Photo: Alexander Borrmann via Flickr
The Commute

3 questions to ask yourself before you move for a new job

Moving to a new city is never as easy of the advice of “just move to where jobs are” makes it seem. Moving for a job is a big career decision where you must carefully weigh unknowns that all boil down to answering the question of, ‘is it worth it?’ More of us are answering, ‘no.’

The Pew Research Center reported that Americans are moving at historically low rates, largely due to millennials staying put. Although millennials are less likely than the millennials of decades past to have a partner, house, or a child, current millennials are a group that are dealing with fewer labor market opportunities in the wake of a recession and high student debt—factors that make the risk of moving particularly unappetizing.

But you also don’t want to look back with regret of an opportunity that you let pass. Moving for a new job can be the jumpstart your career needs. None of these decisions comes without risk, however. Here’s a list of considerations to weigh risks with rewards so you can make the most informed decision.

Will this job make me happy?

A good new job should be an opportunity for growth that will outweigh all the pangs of relocation. If you’re leaving friends and family behind to live in a place where you’ll have to start over, that could be a major deterrent.

Even then, starting over may be worth it in the long run.

More millennials are willing to uproot their lives to find that elusive work-life balance they desire. 38% of millennials in America said they would move to another country for better parental leave benefits. In those cases, finding a job that offers better work flexibility, even if it’s on the other side of the globe, can be worth it.

It’s also important to recognize that no job is perfect. But a new job should fill you with more excitement than dread. If you know you would be secretly relieved if the offer fell through, it’s time to reconsider.

Having second thoughts are normal, but third and fourth thoughts require deeper introspection. Where’s the source of this uncertainty? Are you unhappy with your current job or your career? We already know that work shouldn’t define your identity. If you’re unhappy with your career, recognize that a new job is not a cure-all solution and this unease with yourself will follow you job to job.

What’s the financial cost of moving?

Before you accept a job offer to move, you should always ask to see if your company will cover your relocation expenses and you should aggressively negotiate for your salary to be above the median salary in that city for your job. “A general rule of thumb is that you should earn 10% to 20% more than your current salary when changing jobs in the same city,” workplace expert Lynn Taylor advised. “But when you’re relocating, you can generally be a little more aggressive.” After that, you’ll need to calculate what you’ll need to comfortably live in a new city.

Will you be able to afford a car? Can you afford to live in a neighborhood that’s close to work? Knowing the full cost of living in a new city means calculating the affordability of everything from neighborhoods and schools to public transportation. “Beyond the salary, assess a comparison of the local costs such as education costs, fuel and utilities and income taxes,” Jill Knittel, chief operating officer at Employee Relations Associates, told CBS News.

What’s the future of this company?

The job landscape is littered with horror stories of employees who were laid off shortly after relocating to a new city for a job. Although no job is certain, the best way to mitigate that risk is research.

Luckily, there’s more information than ever about companies that’s publicly available. Making an informed decision to move means reading trade journals, Glassdoor reviews, LinkedIn bios of employees, chat boards and Twitter threads of ex-employees. Researching means reading up on who is funding the company and ultimately, who are the stakeholders who will make sure you get paid. It means talking with employees who have the jobs you’d want to have and it means digging into why people have left the company.

Once you’ve done all this, you will have a clearer sense of the company’s future and whether you will fit in its vision one year to five years down the line.