The hidden costs of job relocation



By Vincent J. Schera, ACC®, CCP®

You’re excited to start a new position, or to accept a new call to a church or organization that you’ve been offered in another city or state. The compensation package is an improvement over what you are currently receiving, and the location seems ideal for you and your family. 
As you make the momentous decision, you’ll need to consider all  the costs involved.

When relocating to a new city or state, the first thing you should do is compare the cost of living. The three major considerations are: where you currently live, where you are considering, and your annual income. Many online cost-of-living tools are helpful but use them with caution. A cost-of-living comparison should include housing, food, utilities, transportation, healthcare costs (including premiums and common procedures), taxes, and childcare prices. The biggest factor in cost of living is housing costs — buying or renting a house or apartment. 

Next, do your market research. Before accepting the offer, research salaries in the market to be sure that your new salary or compensation package is in line with your experience and education and comparable for similar positions in the area. Is this a larger congregation with more responsibility? Is there additional staff that will assist you? Are you moving to a larger city where the cost of living is higher? Is your compensation package comparable to pastors leading similar-size churches in your region?

Start your research with MMBB’s annual compensation study, which gathers reported church salaries around the country. You can also check online resources such as or to find out what people with similar education and experience earn. Take a look at what professionals in a comparable profession earn, such as a school principal or school district superintendent; this is a good barometer for fair compensation for a pastor. 

Where the rubber hits the road

Once you’ve decided to accept the new position, you are faced with the task of moving. 

Some churches and organizations provide relocation packages to help new employees with the moving process. 

Is the church providing a home or apartment for you and your family to live in? Some churches might pay a percentage of the rent for your home or apartment as part of your compensation package. Be sure to inquire about this perk.

If you own a home, you’ll have to sell it and find a place to rent or buy in your new location. This can be stressful and costly. A good relocation package, if offered, can help. Some churches or organizations provide a flat rate package (for example, $5,000) towards your relocation expenses; others provide a package that tells you what they provide at no cap. If this service is available, you might be able to negotiate according to your moving requirements. 

Selling your home, if you own one, can be one of the biggest costs of relocation. It seems simple enough — you list your home for sale, and someone buys it. But if you live in a market where homes aren’t selling quickly, you might be stuck paying the mortgage on your old house while paying the mortgage or rent on your new place. You must also take into account the cost of trips to check out the new location and go house hunting. There’s also the cost of securing a local real estate agent to assist you in purchasing or renting your new home, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. 

“Many factors come into play when determining the cost of your move, such as the distance you are moving, the size of your house, the number of movers required for the job, and whether or not you want the moving company to pack for you. According to, the national average cost of a local move is $1,400, ranging from $800 to $2,150. For long-distance moves, the average cost jumps to between $2,200 and $5,700.”

Inquire as to what the church or organization is willing to do so it is clear what moving expenses you are expected to cover.

Packing up your house for a long-distance move is time-consuming and can be costly as well. You might want to hire professional packers who will pack up your entire house in one or two days. They provide all the boxes, tape, bubble wrap and paper needed. They will also label all the boxes according to room and provide additional detail if needed. You can always pack yourself, but you will need to buy a lot of packing supplies, and that can become expensive depending on the size of your house and the amount of stuff you have.

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Hiring professional movers is the most expensive part of a major move. Many factors come into play when determining the cost of your move, such as the distance you are moving, the size of your house, the number of movers required for the job, and whether or not you want the moving company to pack for you. According to, the national average cost of a local move is $1,400, ranging from $800 to $2,150. For long-distance moves, the average cost jumps to between $2,200 and $5,700. Additional charges might be incurred for moving large items like pianos and swing sets. If you are moving across the country, you might also need to have your car(s) moved with your possessions.

Two things to consider when moving long-distance or out of state. First, ask if the movers do these types of jobs themselves or subcontract them to other companies, to determine if there might be an additional cost for this type of move and if the subcontractor carries the same insurance. Second, request an in-person estimate so you won’t be surprised when you receive the bill. To save money, you might want to consider renting a U-Haul and moving yourself — if you don’t have a large house with a lot of possessions, that is.

Getting your family to your new home can be costly as well. Do you need to fly? The cost of airfare for the entire family can get expensive depending on the size of your family and where you’re going. It might be cheaper and easier to drive. This will also save you the cost of transporting your vehicle(s) to your new home.  Additionally, any pets can travel in the car with your family, saving you more money on airfare.

In the meantime…

Have you considered if you will need temporary housing in your new location? Timing is rarely perfect when you make a household move. You might arrive at your new home before your belongings, so you might want to consider renting a suite at an extended-stay hotel, especially if you have young children. 

Or your new home might not be available when you arrive, and you’ll need to temporarily store your belongings. Storage facilities can be costly, so be sure to do your homework. Rates vary by standard and climate-controlled units, size, location and availability.

There are many hidden expenses to consider when relocating, so planning ahead can help. Set a budget for your relocation costs and track your expenses. “Surprise” costs are less likely when everything is calculated in advance and you know what to expect.

Vincent J. Schera, ACC®, CCP® is Chief Human Resources Officer for MMBB Financial Services. Schera brings with him more than 30 years of experience in human resources, employee relations, compensation, mergers and acquisitions for domestic and international businesses. He earned his B.S. in Accounting and M.B.A. from Manhattan College and is also a Certified Compensation Professional.


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