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Should You Move For a Job? When Relocation Makes Sense — and When It Doesn’t

By Michelle Kruse

Whether you’ve been offered a job in another city or you’re simply looking to expand your search, relocating for work is a huge decision — and one that many people are faced with every day. According to a study from the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent of Americans who moved between 2012 and 2013 did so for a job. Not sure if you’re ready to be part of that statistic? Ask yourself these six questions and you’ll be well on your way to deciding whether to call the movers or to stay put and stick it out.

1. How will a move impact your family?

If you’re single, you’re in luck — this question may not even apply to you. But if you have a partner and/or kids, this becomes one of the most important questions to consider. Is your significant other on board with the move, and what are their own career prospects in the new city? Are you comfortable uprooting your kids, and do you think they’ll adjust to their new schools and neighborhood? Ultimately, are you confident that the move will be a positive one for your family, or do you worry that it could create some serious problems?

2. How secure are your prospects in the other city?

If you’ve officially been offered work in another city, you’ll need to assess just how strong that prospect is. Is the pay better than what you’re making now? Do you think you’ll enjoy working there, and that it’s a clear move forward in your career? If you’re still looking for a job, be honest about your outlook in the new city. Does the job market in your field seem significantly stronger than your current city? Do you have any contacts who might be able to help you find work? Is there any chance of finding a job before you move, or do you think you’ll increase your chances by moving?

3. Can you afford it?

You’re used to living where you are now. You know how much you make, how much transportation costs, and what you normally spend on utilities and groceries. Moving to a new city means these figures could change significantly, and you have to be sure that you can afford it. Even with an increased salary, a city with a high cost of living could still send you spiraling into debt or searching for a second job just so you can pay your bills. Do your research and find out how much it will really cost to live somewhere else.

4. Do you like the other city?

This question is so simple, but many people overlook it in their single-minded quest to move forward in their career. But the fact is, if you don’t like the city, you will be unhappy and you will eventually want to move again. The city should feel like a good fit for both you and your family, and if it’s possible, it’s a good idea to visit for a few days to get a feel for the land. Do you feel comfortable with the size, the area, the people, the local attractions and restaurants? Do you feel excited about starting a new life in this place, or are you dreading it? If you’re leaning toward the latter, this move may not be the right one for you.

5. What are you leaving behind?

This decision isn’t just about what’s ahead of you — it’s also about what you’re leaving behind. If you love living in your current city, you’re surrounded by good friends, and you have a great house, you should take that into account when considering a move. If your ties are looser and you’re simply looking forward to the future, it will make your decision a lot easier.

6. What does your gut tell you?

This may not seem like the most professional piece of advice, but this is one situation where you may want to trust your instincts. This decision isn’t just about a job; it’s about uprooting your life as you know it and moving on to someplace completely different. Are you ready to make the change, or is there something inside telling you it’s just not right? It’s totally normal to have some doubts, but recognize the difference between cold feet and genuine dread.

Moving for your job is a big commitment, but remember: Nothing is permanent. If things don’t work out the way you planned, you can just as easily rent a moving truck, box up your things, and hit the road once again — either back where you started, or to a whole new destination.


Michelle is the editor and content manager for ResumeEdge. She has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience for companies such as Novartis and IBM, in addition to a background in coaching and a master’s in leadership development.

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