Bottom line: the best time to ask for relocation assistance is after your employer has offered you the job but before you formally accept the role. This is the time when you have the most negotiating power.
That said, you’ll want to be prepared for the negotiating process before you request a relocation package. And while it may be tempting to try and get every possible expense covered, you’ll still want to research to decide which expenses you need covered, not necessarily all the ones you want. Because chances are, you’ll get a good portion of your move covered—but probably not all of it.
There are definitely ways to ask for relocation assistance that are more convincing to employers than others. Ultimately, the goal is to convey to your new company that if they help you, it will benefit them in the long run. In other words, it’s best to focus your request on the companies’ needs.
For example, if your new start date requires you to break the lease on your apartment, you can say something like: “If you help me cover the cost of breaking my lease, I can move my start date up by one month, which would help me complete [project] on a faster timeline.”
Or maybe you need more time to close on your new home than you originally anticipated. You can ask your employer to cover the cost of temporary housing and short-term storage so you can get started working faster while you resolve your long-term housing issues.