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min read

Work-life balance as a Relocity Relocation Consultant and mom

How Jessica Harwood’s hybrid job and flexible hours help her excel as a mom and location expert for her clients

Reviewing a painstaking lease agreement in a competitive housing market, ensuring her five-year-old leaves the house in matching socks  — it’s all in a day’s work for Jessica Harwood, who works as a part-time Relocity Relocation Consultant in San Francisco’s South Bay. 

Jessica and her husband live with their two boys (Jack, 7, and Logan, 5) in Scotts Valley, California. We interviewed Jessica to find out how her role at Relocity enables her to support her family as much as her clients.

What brought you to the Bay Area?
Well, I’m originally from Monterey, which is about an hour south of the Bay Area. When I met my husband, I started taking more trips to the Bay Area since he was from San Jose. When he got a job in Santa Clara, we moved to the South Bay to live in San Jose, which was nice because we were closer to his office and to family. And now we’re in Scotts Valley, which is just south of San Jose.

What were you doing in previous roles, and how did you end up at Relocity?
Before Relocity, I spent 12 years in the hospitality industry doing weddings, corporate events, and catering.

I started working with Relocity in November 2018, after we’d moved to San Jose. I had been looking to go back to work after being home with my son for about a year when a Relocity recruiter reached out to me over LinkedIn. 

The recruiter said I was a perfect fit for the Relocation Consultant role since I had experience in customer service and hospitality, had lived in the Bay Area for such a long time, and needed some flexibility as a new mom.  

What’s the best part of living in the Bay Area?
The Bay Area has a ton to offer in terms of entertainment, restaurants, and parks. There are plenty of sporting events (go Giants and Warriors!), concerts, and kid-friendly activities. 

We love Scotts Valley because of its small-town feel and our family is nearby. Plus, we’re very close to:

  • The beach.
  • Los Gatos, which has fun holiday lights, good schools, and our medical providers.
  • Campbell, which has a great downtown area, a Stacks restaurant, the Pruneyard shopping center, and a movie theater.
  • San Jose International Airport.
  • San Francisco’s city life.
Scotts Valley map

How would you describe your role as a Relocity Relocation Consultant?
Relocation Consultants are in-area local experts who assist with client relocations by:

  • Finding homes and rentals.
  • Reviewing lease agreements.
  • Doing move-in/move-out inspections.
  • Setting up utilities.
  • Guiding clients through the registration processes for the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security Administration.
  • Helping clients set up their bank accounts.
  • Identifying the right school for the client’s children and helping them register.

Through this work, I become my clients’ first friend in their new city.

What makes a good Relocation Consultant?
Our Relocation Consultants usually embody three key qualities:

  1. Friendly and client-oriented. Since we introduce our cities to clients, we strive to be warm and welcoming. We have a customer-service mindset and are personally invested in the success of each client.
  2. Organized and detail-oriented. We keep track of numerous clients and timelines, so organization and attention to detail are very important. My background in events came in handy because it prepared me to assist multiple clients and deadlines at one time.
  3. Flexible. We must adapt to each client’s unique needs. We have to be agile in our approach to home-finding, lease review, utility setup, and settling-in services based on the different needs of clients and family members.

How do Relocity Relocation Consultants provide value to clients?
Our Relocation Consultants provide value in several ways:

  1. Local expertise. We’re experts on our cities and have (or know where to find) the answers to all of our clients’ questions.
  2. Stress reduction. We’re an ally to each client, helping with relocation tasks and offering reassurance that the move will go smoothly. Clients gain peace of mind.
  3. Human connection. Many of our Relocation Consultants remain friends with their clients after moves are complete.
  4. Family focus. We consider the needs of the client’s family throughout the relocation process.
  5. Unbiased partner. Since we’re third-party agents who aren’t associated with our clients’ employers, newcomers feel comfortable sharing their personal lives with us, which helps us serve them even better.

What kinds of clients do you help?
I help a range of people, from young adults, who are relocating for the first time, to families, who are moving from other countries. Younger clients might be learning about home-finding and utility setup for the first time, while more experienced professionals might be moving with families, which comes with the stress of placing children in the right schools and finding a desirable neighborhood.

