To Relocate or Not to Relocate?

That is a very good question! Relocating employees is costly. According to the Worldwide ERC®, companies spend an average of sixteen million dollars in relocation costs each year. But is hiring a new employee locally any cheaper? Relocation expenses can add up quickly, but recruiting, training, and getting new employees up to speed often exceeds relocation costs in the long run, especially for key positions.

So your company decided to relocate an existing employee – now what? Most employers will focus on―and have most experience dealing with―compensation and moving expenses. Despite being a major consideration, money is only one part of the equation. The human element and emotional impact the move will have on an employee’s family is a heavy counterweight. When it comes to tackling those challenges, relocation experts play an instrumental role in rounding out the decision-making process.

Suburban Settlers’ mission and vision is to ensure employees remain highly productive during a relocation, while making them feel supported and in control when it comes to their lives outside of work. We work seamlessly to represent your company, and collaborate with the employee’s family to smooth out any wrinkles in the process.

Here are three important services we provide to ensure a highly regarded candidate will remain highly productive after a move:

1. Pre-Move counseling

Knowing what you’re getting into is half the battle. People are creatures of habit and, though new adventures can be exciting to think about, routines remain very important. Transferees with families have to consider their spouse’s career and also the quality of education for their children. In the digital age, it is easier than ever to get information on communities, schools, crime rates, neighborhoods, etc. But how accurate is it? Suburban Settlers acts a local guide, answering questions candidly and matching families to communities that will fit their needs and wants. This can make a huge difference in someone’s comfort level with a move.

2. Destination Assistance: Interest-Based Research and Customized Plan

Suburban Settlers conducts a thorough survey of the employee’s current activities, interests and what they are looking for as their ideal destination. Does the employee like gardening, reading and cycling? We will find the communities with the best garden centers, local libraries and even make personal introductions to other cyclists in a customized lifestyle plan. We tackle the human element for you, so you can focus on the logistics. We also have real estate experts on our team to assist in finding a new home in the employee’s preferred community.

3. Post-move support

Moving is stressful! Thinking about it vs. actually doing it are two entirely different things. Once the move has happened, our local experts will be there every step of the way to provide moral support and even help unpack and setup the new home! Sometimes a cup of coffee and a listening ear can overcome many challenges. Knowing all the good local handymen or painters also helps.

Making a big life change is pretty scary. But know what is scarier? Regret. Zig Ziglar

Transferring Foreign Personnel to the U.S. and Obtaining Visas for Their Families: a Q & A with Filomena Lepore, of Lepore Taylor Fox

For HR professionals, moving key employees to the U.S. from overseas can be complicated. Sometimes employees come on their own and even then, it’s complicated.  But what if they bring a family?  Extended family? Domestic staff? Modern day family life does not always align with U.S. immigration law.  Identifying visa issues up front can help set expectations and in turn facilitate a smooth transition process for the transferring employee, their family and the employer.

Below are some common questions we see in our practice when dealing with multinational companies who transfer foreign workers from overseas offices.

Who qualifies as a “spouse”? Can a cohabitating partner join the principal visa applicant?

U.S. immigration law recognizes a marriage as long as the marriage is legal in the jurisdiction where it occurred. A government issued marriage certificate would be required to establish a legal marriage.  Since the government now recognizes same-sex marriages as valid, LGTBQ individuals can sponsor their spouse as long as they can present a valid marriage certificate.  Eligible spouses qualify for derivative visa classifications such as H-4, L-2, E-1D or E-2D and can generally join the principal visa applicant for the entire duration of the U.S. assignment.

Cohabitating partners are not legally married and therefore do not qualify for derivative immigration benefits.  A cohabitating partner would be required to seek out his or her own independent visa.  One option available to cohabitating partners is the B-2 tourist visa which would permit entry to the U.S. for up to 1 year.  As part of the visa application, the cohabitating partner would have to show proof of long-term cohabitation and that he/she would be supported financially by the principal visa applicant (or have independent financial means) while in the U.S.  A drawback of the B-2 cohabitating partner visa is that it does not grant work authorization.  Moreover, because it limits the period of admission to 1 year, the cohabitating partner would have to be vigilant in tracking the expiration date and would be required to frequently seek extensions of stay which are discretionary.  This, of course, injects uncertainty into the cohabitating partner’s ability to remain in the U.S. for the full duration of the U.S. assignment.   Another option would be for the cohabitating partner to seek out an independent work visa, but this would typically require an offer of employment from a U.S. employer.

Can a derivative spouse work while in the U.S.?

Derivative spouses holding J-2, E-3D, E-2 and L-2 visa status are eligible to applyfor work authorization once they enter the U.S.  This application can take up to 6 months to result in work authorization. While the application is pending, the spouse is not permitted to work. Spouses of H-1B, O, P & TN visa holders are noteligible to apply for work authorization with one exception.  Presently, H-4 spouses can apply for work authorization if the principal applicant has reached a certain point in the U.S. green card process.

