9 Things to Consider Before Relocating for a Job

US News

Mired in years of either double-digit or high single-digit unemployment, your home state has hardly been flourishing with job opportunities.

Determined to steer your career in a new direction, you applied to jobs outside the state. And though landing a job elsewhere initially seemed like a long shot, an employer has bit on your résumé and offered you a position.

Before packing up your bags and settling into new digs, here are some questions to address.

1. How will this affect my relationship? If you're single, in your 20s, and enjoy a traveling lifestyle, you may be open to taking a job halfway across the country, notes Alexandra Levit, writer at the career advice blog The Fast Track and author of "Blind Spots: 10 Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success."

Being married, however, changes the calculus, particularly if your spouse has achieved great career success in the area where you currently reside. "If [your spouse has] a great situation going now and the relocation would force them to give up that situation, sometimes that's not a good idea," Levit says.

[See: 25 Career Mistakes to Banish for 2013.]

2. What about the kids? Moving your children from one place to another could have a negative effect, especially if schools and security in the area are a notch below where you currently live, Levit notes.

Moreover, with family members close by, you and your spouse have never had to worry about who would watch the kids after school. Setting up shop elsewhere could make child care problematic. "If there are grandparents nearby, [that's] a huge benefit," Levit says. "Moving away from them, you could find that your life becomes a lot more unpleasant."

3. What kind of financial shape is the company in? The job's duties read like a wish list of everything you've wanted professionally. But if the company is just getting off the ground or has struggled financially in the past, it should give you pause.

Still, Brenda Harrington, president of Adaptive Leadership Strategies, an organization that specializes in work relocation, says moving is worth the risk if it aligns with your long-term career goals. "If you feel that the opportunity is in your long-term plans, then it's probably worthwhile," she says. "And that's regardless of the company's financial position or anything like that."

4. Will the company cover your moving expenses? Hauling your belongings thousands of miles away can be pricey. A single person moving from a one-bedroom, Los Angeles apartment to one in Chicago could spend approximately $2,240 for professional movers to load and unload a single mobile storage container, according to a cost estimate from the national moving company Atlas Van Lines.

If the company you work for won't cover the moving expenses, Harrington suggests performing a cost-benefit analysis, weighing both professional opportunity and possible financial sacrifice. However, "Companies will typically provide some benefit for new employees to move to a new location," she says, adding that assistance can come in either the form of a lump sum or a more defined benefit package.

A recently released Atlas Van Lines survey shows that 9 out of 10 companies reimburse or pay some relocation costs for transferees or new hires. Approximately 65 percent of companies fully reimburse transferees for moving expenses, while 57 percent do the same for new hires.

[See: The 10 Priciest Cities for U.S. Workers.]

5. Will my cost of living go up? Your new position may offer higher pay, leaving little to no reason to fret about the cost of living in your new area. Then again, your salary could be lower. Couple a decreased paycheck with a more expensive city, and the life you're accustomed to could be dramatically altered.

According to PayScale.com, a website that provides salary data for employee and employers, if you ended up working in New York City, where the cost of living is significantly higher than the national average, you could pay 48 percent more in groceries compared to the national average. You will also pay significantly more for housing (352 percent), utilities (28 percent), transportation (31 percent) and health care (25 percent).

6. How have others handled the transition? Find out from those who went before you. Contact someone from the company who transferred to the new place you'll be working and living in, Levit suggests. Hoping to lure you to the job, a company hand may give you a more sanitized version of events.

To balance out the advice you get, and for a possibly less-filtered description, Levit recommends that you also "get the 411 from somebody who's in a similar position to you that relocated who's not in the company."

Moreover, Levit says a Google search that combines the words "relocation" and the name of the area could also help fill in the blanks to your questions. Visiting travel message boards might also help. "See what people are buzzing about online in terms of whether it was a good move or not a good move and for what reasons," she says.

7. What will the day-to-day be like? Spending winters in sunny Southern California is lot different from spending them in ice-cold Chicago. "A city that one person could love, another could hate," Levit says.

Weather is only one daily attribute to consider. Take into account how commute times and other daily rituals unique to the location may affect not only your work routine, but your personal one. "You want to make sure that the overall location is a good fit for your life because you're only working a certain percentage of the day," Levit adds.

[Read: Does This Job Pass The Sniff Test? 4 Questions to Ask.]

8. Can you visit or stay beforehand? Reading about where you'll live via a pamphlet or website is no substitute for actually being there. If possible, travel to the place for a brief visit before saying yes to the employer. "It's really important not only to visit but to almost embed yourself in the local area and the culture and really try to develop the perspective that you would have if you were living there," Harrington says.

9. Have you done your homework? Relocating can have a major impact, both in the long and short term, on your personal and professional life. Be sure you've sufficiently analyzed the move from every angle. "The more information you can find out, the more educated a decision you can make," Harrington says.

View Comments (0)