Any specific stories come to mind?
A couple! For one, I’m helping my first legally blind client. This is a current project that’s expanding my skillset. I'm arranging a Mobility Specialist who will accompany the client to their new rental and tell them all they need to know about commuting to the office and around town.

Another example is a VIP client who had a family with two kids in elementary school and middle school. They moved from Sweden to the Bay Area in 2021. This client had worked with another Relocation Consultant before me and had already spent 30 of the 50 hours in a big VIP package. By the time we were done, the package totaled over 70 hours!

When I engaged with the client, I learned that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent visa issues had already delayed the relocation by several months. The client and her family were staying in temporary housing in London after selling their home in Sweden, meanwhile their household goods had already arrived at a storage unit in the Bay Area.

The visa came through in October, and I had until the week before Thanksgiving (when the family was coming out) to find a high-end rental home, schools, and, for the daughter who rides horses, an equestrian center. The holidays were just weeks away and the race was on. 

I worked closely with the client’s husband and spent three to four days home-finding in areas like Woodside, Redwood City, and Palo Alto. It worked out well because I was able to do virtual neighborhood and home tours. I ended up finding an executive rental home in Menlo Park near nice schools. From there, I set up the utilities and worked with the relocation management company (RMC) to pack, then unpack the family’s household goods into the new home.

We made sure the family was squared away with the Social Security Administration and even put together a welcome basket for them. The client was very pleased. The house was better than they imagined, and they loved that the kids could bike to school.

What do you like most about your role as a Relocation Consultant?
I get to meet new people and make friends. I work flexible hours that allow me to be a mom for my two kids, and the work is different every day.

What does your average day look like?
Typically each day starts off the night before when I look ahead on my calendar. I have my kids’ schedule blocked off on my work calendar, so all my meetings (usually) take place while I’m sitting at my desk. 

Before I leave the house to take my sons to school, I check my emails, Slack, and phone messages. When I get home, I sit down at the computer, take video or phone calls, and respond to emails and Slack messages. Before my youngest went to transitional kindergarten (and if I didn’t have any Zoom calls), this is when I’d spend time with him and prepare for the afternoon. 

While I no longer hop on Zoom with a kid in tow, my youngest boy, Logan, used to make appearances as my “assistant” or “coworker” on company and client calls. During the pandemic and summers, the kids were home A LOT. I always prepared the kids for my calls by setting them up with lunch or an activity and letting them know, “Mommy will be on a call for awhile, and I’ll check in with you when I finish.” We had many conversations about work, being polite, and not interrupting.

The evening is usually for the family. I don’t do client work before bedtime unless it’s urgent. Once the kids go to bed, I have about three hours to get my home searches, map layers, email responses, and everything else done at my desk — hopefully uninterrupted! 

Jessica Harwood's average workday

Did anything surprise you about your current role?
I was surprised that I could provide such a high-quality service to so many people while maintaining my own work-life balance. I’ve been able to manage the workload and earn great reviews by setting expectations with my clients.

How has Relocity changed since you started working here in 2018?
Consulting has become a bigger job since I started, but our internal tools have scaled to accommodate the increase in clients. For example, our virtual tools came to life during the pandemic, which was a huge relief during such a nerve-wracking time. Our product team is continually working on new tools to make our lives easier. 

What kind of tools?
I can think of five off the top of my head! We introduced the interactive Relocity Map, virtual housing, virtual neighborhood tours, video calls, and chat functionality. The app functionality was huge because we didn’t have to use three different systems for timesheets and bookings anymore; everything was centralized. Video has been great for building rapport with clients, and the chat function allows us to connect with them right from our dashboard.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about your job?
Our great team! Even though Relocation Consultants are fully remote, we connect and collaborate all the time. Every so often we meet for lunch, coffee, and team-bonding events.

The team is also super active on Slack. There aren’t any egos; new people help tenured people and vice versa.

Apply to one of our Relocation Consultant roles here.


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