Can a derivative spouse volunteer while in the U.S.?

Pure volunteer work for charitable causes does not require work authorization.  Thus, derivative spouses and cohabitating partners can typically volunteer regardless of whether they possess work authorization.  However, performing unpaid work for a private, for profit company does not generally meet the definition of volunteer work and thus would require work authorization.

Can a child join the principal visa applicant?

Under U.S. immigration law, “child” is a legally defined term and includes biological children who are unmarried and under the age of 21, children born in and out of wedlock, legitimated children, adopted children and step children with certain caveats.  Children conceived through ART (assisted reproductive technology) are generally considered to meet the definition of child under U.S. immigration law.

If the definition of child is met, then a derivative visa classification would be accorded to the child just as it would the spouse.  Children do are not generally eligible to apply for work authorization, although in some instances, work authorization can be secured for children in L-2 status to do modeling or comparable type of work.  Children in derivative status are generally able to attend school in the U.S.

A common issue arises when a child is close to reaching the age of 21 which would cause them to “age out” as a derivative beneficiary of the parent’s visa status.  In this scenario, immigration counsel would need to work closely with the sponsoring employer at the outset to explore visa options for such children such as fast tracking a green card application or assisting with an F-1 student visa application.

Can parents join the principal visa applicant?

Parents can join the principal visa applicant but like cohabitating partners, they would only be eligible to apply for the B-2 tourist visa. There is no special visa reserved for derivative parents or for grandparents.  Note that if the principal visa applicant were to eventually become a U.S. citizen, he or should could sponsor a parent for a U.S. green card.

To qualify for the B-2 visa, the parent would have to show that s/he maintains a residence and meaningful ties outside of the U.S. and that s/he will be financially supported by the principal visa applicant, or have independent financial means that would not involve working in the U.S.  When parents are elderly or if a parent has a serious medical condition, additional evidence may be required to demonstrate that they possess sufficient means to pay for medical care in the U.S. or abroad and thus would not be likely to use any public assistance programs in the U.S.

Can the visa applicant bring domestic employees, such as a long-time nanny?

Sometimes.  In certain instances, domestic workers of intracompany transferees (L-1 visa holders) or of U.S. citizens who are executives subject to frequent international transfer are eligible to apply for a B-1 visa. Upon arrival in B-1 status, the domestic employee would then be required to apply for work authorization (an EAD card) which can take up to 6 months.  While the application is pending, the domestic employee would not be permitted to work.  Moreover, the duration of status might not span the entire U.S. assignment.  Like the B-2, the B-1 would have to regularly renew their visa status.

Other considerations

While family unity is usually the highest-ranking concern of many foreign transferees, other issues come into play when considering relocating to the U.S.  To name a few: managing foreign assets, U.S. taxation, wills, guardianship documentation, travel letters for children, health care proxies and financial powers of attorney.  From the employer’s point of view, whether to draw up an expatriate agreement, localize a foreign employee or pass on the U.S. assignment altogether can hinge upon many of these considerations.  A Lepore Taylor Fox attorney can assist employers in designing an international benefits package that is sensitive to the pitfalls of U.S. immigration law, meeting and exceeding the expectations of valued personnel and business needs.

Packing and Storing Tips from our friends at Westy Self Storage

Making a big move can be filled with new and unique challenges. Here are some things to consider to make packing and storing your items as easy and pleasant as possible, courtesy of the storage experts at Westy Self Storage!

Pack to make your home transition as stress and surprise-free as possible

  • When packing boxes, choose new, unused boxes of uniform size. Used boxes from the grocery or liquor store may be damaged, wet, or bear food residues that can attract pests. Uniform boxes will make it easier to move and transport the boxes, as they will stack securely.
  • Heavy items like books and dishes should be packed in small boxes, so they are easier to lift.
  • Fill all voids in boxes with packing material to prevent items from shifting when moving them.
  • Pack thin, fragile items like dishes and picture frames on their edges to lessen the chances of breaking. Wrap each item and fill all empty space in the box with packing material. The objective is to make sure these items do not move in the box.
  • Take a photo of the wire set up on the back of your electronics like your tv, desktop, or router to have an easy reference. Wrap cables up and label them according to which devices they connect to.
  • Color code your boxes with colored tape by the room the contents came from. This will help movers place your boxes where they should go, and help you unpack efficiently. Label boxes with the type of items in them, not only on the top, but on the sides as well, for visibility when the boxes are stacked.
  • Keep important documents and valuables like jewelry and cash separate, and move them yourself, if possible. Otherwise send them ahead via a secure method.
  • Pack a box or suitcase with the essentials like toiletries, a change of clothes, and a set of dishes, so that you can get settled in right away without having to do some major unpacking the first day in your new home.
  • Let the movers pack and wrap large, heavy items, and smaller valuables, as self-packed items often do not fall under the mover’s insurance.
  • Start packing early! A few boxes a day will get the job done. The same applies for unpacking.

