To Move, or not to Move? That is the question.


If you are ready to make a career move, and are open to relocation if needed, then sit down and decide ahead of time what is more important:

  • the job
  • the money
  • the location/lifestyle

Assume you can’t get all three, how would you prioritize those things? Then be prepared to sacrifice something in order to get your highest priority.

Make sure the money that is being discussed is enough to warrant a relocation for you and your family, if you have one. If a company is looking to hire someone in the $75,000 range, and you do the due diligence and know that it will take at least $100,000 for your family to maintain a consistent standard of living in that new city, and money is more important than the job, then this is probably not your gig. Know that before you waste everyone’s time.

If relocation is your biggest goal, then you have to look at it differently, and sometimes there has to be a sacrifice in either money or job opportunity, or both. Companies are not going to pay to satisfy your personal needs, they are going to pay because you can satisfy their needs. But they are not going to pay over and above their local market just to solve a personal issue.

Here’s a scenario we’ve seen many times. You really want to move to a city that is within 10 miles of your parents, who are elderly and need help. There is an opportunity nearby that you find interesting, but not perfect for your career goals, but the company definitely thinks you are the right candidate, you are a bird’s nest on the ground to them, when normally they struggle to find talent who will come to their market. So, they are willing to pay a little more than normal. However, the schools there are below par in your opinion, and you feel you’d have to put your three children into private school at a cost three times the public school system, per child. This opportunity meets only one goal for you: location. But it doesn’t meet your career goals, or the money goals you need. Is it worth it?

Your private school needs are not the employer’s problem, that is your problem, and you cannot expect a company to pay you a higher salary to solve that problem. Even still, you started this, you have to know upfront what the barriers might be.

Here’s another scenario: You want to live in Colorado, so you can ski on the weekends and live that outdoor, green spaces lifestyle. There are a lot of people with the same idea as you, and they are already there. How do you compete for the few jobs that are available? Denver and other Colorado markets were hit pretty hard by the dot-com bust, as many tech companies had spread out along that corridor in their rush to play as hard as they worked in that IPO-crazed time. And just because a hot advertising agency built an office and moved out there so their management could work and play closer to their own ski homes does not mean its an overly healthy advertising community. Denver and Colorado Springs are still pretty small advertising markets, and big, long-standing clients are moving on or consolidating agencies there just as they are in other places.

What are you going to give up to get that lifestyle – money, or job satisfaction? Can you afford your goal of living that lifestyle, and skiing every weekend, if you make a lower salary? Can you be satisfied with your career choice knowing that you’ve jumped off the upward mobility track just to ski? Is this really the right time in your life to be making choices based on lifestyle? And did you consider that maybe you should have done that for a few years right after college and then started your more serious career progression when you were more ready to grow up?

A final scenario: You don’t really want to move, at all. Your family is happy, settled, and stable. But your career is going nowhere, and therefore the money isn’t either. You live in a city with a lot of industrial history and a dying housing market, and probably couldn’t sell your house quickly if you wanted to. But opportunities are growing in other cities, and there’s something nagging at you that your career, and therefore your ability to take care of your family might be better off somewhere else. You interview and get an offer for a company in another city, where you have no relatives or friends, but the money is fantastic and the job would satisfy your goal of getting the kind of experience you want for your career. Are you brave enough to make that move? Will uprooting your family destroy them?

I’m not answering these questions for you, just posing them as food for thought. The point is, if you are planning to make a move, whether its for your career or for the lifestyle/location, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Make sure, before you go on that interview that you could commit to making that move if it meets your goals. Otherwise you’ve wasted their time, and yours, and gotten your family worked up over nothing. Do the research first. Make sure you know why you are considering these priorities, and that it isn’t because you feel stuck and lost in your career, overall. Don’t use a relocation opportunity as a time to evaluate your career choices of the past, use it as a chance to continue on the path you started. And if you aren’t sure you’re on the right path anyway? Well, that’s a different post.

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