Guidelines or advice related to relocation dos and don'ts.

Relocating For A Job: 12 Steps You Need To Know Before Moving

May 20, 2024



Relocating for work can be an exciting opportunity. It’s a fresh start in a new place you may have never considered making your home. To help ensure a smooth transition from your old life to your new one, it’s important to plan, stay organized and understand what the relocation process may have in store for you.

Use this guide to help you prepare for this major life change – from knowing your available resources, to understanding the support a relocation expert can offer, to which steps you should take.

How To Relocate For A Job: 12 Steps To Take

Preparation is a philosophy you can apply in many life situations – relocations included. Planning can offer more than peace of mind. It can also help you streamline your finances, giving you more time to focus on getting settled before resuming work.

Here are some key ways to plan for a smooth transition when relocating for work:

1. Plan Your Timeline

Start planning as soon as you know you’ll need to relocate for work. Note your new start date and work backward from there to create a realistic moving timeline. Make sure to budget in time to unpack and wind down.

Here are a few essential tasks you can add to your moving checklist:

  • Schedule utility stop and start dates
  • Find new health care providers at your new location
  • Forward mail to your new address
  • Enroll any children in new schools and transfer transcripts and immunization records
  • Update your address with insurance providers
  • Cancel or transfer community club or class memberships

2. Reserve A Moving Company

Reserve a moving truck or book an appointment with interstate movers as far in advance as possible. Keep your start date in mind – and don’t forget to budget time for packing and travel.

3. Find A Real Estate Agent

You’ll need to find an experienced real estate agent to sell your current home and help you find a new one. Give yourself enough time to sell your home and buy a new one. An experienced agent in your corner can offer tremendous help throughout the process.

Consider asking friends or family for agent recommendations, or if your company offers relocation assistance, contact the relocation team for an agent referral. When you’re moving for a job, it may make sense to collaborate with an agent or REALTOR® who works in the area you’re moving to.

Most job relocations take 3 – 6 months to tie up loose ends and find a new home. For renters, this means ending your lease. For homeowners, this can mean working with your real estate agent to show your home to potential buyers.

4. Understand Your Employee Relocation Package

You may have access to an employee relocation package when you’re moving for work. Employers typically offer resources to support their employees financially and logistically when they must relocate to a new area for work.

Relocation packages help cover certain moving costs, which may include:

  • Fees associated with breaking a lease
  • Moving vehicle rentals or the cost of hiring movers
  • Temporary housing (if you can’t find a new home right away)
  • Travel expenses (including trips for house hunting)
  • Storage rentals
  • Costs associated with selling your existing home
  • House hunting assistance (for eligible candidates)

Know what costs your employer (or new employer) covers in their relocation package and what costs you can expect to pay out of pocket.

5. Create A Budget

Assess your finances by creating a budget. You need to know how much you’re working with to help make the best financial decisions. Consider variables such as repair costs you may need to make in your current home before selling it, moving costs and purchases for the new home.

Factor in any relocation assistance your employer offers before shopping around for moving rates. You should also pad your budget for possible hotel stays or eating out during the move.

6. Work With A Relocation Management Company

Work with your company’s relocation team or a credible relocation management company (RMC) to avoid missing out on potential savings. Relocation packages can offer financial support, but your company’s RMC is an essential resource. The relocation team can provide valuable insights, access to best-in-class services and competitive pricing. A good relocation expert can connect you with reputable service providers, including moving companies, real estate agents or REALTORS®.

7. Optimize Relocation Assistance Experts

Relocation assistance teams are the experts behind employer relocation packages. They can connect you to valuable resources and lend a helping hand during your relocation financing process.

It’s also not uncommon for relocation assistance teams to provide in-house consultants who can further assist you during the moving process. Consider taking advantage of their assistance. They can help you develop a plan that works best for you.

8. Have Your Paperwork Ready

To help streamline the relocation process, you can get a mortgage preapproval upfront. Here are some documents you may need to provide a lender:

  • A copy of your job offer letter
  • 1 month of pay stubs
  • 2 months of bank statements
  • W-2s from the last 2 years
  • Federal tax returns from the last 2 years (must include all schedules)
  • Records of 2 years’ worth of bonus income
  • Real estate agent’s contact information
  • Recent retirement account statements
  • Social Security number

For a complete list, check out our Relocation Mortgage Checklist.

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9. Find Out The Cost Of Living

Before you sign a new lease or a new mortgage, research the cost of living in the new location and its surrounding areas. The goal is to determine how much house you can afford and where. Depending on the prices you find, you may need to downsize and consider buying a smaller home.

You should also account for other potential costs, such as public transportation, gas, restaurants and groceries, and add them to your budget. Before you decide where to live, look at different neighborhoods and compare their costs.

Your employer should also factor in the cost of living and may adjust your pay, particularly if you’re moving to an expensive area. Ask your employer about salary adjustments in advance.

10. Submit An Offer On An Affordable Home

Look for a home you can afford to decorate and make any repairs in by the time you arrive. Start house hunting at least a few months before your move, especially if you’re buying a house out of state. Consider how much you can afford and what type of home is right for you. Narrow your search by neighborhoods in specific school districts if you have children. If you plan to commute, factor that into the neighborhoods you’re looking at.

Even if you can’t purchase a home before your first day on the job, try making several visits to get to know the new area, especially if your relocation package covers visits. Your visits should help you decide whether to wait to buy a house or rent.

11. Register Your New Address

You’ll likely need to do more than have your mail forwarded to your new address or notify a few providers about your move. You’ll also need to update your license and car registration with your new Department of Motor Vehicles and register to vote in your new state.

12. Update Your Tax Information

You must notify the IRS of your address change when you relocate – particularly if you’ve moved to a new state. Notifying the IRS will help ensure that critical documents, like tax returns or notices, are sent to the correct address.

If you’re moving from a state with a state income tax to a state without it, you may be subject to a residency audit. You’ll need to prove you’re now a resident of a new state to avoid owing taxes to your previous state. Update your address and register it with the IRS, DMV and other institutions to prove your relocation and protect yourself from potential tax issues.

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The Bottom Line: Relocation Teams Make Life Easier

Relocating for work can feel like a double whammy for some. The stress of a significant life change and the routine challenges of buying and selling a home can be overwhelming. To help minimize that stress, prioritize preparation. That means developing a realistic timeline, creating a budget you’ve padded for contingencies and collecting all the necessary documentation you’ll need to provide real estate professionals, from agents to lenders.

Fortunately, whether you’re moving 10 or 1,000 miles away, you don’t have to tackle a relocation on your own. If they offer it, make the most of your employer’s relocation management program. Take advantage of their consultants, additional resources, contacts and any financial aid or loan options.

If you’re ready to relocate with Rocket Mortgage® by your side, start an application today.


Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.