When storing items at home, or in self-storage, consider some of your most precious items may need the right conditions to prevent damage.

  • Fabrics are susceptible to pest damage in storage situations. Prevent this by dry cleaning clothing, bedding, and rugs before storage.
  • Store clothing, sheets, and linens in airtight bags, or boxes. Rugs should be professionally cleaned and stored in plastic, ventilated rug bags.
  • Valuable furniture and artwork can be damaged by fluctuations in climate. Materials and finishes can warp, crack, or lift. Store these items in a place with a stable climate!
  • All paper is mildly acidic, which can cause personal mementos, and important documents to deteriorate quicker if not stored properly. Store important papers in acid-free cellophane envelopes, archival boxes, or between layers of tissue paper. Keep them flat in an air-tight container away from light, and in stable climate. Attics and garages are NOT ideal for storing papers!

Make the most of your storage space!

  • Sofas should be stored on their ends (except sleeper sofas, as the mechanism may twist), to minimize their foot print.
  • Many tables and beds manufactured recently can be disassembled to save space in storage. They virtually disappear when stored flat up against a wall!
  • Use sturdy plastic totes of uniform size for long storage, they are durable and stack well, making the most of the height of your space.
  • Try adding modular shelving sold at many home goods stores if you anticipate needing to access things in storage often. This will make it easier to look for the item you want.
  • Consider making an inventory list of what is going into storage. Keep a copy in your storage unit, and one at home so you’ll always know what is in your storage unit.


  1. New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association website (
  2. Allied Van Lines (
  3. American Moving & Storage Association (
  4. Orkin Pest Control (
  5. The National Archives (

A White Glove Service that Works with Relocation Companies

Executive Recruiters and Global Mobility Specialists are often faced with the challenge of getting prime candidates to move from overseas or somewhere else in the U.S. The focus on recruiting and placing of top talent across all industries is a priority.

A healthy salary, signing bonus and stock options can all sweeten employment packages but often making the decision to move comes down to very personal lifestyle choices.  Factors that many employees weigh are: moving family, proximity to relatives, climate and activities, school ranking, commute time and cost of living.  Relocation resistance is one of the top factors in losing prime talent and the resistance most often comes from family members not wanting to relocate.

Traditionally, employment offers that require moving come with a relocation package. These packages provide real estate services, lodging, packing,  moving and basic logistics.  While relocation companies help with those details, often the family, whether coming from overseas or the next state, may still feel displaced.  The biggest stressors are getting to know a new area, home set-up, integrating the kids into schools and finding basic resources like service professionals, child care and doctors.  If a family has special needs like mental health, physical therapies or elder care these can be big factors in hearing “No.” to an offer.

For many HR professionals and executive recruiters, corporate relocation contractors take care of the logistics for new and transferring hires.  However, there is so much more that goes into moving a new employee and their family and that’s why I developed the ground-breaking programs offered by Suburban Settlers.  Suburban Settlers is not a relocation company, but rather a service that brings a customer oriented, white glove approach to the relocation process.We work in tandem with RMCs.  Every transplanted employee has unique needs and that’s where Suburban Settlers offers an innovative solution.  Their process begins with a very detailed interview and collection of information about the individual/family through their online portal.  Here the employee answers a series of questions and provides specific details on what they need to set-up their new life.  Once that information is gathered, our team puts together a customized plan and a list of resources for the newcomers.  This 30+ page relocation plan includes recommendations for schools, doctors, services, activities, gyms, pet care, markets, elder care, classes/lessons/tutoring and more.  During an in-person meeting, the newcomers are walked through the plan and given any additional information they need.

The plan is only one part of the service because getting to know a new neighborhood and area is all about familiarity.  The program includes a half day tour that shows the new arrivals the streets, hotspots, where to dine, shops, parks, houses of worship, daycare, pet care, hidden gems and more.  This customized tour gives the family a thorough introduction to the area and teaches them how to get around.  The services Suburban Settlers provides are all about the personal touch and the Suburban Settlers team is always just a phone call away. The newcomers now have a local friend they can rely on.  The company will even make personal introductions to help kids set up playdates or to assist the family in joining clubs and civic organizations.

Suburban Settlers also offers additional services like a Home to Desk Tour.  This service maps out the best routes for the employee to travel to and from work. Then, a Suburban Settlers team member will take them on a trial run.  Whether it’s driving the highway and then catching a bus or taking the train from Bergen or Westchester County to Manhattan, this guided tour shows the new employee the exact route to travel from their front door to desk with the comfort of having a guide.

Starting a new job can be very hectic and time-consuming. Employees often have to work late or stay in temporary housing. Suburban Settlers offers in-home concierge services where their staff will meet service professionals to help with home set-up.  We can be on hand while movers place furniture in rooms or IT professionals wire the cable and sound system.  Our company also provides a list of pre-approved professionals so employees can be sure they are hiring someone reliable and reputable.

