Job Relocation and Planning Guide

Everyone at some point in his or her life, whether just day dreaming or by necessity, has pondered the idea of packing up and moving to a new location. The reasons are plentiful including being offered a job, a fresh start, warmer weather, excitement, and more.

Whatever the reason, they are all legitimate. Below is what we hope is an objective look at some of the decisions and questions that should be answered before embarking on such a life changing journey.

The Decision...

There are many reasons for considering a move, including the aforementioned. For decision making purposes, it may be a good idea to separate the reasons into a few camps including, career, necessity, and personal.

Career:

• Certain locations are well known for your specialty, education or experience, and may offer more choices and career advancement opportunities, e.g. Biotech / Boston, Semiconductor / SF Bay area, Hospitality / Las Vegas, and Finance / New York.

• You may be receiving a promotion from your current company and this would be a good career move. Keep in mind, nothing has to be forever. Many people have relocated with a company, and after a few years, moved back to their home state. Take away the - every decision is permanent mentality - and you may be more amenable to the idea of a move.

Necessity:

• There are no suitable employment opportunities for your background in your current area. You have made a concerted effort, not just blasting off an occasional resume to a company once a week, and there just are not any real options for you.

• Based on the pay for your occupation, your expenses are greater than your income in your current location. You may be able to live with a much better standard of living in another location. A better quality of life and standard of living is a powerful reason for moving.

Personal:

• If you know that you will be happier, you are adventuresome, it is your calling, you have friends or family in another area, than let these be positive factors for a change. You should consider the negatives to a possible move, but do keep your thoughts balanced with all of the positives as well. Negative thoughts tend to overrun the positive ones. Be prepared for various reactions to your announcement, including; negative, positive, and even jealously. If it helps, the Henry Ford II quote, "Never complain, never explain" may help the situation. Remember, nothing has to be forever, and you know what is best for you.

Ponder further...

- The cost of living in the new location. You need to research this thoroughly and we suggest not relying on cost of living calculators, although they are very useful. It would be helpful to actually write out your current and possible new expenses. Most people have not relocated to a new area, so be aware that the cost of living is significantly different (many time for the better) in various locations. Housing / renting costs, sales tax, real estate taxes, car registration / insurance, fuel costs, food, etc. should be researched thoroughly. There are many good relocation websites, including city and county government sites that can give you details.

- If you are relocating without a job lined up, how easy is it going to be to get one, and do you have enough capital on hand to live for a while? How long can you go without a paycheck? Would you be able to get by with a lesser job temporarily? Can you stay with a friend or relative? If it does not work out, do have an exit strategy?

- Crime: It is everywhere of course, but it is certainly worse in certain locations, and not always just in areas of a large city. You do not want to show up somewhere and be blindsided by a less than desirable area. This is the type of stress you do not need. There are some very nice crime map websites that you can explore. Often, the police or sheriff's department website will have a crime map search feature. As well, take a frequent look at the online newspapers for the locations you are considering. You rarely hear about local events outside of a particular area.

- Interview considerations. While it is the case that for certain positions companies will fly someone to their location, it is often not their first choice. Companies tend to try and find local candidates due to the extra expense. If you have unique enough skills and experiences for a job, many companies will bring someone in for a meeting. Be prepared though that the first question they will ask you is… Are you sure relocation is not a problem? You do not what to have a company invest time and money unless you are 110% sure you are ready to relocate.

- Can you break a lease or sell your home easily? Depending on your situation, relocation packages offered by companies will provide for temporary housing, and they will often pay for you to break a lease. Even though you may have heard stories that an apartment will break a lease for a job change, you should really find out the rules ahead of time. It does not usually work this way.

- What about the people you may be leaving behind? This is often the prime reason people do not relocate, and sometimes the reason people do! Would you be able to afford vacations back to this area? Will they be able to visit you? Will you be miserable not being around these people? Like anything, time changes things. Initially, it will be hard, but after a while it will be a little easier. Some say that it makes the time they do spend with family and friends even more valuable and precious.

- If you have a spouse or significant other that needs to work, will they be able to find employment? Would they would be willing to take a position not necessarily in their chosen field if need be?

- How much will a move cost? When relocating on your own, it would be wise to calculate ahead of time the cost to move you and your belongings. This is an expense you cannot escape. There are various new options these days, including U-pack and Pods type services that can save money. When you are ready to move this needs to be an area that you research thoroughly, considering the costs vary greatly. Needless to say, always get multiple quotes if using a moving company.

- Is the new school system going to be suitable? It may be slightly difficult for you to assess this, but there are plenty of school rating related websites that can provide decent information. Often it will be one of three situations; rural, suburbs or inner city. Each has its pros and cons and each can be researched.

- What will the new commute be like, if you will have a job ahead of time? Often times the miles calculators are not a true gauge as to how long a commute will be. Ask around if possible. Ten miles in Los Angeles may require you to bring a lunch.

- If considering moving into a large city, are you prepared for a different culture, possibly much faster paced, than what you are used to? Some say that city living is often cold and impersonal, or that rural living is slow and boring. Is your personality the type that can deal with either of these scenarios? If you are fortunate enough to interview and get a job before moving, ask as many questions as possible to the people that work there.

- Do the Ben Franklin decision making method. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of papers and write PROS on one side and CONS on the other. If the pros win, go for it. Many people have had outstanding experiences relocating to a new area.

Relocation Packages... 

Relocation packages from companies offer various components. This is often something that is negotiable with a job offer. Instead of three months temp living, ask for six. Ask for extra miscellaneous expense money. Ask for a point to buy a new house or other real estate expenses. Everything is negotiable, although relocation packages have suffered the last few years. Often, a large company will utilize an outside relocation service to help coordinate and work with you during your move. Take advantage of this service. Some standard items that you will typically find in a relocation package include:

  • Temporary Living - Anywhere from one month to six months usually. 

  • Moving expense (often based on weight). Sometimes you can get the company to pay to pack your goods, do not count on it though.

  • Storage (again based on weight, and may range from one to six months)

  • Vehicle moving expense.

  • Meals and travel expenses for you and your family.

  • One or two house hunting trips for you and your family.

  • Mortgage points, new home down payment, and closing costs, to help buy and sell a home.

Often times a company will just give you a flat amount for relocation and let you work it out on your own. Many people actually profit from a relocation package, which is nothing to feel guilty about. If a relocation package is essential for you to join a company, be sure to discuss this topic before getting too involved in the interview process. You may not get specific details on the amount, but at least you know the basics and relocation is offered.

Summary...

Like anything, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, especially long distance job searching. It requires a lot of research and diligence to make it happen. It is usually the case that unless the opening is a hard to locate skill set, or a top level position, you may run into relatively few companies willing to bring someone in for an interview or help with relocation. If you are wondering why you are not getting any calls for positions you are clearly suited for, this is possibly the reason.

Even for companies willing to look for candidates outside of the area, it is not uncommon these days for them to leave the relocation expense up to the person moving. It may help your cause to indicate on your resume or other correspondence that you are very willing to relocate, and if it is the case, pay for it on your own. If your situation allows, your best bet is to move to your location choice and then get a job. You will be pleasantly surprised just how many more calls you receive when you are actually living in the new area. The key is to have some money saved and to go on an all out assault to find a new job. No playing, not yet anyway.