RELO 101

by Sally Richards

MovingSo you are thinking about moving to the other side of the country to take a new position with a more lucrative job offer.  And now you have to consider relocating.  Don’t let the higher salary be the primary driver of your decision.  Just accepting a position based on the salary may land you in a place where your expectations may not be met.  How should you approach this decision?

When you receive a job offer, it’s important to carefully evaluate the details so you are making an educated decision to accept or reject the position.  You don’t want to make a quick decision that you may regret.

But what are some of the factors and deal breakers to consider before accepting the offer? Consider the position, work environment and living environment. Whether you are moving across the state, across the continent, or across the globe, do your research about the new locale before you sign the job offer acceptance.  A move will impact your daily life.  If you are single, relocating will be less complicated than if you have to consider needs of a significant other or family.

After doing the research and investigation, review the comparisons as you will have a much more realistic idea of what your future lifestyle could be.  You’ll be wiser about a potential move and can look at facts to see whether relocating actually makes sense (not just more cents).

Just as individuals have different preferences, the following factors (according to a list by to consider should be prioritized for your specific requirements.

  1. People
    You can compare the population in different cities in a variety of ways, including median age, household size, male/female/married/single population, race and age.  Whether you are single or not, you may be interested in knowing some of these statistics when moving to a new city. Are you looking for a commonality with a more family-oriented community, or will you want to be surrounded by single professionals with a singles lifestyle?  Census information compiles these demographics and is a great reference for your decisions.
  2. Cost of Living
    Look at the overall cost of living comparison  between one city and another by viewing what you’d have to make in one city to have the same standard of living in another.  Many things must be factored into the overall cost of living. Take into consideration items such as grocery, healthcare, housing costs, utilities, transportation (even the cost to register and insure your vehicles) and a big one… taxes (sales/city/state).  Did you know that 9 states in the U.S. do NOT have an income tax?  If the cost of living and purchase of goods is more expensive in one state where salaries are higher, then you may find that in another state a position with a lower cost of goods and a lower salary can still keep you ahead of the curve especially if you live in one of the 9 states where you don’t have a state income tax.  An excellent source of information regarding cost of living calculations is Salary Wizard. You can input the metro areas that you are deciding between, and it will give you a breakdown of all living expenses and calculate whether your move would give you a positive or negative change in income.
  3. Housing
    What is the housing availability in the new city? What is the real estate market like?  Currently it is a buyer’s market in most towns. Home prices and interest rates have dropped substantially.  Typically markets stay a little higher in more populated areas and especially those that have thriving big business/industry nearby. Will the company offer any housing stipend or realtor assistance locating a good property?  Can you afford buying a house in the current market?  How long would it be before you could afford to upgrade housing in your community?  Rental properties vary by location as well.  Are there large rental apartment complexes with amenities, or are there townhouse communities that would fit your lifestyle?
  4. Economy
    What is the unemployment rate in the new locale or region?  Is there any recent job growth, or have new businesses moved to the area?  What is the median income for technical/professional hires?  Are there other opportunities for professionals in your field if you might eventually want to change jobs, be promoted, or jump companies? If it’s a large company, there likely could be advancement opportunities.   If there’s only one company in town, switching companies may mean another move.
  5. Climate
    Will the climate be a deal breaker?  Many of us are solar powered so living in a locale where it rains 70% of the year could be bleak.  Living anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line where the winter season means snow could be a deal breaker for some people.  Also consider the impact that the climate and environment will have on your health in a new location.  Does smog, humidity, dry air or other air quality issues affect you?  Statistics will reveal what the average temperature is annually.  Will you be able to wear your flip flops or have to change to fur-lined UGGS?
  6. Crime
    Review the crime statistics in a particular city.  Is there a high crime rate?  Learn about the difference between violent crime and property crimes? Do you see a trend and are the crimes increasing?
  7. Education
    Evaluate the universities in the area if you plan on taking graduate classes or even working on a Ph.D.  Many companies offer professional development as part of a benefit package.  Check out school systems.  If you have school age children, finding out school rankings in a community would be a definite necessity.  Moving to a “good” school district would have potential positive impact on a child’s educational development.
  8. Transportation
    Can you drive or carpool to work?  Do you have to own a vehicle, or is mass transit an option?  Is the commute time reasonable?  How many hours a week are you willing to spend in the car, on a bus or train and lose hours of free time to get to and from work?
  9. Religion
    If you have a religious affiliation, search for places of worship or affiliated community centers available in the town.
  10. Geographical Area/Community Feel
    Evaluate the area and see if it is the kind of community you want to live in. We all have different expectations of what we need or want in a locale. Do you like living in a small or large community?  Do you like the atmosphere in an urban area or the suburbs?  Would the geographical area be a priority? That would be a factor if your lifestyle included beach time at the shore and surfing in the ocean but were considering relocation to the middle of the country!  Or you favor the outdoors, mountains and woods for hiking and you are looking at an opportunity in the urban jungle.
  11. Interests
    Consider your interests and see whether the new community will offer a variety of activities for you to join.  Do you work out at a gym, do yoga, play team sports, bike, go dancing or kayak?  Are there facilities or businesses where you can attend extracurricular classes? Does the community have organized league sports?  Is there a city golf course, or will you have to join a golf club?  Is there a YMCA with a pool outdoors for warm weather or a pool indoors for cold weather in case you’re trying to get in daily practice for your Olympic aspirations?  Are the members of the new community involved in a political view that you share?

The more information you review, the better chance that you won’t be in for many surprises when you make the relocation move.  Make your list of pros and cons.  Some of your requirements may be deal breakers, but you may be willing to negotiate with yourself on others.  Relocating can be an adventure, an exploration of a whole set of fresh experiences in a new location. Any move to a different residential address for a new position can be relatively stress free if you spend time doing your RELO101 homework.  Research, review, and rate the findings in order to make a wise decision.

You can find websites that have already compared many topics.

  1. Cost of Living calculators:
  2. Compare cities:
  3.  an online quiz to find the best places to live and work rated to match YOUR unique interests
  4. Find the best places to live in the U.S.:

Sally Richards has 30 years of experience in higher education with a proven track record in Career Services. Sally started her career with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Aeronautical Engineering Department.  Currently as the Career Services Cooperative Education/Internship Program Manager, she manages and facilitates operations of the Co-op/Intern Program for the team of Program Managers and ensures adherence of Co-op policies and procedures while overseeing conflict resolution for co-op situations. Her credentials include aviation/airline industry experience in flight recruiting, maintenance planning and passenger service with two major airlines and one regional carrier, as well as studies at Kent State University in Ohio.

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