Many people considering a job-related move ask this question. Obviously, there are several different factors that need to be addressed in order to determine if a relocation makes sense. The job itself is usually the major one. As I am not an employment expert, I will not give advice on how to decide if a position is a good fit (I’m sure there are plenty of resources for that!). There is, however, one job-related characteristic which does fall under my purview as a relocation expert: Does the salary, adjusted for different costs of living, mean a move up, down or sideways? The primary driver of cost of living is housing. While intangibles such as being closer to family or climate may definitely influence your decision, you probably should find out what kind of housing is available at what price.
What does “housing” cover?
You’ll want to think about not only the “brick and mortar” (whether it’s a condo, twin, or single-family house), but the neighborhood too. Does it feel safe? Does it need to be walkable to shopping and dining? Maybe school district is important to you. How about the commutability to work? Do you need train access or can you drive? How long will it take? Then there are “lifestyle” questions, like, “Is it near a state park” or “Does that city have major sports teams” or “Will I be able to find museums and theater nearby?” Access to high-quality health care, an airport or a competitive rock climbing gym may also play into your decision.
Relocating is uprooting.
While you hope that friends and family you’d be leaving would come visit, be realistic about time and cost associated with traveling from here to there. (Again, access to an airport or major rail hub may become important). How good are you at meeting new people and making friends? Does that matter to you? If you have children, do not underestimate the difficulty of changing schools and being “the new kid”. It’s challenging. Maybe, though, part of the reason you’re considering a move is that the schools are better.
Relocating has a cost.
Unless your company is paying for your move, consider the costs of a move. You have to pay the moving company and usually spend some time in hotels and eating out while you’re between places. Depending on when the new job starts, you may even have a week or more without income. If you are buying a house, there are the closing costs as well as the purchase price related to a home purchase. Once you move in, you’ll invariably need to buy some new things for your new home. If the house you buy needs any repairs, don’t overlook the associated costs.
What are the benefits?
Just as you have a responsibility to consider the reasons why you shouldn’t relocate, you will want to think about the benefits. I’ve already mentioned a couple: perhaps the new location puts you closer to family or in a better school district. Maybe the target area puts you closer to places you’d like to travel to on weekends like a beach or skiing area. The job, too, may have great growth potential or put you in a location where your industry has lots of job opportunities (like a tech or pharma hub, for example).
I’ve known people who use a spreadsheet to try to make sense of all the pros and cons and others who rely solely on whether it “feels” right. Since everyone is different, I won’t suggest any specific method to make a decision. For most, it is made through a combination of head and heart. I would, though, visit more than once and do some research to figure out if the things that are important to you are available in the city you’re considering. Also, check to see if there are any features of that place that you find intolerable like traffic, topography or lack of diversity. Relocating is not something I’d suggest you do on a lark; it’s a big commitment. Remember, though, if it turns out not to be a good move, you can always try somewhere else! For more advice on how to decide whether to relocate for a job, click here and here.
If you are relocating to the Philadelphia/Main Line area, please go to my blog page and search for posts using the relocation tag. Contact me to discuss your Philadelphia area relocation! firstname.lastname@example.org/610 308-5973