Will You Move for Work?

It's a big decision whether or not to relocate for a job - in some cases, moving spouse and kids across the province, the country, or even offshore. In the current economy - with both spouses needing their jobs and an affordable place to live - making that relocation decision is harder than ever.

For example, last month my colleague's sister-in-law, a lawyer with Nortel, was relieved to learn she doesn't have to move her young family to Sweden, home of her new employer, Erikkson. She would have done so, if required, given that she is the breadwinner and has no other employment options.

According to the 2009 Employee Relocation Policy Survey [PDF] conducted by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), "organizations relocate and assign employees for a variety of reasons; business development and career growth being the most prominent. Today, most organizations will provide some form of assistance to employees in order to ensure an effective move for the employee and their family."

Housing & Family are Biggest Obstacles

The study found that the majority of respondents "cite housing and family issues as the major obstacles when effectively relocating employees." Canadian companies have different ways of dealing with these housing challenges. Of the 98 Canadian employers polled by CERC - most of them mid-size to large companies and government organizations:
    •    82% of the organizations receive some level of home disposal assistance
    •    38% include home equity loss provisions
    •    77% of organizations provide home purchase assistance in the new location
    •    10% of the employers have programs to protect the organization in the event of a downturn in the housing market

The average cost to a Canadian employer to relocate a homeowner is $50,400 - up from $45,000 reported in CERC's 2007 study - most likely a reflection of increased housing and accommodation costs.

If your company isn't shelling out big bucks to help you relocate, you should look into claiming your moving expenses on your federal tax return.

Top Relocation Destinations

In 2009, the top relocation destinations for Canadian employees were, according to the CERC study:
    •    Western Canada
    •    The US
    •    Eastern Canada
    •    Europe

Reasons to Relocate

Aside from relocating for a job, people move from rental to home purchase, or rental to rental, or home ownership to rental, for a variety of reasons. A study by Relocation.com this summer found that US consumers are now moving 'smart' in a proactive fashion - taking advantage of good prices and market conditions - versus moves driven by desperation, as was the case in a March 2009 survey.

Ultimately - recession or not - you and your family have the tough question to answer: Should you stay or should you go?

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