These additional custom relocation plans can be ideal incentives to offer potential candidates as part of their relo package.  As our digital world becomes so highly customized, providing  services that are also specific to the needs of employees can help reduce relocation resistance and allow newcomers to get settled in their homes sooner.

Suburban Settlers is Changing the Employee Relocation Experience

Approximately seven million people in the US relocate each year because of work, which means a lot of employees and families are dealing with the overwhelming stress and fatigue of being uprooted.  We want to help ease that stress. Our team at Suburban Settlers understand that people need to make personal connections, know their surroundings and have a sense of belonging in order to feel at home.

This year about 70% of U.S. companies will relocate employees and new hires.  Many corporations use relocation management companies (RMCs) to coordinate the logistics of an employee move.  RMCs provide services like packing, moving, transferring vehicles, temporary housing and an introduction to a realtor.  After dealing with the upheaval of my own relocation, I created Suburban Settlers, a program that works in tandem with RMC’s.  We are not a relocation company, but a service that is designed to help families get integrated into their community faster and easier.  The biggest stressors in moving are getting to know a new area, home set-up, integrating the kids into schools and finding basic resources like service professionals, child care, pet care and doctors.  If a family has special needs like mental health, physical therapies or elder care these services can also be time-consuming to find.

Suburban Settlers recognizes that every individual and family have unique needs.  We offer a highly customized plan that includes schools, doctors, activities, gyms, pet services, markets, specialty care, classes/lessons/tutoring and all the other resources the family needs.  But that’s only one part of the service.   The program also incorporates a half day tour that shows new arrivals the streets, hotspots,  restaurants, shops, parks, houses of worship and more.  This personalized tour gives the family a thorough introduction to the area and how to get to all the places they will frequent in their day-to-day lives.

Our service is all about the personal touch, and our team is always just a phone call away to answer any questions.  Newcomers now have a local friend they can rely on!  Suburban Settlers will even make personal introductions to help kids set up playdates and assist the family in joining clubs and civic organizations.

Suburban Settlers also offers additional services like a Home to Desk Tour.  This service maps out the best routes for the employee to travel to and from work.  Then, a Suburban Settlers team member will take them on a trial run.  Whether it’s driving the highway and then catching a bus or taking the train from Bergen County to Manhattan, this guided tour shows the new employee the exact route to travel from their front door to desk with the comfort of having a guide.

Starting a new job can be very hectic and time-consuming.  Suburban Settlers offers in-home concierge services where our staff will meet service professionals to help with home set-up.  We will be on hand while movers place furniture in rooms or IT professionals wire the cable and sound system.  Our company also provides a list of pre-approved professionals so clients can be sure they are hiring someone reliable and reputable.

Our plan and services are ideal incentives to offer potential candidates as part of their relocation package.  We hope that our services will be useful corporations, their employees and their family to make relocating easier because they know they have a contact in the area they can rely on for guidance.


An Innovative, White-Glove Relocation Service is Launched

In 2017, former Fox Networks sales executive Darlene Agag had an idea.  She wanted to start a specialized service that helps employees relocating to Bergen County, New Jersey, get settled sooner!  Her idea was to create customized plans and area tours that give newcomers the very specific information they need about their neighborhood and what is in the area including schools, places of worship, pet care, restaurants, shopping and local activities.   She even thought of making personal introductions to help newbies feel like they are part of the community.

Now into the first year of providing services to employees and transplants who are relocating to New Jersey, Darlene talks about what inspired her to create Suburban Settlers and how she hopes to change the experience of relocation for individuals, families and their children.

Q: How did you get the idea for Suburban Settlers?

A: My mom actually had the idea about 30 years ago.  She and a friend started working on the company and when her friend moved away they never moved forward with it. Not long ago, I moved back to Bergen County after living and working in New York City for 20 years.  Even though I spent summers and weekends in Bergen County, had a large network of friends and I knew my way around, it was still difficult to get myself and my children adjusted. I resurrected my mother’s idea with the goal of helping others get acclimated quickly so that they don’t have to go through the challenges that I faced.

Q: Why is it so important to have this service for people who are unfamiliar with the New York Metro Area?

A: New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have so much to offer to its residents.  It can take up to a year to get comfortable and familiar with the area. Our services are designed to help our clients get settled into the area quickly and to educate them what is available before they move or right as they move in so that they can focus on starting a new job, getting their children settled and enjoying their life.

Q: Your program is designed to reduce relocation stress?  Can you explain how it helps?

A: Relocating is among the most stressful events in a person’s life. They have to leave their friends, home, comforts behind and start all over.  Our goal is to get to know the individual or family, learn about their lifestyle and help them “feel at home sooner.” We are here to help our clients and support them throughout their move and for the months following so that they don’t feel alone and they know that they have someone to lean on.

