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Moon May Be There For The Asking

You've just gotten the word.

Your company wants to relocate you to the West Coast.

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So how do you cut a deal with enough cash to take care of you and your family's needs?

Start by adopting these two mottos: Be persistent. And don't be afraid to ask for the moon.

It used to be that the big benefits were reserved for top managers. But that's not true anymore. Perks now go to those who ask - especially since more employees today turn down transfers. The boss is desperate.

"The key to remember is that everything is negotiable," says Jan Nelson of Mobility Services International, a relocation service based in Newburyport, Mass.

And the more urgently the company needs you to move, she says, the more leverage you have.

One company, she recalls, paid the salary of an employee's spouse for a year so the couple would move.

Start by getting a copy of your company's relocation policy.

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Typically employers pay for a house-hunting trip, the cost to move your household goods, a settling-in fee, and the cost to sell your home and to drive/fly to your new location.

Other services to negotiate:

* "Look-see trip." This is a trip where you and your family check out the new city before you respond to an offer.

* Employment assistance for trailing spouse. Only a quarter of large companies pay for this. It ranges from career counseling to paying for job-hunting trips.

Typically companies will reimburse a trailing spouse who gives up his job. And more companies are hiring the trailing spouse to make the relocation work.

* Elder-care referrals. The company provides listings of nursing homes and care centers for elderly relatives who will either accompany the family or require care if left behind.

Companies are also willing to invest a lot more to make an overseas transfer work, because they can lose big bucks if they have to bring the employee back home.

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