowance provided. Entry to mid-level positions might expect an average relocation package of $10,000 to $30,000.

The distance of the move generally has an impact on the size of the lump sum relocation package, as many companies base the allowance on the mileage or distance to the new location. Consequently, this can lead to different amounts for local, domestic, or international moves.

The financial condition of a company significantly influences relocation allowances as it dictates the available funding for relocation benefits. A company with a strong financial standing may be able to offer more substantial financial support, such as covering expenses for movers and other relocation services.

Planning Your Move with a Relocation Allowance

Optimizing your relocation allowance calls for well-thought-out planning, which includes establishing a moving budget, setting expense priorities, and monitoring your spending. These steps ensure that you have a clear roadmap of your expenses, keep your spending in check, and make the most out of your relocation support.

Creating a Moving Budget

Establishing a budget for an international move necessitates a comprehensive grasp of all potential costs. These costs include:

  • Researching the cost of living in the new country
  • Passport and visa expenses
  • Flights and travel expenses
  • Shipping expenses
  • Transportation costs such as car shipping and fuel
  • Housing costs
  • Food expenses
  • Removals insurance
  • Hiring storage
  • Medical insurance
  • Essentials like household cleaning supplies and tools.

To calculate the cost of moving services for budgeting, one can use the following method:

  1. Multiply the total estimated moving expenses by 5% to obtain a figure.
  2. Allocate $2,000 to $7,500 for an out-of-state move for a two-bedroom home, based on obtained quotes.
  3. Allocate extra funds as a contingency for emergencies, unforeseen costs, hidden expenses, and price fluctuations.

Listing all anticipated expenses and allocating a specific amount for each, while overestimating rather than underestimating, is crucial.

Prioritizing Expenses

In planning an international move, it’s wise to prioritize essential expenses like housing, transportation, and food. It is important to carefully assess the necessity of items for the move and allocate the budget accordingly. Also, be mindful of unanticipated expenses when relocating to a new country. These encompass local fees, supplementary moving costs, visa-related expenditures, health insurance, tax obligations, handling fees for specialized items, and vehicle-related expenses such as obtaining a new license and registration.

To create a contingency budget, it is advisable to include a separate category in the overall moving budget specifically designated for unforeseen expenses. It is recommended to allocate a minimum of 5% of the total moving budget for this purpose, with the possibility of allocating even more, such as doubling the total budget, to cover any unexpected costs that may arise during an international relocation. One can differentiate essential moving services from optional ones by conducting thorough research on the additional services provided by various moving companies. It is advisable to obtain a minimum of three in-person estimates to assess the importance and cost of each service to make an informed decision.

Tracking Your Spending

Keeping track of your spending throughout the relocation process is key to staying within your budget. This can be done by creating a comprehensive budget either on paper or using a spreadsheet. Utilizing online moving cost calculators and budgeting tools can aid in managing expenses and maintaining organization. It is also important to note that a relocation allowance can be effectively utilized by investing in professional moving services, which guarantee the safe packing, transportation, and delivery of belongings to the new destination, thereby minimizing stress and potential challenges during the relocation process.

Saving Money on Moving Expenses

Relocating doesn’t have to break the bank. By being strategic about your moving process, you can significantly reduce your moving expenses. This involves DIY packing and unpacking, researching moving companies, and negotiating discounts and deals.

DIY Packing and Unpacking

One effective strategy to cut costs during your move is to take care of the packing and unpacking yourself. By doing so, you save on professional packing services while also having the freedom to pack your belongings in a way that best suits your needs. It’s important to note that the most cost-effective packing materials for moving include:

  • Rubbermaid Brute Totes
  • Boxes of various sizes and types
  • Affordable unused packing supplies from Amazon
  • Free packing supplies from online marketplaces and local stores
  • Cheap moving supplies from and Home Depot
  • Affordable packing materials from dollar stores

In terms of handling delicate items during a self-packaging process for an international relocation, it is advisable to:

  • Individually wrap delicate items with packing paper, bubble wrap, or soft clothes.
  • Fill any voids in the boxes with bubble wrap, plastic wrap, or filler to prevent movement and potential damage.
  • Avoid common mistakes such as not adhering to customs regulations, using improper packing materials, failing to clearly label boxes, not packing fragile items securely, and not allowing sufficient time for the packing process.

Researching Moving Companies

Selecting a suitable moving company can significantly impact your relocation experience. Therefore, it’s important to take the time to research various moving companies, considering factors such as reputation and reviews, experience, reliability, and cost. Moving company prices typically vary based on several factors including the distance of the move, the volume of items being moved, and whether it is a local or long-distance move. In the case of local moves, the price range is typically between $35 and $75 per mover, per hour.

