You got a job offer! Fantastic! But it’s in another town, and now you’re wondering, “Should I move for a job?” Well, the answer is … maybe.
There’s a lot to think about when you might have to move for a job. From the weather to the price of eggs, knowing where you’re going is just as important as knowing what you’re leaving. It’s a lot to think about, and this guide can help you put your thoughts in order.
What to Consider Before You Move for a Job
Deciding to move for a job (or not to) is not an easy decision, and there are tons of things to consider as you’re mulling the choice over. To keep you organized (and prevent information overload), start big and think small.
The Biggest of the Big
Because you know where you’d relocate to, consider what moving there would mean to you in a big-picture sense.
Is it a big or small town, and is that a huge change for you? Is it close-ish to where you currently are — say, a train ride or day’s drive away? Is the job in another country? If so, how big of a cultural adjustment would that be for you?
If you’re not sure which big-picture item to start with, start with the weather, as it’s something that can significantly impact how you feel about where you live. Tramelle D. Jones, strategic success and workplace wellness coach with TDJ Consulting, says you can check sites like weatherspark.com to get past weather reports about your possible future location for any time of year, down to the day.
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Beyond the forecast, consider what kind of weather the area is generally known for. Is it sunny most of the year? Dry? Snowy? Is it known for having a consistent storm season or low temperatures? How will you feel moving from a generally sunny and temperate climate to one that’s a little more volatile?
What Are You Leaving?
While thinking about where you’re going is critical, it’s equally critical to think about where you’re moving from and how that might impact your future.
For example, how will you feel about leaving your family and friends, if that’s the case? Will you feel sad when you can’t get together with them regularly for small things, like lunch on Tuesday? How might you feel if something big happens — positive or negative — and you can’t get back there to be a part of it?
And what about the smaller things you’ll leave behind? How will you feel about having to find a new coffee shop that gets your order just right? Will the pizza be the same, better, or worse? These sound like silly things to worry about when you’re wondering if you should move for a job, but they can make a huge difference in how you feel overall.
Is Moving for a Job Right for Your Career?
And, of course, you need to consider what moving for a job will mean for your career. “Consider your long-term career goals and ask yourself, does this move fit into where you want to be in the next three to five years?” says Jones.
If the move fits in with your career plans, don’t forget to ask yourself how you’ll use what you learn to advance your career. If the move doesn’t align with your goals, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rule out moving for this job. Maybe you want to take the job and reconsider your career goals. Or maybe the job fits with your short-term plans, and you’ll consider moving again in a few years.
How Much Will Moving for a Job Cost You?
Just because a job wants you to move doesn’t mean they want to pay for it. Don’t assume the company will cover your moving costs. “In some cases, companies may reimburse a percentage or cover zero expenses,” warns Jones. “This is important to know before making your decision, so ask the question.”
>>MORE: Relocation expenses are a fringe benefit. Learn how to negotiate them.
How to Figure Out if You Should Move for a Job
With all of the above in mind, you may decide that moving is the right choice for you. But before you accept the job offer, do your homework and make sure it really is the right personal and professional decision.
Calculate the Cost of Living
Calculating the cost of a move is relatively simple — especially if the company is paying for it. It’s everything outside of the immediate moving expenses that you need to account for.
Start by determining if your new salary will go far enough in your new location. Sites like Payscale, Forbes, and NerdWallet have cost-of-living calculators that can give you a general idea of how far your salary might go if you take the job.
However, to get a better sense of what day-to-day life might cost you, Jones offers these tips:
- Visit a grocery store’s website and enter the potential pick-up location. Look for items you frequently purchase and compare that price to what you pay now.
- Gas price tracking websites like gasprices.aaa.com can give you the average price for gas in a given area on a given day.
- Contact a few leasing offices (even if you plan on buying) and explain that you’re looking to move and are interested in their current prices.
Check the Town Out
The job may be in a city you’ve always dreamed about moving to or have visited. But visiting and being a resident are two very different things.
“If possible, take a trip to the city!” says Jones. “If you can’t afford to physically go there, technology can afford you a walkabout via virtual maps and street views.”
In addition to visiting, “Talk to people who work and live in the area who’d be willing to connect to discuss the city, the social scene, the job market, and possibly identify an unofficial tour guide if you decide to take the position,” says Jones.
You should also investigate the social scene in your potential new town. Jones advises prospective relocators to “Identify opportunities to stay connected with the things that energize you now. If it’s live sporting events, check out the local team. If it’s art, look for art-focused establishments. If it’s music, where can you go to experience it firsthand? This part of your life is just as important as the job you take. You’ll need a rich social life outside of work to find balance and feel at home in a new city.”
Also examine your transportation options. If you’re a huge fan of public transportation, does the new town have one that meets your needs? If not, is biking an option or do you have to get a car?
>>MORE: Have a remote job and ready for a change of scenery? Check out The Best Small Cities for Remote Work.
Seek Counsel (Carefully)
Bouncing your thoughts off a trusted advisor (or three) can be a great way to help you talk through all the pros and cons of moving for a job. And in a case like this, you should try to speak to someone who’s faced (and made) a similar decision. As Jones notes, “Their experience can be helpful, and you can learn from their successes and mistakes in previous moves.”
But she also notes that you should choose your advisors wisely. “Avoid talking to people who offer advice they haven’t taken themselves. It means their viewpoint hasn’t been tested and you would be their test subject. Also avoid talking to people who want to see you follow a different path. You may get baited into deep, meaningful conversations that only end with advice to do something you had no interest in to begin with.”
Moving For a Job: When It Feels Like the Wrong Move
Once you’ve decided that moving for a job is the right move for you, you may relocate, only to discover you’re not as happy as you thought you’d be. That doesn’t mean moving for the job was the wrong decision. Before deciding it isn’t working out, take a step back and evaluate what’s going on.
Why Are You Unhappy?
“Take time to consider why you hate it,” advises Jones. “For example, if you’re struggling to find friends, connect with your network. Reach out and see if anyone can offer suggestions about the area that can connect you to groups, classes or hobbies you’re used to participating in back home.”
Who Are You Missing?
It could also be that you’re missing one or two important people from your old town. Or, you might be meeting so many new people you have no idea how to connect and build new friendships.
In either case, consider visiting a friend or family member. “Connecting with someone from your past to help navigate your future can help take the pressure off,” says Jones. And if an in-person visit is out of the question, a video call or old-fashioned phone call can work, too.
Do You Need to Find More Balance?
Moving for a new job is stressful, no matter how sure you are that it’s the right decision. You may have moved in, started work a few days later, and haven’t had time to settle in. Or you settled in but haven’t had time to explore your new city because you had to jump into a huge project immediately.
Finding better work-life balance can improve how you feel about your new situation. If you’re working too much, you might find that’s all you’re doing, especially when you’ve moved for a job. “Schedule a few days off to go be a tourist in your new city,” advises Jones. “Make sure you’re creating space for your personal life to flourish in this new city and if your job seems too heavy to find time away, you may want to asses your productivity or ability to say no at work.”
Ready to find your dream job in your dream location? Check out The Best Cities for Young Professionals for Work-Life Balance.
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