Q: How can corporations benefit from the services provided by Suburban Setters?

A: Corporations make a large investment to relocate employees. Their goal is to have them feel comfortable and happy so that they can perform in their new role.  Usually, a husband or wife gets transferred and the rest of the family comes along. There isn’t much time for the employee or their family to get acclimated and settled before they need to start their new job.  The spouse/partner might also have to work and if they stay home, they have to learn the ins and outs of a new area on their own.  It can be an overwhelming process.  That’s where Suburban Settlers can help.  We take care of the details so that the employee can focus on his or her job and that their family feels at home in their new surroundings.

Q: There are many relocation companies out there.  How are you different?

A: Most relocation companies help families with the basic moving needs (finding a realtor, assisting with selling/buying a new home, packing and unpacking and moving the physical belongings).  But once the family moves into the area, the relocation companies’ job is usually over.  That’s where we come in. We are experts on what is available in Bergen County.  Our clients fill out a comprehensive survey and we put together a detailed plan which is their guide to everything they need to know about their new surroundings. We spend time with them getting them familiar with the area and making personal introductions so they get acclimated as quickly as possible. We are here to assist them before, during and after they move.

Q: Any final thoughts you want to share on relocation and what your company offers?

I think the personal touch is important. We get to know all of our client’s and tailor our services to each one. No two individuals are the same and therefore every families experience will be unique. Our goal is to ease our clients transitions and to make what can be a very challenging situation much easier.

About Darlene Agag, President, Suburban Settlers

Darlene Agag is a 20-year veteran of corporate America who understands the challenges of balancing meaningful work and a busy home life. As both an employee and a senior-level manager with Fox Networks, Darlene has witnessed the disruption and stress caused by changes in job responsibilities and office locations.

Today Darlene combines her entrepreneurial spirit, affinity for delivering client-focused solutions, and insiders knowledge of Bergen County and surrounding areas to help her clients reduce the transition time and upheaval when relocating. Whether it’s sharing intel on the best shops, eateries, doctors and day care centers; navigating New Jersey’s maze of highways and public transit systems; arranging service installations; or recommending local handymen, her highly customized services help newcomers get settled in their neighborhoods with ease.

Tips for Helping Your Kids Move Into a New Home

Preparing to move into a new home or apartment for many people involves sorting and organizing belongings, packing boxes, the physical move itself and then trying to seamlessly settle into a new place.  Let’s face it, moving is hard!  It’s one of the most stressful experiences adults have in their lives and moving can be even harder on kids of all ages.

Children are often unsure of their new surroundings.  They are losing the comfort of what is familiar.  They may be losing friends, a neighborhood, favorite playground or park.  So, how can you ease the move for children in your family?

Sell the Benefits

When you explain the move to your children, be prepared with a list of all the positive things about the new home and the fun things they will be able to do and explore in their new town and surrounding area.  Some ideas may be:

  • New zoo or park
  • Outdoor activities like sailing, skiing, sledding
  • Local kids/families they may already know
  • Special classes like robotics, ballet, swim lessons.

Get them Acclimated

Introduce your children to their new neighborhood before your move. Set up playdates with other kids who will be in their classes or at their school.  Show them their new school environment with one or more tours, including finding their locker and classrooms.  Introduce them in advance to their teacher.  Take them to the playground and ball fields.

A Kid’s Sanctuary

Give your children the choice of having their new bedroom recreated as close as possible in their new home.  This means they can have the same colors on the walls, the same furniture and even the same layout, if that’s possible or give them the opportunity to create an entirely new bedroom.  Let them choose a theme right down to wall colors, murals, stickers and boarders, carpeting and a seating/gaming area.

Have their room(s) be the first place that is set up in your new home so they can settle into their personal space while you focus on organizing the rest of the house.

Make it Fun!

Make moving week a memorable week.  Plan a fun, new activity for the family to experience!  Explore local parks.  Visit the library and get your library cards.  Check out the local pool or beach.  Find a few special places to build memories in your new town.

Kids Love Schedules

A great way to help your kids adjust to new surroundings is to stick to the same schedules.  Keep the same routines for after a school studying and play.  Same dinner time.  Same family game night.  If you have a baby or toddler, stay on the same clock for meals, snacks and naps.

It’s OK to Get Upset

Moving is a BIG change.  If your children are upset about missing friends, classmates, a particular club or activity, honor their grief and help them work through it.  It’s good to acknowledge that change can sometimes be hard but it also brings exciting new experiences.  Let them know that you understand how they feel.  If possible, set up playdates, activities or even Facetime with their old friends.

Books and Movies About Moving

There are many popular children’s books and movies about moving.  This is a great way to get your kids used to the idea of moving and being in a new home.


Suburban Settlers is a white-glove relocation planning service that helps individuals and families get settled sooner.  Our customized plans include a roadmap of activities, resources and programs for your kids designed to help them meet new friends, do all the things they love and try a few new activities.  We will even make personal introductions.

