Should I Relocate For a Job?
Things to Keep In Mind Before You Pack Your Bags and Uproot
07 Jun 2022
With a seemingly endless cascade of layoff and hiring freeze announcements impacting the wider tech sector on a near daily basis, thousands of U.S. tech workers have likely dusted off their resumes — either voluntarily or by necessity — and put feelers out to their networks to gauge the temperature of the hiring market. For some, this outreach will deliver incredible opportunities to grow their skillsets and advance their careers in cities, states, or even countries hundreds or thousands of miles from where they currently reside. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 27.1 million Americans moved in 2021, or more than 8 percent of the population (actually the lowest documented rate in 70 years). With roughly 1 in 4 people citing career reasons as a primary factor for a move, we can estimate about 7 million Americans packed up for a new job last year. [object Object] Now, you’re likely thinking — why would I go through the hassle, stress, and substantial financial commitment of moving for a job when I can simply find a remote role? It’s a valid point, and while the pandemic era has certainly ushered in more bountiful telecommuting opportunities, the vast majority of positions are still projected to require some semblance of on-site attendance. According to careers site Ladders, by the end of 2022, 25 percent of all jobs in North America will be remote, which means 3 of 4 positions will still require brick and mortar, in-person work. So, what happens if you’re offered a lucrative career change, one that requires you to throw your belongings into your Daewoo Lanos and relocate to a corner of the country you know nothing about? Here are seven things to ask yourself first: Cost of Living It should go without saying that some cities, regions, and states are much more expensive to live in than others. Your cost of living (COL) in Kansas City is going to be considerably more affordable than Seattle or San Francisco. In a perfect world, your transition would be from a higher COL to a lower, but in the tech space in particular, it’s more likely you’ll be heading to the Bay Area, Seattle, Boston, New York, Austin, or another hub that isn’t exactly known for its affordability. If you want a better comparison and what you’ll need to earn to maintain your current standard of living, explore one of many free COL calculators, such as CNN Money, NerdWallet, or BestPlaces. These can be useful tools when it comes to negotiating salary ahead of a potential relocation, where your fair market value should be balanced with COL for the area you’re moving to. [object Object] Ideal Location This is a biggy, and probably on par with COL. Is this new location really where you want to be? Sure the job may be awesome, but you’re only going to be there eight or nine hours a day. That’s two-thirds of your day left, and you can’t sleep it all away (challenge accepted!). What’s the weather like? If you live in San Diego, you may find the grey, rainy seasons of the Pacific Northwest to be depressing. If you love snow sports in St. Cloud, winters in Phoenix may not be your cup of tea. Are you a social butterfly who likes to explore the latest eatery or whiskey bar? Or maybe you can’t live without your weekend hikes in the mountains. Geographic location can be a significant draw or deterrent for some people, as can the type of lifestyle a particular area promotes. That’s why it’s paramount to visit your potential home before making a firm commitment. Ideally, spend a few weeks there so you aren’t just getting the tourist experience. Ask your employer if you can do a 30 or 60-day trial run before uprooting completely. This can give you time to not only embrace the city’s vibe and culture, but do some house/apartment hunting and explore the districts and neighborhoods where you could see yourself setting up shop. Transportation What may seem like a relatively insignificant detail can come with a hefty price tag. How you get around in Manhattan looks a lot different than Houston. Are you moving to an area with poor public transportation infrastructure where you’ll have to drive? Do you even own a car or will you have to purchase one (or, at the very least, set aside a full day at the DMV to register your vehicle in a new state)? Maybe you bike or walk everywhere but would have to rely on a train, bus, or subway system to get to the office. If so, how much are monthly/annual passes? Do some research into not only the potential cost but also the time commitment. If your commute will add a few hours round trip to your day, you’ll have to decide whether the new title/salary outweighs the lost time. Foot the Bill Anyone who’s moved to another state or country knows it isn’t cheap. Even relocating in the same city can run a few hundred dollars minimum. According to HomeAdvisor, moving out of state costs about $4,700 on average, with longer distances running upward of $10,000 depending on the number of trucks, weight of belongings, distance, and types of service (packing or unloading or both). Of course, you can always handle the logistics yourself, which will save you money, but may cost your sanity and relationship in the process. Ideally, a company will offer a comprehensive relocation package or reimburse you for a substantial portion of the costs, however, they may only offer to cover flights or temporary accommodations for a few weeks. If this isn’t explicitly stated in conversations with the hiring manager or laid out in your contract, just ask. The worst they can say is, “Sorry, no dice.” [object Object] Family Obligations The decision to relocate is significantly less complicated if you’re early in your career or single. The complexity meter gets dialed up when you add a spouse/partner or child(ren) in the mix. While this may be a dream opportunity for you, what are the prospects like for your partner? If they work remotely, is your new state one their company allows employees to work from? If not, are there other opportunities in their field they can easily transition to? If you have children, what are the schools like? Is the public school system adequate or will you have to incur the cost of finding private education? Are there opportunities for them to pursue their interests and passions — sports, art, outdoor activities, music/culture? If you have significant family or social ties in your current location, what’s the cost of visiting a few times annually? Growth and Advancement No one wants to blindly pursue an opportunity with a new company without reassurances of career development and advancement. This is particularly true if you’re potentially uprooting your life for the role. Before you pack, have candid and transparent conversations with the hiring manager and your team lead about your short and long term goals, and plot out a path for growth and professional development (tuition/certification reimbursement, workshops/conferences, promotion schedules). Culture and Stability Imagine moving 2,000 miles for a new job only to find out you hate it — major bummer. Or, even worse, relocating only to have the company go belly up a few months later or make significant personnel layoffs, as we’re seeing in the larger tech space. Do your research into what current and former employees have to say about the company culture — what’s the impression of the leadership team? How’s work-life balance/flexibility? What are expectations on after-hours work? What supports do they provide for employees’ health and well-being? If it’s a startup, what’s their funding stage? How much runway do they have? When do they anticipate their next funding round? While not fool-proof, this information and these types of questions should help give you confidence the company is or isn’t on stable footing. It’s also a good idea to determine why the position is available. Are they scaling the team to keep up with demand or is it from high turnover, which can indicate a toxic workplace? Also, explore the larger job market in the area for similar roles or positions. If the company just isn’t a good fit, are their similar opportunities you could quickly pivot to? [object Object] Whether you’re proactively or reactively searching for your next role, explore the thousands of remote and in-person opportunities available on Hirect and start chatting with key decision makers instantly. 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