The German language adopted the word relocation from the English language. There are two different meanings of relocation. The first one is the pure removal to a new home and the second one is the whole relocation service including handling documents, finding a new accommodation, school for children, job for the partner and introducing fresh expatriates (see explanation) to the local culture, etc. For relocation services the focus is on the person, not on the goods.
Until a few years ago usually only big concerns sent their expatriates abroad, on the basis of fixed-term contracts. Nowadays more and more medium-sized companies assign their specialists for projects around the world. Large enterprises normally have a special human resources department which takes care of the expatriates’ interests, including legal aspects, insurance cover or cultural as well as religious characteristics at the place of destination.
Such special human resources departments are mostly not available at medium-sized companies, therefore they are supported by relocation service agencies to crown the assignment abroad with success.
The task of a relocation service is to organise the new living environment for the expatriate and his family as comfortable as possible in order that he is able to concentrate on his actual job from the very beginning of his assignment. With the early involvement of a relocation agency, the best as early as the planning phase of assignment begins, the company saves a lot of money. Depending on the country of destination the period between the planning and organisation, together with a local relocation agency, and the actual start of the expatriate’s work may last up to one year. According to experiences it lasts, on average, six months. Companies would be well advised not only to take care of their employees, but also of their families. Most assignments abroad fail because residing in a foreign country is a big challenge for the whole family life.
About relocation packages
Usually all parts of the agreement on the assignment that are not regarded as salary are called relocation packages. This includes the monthly rent for a flat or house, a company car for personal use, school fees, the actual shipment of furnishings, clothes and other goods abroad and back as well as insurance cover. Depending on the place of destination the costs for a driver, gardener, domestic help and nanny or even for personal security are defined in the agreement in a lump sum.
About relocation, historical background
Those who think that relocation service is an invention of modern times are very much mistaken. The profession locator already existed in the Middle Ages. The term locator derives from the Latin and means lessor, renter or guide for colonists. The root word is locus, Latin for place, which also can be easily recognised in the word relocate.
In the Middle Ages locators served as guides for settlers and helped them to find land and rebuild a new home. Exactly that simple is the connection between the past and the present. Nowadays relocation service providers help expatriates to relocate to other countries for work reasons and to orientate themselves in the new environment.