5 Tips to Ease the Transition to NYC for Relocating Families
- Sep 7, 2016
Relocation can be stressful for your employees, there’s no doubt about it. Add moving the whole family into the equation, and the challenges begin to multiply. Then add moving them to the most densely populated place in America, New York City, and you have a recipe for disaster. Here are 5 tips to help ease the transition for families relocating to New York.
Take a Proactive Approach
It’s always important to understand just how complex the logistics can be for families moving to NYC. With so many more options available and choices for them to make, it’s crucial that families relocating to NYC take a very thoughtful and proactive approach toward housing decisions. This includes everything from identifying the best borough to best match the family’s lifestyle and needs, to selecting the right schools for the children.
After 20 years of assisting corporate clients with the relocation of their employees and their employee’s families to corporate relocation housing in New York, we have found the following simple strategies to be very helpful for the Global Mobility professional:
1. Understand the area and neighborhood options.
Many relocating employees try too hard to steer the process about exactly where in NYC they believe they want their housing to be located. Perhaps they have a friend or coworker who lives in Greenwich Village, or think that they want to live in the Financial District based on seeing it in a movie. Yet when employees choose their new location based on this type of limited information, the results are sometimes problematic. It’s best to ask the right questions and work with on-the-ground real estate professionals or the local company providing the temporary relocation housing to help identify the boroughs or neighborhoods that will best meet the family’s needs.
Test the Neighborhood
Once location options are identified, it’s time for the employee and the family to try out the new area. A great way to do this is by placing them in temporary relocation housing. This allows the family time to decide whether or not a specific neighborhood works well for their lifestyle before committing to a long-term rental or ownership. If the family finds that they are traveling more than 20 minutes from the apartment location to the majority of their family activities, a temporary housing company can offer 2nd or 3rd locations for the family to “test drive.” Better to move multiple times in temporary housing than to figure out after the purchase of a piece of real estate that it is not, in fact, in the right location for the family. This more gradual approach to moving into the Big Apple allows employees and their families to assimilate into a neighborhood and determine whether that location is the right fit for subsequent permanent housing.
2. Know the right questions to ask.
To figure out the right area for each employee, it’s best to start by asking qualifying questions:
- How close do you prefer to live to your office? Would you take on a longer commute for a bigger space?
- Do you prefer settings that feel more like an urban center, or a slightly more suburban setting? (Believe it or not, there are even some parts of Manhattan that have a more suburban feel.)
- What age/grade levels are your children, and do they have any specific needs for schools?
- What do you and your family enjoy doing when you’re not working and the kids are not in school?
- Is your family outdoorsy? Do your kids play sports? Do any family members participate in activities like running or biking?
- What kinds of restaurants does your family prefer?
- What activities, hobbies, or religious services does the family participate in on a regular basis?
By finding out the answers to these questions, you will be able to direct families to areas in New York City that will best match their needs, as well as buildings that offer desired amenities and access to activities and schools.
3. Recognize communication bottlenecks.
No matter where an employee is moving, pre-move jitters are very common during corporate relocations. Relocation is second only to the loss of a loved one on the scale of stressful activities in life. This can be exacerbated by poor communication or lack of understanding about the relocation policy. For example, the Global Mobility professional typically communicates details of the relocation to the employee. The employee then moves to NYC before the family to begin working. The family’s relocation is then left being spearheaded by the employee’s spouse who may be entering the process midstream. The stress caused by the communication gap can often slow the whole process, leading to unnecessary stress for the entire family. To avoid this, we recommend that employers rely on clear and open communication with the entire family throughout the relocation process. One thing you can do is to leverage the corporate relocation housing provider to act as a communication conduit between the relocating employee and other family members.
4. Keep the end goal in mind.
Also, we always share with clients and friends alike who are planning on relocating to New York or the surrounding boroughs that it often takes a full year to fall in love with New York City. It’s a lot different than your standard urban area. And, while there are so many wonderful things about life in New York, your employees and their families may find it overwhelming if the move happens too quickly or not enough guidance is given.
The New York Way of Life
For instance, something as simple as grocery shopping is now a totally new experience. Since the family won’t have use of a vehicle (remember, no large and free parking lots in front of the market), they now need to learn to do a number of small grocery shops, purchase a hand cart that they bring with them to carry home groceries, or leverage grocery store delivery. Other nuances include: how to get around town with the myriad of public and private transport options; find a doctor or hair stylist in a densely populated place; and how and where to do laundry. So much to think about, but leveraging on-the-ground resources to assist your relocating employees and their families when they are first getting settled will make an enormous difference in how well they adjust to New York City.
5. Make sure temporary relocation is a viable option for the family.
Before any of the aforementioned happens, it’s best to have conversations about all of this prior to the relocation offer being made. Relocation is no longer a given for a family after the offer is made by the employer. Families and employers should have open and honest conversations about whether or not relocation to New York City will prove successful for a particular family. If it will not prove successful for the entire family then the relocation would prove unsuccessful ultimately for the company too.
Ease the Transition with Temporary Relocation Housing
Relocating employees with families—even to New York City—need not be overly stressful. The key is guiding your employees to take a thoughtful approach to an important first step in a successful NYC relocation: deciding on where to live and then finding the right temporary housing to begin in while they acclimate to the city and find a permanent place to live.