In this era of unprecedented mobility, the best job opportunity for you may be a few state lines away.
The idea of picking up your roots to start fresh in a new place can be exhilarating. As Albert Einstein once said, life’s like a bicycle and “only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.”
But, exciting as the prospect may be, there are a few things you should think about before you hop on that bike. We’ll walk you through the seven most important considerations you should make before moving for a job, whether this is your first relocation or your tenth.
Things to consider before relocating for a job:
- Your family
- Advancement opportunities
- Cost of living
- Is this a place you’d enjoy living?
- Is relocation really necessary?
- Moving costs and logistics
1. How would relocating affect your family?
“By the way, honey, we’re moving to Buffalo next month.” That’s a good way to not broach the subject of relocating for a job with your spouse.
But it’s not just about being polite. There are a bunch of practical and logistical matters of moving that you’ll want to coordinate with your family before deciding to pull the trigger on your move.
Opportunities for your partner
Is there an awesome graduate school program your spouse could take advantage of in this new location? Does it put you closer (or, as some might prefer, further away) from your in-laws? Are there transferable job opportunities in your partner’s profession there?
These are a few of the questions you should discuss before moving for a job. Remember, an opportunity for you can also be an opportunity for other members of your family. And moving is a lot more fun when everyone’s excited about it.
Look into schools for your kids
If you have kids or you’re expecting, then you’ll want to consider what it will be like to raise a tiny human being in this new location. What are the schools like there? Would your new office be close to a kid-friendly neighborhood?
The stress on kids is an often overlooked cost of moving, so it’s good to talk with them before you make the decision. If talking doesn’t go well, you could always try bribery. (“But honey, did you know that my new job in San Bernardino is just an hour away from DisneyLand?”)
Consider your extended family
Will your move take you further away from extended family? Sure, it can be nice to have some distance from your Aunt Sue sometimes. But no one wants to be traveling across the country on Thanksgiving weekend.
Also, consider that it’s becoming more common for adults to end up directly caring for their aging parents at some point in their lives, according to the AARP. Many more will help out with occasional chores and household projects. While your parents may not need your help now, your proximity in the coming years is something to consider as they age.
2. What does this move mean for your career?
You’re relocating for a job, so it must be good for your career, right? Not necessarily. Let’s talk it through.
While we all kind of want to be Frank Abagnale from Catch Me if You can, jumping around the world from job to job isn’t generally going to get you very far in terms of advancement.
Your new job opportunity may pay you more off the bat, but does it offer a clear, achievable ladder for future raises and promotions? Are there educational initiatives there that will help you skill up? Does this job inspire you to push into new territory, or does it feel like a place to get comfortable?
One easy exercise to do is this: Imagine your dream position with your company or industry. Does that position exist at the office location you’re considering? If not, does the new job offer valuable experience that will help you attain your goal?
If you don’t want a bunch of bearded hipsters in T-shirts orchestrating ping-pong tournaments next to your desk in the middle of the day, then don’t go to work at one of those laid back tech startups (I’m a bearded hipster in a T-shirt, so I’m allowed to make fun of them).
But seriously, the social norms vary widely between offices, even within the same organizations. Ask your hiring manager about it and consider whether it’s the kind of place you’d like to spend eight hours a day. If it’s the same employer, you can check with colleagues who are familiar with that location. If you’re changing employers, check out what current and former employees say about it on Glassdoor.
|Is the idea of moving stressing you out? If your relocation is getting you down, try turning it into an adventure.|
State regulations and professional licenses
If you want to practice law in San Francisco, you’ll have to be admitted to the State Bar of California first. But that’s not the only profession that has state regulations.
Be sure to check licensing requirements in the state before moving for a job there. Even small things, like “must have a state-issued driver’s license” can snag your whole job relocation process.
Finally, is there an escape hatch? If you realize you can’t stand the dreary weather in Seattle after a few months, is there a way to press the reset button?
Discuss trial periods with your employer and ask about contingency plans. Maybe you could transfer back to your old location (or a whole new location) if things just aren’t working out.
3. How will your salary measure up to a new cost of living?
The cost of living in the job’s area must be a central part of calculating the cost of moving. Earning more money doesn’t mean much if homes cost twice as much in your new town.
Do the math
For example, if you currently live on $70,000 in Salt Lake City, you’d need to make about $103,000 to maintain your same standard of living in Boston, according to NerdWallet’s Cost of Living Calculator. Of course, if you’re moving from Boston to Salt Lake City, you’ll be on the better end of that calculus.
Check sites like NerdWallet to calculate the cost of housing and basic necessities, like food and gas, in your new job’s location.
How to negotiate salary
It may seem scary to haggle with your new employer, or your current one, if they want you to relocate. (“Hey, do you think you could, uh, you know, give me more money?”). But it’s a totally acceptable, and even expected, part of the process for new hires, job transfers, or promotions that require a relocation.
Discuss cost of living differences in your negotiations. If you’re coming from a cheaper locale, it’s appropriate to ask for a significant raise to cover the gap. This is also a great time to ask for a relocation package or other job relocation assistance, if they haven’t already offered it.