Our guided confidence tour takes newcomers through their community and the surrounding areas. We’ll share the latest intel on the best places to eat and shop, local hot spots and where to go for family fun. With our insider knowledge of streets and shortcuts, popular hangouts, and great values, it’s relocating made simple. Visit us online at


Meeting the Challenges of International Employee Relocation

The workplace has gone global, with job responsibilities, projects, and teams often spanning continents and cultures. More and more companies are relocating their employees internationally, whether permanently or to take on temporary assignments, and corporate human resources departments now play an integral part in guiding employees through the challenges of moving to a new job – and a new country.

Planning and logistics are key to creating a smooth overseas relocation process for your company and employees. The complexities of arranging the myriad administrative details, along with physically moving people and property abroad, make it essential to have a plan in place that provides ample lead time and resources for completing these tasks.

Key Considerations when Moving Overseas Staff to the U.S.

Employees transferring from overseas to the United States are likely to expect the company to have a relocation package in place. Some businesses offer limited benefits to employees that relocate internationally, while others provide comprehensive support that may include housing, a car lease, and private education for children.

HR managers responsible for creating and implementing international relocation policies and processes need to address more than basics such as airfare and transporting belongings. These are some of the crucial issues that must be taken into consideration when moving overseas staff to the U.S.:

  • Type of Assignment: Determine whether this is a permanent or one-way relocation or a two-way relocation where the employee departs after completing the project or assignment.
  • Documentation and Paperwork: Allocate time to address any immigration or work permit requirements. Assist the employee and family members in securing and/or updating passports, visa requirements, and other relevant documents for entering the U.S. and returning to their home country.
  • Insurance and Medical Factors: Employees may need help sorting out health insurance coverage, mandatory vaccinations, prescription medications, and care for chronic medical conditions. They will also need to know about hospitals and emergency care in their new city or town.
  • Financial and Tax Implications: Review and address implications related to tax laws, currency impacts, and compensation. Provide guidance on the country’s banking and financial systems, and offer assistance in setting up appropriate bank accounts and applying for credit cards.
  • Housing:Depending on the length of the employee’s stay, they may need assistance in determining an appropriate neighborhood, reviewing homes and apartments, and signing a lease or mortgage. They also may need help terminating their lease or selling or renting their current home.
  • Education:Offer insight into the overall education structure and associated expenses for the employee’s children. Assist with schooling choices, including public, private, and international institutions, and/or enrollment.
  • Language Skills:Find out in advance if the employee and/or family members need to learn another language for a successful transition, and arrange for a translator if needed.
  • Transportation:If the employee and family members will be driving, they will need to understand the rules and laws in the U.S. If not, offer information about local public transportation services or accessing a ride-hail app.

Partnering with Relocation Specialists for a Smooth Move

Many businesses opt to work with an international relocation services firm to assist employees with the transition. These companies often take care of much of the research and planning that goes into moving, especially when it comes to finding housing, buying or renting a car, and transporting belongings.

Suburban Settlers often works in tandem with relocation companies to help employees and their families settle into their new neighborhoods and feel at home sooner. We provide highly personalized, white glove services that range from arranging utilities and phone service installations to helping staff find the right schools, childcare options, and healthcare providers.

Our customized plans familiarize employees with the best retail, restaurant, and recreation options in their new community and our one-on-one tours give them the benefit of our first-hand knowledge and experience – whether it’s intel on the go-to dry cleaner or navigating roads and public transit systems.

Helping Employees Adjust to Cultural Change

Moving an employee to the U.S. is not just about helping them settle into a new job. They are moving their entire life and adjusting to a new culture. Single workers on short-term assignments may not need a great deal of help. However, employees who are relocating permanently and those accompanied by family members typically benefit from ongoing support throughout the transition process.

In addition to the typical stresses and disruption associated with relocating, the cultural change can take a tremendous emotional toll on the employee, their spouse, and children. This can impact the employee’s job performance and the company’s long-term success, making it a critical issue for companies and HR managers to address.

Specialized services like Suburban Settlers can connect employees and their families with newcomer groups and even make personal introductions to like-minded people to help ease the transition into their new neighborhood. We also can provide referrals and contacts for local community organizations and mental health support options for children, adults, and seniors.

Companies continue to craft comprehensive policies that help alleviate not just the logistical and financial burdens but the emotional and cultural challenges of international relocation. Keeping the communication channels open between HR and the employee; encouraging them to talk about their concerns and needs; and offering personal as well as professional support will go a long way toward improving the likelihood of a successful adjustment – both in and out of the workplace.


Can Moving Lead to Greater Happiness?

Looking for more happiness in your life? Moving just might be the key.

Although moving is universally ranked as one of the most stressful events in people’s lives, for many of us it’s also an opportunity to create positive change. Research shows that we typically move for good reason: to start a new job or a family, to live on our own, to retire, or to have a yard for the kids or the dog to play in.

