The ultimate relocation guide

The Ultimate Relocation Guide

April 23, 2018

Relocation can be difficult for both employers and the candidates they hire, but it doesn’t need to be.

While most large companies do a good job of implementing their relocation policy and generally provide the assistance needed, this is not true for all. For start-ups or companies who are experiencing faster growth, there may not be a standard policy or budget in place and much of that process may simply be trial and error. Given that It costs the average Canadian homeowner $53,500 to relocate—this can be an expensive process no matter where the person is relocating from. For those coming from abroad, smaller details like, transportation, visas, and culture fit can have a big impact.

Your organization may have its process developed already, here are a few areas to consider for helping candidates you hire settle into their new home more efficiently.

  1. Obtain Visa Approvals:

While VanHack is available to guide companies through the Visa process during relocation, companies should ensure they are well prepared with the necessary documentation and the right people in place to act as a point of contact. Having access to trusted legal counsel is also helpful for providing additional support through the process.

The entire global skills visa process is outlined on our site and further information can be found through services Canada. Another aspect to keep in mind would be Visa’s that may be required for transiting through other countries like the US.

  1. Confirm Start Date:

Once the candidate has been approved to relocate to Canada, providing as much lead time as possible and being mindful of holidays will help the candidate minimize costs and manage the move more effectively.

  1. Confirm relocation bonus logistics:

This includes when and how it is paid out, whether a wire transfer will be needed, and who will pay for items like flights, accommodations etc. being mindful that some candidates may not have credit cards limits high enough to accommodate certain costs.

Rather than having a one size fits all policy, being open to negotiation may actually be more cost-effective as a new hire who is single may have different needs and motivations than one with a family.

  1. Provide custom offer:

Once the logistics are sorted, confirm the budget for relocation. An example of this custom offer could like this:

(Original Offer) – (relocation package costs) = new custom offer

The portion taken for relocation costs can then be used to cover the candidate’s flights, rent (1st month) and any other small expenses that will make their move easier.

Having a relocation bonus rather than increasing salary will allow the candidate to cover the same things themselves and other local expenses like:

  • Cancelling current housing leases or selling a house
  • Packing
  • Hiring movers or a rental truck
  • Arranging for transport to the new city.
  • Providing a down payment or first/last deposit on rental housing in the new city
  • Arranging for short-term or immediate housing(AirBnB)

In either case, using a portion of the offer to book flights, arrange for short/long-term housing (Airbnb is usually easiest) booking movers, or arranging other transportation will go a long way to helping the candidate manage their costs and relocate with ease.

If you decide not to manage the travel for the incoming candidate, providing knowledge around connections to avoid, which airports to choose, and other transportation-related issues will be valuable.

  1. Just before the start date:

Upon acceptance of the offer, a few ways to help the candidate settle in are to provide:

  • Digital resources for navigating the city
  • Identifying current staff who are willing to answer questions the candidate may have
  • Making Pre-Arrival welcome videos from a few team members


  1. First day on the job:

While most candidates may be familiar with major landmarks and the general transportation of the new city, it is unlikely they will know the most efficient ways to get around. One of the best ways to integrate a candidate is to pick them up at the airport and then formally introduce them to all staff at the office.

This is also a great opportunity for other team members to assist who are likely regular travelers themselves and will know the most efficient routes at the best prices possible.

From there, decide on what personal areas are critical to assist on the first day, like Service Canada to obtain a SIN, health or drivers license, taking them to a bank to set up an account, recommending a doctors office or school for children. RBC is a great example as they have a beta program for foreign workers coming in on a visa.

  1. Managing the first few weeks:

The onboarding process differs between companies from formal classes and one-to-one coaching to placing candidates on a team and letting them start with minimal instruction. Either process can be effective as there is no one size fits all solution.

The onboarding process doesn’t need to be unique to be effective but it does help to apply some tweaks to help a candidate settle in more effectively. Doing some research into the candidates home country can be helpful in adding some personalization and helping to understand any cultural differences that may exist.

  1. Managing the first few months:

Once the candidate has made the trip, found accommodations and settled into his or her team, they are now in a good place to really integrate with the community. Helping to find comfortable long-term accommodation is a major area that will be incredibly valuable to getting a new candidate settled into their new home. Again, current staff can provide guidance here as their knowledge will be based on their own family makeup. Some candidates may be willing to drive vs. bike or may require access to schools for children, which are all aspects of the process that locals will know better than incoming candidates regardless of how much research they have done into the city or country they are relocating to.

As the demands for skilled talent become more competitive, maximizing efficiency and improving internal hiring processes becomes necessary for companies of all sizes. Flexible negotiations, assisting candidates through the relocation process so they integrate into the environment in and out of the company, along with having a supportive onboarding process are some of the ways to stay competitive when recruiting top talent. When done right, the relocation process can be as simple as hiring locally with all the benefits of hiring a candidate from abroad.


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