Go for gold, then settle for silver if you have to.
4. Is this a place you’d enjoy living?
So you’ve got a job offer in Florida. “What’s not to love about Florida? Beaches, sunshine, amazing nightlife,” you might say. But maybe you should withhold judgment until you’ve actually experienced Miami traffic during rush hour.
Every city has its own undefinable je ne sais quoi. You can’t get it from reading a city guide or talking to your friend who lives there. You need to experience some things yourself.
Book a flight, take a road trip, do an ultra-marathon if you have to (hopefully your company’s relocation package will cover the cost of a visit). Once you’re there, see how it feels to walk down the street. Scope out your favorite new coffee shop and restaurant. Have a beer with a local at the bar.
Take some time to just be yourself in this place before relocating for a job there.
Do you have friends and family there?
We already talked about the benefits (or maybe drawbacks) of being close to family. But what about your friends?
If you have a hard time making new friends (fellow introverts, put your hands up!), then the cost of leaving your existing social circle may feel higher. It could be helpful to do some research about your potential new home to see if any old high school or college buddies have moved there.
5. What about the weather?
If it’s the middle of winter, moving to Phoenix might sound like a prolonged vacation. But what happens when it’s 110 degrees next June? Weather might seem trivial, but it can really affect your entire life.
Be sure to check the overall weather trends of your potential destination. Ask yourself, can my little Honda Civic handle the snow in Minneapolis? But it’s not just heat and cold that you need to think about. The amount of sunshine can seriously affect your mood.
Yes, mood. Consider this: if you move to El Paso, TX, you can expect about 84% of your days to be sunny. If you move to Portland, OR, you can expect about half that (48%). I, for one, would be a very grumpy Portlander.
6. Is relocation really necessary?
It can be easy to get caught up in the details of your awesome job relocation plan, but hold up a second. Let’s take a step back. Is this job relocation really necessary?
Is there a remote work option?
The global COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we live and work. While many of the consequences have been horrible, others are opportunities to make our jobs safer, more flexible, and more efficient.
For example, a rapid shift to working from home proved to many companies, big and small, that remote work was not only possible, but maybe even desirable. It turns out that meeting could have been an email, after all.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that in April and May, 2020, “LinkedIn recorded a 28% increase in remote job postings and a 42% increase in searches using the terms ‘remote’ or ‘work from home.’” That’s huge.
Maybe it’s time to broach the subject with your current or prospective employer. At the very least, if you’d rather avoid relocating, then you should include remote positions in your job search. Another factor to consider is that while employers may want you in the same region so you’re available for at least some facetime each month, you may be able to handle a longer trip to the office if it’s not an everyday commute. That could change where you look for a new place to live, opening up new possibilities such as saving on rent or home costs and being closer to good schools or favorite outdoor activities.
7. What are your moving costs and logistics?
We saved the best for last. Okay, fine, it’s probably not going to be the best part of your relocation process, but it’s essential to any successful move. Here’s what you should be thinking about.
Cost of moving
This is the $10,000 elephant in the room. Exactly how much will your relocation costs be?
Hopefully your new job is hooking you up with a relocation package. Maybe this package includes full-service relocation specialists, but more likely it’s just a lump-sum budget to help offset moving costs.
Either way, you’ll definitely want to shop around for affordable moving options.
The most expensive route you can choose are traditional full-service movers. With full-service, your movers will do the loading, driving, and unloading for you. While this is clearly convenient for you (and your back), it can put your relocation costs at $5,000 or more.
You can cut that figure in half or more by opting for a self-move. Unless you’ve got a spare box-truck parked out back, self-moving will usually involve a rental truck or a moving container service like PODS. (Visit PODS to learn more about how moving containers work or call 877-350-7637 to get answers and a quick quote based on your specific situation.)
Storage and moving logistics
Besides the cost savings, portable containers can take a lot of pressure off job relocation situations because their built-in storage advantage makes it much easier to stage your move. You can split up your stuff into the essentials you need for temporary housing and store the rest while you’re looking for your permanent home. With PODS, you have the option of keeping the container in your driveway or in a secure Storage Center as long as you need.
Want to save money, but don’t have the time to be driving a rental truck across the country? PODS research shows that time constraints are a major reason customers who are relocating for jobs opt to have their belongings safely shipped via container instead of renting a truck. That way, they can either make a quicker trip driving their own vehicle, or use the savings to help pay for a vehicle transport service while they hop on a plane and report to work.
Make the decision that’s right for you
Now that you’ve considered everything, from the cost of living in a new city to the number of days you can wear shorts there, you get to make a decision. But don’t rush. This is your life, and no one can tell you what to do (nope, not even your really smart boss). It’s a big decision, but with knowledge comes the ability to make a good call.
Easton Smith works as a freelance writer and researcher, reviewing technology trends and the moving industry. He moved all around the continent, from New York to California, before landing back in his hometown of Salt Lake City.