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How to Negotiate Salary & Moving Expenses

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That raise you thought might help you pay down credit card debt this year might actually go up in smoke after you pay for relocation costs that spiral out of control. You walk a fine line between asking for a salary and relocation package you want and agreeing to accept what your employer thinks the position is worth. Knowing your needs and what’s fair for your employer will help you negotiate the best package for a new job.

Calculate Your Needs

Your employer shouldn’t pay you based on what you need or want -- only what the job is worth to the company. On the other hand, you can’t take a job that puts you in a financial hole. Before you begin negotiating your compensation package, create a personal budget that tells you what you’ll need to meet your financial goals. Include paying your monthly bills, reducing debt and saving for a home down payment, vacation, new car or other goal. Use a cost-of-living calculator to determine what your living costs will be in your new city and discuss your probable tax liability with a financial planner. Come up with a bottom-line number you need.

Review the Job

Look at the position you’re seeking and compare salaries for this position to what other companies are paying. Visit job boards, trade association websites and the website of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consider the size of the company you’re looking at and the importance of your role. You might be willing to accept a lower salary if the position will be a springboard for better career growth.

Calculate Your Relocation Expenses

Go over your moving expenses with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you don’t miss any costs. Include the cost of shipping your possessions or renting a moving truck; deposits and connection fees for utilities, an apartment or other leases and contracts; early termination fees; and travel expenses such as overnight lodging, meals, gas, mileage or airfares. Don’t forget to calculate carrying costs on a house you have to sell after you leave it.

Review Benefits

You might be able to take less salary depending on what benefits the company offers. For example, if your company offers a health savings account with a match, not only will you get the company match, but you’ll also reduce your payroll taxes on the amount you contribute. If you currently pay for parking, calculate the savings if your company pays for that. Look at the impact changing health insurance policies will have on your personal expenses and if you’ll get a better 401(k) match.

Negotiate a Package

Once you’re armed with all of your information, negotiate your salary and relocation costs. Use industry statistics to present your case for your salary, rather than emphasizing what you feel you’re worth. Don’t start with your bottom-line salary number -- give yourself room to make a counter offer. For example, you might ask for $5,000 more than you want, then offer to reduce your salary by $5,000 if your employer gives you a particular title that will help your career. You might offer to take this reduction in exchange for $5,000 in moving expenses if the company doesn’t normally offer relocation. If you don’t need three weeks of vacation, offer to trim that in exchange for something else you want. Ask about the company advancing you pay or lending you money to pay for your relocation expenses. Use your $5,000 bargaining chip to negotiate better benefits, pointing out the certain benefits will reduce your new employer’s payroll tax liability. Finally, ask if the company offers assistance with selling a new employee’s house.


Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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