The Downside Of Relocating For Work

On many a dreary day, the fantasy of landing a job in a new city, uprooting and starting fresh seems appealing. But when an actual opportunity arises that allows you to do so, reality sets in and you’re confronted with some tough choices as you weigh your options.

Give Me Back My Five Bucks explains the tough parts about moving away to advance your career. One of the most daunting disadvantages of setting up shop in a new city is the lack of a support network. If you’ve got kids and have relied on relatives for babysitting, you’ll have to scramble when you settle in to your new digs.

Another significant drawback is cost. Even if your employer is paying to move you in, you’ll likely have to front the cash to move, only to be reimbursed. In an era of high unemployment and stiff competition, companies are less and less willing to move people in from out of state.

On the other hand, you’ll probably be making more than you were before, and you can look at the blank slate as an opportunity to redefine yourself rather than an obstacle standing in the way of your happiness.

Would you relocate for a better job? [Give Me Back My Five Bucks]


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  1. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I’m in the music industry & would like to get into the film industry instead. A better chance is had to do so by moving to the west coast. I would have to start from fresh, and leave my friends & the gf behind, plus the idea of being in the L.A. makes me want to puke.

  2. u1itn0w2day says:

    It depends on your ‘career’ plans. Some people can do 30-40 in the same exact city with the same exact company. Change is hard for them but even harder IS the lack of a support network as pointed out. People are creatures of habit as well. But I look at change as learning. Many look at their tiny corner of world as the way the entire world is-ppfffftttt.

    Many want management they know they can kiss up to or that will protect their butts. I’ve had supervisors in jobs that refused to work for recent college graduate management so he would be constantly transferring to locations with old school company promoted management.

    I’d say do YOU want a career or a job. First question you must answer before you do anything.

  3. Flik says:

    Culture shock. I relocated from a city of 3 million to a town of 800. Getting used to having (literally) everyone around you knowing your business took a lot of getting used to.

    • nishioka says:

      Getting used to the lack of things you take for granted in a larger city is a tough hurdle too. i used to commute from Omaha to a rural area in Nebraska where the most exciting thing in town was the entrance to the highway leading back to Omaha. Seriously thought about moving a couple times, but then came to the conclusion I’d end up commuting almost as much just to get to my bank, to a grocery store that actually has a decent selection, etc.

  4. bluline says:

    Depends on the company. I worked for one of the country’s largest companies 20 years ago and the management culture at the time was that you needed to “get your ticket punched” with a promotion to another company location at least every three to four years. To stay in one location was considered career suicide if you had any hope of moving up the corporate ladder. I knew several management people who had uprooted and moved their families five or more times in 15 years. It seemed crazy to me, but that’s the way it was then and it probably is the same today.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      “with a promotion to another company location at least every three to four years. To stay in one location was considered career suicide if you had any hope of moving up the corporate ladder.”

      In the last 2 years my my 2 engineer co-workers and I have been heavily involved in the hiring process of our hydraulic engineer and our department manager. We reviewed resumes and sat in on the interviews and gave input to the man in charge of hiring. It was really surprising to me to find out that “job hoppers,” or people who don’t stay in one job for at least 5 years, face heavy scrutiny. If they have more than 15 years experience but not more than 5 years at any one place they would face tremendous scrutiny and were perceived as ‘damaged goods.’

      Previous to this I thought it was minimum to stay at least 3 years at one place, but for engineering anyway that rule goes out the window.

      • Jack Doe says:

        Yes, but that’s as an engineer. Engineers, those involved with the care side of medicine (doctors, dentists, lab staff, etc,) teachers, and any career path where stability is expected should face scrutiny if they’re job hopping. It shows that they may not be competent or that they may be a bad fit for the job.

        General business, retail, etc it’s usually seen as a positive, especially if their CV reads with a string of “promotions” (eg, manager for 5, relocate as an area manager for 5, relocate as a regional director for 4, relocate as a junior VP of crap for 5, relocate as a…so on and so forth.) Even jumping compaines isn’t frowned upon in cases such as that, so long as there is a logical progression.

        • tooluser says:

          “…any career path where stability is expected should face scrutiny if they’re job hopping. It shows that they may not be competent or that they may be a bad fit for the job.”