A professional moving company should provide a range of services, including:

  • Supplying packing materials and supplies
  • Packing and unpacking
  • Furniture disassembly and reassembly
  • Truck loading and unloading
  • Managing bulky or specialty items
  • Appliance disconnection and reconnection
  • Stair or elevator carry
  • Long carry
  • Shuttle services

Remember, the goal isn’t to find the cheapest moving company but rather to find a company that provides the best value for their services.

Negotiating Discounts and Deals

Another effective cost-saving strategy during your move is negotiating discounts and deals with your moving company. One can identify moving companies that provide discounts and special offers by consulting websites such as,, and the AAA website specific to their area. Additionally, presenting the lowest estimate received and requesting a match or better offer can help you get the best deal.

It’s also beneficial to inquire about potential discounts, promotions, or special deals. Flexibility in solutions, persistence, thorough gathering of information about the moving company, and the use of strategic tactics are key factors that can impact the success of your negotiations.

Navigating the Tax Implications of Relocation Allowances

Relocation allowances not only provide financial help, but they also come with tax implications. Understanding these tax implications, including taxable vs. non-taxable allowances, reporting relocation expenses, and seeking professional tax advice, is crucial in optimizing your relocation allowance.

Taxable vs. Non-Taxable Allowances

When it comes to taxation, allowances can either be taxable or non-taxable. Taxable allowances are a component of an employee’s remuneration liable to taxation under the Income Tax Act. They encompass certain forms of compensation or perks offered by employers. On the other hand, non-taxable allowances refer to supplemental monetary benefits provided to employees as part of their regular salary that are exempt from taxation according to the applicable tax bracket.

However, it’s important to note that, in terms of relocation allowances, they’re typically subject to taxation. Employer-paid relocation expenses are considered taxable, and unreimbursed moving expenses are no longer eligible for tax deductions. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand your tax obligations when it comes to your relocation allowances.

Reporting Relocation Expenses

Reporting your relocation expenses on your tax return is an essential part of navigating the tax implications of relocation allowances. The designated IRS form for reporting relocation expenses is Form 3903. This form is utilized to calculate the moving expense deduction for a move associated with the commencement of work at a new principal place of work. All elements of the relocation should be finalized within one year from the report date of the transfer or appointment.

It’s also important to understand that there are distinct procedures for reporting relocation expenses for employees and employers. Employers are required to establish an IRS accountable plan and incorporate any moving expense reimbursements in employees’ wages. It’s worth noting that the exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has been suspended from 2018 through 2025 due to changes in the tax law.

Unfortunately, for the majority of taxpayers, moving expenses are no longer eligible for deduction on federal tax returns due to the changes in the tax law.

Seeking Professional Tax Advice

Dealing with taxes can be complex, especially when it comes to understanding the tax implications of relocation allowances. Thus, seeking professional tax advice can be beneficial. Acquiring professional tax advice can provide individuals and companies with a clearer comprehension of the tax obligations linked to relocation packages and ensure adherence to intricate tax regulations.

It’s advisable to seek tax advice before initiating the relocation, even if it is temporary. This proactive approach facilitates comprehensive and meticulous tax planning, which can aid in maximizing the benefits of a relocation package and maintaining compliance with tax regulations across different states.

Reputable tax advising firms that specialize in relocation allowances include The Dolins Group, Palmer Moving Services, and Signature Relocation. These firms possess expertise in both the financial and regulatory aspects of employee relocation.

Making the Most of Company-Provided Services

Beyond the financial support, many companies also provide a variety of services to ensure a seamless relocation experience for their employees. These services, such as temporary housing, real estate assistance, and expatriation assistance, can significantly ease your transition to a new location.

Utilizing Temporary Housing

Temporary housing is one of the common services offered by many companies during the relocation process. Employer-provided temporary housing accommodations generally consist of a documented temporary solution and a reasonable accommodation approval form. The average duration for staying in temporary housing during relocation is typically between 30 days to 3 months, with an average monthly cost of $4,200.

In terms of negotiating for temporary housing in your relocation package, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Have a clear understanding of the expenses usually covered.
  2. Familiarize yourself with your company’s relocation policy.
  3. Communicate your expectations.
  4. Maintain a firm yet flexible approach.
  5. Strive to reach a mutually beneficial solution for both you and your employer.

When choosing temporary housing for relocation, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Length of stay
  • Provided amenities and services
  • Location
  • Cost
  • Size and layout of the housing
  • Proximity to essential amenities
  • Your budget

Taking Advantage of Real Estate Assistance

Real estate assistance is another valuable service that many companies offer. This service typically includes:

  • Home finding assistance
  • Assistance with selling an existing property
  • Help with finding a new home
  • Relocation reimbursement
  • Real estate cost assistance
  • Assistance with closing costs and other expenses.

