You’ve been hoping for that promotion – and your boss finally calls you in to talk. It sounds like a great opportunity – until he tells you the job is in Chicago. Or Los Angeles. Or Japan.
Relocating for a job is not uncommon. In fact, a new job or transfer is consistently among the top five reasons that people move, according to a Consumer Insights Study by MyMove.com. About half of those surveyed indicated that they moved to another state or country for a job.
Once you’ve received an opportunity to relocate, that’s when reality hits. If you were actively job-searching in another city, then you’ve likely prepared for the possibility of a move. But if the opportunity has come up unexpectedly, or sooner than anticipated, it’s time for some important – and quick – decisions.
“Relocation is a highly personal decision,” said DJ Stephan, president, Allen Tate Relocation and Corporate Services. “Even if the job opportunity is excellent, there are always other factors to be considered.”
For example, someone in the early years of their career without much attachment to an area may be eager to move to a new area. But it gets more complicated for someone mid-career, with family and local ties.
“When we work with companies who need to relocate employees, the family is a big consideration,” said Stephan. “We do everything possible to help address the needs and questions of every family member and often include them on tours of the local area.”
Deciding whether to move involves a bit of soul-searching in several areas – the job itself, financial considerations, the new environment, the family and social aspect, and a few personal questions that must be answered.
The Job. Experts suggest that you should approach a job opportunity with a business plan, to weigh the pros and cons. Does the new job present opportunities you would not have in your current position? Do you work in a specialized field with limited opportunities? Will the new job be right for a reasonable time into the future? Is the company solid? Is the company culture a good match? Do you have an option to stay where you are? Are there opportunities with other companies in your current city that you haven’t explored?
The Money. It’s not about the money, right? No, it’s always about the money to a certain degree. Does the new job offer compensation in line with the local cost of living? If not, you are making a lateral move or even taking a pay cut. Will the company pay for you to relocate? Will your new employer pay for travel for you and your family to explore the new city? Do you need to sell a house? Will you need to start work soon and move before your family can join you?
“While many companies offer excellent relocation benefits for new hires or transferees, they vary from company to company,” said Stephan. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get details in writing before you accept the job. A strong relocation package shows a solid commitment from an employer.”
The Place. Once you know the job and financial package seem right, it’s time to decide if the new location makes sense. Where will you live in the new city? Will you buy or rent? What’s the weather like? Will you find a neighborhood that makes you feel at home? What’s the commute like? Are there any disadvantages of moving there?
The People. If you have family, this is not only about you. How does your spouse/partner feel about the opportunity? What employment opportunities will be available to them in the new city? A job must be worth the professional and financial sacrifices the “trailing spouse” may need to make.
If you have school-age children, are you comfortable with the education options in the new city? If you have students attending public colleges or universities, you’ll likely be you’ll likely be required to pay out-of-state tuition if you move to a new state.
Do you have elderly parents or other family obligations? Will it be convenient to travel from the new city to visit those you leave behind?
Do you know anyone in the new city? Do you make friends easily? What are things to do where you can meet people and enjoy yourself outside of work?
The Deal Breaker. Sometimes, after careful consideration, you just have to go with your gut. You’ll never know everything before you must make a decision. Will you be happy in the new job and new city? Will your family be happy? Will you be able to deal with the change? And what’s your plan if things don’t work out?
Ultimately, it’s your job – and your move. By weighing what you have to gain – and what you have to lose, you’ll be able to make the right decision. And keep in mind that nothing is ever permanent. You always have the option to move again, or move back.
DJ Stephan, President, Allen Tate Relocation