          Or, far more likely, that they are creative and motivated and enjoy learning new things, and have an amazing adaptability to new situations, far exceeding the expectations of the hiring manager, who feels threatened because they chose to stay home and feather their nest.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        None of the engineers I know would give “job hopping” a second thought and view it as a natural consequence of modern corporate culture. In fields that are still experiencing significant technological change, such “stability” if anything would be viewed as stagnation.

  5. redskull says:

    Another thing to consider before moving for a job: these days it’s very easy for a job to go away, and then there you are, stuck in a strange city with no friends or relatives. I know of what I speak; it happened to me.

    I’ve learned to never say never, but I would have to think long and hard before ever relocating for a job again.

    • bhr says:

      I can’t agree more. When I was with my last employer I took an opportunity only 40 minutes away with the same company and commuted for about six months before I started looking for a new place close to work (I was in a lease). I was about to sign the lease on a new apartment minutes away from the new office when they announced they were moving the job to the opposite side of town (another 30 minutes away) and I backed out.

      I commuted again (about 50 minutes now) to the new location for less than two months when they laid everyone off an offered to hire us back under new titles at a location out of state (no relocation money). Again, I considered it, but decided it wasn’t worth it. less than six months later I find out they shuttered the entire team and those that moved were left with minimal severance and stuck in a new city.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      This is true. Be prepared to live below your means for awhile anyway. Which means make sure you have a resume that makes you employable in different industries and companies. Professional licenses and certifications don’t always transfer from one state to another.

      And believe or not there are HRs out there that look down upon people who are willing to relocate. It goes against they want you to stay with them for 30 years even though NO ONE should even imply a 30 year career with their company. In their minds people who relocate will be more likely to leave their company. Not always true and many areas of the country made up of transplants.

  6. djkatscan says:

    Never again. I moved for (the same) company twice. The culture shock alone was intense, not to mention the mountain of debt I am still under, still paying for the move(s). Then when I was laid off, got my old job back, then discriminated against and wrongfully terminated and relentlessly bullied. The stress nearly killed me. I had no support system at all. Glad to be back home near family, even if I have to start on on my career path….I’m mentally happier.

  7. Ask about my easy lay away plan says:

    I live in Florida (trust me, there is a reason we have our own fark tag). Sadly the only place my company might possibly move me is Iowa. So I have my choice of rednecks or snow. woo.

  8. Jared The Geek says:

    I would move for a good job. Of course you have to weigh everything out but I am married but do not have kids so its an easy choice right now. For me to move up and make the kind of money I want I will mostly likely have to move at some point.

  9. lettucefactory says:

    We’ve done it a few times. Not being near family when you have kids really does suck-with-a-capital-S. But, the work my husband does is kind of specialized, and unfortunately my family doesn’t live near any relevant employers and his family is in another country.

    Actually, come to think of it, my family lives in some of the worst possible areas in this country for jobs. It’s unlikely we’d EVER be able to live near them, even if my husband changed his life of work. Kind of no choice but to go where the jobs are.

    Another big impact for us has been housing prices. We moved from an East Coast urban area to Nebraska, and found ourselves feeling like millionaires. We bought a brand new house in Nebraska for less than we were spending on a crummy one bedroom apartment on the East Coast.

    But when we had to move back to the East Coast a few years later, it was back to crushing-housing-prices reality. It’s still been worth it – we didn’t love Nebraska – but similar salaries can mean very different things depending on where you live.

  10. RandomHookup says:

    I think it was IBM that offered to move laid of US workers to India, to be paid at local rates. Not sure that went over really well.

  11. areaman says:

    I moved from Oakland to San Jose. Maybe it’s because I had to move only me (no family) none of the downsides or drawback mentioned in the post materialized.

    The biggest downside of my last move is downsizing of social life. Noticing 10-11pm on a Friday night is closing time for must places and people in San Jose and thinking… 40 miles apart but a world different.

    • Mark702 says:

      That kind of move isn’t nearly the culture shock they’re talking about. Try moving to an area thats actually different, like from Vegas to a small Washington town, or from New York to Montana. That’s a whole different situation.

  12. hansolo247 says:

    I moved for my job this year…totally worth it!

    I moved from FL to DC. It’s easy to get screwed in a move, and you have to have some leverage to come out even/ahead.