In fact, having a backyard, sidewalks, and friendly neighbors may be one of the keys to greater happiness. In his latest book, “The Blue Zones of Happiness,” New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner says, “If happiness were a cake recipe, the most important ingredient would be where you live. The most dependable thing you can do to get happier is to move to a happier place.”

Buettner partnered with National Geographic and Gallup to develop an index for measuring exactly where Americans are enjoying the happiest lives. The resulting list of “25 Happiest Cities in the United States” (Boulder, Colorado is Number 1) is based on 15 metrics including walkability, healthy food options, and opportunities to interact with others face-to-face.

According to Buettner’s research, being happier simply could be a matter of swapping city living for a neighborhood with grass and trees, or an apartment for a house with an inviting front porch. And other studies support this. A team of researchers led by Stephan Goetz, Ph.D., a professor of agricultural and regional economics at Penn State, found that the happiest people tend to live in suburbs (city life has more stressors and living in rural communities requires longer commutes.) The researchers also determined that people who live in communities they describe as tight-knit are happiest (they have plenty of friends to rely on in tough times).

My own relocation from the city to the suburbs – and the ensuing happiness my family and I experienced – was the genesis of Suburban Settlers. I had lived in Manhattan for 20 years and raised my two sons there. I grew up across the Hudson River in Wyckoff, New Jersey, and my kids and I spent plenty of time there – visiting family on weekends and taking up residence when my boys attended summer camp. I was immersed in the community, had a huge support network, and really knew my way around.

Which is why, when we decided to move back to Bergen County, I was shocked at how difficult it was to get acclimated. Although my kids were the driving force behind the move – their need for more space, their desire to be outdoors – it was a tough adjustment for them. I worked hard to re-establish the routines and activities they’d had in the city – schools, tutors, basketball teams, and after-school activities. Then there were the endless “to-do’s” of finding new doctors, dentists, and service providers, not to mention making new friends and establishing new professional relationships. Even with the people I knew and the resources I had, it was overwhelming.

Now, a year and a half later, my family is thriving and we couldn’t be happier. We loved the city, but it had become challenging to do many of the things we enjoyed. Being here has opened doors I couldn’t have imagined. We’ve been embraced by a community of people invested in raising their families, and have so much more support and services at our fingertips. Sometimes we don’t realize we are unhappy or stuck in a rut until we make a change.

Whether relocating to a new country or a new townhouse just around the corner, moving offers an opportunity to change our environment and start fresh. Simply deciding to move can make people feel empowered and happier with their lives, and reduce the feelings of stress that are inherent in the transition process.

But starting over isn’t just about changing our environment. It’s about changing the way we are living our lives. In addition to establishing new routines and social connections, moving often involves starting a new job. While this change can be exciting and a good career move, it’s likely to bring with it uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and stress. Savvy companies skilled at relocating their employees understand there is a difference between managing change and managing transition. They know that in order to ensure positive change in the workplace and at home, they need to support staff and their families throughout the transition process.

Since making my move, I’ve learned that it’s not necessarily the change that makes us happier, but our attitude towards it. This means managing our expectations and not putting pressure on ourselves by expecting everything to be perfect overnight. It takes reminding ourselves that anything new feels awkward, and having the willingness to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Embracing the change, focusing on the opportunities, and enjoying the moment helped me weather the many challenges of relocating.

Suburban Settlers was born of my realization of how disruptive and difficult the moving process can be. We are on a mission to share our wealth of resources and knowledge about Bergen County to benefit newcomers to the area who are wrestling with their own transition challenges. And we are proud to offer the kind of highly customized service and personal connection that will help people feel at home – and happy – in their new lives.

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Relocating Employees to Manhattan? Why Living in Bergen County is ideal

Relocating for work is always a challenging process – for both the employee who is transferring and the company who is moving them. Employees are often resistant to relocating, and statistics show that moves to locations where the cost of living is high are the offers employees resist most.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the New York City area is the move most often refused. In 2017, Kiplinger ranked it the most expensive city in the country, with a cost of living nearly 128% above the U.S. average. The median home value is the highest in the nation and so is the average rent for an apartment: an astounding $4,239 a month. Residents also pay a 43% premium at the grocery store and health care is a third more costly than average. Even the price of a movie ticket is nearly 50% higher than anywhere else.

The good news is that workers relocating to jobs in Manhattan have numerous options when it comes to choosing a new city or town. Many of the suburbs that are just a stone’s throw from the city offer all the perks of urban living – including world-class restaurants, entertainment, and culture as well as high-quality medical facilities, top schools, and a diverse mix of communities. Add to this the ability to travel to the city, the beach, or the mountains in an hour or less, and you’ve got one of the most desirable destinations in the region: Bergen County, New Jersey.

