Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thoughts on relocating for a job...

Alright a few weeks back I asked for some recommendations on blog topics, so this weeks is the first in the series.  It comes from my buddy Greg Schwan, so Greg...this one’s for you.

Ok, so you’re considering a job and that job will require you to relocate.  Relocating where you live is a big deal, one of the biggest decisions you can make frankly.  In order to honestly consider a job that will require relocation you’ve got to, and I mean GOT TO consider a few things.

1) Can you actual work in the location - There are visa issues you need to consider as well as potential language issues.  Consider this stuff before you even apply.  I once applied for a job in Zurich...first question of the interview was “Do you speak German?”..um nope, interview over.  

2) Can you afford it? - Don’t expect your new company to buy you out of an underwater mortgage or give you a 50% bump in pay.  Understand your target location and know if you can actually afford to move there.  Additionally, if you are moving from say New York City to Pittsburgh...don’t expect MORE money than you make now.  Typically moving from an expensive city to a less expensive location you should expect a CUT in your compensation. When taking a role that requires relocation, be realistic about compensation before you start interviewing.

3) Have a timeline - Companies want to hire people yesterday, you know something about business needs.  As such, they really don’t like it when you get a job offer and tell them “Great, I’ll start in four months”.  When you looking to relocate, people realize it takes time...just be upfront and communicate it to your future employer.

4) Ask your spouse - You’d be surprised how many people I talk to about taking a job and they call back saying “My spouse doesn’t want to move right now”....um, thanks for that.  Like I said up top...this is a huge decision and you HAVE to talk to your spouse before you get started.  If the whole family isn’t onboard...you’re not going anywhere.

5) Have a target location - You’d be surprised how many people I talk to and they say things like “I’m looking at opportunities in Boston, NY, Austin Tx and the Bay Area”...um what?  Seriously, moving a HUGE life decision don’t be all willy nilly with it.  Find a location you like, and target it.  You’ll waste a ton of time if you “think” you’d like to work in Texas but you find out that you really only wanted to work in Boston.

Ok, that’s it.  Would love to hear from you guys what you think.  Hopefully more soon, trying to crank out a second post this week!



  1. Terrific advice Jeff - this is so important for your job search. Where do you want to live? If you target too many places you may feel like you are spinning and getting no where with your job search. Looking for jobs in one city is hard enough. So target one location if possible and network like crazy. Yes, and don't forget to ask your significant other - they will have an opinion on where they want to live as well. Great tips to consider. Thanks for sharing - Nancy Richmond.

  2. This was really good! I always like reading something that encourages me to think during my search for a job. My favorite one was number 2. I get all of these ideas to search for possible locations to work based on how attractive the job offer is with respect to how much i like the city. But I never gave thought about whether i can afford to live there. What I would have done was attempt to decided which locations i can afford in that city AFTER accepting the job offer. I would hate to accept it and find out later I couldn't afford it. But I'm glad I'm more "awake" in my decisions for the next job offer. Thank you!

  3. A couple other things to consider, as well -- coming from someone whose father relocated four times when he was growing up.

    - Consider your family beyond your spouse, too. Keep in mind that your kids will go through an adjustment period, too. Some cities have a lot more turnover year to year than others, and it can be tough for kids to make new friends if you move somewhere where turnover is low. Also, keep in mind where your kids are in school. Uprooting them in the midst of senior year in high school is likely not a good idea, as they probably want to graduate with their friends.

    Also, on the "family" angle, keep in mind your extended family, too. Are you a close-knit clan who does Sunday dinner at Grandma's every Sunday? Is there someone ailing who relies on you for help? Do your rely on your family network to provide child care in some capacity?

    - You might need to accept a temporarily weird living arrangement to make things work out. There were a few times my dad went ahead while we stayed back to finish a school year or get the house sold while he stayed in an apartment in the new city.

    - On the flip side of the coin, I'd actually encourage young job seekers to be entirely open to relocation anywhere. If you can fit all your belongings in a suitcase and a few boxes, why not? Take that job that sounds cool and run with it. Be willy nilly -- once you get into a relationship, have kids, buy a house and become a boring adult, it's a lot harder to be willy nilly and entirely selfish. DO IT.

    - Before you leap, take a hard, critical look at what happens If It Doesn't Work Out. You could start your dream job in paradise, only to be caught up in a re-org, ending up reporting to the world's most horrible boss. Are there other firms in the new location that do similar things, or would you need to relocate again to stay in the same career path?

  4. Thanks for all the comments guys!! Nancy + Jason appreciate the additional thoughts on the topic! @Khalid hopefully we'll help you in the search! Good luck!

  5. My favorite is number 5. Tnx!

  6. After undergoing a geographical transplant 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia to Chicago, this advice is spot on, as well as that from Jason. Family needs are an important factor in any decision, and should never be placed above the giddy appeal of the job. Not only will kids go through an adjustment period, but you all will. That needs to be recognised ahead of time and allowed, and the further the move, the longer it may take.

    As for targeting locations, my advice is to at least visit the area and see if you can find places you would be happy to live. Visit not as a tourist doing all the fun things, but as someone who is looking to live there. Are there enough activities around that you and your family like to do? Are the areas nice? Can you see yourself living there?

    I was lucky enough to visit the area we moved to 3 times before even applying for the job, once after hearing about the job. So I had been in and around the area quite a bit, and when I heard about the job, started looking at it in a different light and found I was comfortable with the idea of living there. There are other places I've been where this is not the case. :) So if you can, it's a good exercise.

  7. I like the "Ask your Spouse" part. Which is, of course, very important. You have to see that family is your priority before your job. It follows. A disagreement in the process might cost something, your family or your job. Check your priority first and then balance it. If your spouse does not agree then you might want to avoid answering this question. And there is a way. Career Confidential can help.

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