    -use cost of living calculators on the internet…they are pretty accurate for the most part. For me it was a 35% increase so that’s what I asked for. First offer was 20% and I said no way.
    -the reimbursement for movers is a PITA and can take a while to get money. If they really want you to move (and it’s not you driving it but your company because you’re the best pick), you really should never see nor pay a moving bill.

    I’m single though, so the factors are different. The dating scene in a big city is far better than anywhere in FL, so that’s a big plus. There are many more stimulating people, too. Plus my rep has grown substantially, so that’s a plus too. Now, the only downside is I don’t see myself ever going back to FL, even at the same pay (a good DC salary is Scrooge McDuck money in FL).

  13. OutPastPluto says:

    I knew some people that were uprooted and relocated cross country by BofA and then laid off.

  14. nbs2 says:

    I’m hoping that this turns out to be a timely post. I had an interview in another state and we have been on the fence about what to do if I get the offer. I think I would enjoy the new place, but I’m really finding things that we love about our town that we moved to a few years ago. While I have some family there and we would be closer to the missus’s family, we have a lot of family near where we are and have come to rely on them for emergency babysitting issues (she has a business trip and I can’t take time off work). Nevertheless, I think it would be a fun and interesting opportunity and both an increase in salary and a massive reduction in cost of living would make the move more affordable (if only they would pay relocation).

  15. oldwiz65 says:

    In the old days, you relocated and the company wanted you to stay with them. These days the real unemployment is close to 20%, and companies don’t really care about their employees; they are easy to get rid of, either one at a time or whole groups, and employees are easily replaced from the huge pool of the unemployed. It’s kind of a shame, but the reality is companies don’t care anymore.

  16. crazydavythe1st says:

    I’m nitpicking – but one of the downsides of relocating for work is that “companies are less and less willing to move people in from out of state”? huh?

  17. AllanG54 says:

    Back in the 80s I moved for work. Wasn’t very far, only 80 miles away and from NY to NJ. Of course, I was paid $5000 to go and living in NJ and working in NJ was fantastic so it was a great deal. Now, I’m back living on Long Island and working in Brooklyn. What goes around comes around.

  18. amuro98 says:

    What, no mention of the movie “Moving” with Richard Pryor?

    I did meet someone who agreed to be relocated across the country and upon arriving was laid off. Fortunately, he was a software engineer and the company had kindly paid to move him to Silicon Valley…

    • dangermike says:

      I just glanced through imdb’s memorable quotes to pull something out, but I didn’t remember the vast majority of them. The image of the mad-max-ified Saab was truly classic, and the wave good-bye flip the bird thing was a running joke in my family for a while.

  19. Slatts says:

    I relocated to the Phoenix area to work for a large U.S. cell phone maker (3 guesses…). I was hired with about 40 other recent computer science grads, and all but 2 or 3 had relocated to “sunny, fun, exciting Phoenix!”… which is wasn’t. At least not for just about anyone who’s not from Iowa or Kansas; everyone else felt duped.

    At least half of them were gone within 2 years, and by 3-4 years, all but a couple were gone, back to the coasts. Think about it — most of them simply walked away from decent-paying tech jobs. Number one reason: it sux here.

    I would urge anyone contemplating a move to Phoenix to read a classic article from the Phoenix New Times called “Time Transients” (google “time transients phoenix new times” and it’ll come right up). It’s a bit long, and dates from around the turn of the millennium but is still quite applicable. In fact, I’ve read nothing that better captures the sense of alienation and malaise that seems to hang over this town.

  20. anchorworm is really sick of Minnesota weather says:

    I had to relocate for work about 2 1/2 years ago. My wife, son and I moved from Northern Illinois near the Chicago area to Northern Minnesota between Duluth and International Falls. Talk about a culture shock. The move was not desirable to me, but, I didn’t have much choice. The company closed the steel mill where I worked and after 6 months of unemployment offered me a position at one of their iron mines. I did get a relocation allowance, but, it came nowhere near paying all my expenses. Also, our two other children stayed in Illinois. This means that we see the grandkids maybe twice a year. For the most part I am happy that I made the move (kept 15 years of seniority and my four weeks a year vacation), but, many days I do miss home.