How to Handle a Federal Employment Relocation

Federal employees are often offered incentives for relocating to take new positions. The author provides some tips for federal workers who may be facing a relocation in the near future.

Government positions may not be as easy to fill as one would think. When there is a position that is not able to be filled in a timely manner, the government may request that an existing employee take a job relocation to fill that particular job.

In exchange for accepting the position and moving to a new geographical location, the employee is usually offered an incentive. This incentive usually maxes out at 25 percent of his salary, but may be slightly higher depending on the exact circumstances of the situation.

Who is Eligible for the Incentive?

Not every federal employee that relocates will be eligible for the incentive.

To start, you must be relocating at least 50 miles away from your current location in order to be considered.

In addition, you must hold one of the eligible positions within the government in order to be appointed. These positions include General Service, Senior Executive Service, FBI, DEA, and law enforcement officer.

If your position does not fall within these categories, your department head can petition to have your relocation be eligible for the incentive. For anyone that is applying for the incentive, your last performance appraisal must contain positive remarks that are the equivalent to “Fully Successful.”

Establishing Residency

One of the requirements to receive the incentive for relocating is to establish residency in the geographical area of the new position.

There are several ways in which you can establish residency, including the obvious ways: renting or purchasing a home as well as temporarily living in a hotel or taking up residence with family/friends. If you are not going to be moving your entire family to the new area, you can set up temporary living arrangements for during the week and commute back home to your family on the weekends and still receive the incentive.

Moving the Family

If you decide that moving everyone to the new location is best for your family, you will have many things to consider. First and foremost, is deciding where to live. Because the area is likely brand new to you, the choices can seem overwhelming.

How do you know which area is best for your family life? Do you have children that you need to consider the quality of the schools for or is it just you and your spouse? These living arrangements will have an impact on where you decide to live.

Some government agencies provide counseling for these situations. You can ask your department head what is offered to you so that you can get the most out of your move.

Counselors can help you research the school districts if you have children or plan on having children in the future as well as help you discern the safest places to live, the culture in the areas you are looking, and what amenities are offered nearby. This can help to take some of the stress of the unknown off of you as you figure out where to live in a short amount of time.

Selling your Home

One of the largest concerns of employees that are trying to relocate is the need to sell their home fast. Government relocations usually occur rather quickly, which puts the pressure on you to get your house sold.

This is not the time to try to sell your house yourself.  If you are organized enough and have the help of a realtor, you can increase your chances of getting your home on the market and sold fast.

Start by making any necessary repairs that would cause prospective buyers to turn the other way. This will help to make the negotiating process much quicker as there will not be a lot for the buyer to want fixed or need changed in order to want to purchase your home. Once the house is in good condition, give it a fresh coat of paint and steam clean the carpets. These two steps can have a major impact on the first impression that prospective buyers have of your home.

Once you are ready, take photos and list it with a realtor that is knowledgeable and successful in your area. It is very common for one spouse to live in the existing house while the spouse with the government position temporarily moves to the new location to get the job started. This can go on for a little while, but if you use an experienced realtor, rather than one that promises you the highest listing for your home, you will have a better chance of decreasing that length of time that your family must live apart as you wait for your house to sell.

Moving to the New Location

Some government employees find it easiest to set up temporary housing, whether for themselves or the entire family while they search for the right home, even if their previous home is already sold. Living in an area for a few months can give you a better idea of what you are looking for and where you would be comfortable living long-term.

Moving companies like Pods allow you to store your belongings with them for a while and then have them delivered straight to your new home when you’re ready.

If you do not have the luxury of having a counselor assist you with the details of moving to the new area, this is often the desired method to get acclimated to an area. Once you are sure of where you want to live, you can hire a reputable real estate agent in the area to help you find the perfect home in the location of your new government job.

Transferring Everyone and Everything

Getting everything moved over to the new location can be time consuming and expensive.

Some agencies offer financial assistance for these costs, enabling you to hire a service to make the process easier and less of a financial strain for you. Make sure to talk to your agency to see what is covered, including the transportation costs of each family member and the vehicles, in addition to the cost of packing and moving services.

The more help that you have during the relocation process, the smoother the process will go for you and for everyone involved.

Transitional Services

Once you decide on a place to live and are ready to move the family, you will need to pay attention to certain transitional services. This includes having utilities at your previous home shut off and taken out of your name and having the utilities in your new home turned on and put in your name. These details are very important to consider as you move so that you can ensure that you are not paying for utilities in two homes, while also ensuring that your new home is comfortable enough for everyone to move into right away.

Government relocation can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right help, it can be made easier. Talk to your agency about the benefits you are eligible to receive and use them! Financial incentives are a great perk to accept a new position, but the financial reimbursement and assistance in finding the appropriate services and even a place to live are invaluable. Finding out what you are eligible to receive should be your first step before accepting the relocation to ensure that your move to your new job and new home goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.