By Reesa Staten, Robert Half International
Every once in a while, a summer vacation takes me to a city I could imagine myself living in. Maybe it’s the draw of a warmer climate or the appeal of being within walking distance to great museums and restaurants.
You also may long for a change of scenery, either because you love a particular town you have visited, have a desire to live closer to friends or family, or are contemplating a major life change. Whatever the reason, the decision to make a move is a big one and you should weigh your options carefully, especially when it comes to your career.
Career websites make it easier than ever to identify jobs in other parts of the world, but working out the other logistics involves considerably more effort.
Here are six questions to ask yourself before taking the leap.
1. What’s the job market like? Is your vacation destination someplace you can actually make a living? Visiting an island resort is a dream come true, but unless you mix a mean mai tai, you will have limited career options if the island is too remote. If a beach lifestyle is appealing, choosing big cities like Miami, San Diego or Honolulu will give you more employment options than a destination that is too far off the beaten path.
2. How “livable” is the city? Many places are fantastic to visit, but are not easy cities to live in because of a high cost of living, impossible commute or severe weather for much of the year. Visit the region and talk to people who live there to get a reality check before deciding on a permanent relocation. Try visiting at different times of the year, so that you are familiar with seasonal weather patterns. You may fall in love with summer in Anchorage, Alaska, but be prepared to trade sandals for snow boots once winter rolls around. Also research food and housing costs to get an idea of what your monthly spending might be. Will you be able to earn enough to cover living expenses?
3. Will you have a support system? Moving to a new city often means leaving behind friends and loved ones. It will be easier to meet new people once you find a job in the new city, but be prepared to feel a little homesick from time to time. It may take time to rebuild your support network, but for the right job in the right city, it could be well worth the effort.
4. Will you love your new job? If you’re contemplating a move because you’ve already been offered a job in a new city, consider all aspects of the offer. Is the work environment appealing? Are the daily responsibilities interesting? Will taking the job allow you to improve the quality of life for you and your family? Research salary trends so that you can ensure you will be earning enough to maintain or improve your living standard. Money isn’t everything, but it can make a big difference when you plan a major move.
5. Can your future employer make the transition easier for you? Starting salary is not the only aspect of a job offer that can be negotiable. Moving costs, temporary housing assistance, and travel and lodging expenses for house-hunting trips are just a few common elements of relocation packages. Gather documentation, such as estimates from moving companies and airfare quotes, for use during the negotiation if you are offered a job in another city. If you decide to accept a relocation package, ask for the terms in writing.
6. Be prepared to make a strong case. Many employers will try to avoid the time and expense of relocating someone if they believe there are qualified candidates locally. You will need to explain to the hiring manager why you’re seeking a job outside your area. If you are able to relocate without assistance and can move quickly if offered a position, make this clear to the hiring manager. Are there any assets you’d bring to the role that a local candidate might not? This is the time to make your case.
You would not be the first person to fall in love with a city while on vacation and decide to pull up stakes and relocate there. Many people have made exciting life changes and never looked back.
I recall visiting San Francisco as a college student and telling myself I would live there one day. Within five years, I found myself crossing the Golden Gate Bridge every day on my way to work in downtown San Francisco. It wasn’t easy leaving friends and family, but I developed new personal and professional networks and started building a career I love.
Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.