Wedding vows are supposed to be sweet proclamations of two people's love for each other. In reality, they're a series of tumultuous tests.
"Of course you'll love me when I'm rich, but how about when I'm poor? When sick? Every single day until we're both dead? OK, deal."
Luckily, you take no such vow when you accept a job. Sure, you stick with it through the bad times (when you have to pick up your boss's dry cleaning) and through the poor times (when you know you deserve a bigger paycheck). And even if you really enjoy your work, you have your limits, and crossing the state line might be one of them.
Would you relocate for a job if the opportunity presents itself? Seeing as the current economy is forcing employers to shake things up, we're seeing departments reorganized and people shifted around. As a result, you might find your boss (or a separate employer) wooing you to a new city with the lure of a new job. It's tempting to go with your knee-jerk reaction, but such an important decision requires plenty of research. If you decide to uproot your life for a job, you want to make sure you're happy with the result.
1. What is the entire cost of the move itself?
First, you should find out if your employer is going to cover any or all of the moving costs. That can be a deciding factor for you.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but moving, like buying a home or car, has a hefty amount of hidden costs. The price tag of the move isn't only the fee for renting a truck or hiring movers. Little things add up, like boxes, cushioning and packing tape. If you're moving out of an apartment, will you get back your security deposit before you put one down on the new place? Or, if you sell your stuff and intend to buy new furnishings when you move, consider the size of your new place -- a larger place requires more furniture.
Hint: Save your receipts. You might be able to write off some job-related moving expenses come tax season, so keep track of what you spend.
2. What is the comprehensive cost-of-living adjustment?
You can find some great cost-of-living calculators online that factor in taxes and general living expenses, but your debit card will notice a bigger difference than any estimator can give. Will you be driving to your new job (therefore taking into consideration the time spent on commuting and the cost of gas, maintenance in a new climate and insurance) or taking public transportation? Do you have a weather-appropriate wardrobe for the new location? Are you leaving a place where you can stock up at big-box retailers and moving to a place that doesn't have as many low-cost stores? Of course, you can also find that your move is going to make your daily expenses cheaper, so doing all the research could bring you good news.
3. When is your last day on the old job and your first day of the new one?
Timing means a lot during a long-distance job switch. You don't want the dates to be so far apart that you're strapped for cash in the midst of an expensive move. Conversely, you probably want a little breathing room between the day you arrive and unpack everything and the day you start. For your own sanity, consult a calendar when you're coordinating your resignation, first day on the job and first day of your lease.
4. What are your career opportunities in this new city?
The potential benefits of relocating must be significant, otherwise you probably wouldn't give relocating serious consideration. But play devil's advocate for a moment and think about what you'll do if you get laid off or hate the job and want to quit. Assuming you won't have the funds to move back immediately, will you have other career opportunities to keep you happy? For example, teaching positions might be plentiful in metropolitan areas, but in a smaller town you might not have a lot of choices. Investigate the city's job market to help your decision.
5. What does saying 'no' to the relocation mean for your career?
Jobs that require a big move often indicate a promotion or some type of advancement, which makes them so appealing. But you can have legitimate reasons for not wanting to accept it, which means you now have to weigh the repercussions of this decision. If your boss offered you the position, do you damage your future with the company by declining it?
6. If you're switching employers, what are your career opportunities at the new company?
When you accept any new job, you hope it aligns with your long-term goals. No one wants to take a job that they know they'll outgrow in a few months. Because this is especially true when you're relocating, ask your new boss all the right questions. Find out why the last person left and what opportunities for promotion you have. You don't want to leave one dead-end job for another.
7. Do you want to move?
You can think of hundreds of reasons why moving would be fun or why staying is the smart thing to do. Ultimately it comes down to whether or not you're open to making the move. Whether or not you (and possibly your family) want to live in a new place can outweigh any other factors. Relocation can help your career, but you want to be able to give an enthusiastic "yes" when you accept the offer.
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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