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07/09/2019

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Chris Stephens

I faced as similar problem - I found out later that one of my colleagues hired at the same time insisted on getting in writing that he could get advance payment to cover moving expenses. He did this when bargaining for the position - as a condition of being hired. It may be too late for Relocator, but others might try to do this before accepting an offer.

O.

Unfortunately, my experience is similar: moving for my VAP and then TT job resulted in significant debt and hardship for me and my family. The same problem happened for conference travel. It's also worth noting that some institutions are way better than others at reimbursing you in a timely fashion. My current institution is very quick; my previous institution was so slow-- think months, not weeks-- that it resulted in spiraling debt and further hardship at a time when I was already struggling to support a young family on my (low) salary. I'm still angry years later.
Another thing for people starting new jobs to think about and plan for if possible: you might not get a paycheck at the end of your first month. I started mid-month and thought I would get paid for that at the end of the month. I found out at new faculty orientation that I wouldn't be paid until the end of the following month.
Hiring institutions need to do a better job of informing new hires of this stuff and helping them upfront. Many new hires just don't have the available resources to get started.
I wish I had some advice for people in this situation; it's just horrible.

Amanda

O: not at my current job but past jobs I had the problem mentioned with not being paid until almost 2 months after starting. That stuff killed me, as it all builds on each other. Because I do not have a credit card, I had to eviscerate my savings, which meant I paid other things late, which meant I would never have a score high enough to get a credit card. It was a horrible spiral and even though I have been making good money for over a year I still am not close to being out of it. People don't realize how hard it is to live life without credit cards. It is very, very, difficult. Of course, even with some credit it is still hard with a low credit score, and as noted waiting months for reimbursement only makes the situation worse and keeps your score low.

To be honest, one of the hardest things about this was how no one could relate. I think even people in bad financial situations (which I don't mean to minimize, debt does suck) generally do have some credit, and enough to pay for moving and conferences. Sometimes I just wanted to vent to someone and then I got glazed over eyeballs, and even worse, recommendations to go get a credit card when I had already explained that this was not possible. If we are to believe the recent report from Eric Schwitzgebel, there is a lot of reason to think philosophers tend toward the high family income end of the spectrum. Even when your high or mid income family doesn't hand you money directly, you learn habits that people from low income families typically don't learn. This I suspect explains the lack of understanding I have consistently encountered around this issue.

The advice to get pre-pay in writing - good idea. But I learned the hard way you need to go even further than this. Be specific - ask for cash. My contract did say that they would pay in advance, but I found out that this meant I could use only a few contracted moving companies and only the services they offered, and only if they were available, and it wouldn't cover things like gas money or money to fly yourself to the new job.

anonymous

You can also sometimes negotiate an earlier start date for a job or an earlier pay date. One of my students did both this year (and he didn't have any competing offers).

(This is just an aside--I agree that this whole thing is a problem and I wish universities would be more thoughtful about this kind of stuff.)

Joe Ulatowski

Relocation (or 'removal') expenses were of great concern to me when I was offered a lecturer position at a New Zealand university in 2016. Relocation expenses included not only moving household items, including my extensive book collection, but also expenses associated with acquiring a work visa and air travel (There are many more issues one needs to address when one accepts a position abroad than the issues one has to address by accepting something within one's own home country, but I suppose I could speak to that elsewhere).

I was sceptical that the university would cover anything, given the experiences I had as a visiting prof at a number of US institutions and given the experiences my graduate school friends had when they secured tenure-track positions. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my University covered all removal costs (door-to-door), air travel, and work visa related expenses. Not only that, they also covered four weeks accommodation and offered me the use of a university motor pool vehicle.

I paid out-of-pocket for background checks and other items associated with acquiring my NZ work visa, but everything else was covered by my university. The only thing that I paid for, but wasn't reimbursed for, was insurance for my household items as they transited the Pacific. That bill was $1500. When I only used two weeks of my accommodation costs, my university paid out the remaining balance to me. So, that insurance bill was offset by $800.

I hope that our university administrators continue to offer such generous packages to new hires because taking away that stress really made for a very pleasant experience moving so far from home in the US.

Amanda

Interesting. I gave away my books when I got my first post-PhD job because they were too expensive to move.

It would be great if all universities were as generous as New Zealand, but I almost think in this case it really could be something most universities literally cannot afford. But there is no reason they cannot afford to pay costs upfront, as the cost is the same! It also seems worth nothing that there is no way someone without a ton of open credit could ever take a job that requires 15k in moving expenses.

Rosa Terlazzo

I am moving to a new job this year, and I have to pay up front and be reimbursed. Until this year, the university paid the expenses directly to the various moving companies, airlines, etc, but the change is a result of the new tax code, which requires moving expenses to be taxed (which they weren't previously, at least not federally). So maybe that is changing things for this year onwards?

Amanda

The tax is incredibly high too...I think it was 35%, it was definitely over 30. And I get the impression reimbursement is the norm in the US, but cool you had them pay before.

Think about it though, the tax thing makes no sense. The entire point of reimbursement is to get back what you paid to move. But if it cost you say, 10k and you only get back 6.5k, that is not anywhere near reimbursement.

Justine Kingsbury

Re Joe Ulatowski's comment, for New Zealand jobs I think it's normal for the university to pay the appointee's moving costs upfront, because otherwise the the out-of-pocket expense for the appointee can be prohibitive. However, it's still a good idea to make that part of your negotiations with the employer. The University of Waikato is currently advertising a philosophy job: Vacancy 390186 at this link: https://www.waikato.ac.nz/vacancies/current-vacancies/ . Note that the application deadline has just been extended from today until July 31st (NZ time - July 30th if you're in the US).

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