When is the Best Time of Year to Ask Employees to Relocate?

As a relocation company, we hear this often: is there a best time of year to ask employees to relocate—and if so, when is it? In other words, is there a prime relocation season? 

The answer is…it depends. As in, it depends on what you mean by “the best time of year.” The fastest time of year to relocate? The most cost-effective? Or the time when employees are most likely to say yes? 

Because even with a competitive relocation policy, the services of an awesome relocation company, and even the advantages of using relocation technology, relocations don’t take place in a vacuum. There are outside factors to consider—and personal ones for employees as well. 

In short, the best time of year to relocate depends on what your priority is. Let’s look at five common examples. 


Best Time to Relocate When Speed Is Crucial  

If your goal is to execute super-speedy relocations, you’ll want to avoid peak moving season—namely summer—when possible. According to one study, 80% of moves occur between April and September; another finds a second burst of activity at the end of the calendar year. 

Why? Because during peak moving season, it’s hard to book a moving service on short notice, which means moves may be delayed. Similarly, because of demand, it can take longer to get a home appraised/inspected, schedule a closing, get utilities up and running, etc. 

In other words, when speed is your priority, the best time to ask employees to relocate is during late fall or winter, if you have that luxury.  


Best Time to Relocate to Keep Costs Down

Not surprisingly, the most expensive time to relocate is also during peak moving season, because many movers charge more when their services are in greatest demand.

There’s a caveat here, though: if your relocation company has discounted agreements in place with multiple movers that handle various sizes and types of moves, that may not be a factor.  

When it comes to keeping costs down, it’s not so much the time of year, but how hard your relocation company works to keep costs down—and that’s something that should happen year-round. 

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Best Time to Relocate When Employees Own Homes

This is a tricky one, especially when employees are selling one home and buying another.

Prime real estate season is spring through early summer, so that’s when employees can expect their homes to sell for the most money. However, they’ll also need to pay more on the buying end—and, because of competition, may have a harder time finding the right house to buy. 

That said, during the off season—specifically fall and early winter—pricing, inventory and demand is low, which offers both pros and cons to home owning employees. It’s a toss-up!


Best Time to Relocate When Employees Have Families 

Traditional wisdom suggests that employees with school-age kids prefer to move during the summer, when schools are out of session, sparing kids the upheaval of moving mid-term. Yet others suggest the opposite: that moving mid-term allows kids to stay active and instantly meet new friends.

In addition, asking families to move around major holidays may make it harder for some employees to say “yes.” 

However, one can’t predict how any given employee will respond. When an employee hesitates, the key is to find out why and work with your relocation company to offer a compelling solution. Because, often there is one. 

For example, if that physician you really want to bring on board in March is reluctant to move his family until school’s out in June, arranging extended short-term housing and covering some weekend travel may be the way to ensure everyone gets what they want. 


Best Time to Relocate When You’re the Employer

Now we come down to the most important factor of all: your business. Your strategic plans. Your talent’s needs. Your objectives for the year.

From a business perspective, the best time to ask an employee to relocate is about two months before you need them on the job. It doesn’t matter if it's the prime moving season or the dead of winter! 

Fortunately, if you have a strong relocation program—with good benefits and a can-do provider—you can facilitate smooth moves year-round. Frankly, experienced relocation companies have pretty much dealt with it all, from rescheduling around blizzards to executing safe, full-scale moves in the heart of a pandemic.   

At the end of the day, prime relocation season is whenever you need it to be—and a seasoned relocation provider will help you make it happen.  

Human Resources Today