Living in Bergen County and working in New York City has numerous advantages for relocating employees. Located in northern New Jersey, Bergen County is the most populous county in the state, offering something for everyone – from family-friendly villages to thriving transit-centric downtowns. Here are 10 reasons why living in Bergen County is better for Manhattan-based employees:

1. More Affordable Housing

In 2016, the price per square foot for housing in New York City was $1,759, a 31% increase over 2015. In New Jersey, the median price per square foot was $169, and prices only rose about 5% over the previous year. Bergen County’s proximity to Manhattan keeps home prices higher than most other counties: in 2016 the median price for a single-family residence was $465,000. However, even after factoring in the state’s high property taxes, a house or apartment will cost less in New Jersey.

2. Preferred by Young Professionals

Bergen County is ranked third among New Jersey counties preferred by Milliennials (based on data from the U.S. Census, FBI, BLS, and other sources.) Young professionals are drawn to the wealth of job opportunities and access to affordable housing, as well as the array of restaurants, nightlight, recreation, and entertainment options.

3. Family Friendly Vibe

Bergen County has always been a popular destination for families. Highly-rated schools, low crime rates, community programs, children’s activities, and access to restaurants, shopping and a variety of other resources are just some of the reasons they choose to make their homes here. In its annual rankings of Best Towns for Families, NJ Family magazine ranked 29 Bergen County towns in the 2017 Top 100 Best Towns for families in New Jersey, with Glen Rock coming in at number 3.

For families or singles getting to know a new neighborhood, the process can be pretty overwhelming. A relocation service like Suburban Settlers can provide a custom roadmap to everything from finding a new doctor, a dentist, or veterinarian to the best shops, parks, and gyms. We even offer one-on-one “confidence tours”, personally escorting employees through their new community. We show them the best restaurant, retail, and recreation options, as well as places locals frequent. They get the benefit of our insider knowledge and feel at home in their new surroundings, faster.

4. A Manageable Commute

Among the top 15 Best Commuter Towns in New Jersey in 2017, 10 towns are in Bergen County (municipalities with rush hour train travel times of 50 minutes or less). This is a testament to the county’s bus, train, and ferry services, which provide access to the city and all parts of the county. For many residents of northern New Jersey, getting to the office in Manhattan takes the same amount of time city dwellers spend traveling by subways and buses. The cost of commuting is a factor, but it’s likely to be outweighed by the savings of living west of the Hudson.

5. Highways and Byways

Having a car in New York City is costly. The monthly fee to park in a garage can run from $250 to $500 or more, not to mention dealing with city traffic and a shortage of street parking. Bergen County offers ample parking and easy access to just about anywhere, whether shopping for groceries or driving to a business meeting in Philadelphia. Bergen’s extensive transportation network – comprised of nearly 3,000 miles of state highways and local roads – connects the county with New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and beyond.

6. Top-Notch Schools

Bergen County is known for its great schools. Public elementary, middle, and high schools consistently achieve Blue Ribbon status and students go on to some of the finest colleges and universities after graduating. In fact, New Jersey has the second-highest high school graduation rate: in 2016, 89.7% of students graduated and eight out of 10 attended college. Some of the state’s finest private schools, both secular and religious, also call Bergen County home.

Finding the right schools or childcare options is essential for helping employees and their families settle into their new neighborhood. Suburban Settlers can be instrumental in doing the required research, making qualified recommendations, and organizing onsite visits either before or after the move.

7. Fabulous Food

From diners and delis to fine dining destinations, Bergen County’s food landscape features some of the best restaurants in the state. Many are helmed by accomplished chefs creating unique American and international cuisine that rivals their Manhattan neighbors. Whether it’s authentic corned beef sandwiches and pizza; Asian Fusion, Lebanese, and classic French; breakfast, brunch, or a late-night snack, foodies flock to Northern New Jersey for great food and memorable dining experiences.

8. The Great Outdoors

New Jersey’s natural wonders are often underrated, from its 127 miles of ocean coastline to mountains crisscrossed by hiking trails – not to mention spectacular views of New York City’s skyline. Bergen County residents have a short drive to beaches, mountains, and lakes, and access to nearly 9,000 acres of county parkland featuring playgrounds, walking/jogging/biking paths, tennis and basketball courts, horse riding stables, ice skating, swimming, fishing, festivals, and concerts.

9. Culture Close to Home

The New Jersey State Opera, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the New Jersey Ballet Company are all located in the northern part of the state. Bergen County has its own performing arts center, local theaters and art museums, and concert and performance venues ranging from intimate supper clubs to arenas and stadiums. Sports fans can enjoy professional football, basketball, and soccer without crossing the Hudson.

10. The Best of Both Worlds

Bergen County’s blend of suburban and urban offers Manhattan-bound workers the best of both worlds. At Suburban Settlers, our mission is to help ensure that the process of relocating is less daunting for employees and their families. And that once they feel truly at home in their northern New Jersey community, they will be reluctant to move anywhere else.


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