Making the decision to relocate for a job is an overwhelming, complicated process. Because, of course, you’re not just considering one big change, but many. The obvious, of course: what you’ll be doing every day. But also where you’ll be spending a lot of your time, not to mention who you’ll be spending it with. Oh, and where you’ll live, drive, eat, shop, and play.
I learned all of this and more this year, when a great an unexpected opportunity came my way – the chance to join a growing company with a vision for bringing social media to small businesses across the U.S., and to build out a new role there doing marketing, social, and community for the service. A company bursting at the seams with talent and energy – and connected to some of my favorite tweeps (like miss Elysa herself, in fact!)
But the decision didn’t come lightly. And the transition didn’t happen overnight. So, if you’re considering relocating for a new job, here’s my top 10 list of things to consider, in no particular order.
1) The job.
Of course, first, you want to make sure that the job you’re relocating for is a perfect match for you. You’ll be going through a lot of other changes, so when relocating, a job that you’re qualified for, passionate about, and interested in is a must. A relocation’s probably not the best time to consider a career change.
2) The cost of living.
A Midwest-sized salary definitely won’t go as far in metros like L.A. or New York. And a pay cut from a New York salary might still get you a better quality of life in many metros. And, even closely located metros can vary widely in cost of living, so make sure you consider that when weighing a job offer in another market. You can get a good idea of cost of living differences with many online calculators, or ask someone you know or have met online about typical living expenses, including expense you might not expect.
3) The city.
There is no shortage of opinion about the best cities for a relocation. In the end, it all comes down to what you personally value. But there are a lot of things to consider about a city. What is the culture like? The entertainment? The food? Is it a walking city? A driving city? What will your daily commute look like? So, make sure you’ve thought carefully about the different elements that make up a city. And, of course, if you are moving from a city to a smaller town, or vice versa, that brings a whole other element to this point.
4) The accommodations.
Speaking of cost of living, make sure you have a plan for – you know – living in the new city. And don’t underestimate the consideration of how you’ll address your current living situation. Do you own a home? Do you rent? Is there a lease involved you’ll have to break or sublet? Do you have roommates you’ll have to appease? A house to get on the market? Once you’ve gotten that ironed out, consider all your options I the new city. It may take a while to really get to know the area to decide exactly where you want to live, and what kind of arrangement you want to make.
5) The opportunities.
Of course, the job you’re considering is important, but with a relocation, it’s critical to keep in mind the other opportunities available in the market you’re considering. For example, if you’re leaving a city for a great job in a small market with no other opportunities in your field, make sure you’ve considered what this means. If you’re moving from metro to metro, look into the types of industries, fields, and growth sectors in the market you’re considering. Gen Y gets a lot of press about being a job-hopping generation, but the realities of the economy and job market over the last few years have reinforced the wisdom of thinking about the future when it comes to your career. So, whether you plan to put down roots in the new market or not, plan like you are, and make sure your career will be in good shape if you end up staying there for the next 10-15 years.
6) The travel.
Of course, if you’re moving to a new market, you’ll have to get there first. This will involve at least some travel – for an interview, for an apartment or house hunt, for the move itself. You might get most of that done in one initial trip, so when you’re travelling, think about the travel itself. Will you be travelling back to your old market often to visit family or friends? If so, make sure your budget and lifestyle can handle the trips.
7) How you will handle the change.
Okay, now we start to get into the emotional side of arelocation. Which maybe a lot of people don’t talk about. Or at least, I haven’t seen a lot about. But moving is tough. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you are leaving behind. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you are gaining. A lot of time worrying, and a lot of time dreaming. It’s a roller coaster of emotion, so be prepared to deal with the fact that – at some point – you’re going to have to face yourself in this process. So, be ready for that, and embrace the process, because it can help you gain valuable perspective and gratitude if you keep the right mindset.
8) Your people (and pets!).
Perhaps this is the most important thing to consider. So maybe that’s why I put it near the end. Because any time you move, the thing that will be affected the people in your life. A spouse, partner or significant other brings a whole set of considerations (and that is a whole post of its own). My husband and I made the decision together, so for us, everything on this list didn’t just apply to “me,” but to “we.” If you have kids, their entire social landscape – friends, school, sports – is about to become radically different. If you have pets, they might not warm up to the new situation as quickly as you do. Friends may have a variety of responses – surprised, supportive, upset. If you’re moving further or close to family, they could be relieved or disappointed in the change. But kids are resilient, and friends and family want what is best for you, and pets will adapt eventually. What everyone really wants to know is that you’re taking them into account when you make the decision to move. So, talk with the people in your life (and show your pets extra attention!) so they will realize how much they mean to you and understand the decision you are making.
9) How you’ll stay connected.
Ok, so this is really just an extension of the point above. So it’s really important too. Maybe the most important, because if you take time to think ahead about how you’ll stay connected with the people in your life as you relocate, it will be easier on you, and on them. Skype is a godsend. I can’t tell you how many times during our crazy transition I made it through a tough day just by being able to video chat with my husband, who was getting our house on the market while I started my new job. Faecbook is great, too. I set up a group just for family so I could keep them in the loop on our house hunt, holiday plans, and other private details I didn’t want to share with my entire social graph. Handwritten cards, e-mails, phone calls, meetups – a good mix of technology and IRL put to good use will help you make the transition smoothly.
10) What your heart is telling you.
Should you relocate? Maybe you’re thinking about it, and maybe that’s why you’re reading this post. Most likely, you’ll consider it sometime in your career if you’re not thinking about it now. So, when you do, think about everything on this list. Think a lot about the people part, because relationships are one of the most important things you can ever have. And make a list of your own. Think about what matters to you, and where you are in life, and what you value.
In the middle of the absolute madness of everything you’re considering – probably in a rather short amount of time – find some quiet. Find a place – a physical place, a digital place, a journal – somewhere you can go to listen to what your heart is telling you. And write it down, or tell someone, so you will have a reminder about why, ultimately, you chose what you did – to relocate or not. So that weeks or months from now, you can feel confident in the choice and know that it was the right decision.
View other posts in the Top 10 in 2010 series.