Thinking about relocating for a job? Pulling up stakes and moving hundreds (or even thousands) of miles away is exciting—and can also be a bit scary. You'll get to explore a new city and start a new and improved job, but you're also leaving friends, family, and your favorite restaurant behind. It's a decision that's partly based on things like finances, but that's also highly personal. Here's what you need to do before moving for a job.
1. Ask Your Employer the Right Relocation Questions
As excited as you may be, make sure that during the process, you cover all the right questions to ask an employer when relocating for a job. Salary matters, of course: The general rule is that the new salary should be 10 to 20 percent more than what you already make—and that's if you don't have to move. When you relocate for a job, you have to consider the cost of living in your new city. The offered salary should not only be competitive within the industry, but should also cover your new cost of living and still provide that 10 to 20 percent cushion.
Jobs that pay for relocation are ideal—so don't skip the discussion of reimbursement. An Atlas Van Lines survey found that between 67 and 75 percent of mid-sized companies offer full reimbursement to employees who relocate for a job, and many more will negotiate an allowance or percentage reimbursement. Even if your employer offers no relocation payment, moving could still be worth it for your dream job. (Plus, there may be tax breaks for moving available to you.) Whatever you decide, make sure you get it in writing: Part of your new job offer should include how much you can expect to be reimbursed for the money you spend relocating.
2. Get to Know the New Company
A lot of people interview well, including employers, but before moving for a job, you'll want to get an idea of the company culture. Try to find out things like whether the company typically hires from within, as well as what the turnover rate is. If you feel uncomfortable asking these things in an interview, dig into social media and online forums to see what current employees are saying. Also, ask to meet your potential coworkers, if the opportunity isn't offered. It is difficult to tell from one or two brief meetings how you'll get along, but getting as much exposure as possible to all the elements of a potential job will help overall with making the big decision.
3. Research the Job Market
Wait, what? You have a job offer, and of course you wouldn't be relocating unless you expected the job to work out. However, life is full of unforeseen events, and if things don't work out with the company you're moving for, you'll want to know about the local job market. When you're looking at what the new city has to offer, take a peek at the economy and other employment opportunities in the area. Just to be safe.
4. Be Flexible With Your Living Arrangements
You're super excited to get out and explore your new city, but keep in mind that you may not find an apartment or house for a while. One of the best tips for relocating for a new job is to be flexible. Moving for a job may mean downsizing and/or living out of boxes for awhile. A common scenario is one in which you move into an apartment or temporary housing for the short term while you get started at the new job. That might mean living with the bare necessities and putting a lot of your household items in storage until you find the house you want to live in permanently. If you ask us, that just makes it more of an adventure.
5. Think About Your Family
Before signing that new employment contract, take a look at how relocating will affect your family. How does your spouse or significant other feel about moving to the new city? Do they have a successful career of their own that they don't want to leave? How easy would it be for them to find a job in the new area? If you have children, how would moving affect them? Are the schools in the new city safe and rated well? Sometimes couples rely on nearby family for help with childcare, but moving away might mean having to find afterschool alternatives.
6. Research Your New Community
The benefits of relocating for a job don't just include higher salaries and more rewarding work—you just might find that your new neighborhood is an upgrade. Research your potential community to help determine whether you would enjoy living there for the long-term. Look at home prices, things to do, and overall quality of life. If you’re not sure you can take all your belongings with you, research local storage options. If you have kids, take a close look at the schools and the safety of each neighborhood you're considering. If possible, spend a few days in the city to get a feel for the culture and see whether you can picture yourself living there. Try to get a minimum of two days, but the longer you can stay, the more detailed picture you can paint of life in the new city.