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For the last few months, you’ve been looking for a job. You’ve applied locally and even out of state. You figured that moving might be nice because you always wanted to live somewhere else. However, you never imagined that you would actually get an interview, pass it, and have someone offer you a job in a different city.
Before accepting or rejecting the job offer based on your emotions, sheer excitement or terror, there are some things you should consider.
Evaluate the Bigger Picture
Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, says that on most occasions, relocating for a job includes a higher salary as well as advancement. But she recommends that you evaluate the subtler advantages like “relocating to add expertise to your resume, or to reside in the hotspot of your specialty.” Moving to be closer to your family or to a region with less unemployment are also tangible perks.
However, there can be drawbacks as well. For example, choosing to relocate to the middle of nowhere, with no idea as to when your assignment will end, or what your career progression will be like is not recommended. Other disadvantages are the disruption to your family, moving to a city with higher crime, or with a higher cost of living.
Aside from thinking about this job move in terms of pros and cons, evaluate how this job aligns with your personal definition of success, how it matches your personality and talents, and what financial impact the job and the move will have on your family. To ensure the smoothest transition, these three aspects should all be in place.
Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of Call to Career, believes that evaluating the social aspect of the proposed move is very important. She recommends considering whether you would be okay moving to an area where you didn’t know anyone or if you would prefer to have some friends and/or family nearby. “Some people enjoy moving to an area where they don’t have established ties because they enjoy making new friends. Other people prefer to start with a network of people that they know and branch out from there,” she explains.
It’s important to consider where you are in your career as well. For example, if you’re a mid-level career woman, with well established personal and professional networks, the post-move adjustment might be more difficult. Mentors are essential and while you may keep in touch with some people after you move, cultivating mentor relationships in your new location will take some time. Additionally, if you have children, you’ll need to consider not only how much of an impact moving will have on their lives, but how much time it will take you to develop a personal support system.
Being aware of the social implications of your relocation will allow you to make a more informed choice if the job and city you’re considering are right for you.
Be Prepared For the Worst Case Scenario
Even if the job is everything you’ve ever dreamed of, Jennifer Gresham, writer, career coach, and speaker, recommends that you do a “pre-mortem,” and analyze the worst-case scenario before things have a chance of going wrong.
Gresham advises, “What you need to do before taking a new job is to get specific on what failure means to you, and then do your due diligence in exploring that fear. You then need to have a system in place for making sense of any failures that do occur.”
For example, if you were to move your family away, and the company closes down the offices where you’re working, do you have any local contacts that could help you get a job? Are you aware of how the local economy is faring? Do you and your family have enough savings to survive on while you look for a new job? Is this even a setback that you and your partner want to contend with?
Another option you can research is finding out what the company’s policy is regarding layoffs. If they give severance packages, you’ll know you have a cushion to fall back on. Additionally, knowing what the job market is like for people with your skillset will help you have a backup plan so you’ll be able to bounce back a lot quicker if the worst-case scenario were to come to fruition.
Understand the Financial Impact of Relocation
Relocating for a job can be a costly endeavor. However, a 2013 survey by Atlas Van Lines noted that 82% of companies reimburse or pay for some relocation costs for transferees or new hires. The majority of surveyed companies offer specialized relocation assistance for homeowners and renters as well.
Donovan says the key is to negotiate after you are offered the job. If you own a house and have a family to consider, these items will likely surface during the interview, so your potential employer shouldn’t be caught off guard. What you can ask to be included, of course, depends on your personal situation. If you’re a single 20-something with no dependents or house to sell, that’s very different from being a married 50-something with a home, two high-school kids, and an employed spouse. Either way, you should consider: travel costs, cost of professional movers, temporary housing, a monthly housing stipend, storage costs, shipping costs, moving back costs within one year of start date if it does not work out, reimbursement of any loss on your home sale, reimbursement of mortgage payments, and/or spousal assistance.
Because assistance can come in the form of a lump sum or a more defined benefit package, knowing the figures of these financial costs will prevent you from overburdening yourself financially.
A Long Term Position Versus a Permanent Position
It’s hard to consider the benefits of a long-term placement versus a permanent one. But if the job offer is more about career advancement than anything else, and it will put you in a place to make contacts within your company that will help you progress, having the option to return after a set period of time might be a good idea. That being said, if you have a family, you should evaluate the benefits of returning with the financial and social costs of disrupting your family with another move.
If the job is offered as a permanent move, you should be more confident that the city and office environment and job are to your liking.
Considering an International Relocation
Relocating outside the country makes every change you’ll experience much harder. “Don’t underestimate the challenges of changing cultures,” Gresham says. “That said, the value of changing cultures (and seeing your own culture through new eyes) is incredibly valuable. Every culture has important lessons and opportunities, and by and large, I think these are worth a move if you have a chance.”
Choosing to relocate for a job is a difficult decision to make because you need to evaluate many factors outside of the job itself. But if the company is helping you with relocation costs, if your family is onboard, and the job will help you advance either laterally or vertically, then relocating nationally or internationally may be the right move for you.