Real estate assistance can contribute to the relocation process by conducting thorough research on housing needs beforehand, providing referrals to relocation real estate brokers, and aiding in finding the most suitable mortgage options to reduce costs and alleviate the stress associated with the move. Relocation real estate agents are responsible for managing various intricate details related to relocating, including conducting housing searches, coordinating property viewings, and facilitating property transactions.

When it comes to negotiating for real estate assistance as part of their relocation package, it is crucial to communicate the advantages of this assistance for the company and present a compelling rationale for its inclusion in the relocation package.

Leveraging Expatriation Assistance

For those relocating to a different country, expatriation assistance is a valuable service. Expatriation assistance in the relocation process encompasses the range of support provided to employees relocating to a different country for work. This support can encompass services such as:

  • Visa assistance
  • Language training
  • Cultural orientation
  • Assistance in finding housing and schools for dependents

Expatriation assistance can be beneficial in obtaining visas and work permits through activities such as:

  • Sponsoring business visas and work permits for expats
  • Assisting students in obtaining short-term work permit visas
  • Providing visa support services to help employees obtain clearance to live and work in different countries.

Expatriation assistance can contribute to cultural assimilation in a new country by:

  • Comprehending the requirements of expats and their families
  • Delivering continuous cultural training
  • Furnishing social and workplace support from host country nationals.

Preparing for Life in Your New Location

While it’s important to focus on the logistics of the move, it’s equally important to prepare for life in your new location. This involves researching your new community, building a social network, and embracing cultural differences.

These steps will help you settle into your new location and enrich your overall relocation experience.

Researching Your New Community

Before embarking on your move, researching your new community is vital. This includes understanding:

  • the cost of living
  • the economy
  • family and social connections
  • taxes
  • weather and climate
  • recreational opportunities
  • educational institutions
  • ideal living environment
  • affordability
  • housing options
  • traffic
  • the walkability and size of the city

There are several resources you can use to research your new community. Websites that offer comprehensive guides and tips, such as’s guide on neighborhood research and You Move Me’s blog post on learning about a new city, can be invaluable resources. Additionally, online forums and social media can facilitate the understanding of a new community by enabling individuals to engage with residents, share information, seek advice, and acquire knowledge about different facets of community life.

When it comes to the cost of living in a new community, one can begin by totaling average living expenses including:

  • housing
  • groceries
  • utilities
  • transportation

Online tools can be utilized to compare expenses with other cities, enabling you to assess costs and effectively plan your budget.

Building a Social Network

Relocating also entails establishing a new social network in your new location. Establishing a social network in your new location holds great significance as it can offer support, companionship, and connections that can facilitate a sense of belonging and adjustment to your new environment. Effective strategies for building a social network in a new city include:

  • Seeking introductions from mutual connections
  • Participating in organized gatherings
  • Pursuing personal hobbies
  • Engaging in volunteer work within the community
  • Exploring new activities
  • Networking through dating
  • Initiating personal projects
  • Being approachable and friendly
  • Being open to new opportunities
  • Staying informed and participating in local events

Building social connections also extends to the digital realm. One can establish new social connections after relocating to a different country by:

  • Utilizing apps like Tagme to engage with individuals, engage in recreational pursuits, and interact in settings such as beaches, zoos, parks, and museums
  • Joining social media platforms and online communities
  • Leveraging existing contacts for introductions to potential new acquaintances in the new country and organizing social gatherings.

Embracing Cultural Differences

If your move takes you to a different country, accepting cultural differences is a critical aspect of your transition. Cultural differences observed when relocating internationally include culture shock and differing senses of time. Understanding and accepting these differences can enhance your relocation experience by broadening your perspective, fostering a more inclusive worldview, and promoting greater empathy and understanding.

Recommended strategies for embracing cultural differences include:

  • Understanding your students
  • Acknowledging your personal biases
  • Adapting your teaching methods and curriculum
  • Valuing and supporting student diversity
  • Cultivating an inclusive classroom atmosphere
  • Advocating for inclusivity and diversity in the workplace
  • Cultivating an open-minded, global organizational culture
  • Establishing a safe and inclusive environment
  • Promoting open communication and dialogue
  • Offering cultural sensitivity training
  • Celebrating diversity and diverse viewpoints.

Comprehending and accepting cultural differences can improve the relocation experience by broadening one’s perspective, fostering a more inclusive worldview, and promoting greater empathy and understanding.


Relocating for work is undoubtedly a significant life event filled with both excitement and challenges. The key to a successful relocation lies in effective planning, making strategic decisions, and utilizing the resources and services available to you, such as your relocation allowance and company-provided services. Embracing the new culture and building a strong social network can also contribute to a smooth transition. Remember, the goal isn’t just about physically moving from one place to another; it’s about starting a new chapter of your life in a new location. So, embrace the journey and make the most out of it.

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