What Would It Take For You to Relocate for a Job?

Photo: Moving Van

Last year was a challenging year for American job seekers as corporations cut millions of jobs amidst the recession. This is why I was surprised to read that according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, only 7.3 percent of job seekers chose to relocate to a new town for a job in the last quarter of 2009. This is the lowest number of relocations since the firm started tracking the statistic in 1986. So what kind of incentives do people need to go where the jobs are?

One big deterrant to relocate is the support network that we have when we live in a place for an extended period of time. It is hard to pick up and leave a place when you have friends and family that help you out when you need it most. This support network is also extremely valuable when you are searching for a new job.

Another problem is that it is difficult to start over in an unfamiliar place. It takes time to learn the streets of a town and where all the conveniences are. When you have children it is also disruptive to their schooling. It is a challenge that many people do not want to take again.

Additionally, there is often a substantial financial cost to relocating. Moving expenses can be in the thousands, and if an underwater house is involved then the costs could be even higher. Some of these costs may be deductible on your tax return, but many unemployed folks these days just do not have the money upfront to facilitate a relocation.

With all of these issues, it is no wonder that many people relocate as a last resort, but I think companies that offer relocation packages make it a lot less painful. When my husband moved up to Northern California after graduating college, his former employer paid for all his moving expenses with the stipulation that he would stay for at least two years, and he did stay for two years. If more companies offered generous relocation packages then there may be more relocations, but the current reality is that most companies have too many resumes to sort through and probably have plenty of qualified local candidates.

Although competition for jobs is fierce all around the country, there are areas with fairly low unemployment rates right now. If you do not mind packing up and starting over in a new city, it may be a little easier to find a job in a place that is hiring instead of firing. The hardest part is making the decision to leave where you are now. What do you think? Have you considered looking for a job in another state or even another country? What would prompt you to relocate?

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Guest's picture

I'm on the other end of this. I'm actively *trying* to relocate; I've been trying for almost a year. Of course, I'm trying to relocate to a specific location (where I lived some years back), and their employment figures are pretty close to where I am now. If I can find a job there, I've already got everything planned out; I'll be there in a shot!

Guest's picture

I am actively trying to relocate as well! I hate where I live (the great state of NJ) and want to move out West to start a family. The problem is either my husband or I would need to a find a job that we could both live off of until the other one found something and that would cover health insurance (either provide or pay enough to purchase our own).

I would love to see a post on tips for finding a job and moving cheaply for those of us who want to relocate but feel trapped by our employment situation.

Guest's picture

We have moved twice for my husband's job. The first time we moved from MS to PA, quite a change. His first engineering job was going nowhere. It was obvious that at 25 he would never make more money than he was then. His company had capped him. To top it off, his boss became intolerable - walking by desks at 8:05 a.m., monitoring lunch breaks, and micromanaging projects. We relocated to PA for more money, an opportunity for upward mobility, and a better work environment.

We didn't choose to leave PA; my husband was laid off after six years. Although, we were getting close to "the end" there (another company cap on upward mobility). We chose TN over other states because the company offered more money and upward mobility, plus excellent benefits and educational reimbursement.

I think there are a lot of reasons people should consider relocation - pay, benefits, work environment, personal development, work goals. For us, both moves were paid for by the companies, which I realize not everyone gets. I think it's too bad that so many people limit their own horizons by refusing to relocate.

Guest's picture

i think the main problem is that people can't get out of their houses. it can take a year to sell a house now, and who can afford to pay two house payments while it sells? with all the other expenses of moving, and the debt many people carry, unless the new job was a huge pay raise from the old one, you'd likely be taking a loss that first year, and few can afford that right now.

Guest's picture

It wouldn't take much for me at this point. In fact, I'd relocate without a job. The area I live in has gotten crazy expensive, you still can't get any sort of work at all, and things just suck really bad here. I know the economy's bad everywhere but Florida is almost as bad as Michigan. There's two or three hobos to every major intersection, violent crime has increased, and people are just generally desperate. If someone showed me a plane ticket, I'd leave in a heart beat -- job or no job. I know my skills will get me decent work elsewhere. I'm making plans to leave this summer.

Guest's picture

When I lost my job last year, my husband and I already knew we wanted to move. If you are serious about going, don't wait for the job offer - put the house on the market and start making plans. In this competitive market, companies are under less pressure to provide the lucrative relo packages they offered to attract talent in the past. I definitely think it was a "plus" on my file when I was being considered for a new job that the company would not be shelling out to relocate me.

I also agree that the reason relocations are down has everything to do with people who are afraid their existing home will not sell. I have 2 co-workers that are crammed into temporary housing because they cannot sell houses in their old neighborhoods. Even if you score a relocation allowance, it's only going to cover a few months of rent, and after that you're stuck with rent + mortgage.

Guest's picture

While I'm sorta looking for work, I'm applying to Grad School in a different state than where I currently live (OK).

The area I live in is depressed and there are so few job opportunities that there's no other alternative, I feel, than to move out of the area.

In fact, I'm looking forward to moving. I'm ready to leave at the drop of a hat. Once I get into one of those schools in CO, I'm gone.

Guest's picture

These days, a job offer. I've been unemployed since May and don't have any prospects in sight. I've already moved once with ideas in mind, but they didn't work out, so I'm moving again. Perhaps something will work out this time.

Guest's picture

I had the opportunity to relocate to two different locations (Maryland or Southern California) over the past few years. I turned them down. Partly this was because the money was not much better (after adjusting for cost of living differences. I live in Fort Worth, Texas where things are fairly inexpensive) and the work, while interesting for a while, was not something I wanted to do for years on end. But the main reason was that I wasn't willing to start over in terms of my life outside of work. I'm single and don't have any family I'm related to in my time zone. But what I do have is a great church and tons of friends who are my family I'm not related to. It took me a while to get into this situation and I was uncertain I could find similar relationships in either of the two places I was offered a job.

But this situation did give me a good reason to think about what it would take to get me to relocation. I came up with three main thoughts.
1. For a huge pay increase - like work for the next five years and then retire (I'm 34) huge - I'd relocate just about anywhere.
2. For a moderate pay increase (after adjusting for cost of living differences) and a very interesting job I'd move to the metro area where my sister and her family live and where I have friends from college.
3. If NASA called and said they wanted me to be an astronaut, I'd be in Houston in 24 hours.

Guest's picture

I moved two months ago for a new job after nearly 10 months of unemployment. I was so thrilled to get an offer, and I'm so glad to be working but I hate my new home. It's in a smaller town and I feel claustrophobic. Also, my old home wouldn't sell, so I rented it. Never wanted to be a landlord. Oh, and I had to take a pay cut and pay for my own relocation. At least I have a steady paycheck now. With all the debt that I've incurred, I need it.

Nothing but good times ahead, right?

Guest's picture

My husband was a long time employee of the Federal Reserve, Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch. Right there you get the clue of the economy we moved from. We relocated to Des Moines in 2006 so he could stay employed a few more years. We were counting on at least 5 years. His job and the entire Des Moines branch met their end in January 2009. I took a job at a local county hospital when I arrived (clerical). He has been unemployed for a year now and is trying to finish college (You try it at 47!) According to MSNBC and all sorts of sources, we are living in one of the best places to relocate for work or for a fresh start or what ever you want to call up ending your life. All I know is that we have used up nearly all of his severence pay keeping a very inexpensive roof over our heads, we have missed the passing of relatives we were very close to, we have had to spend what little vacation time and money we have running back to Michigan to care for aging parents, trying to sell our house in the Suburban Detroit market, and trying to attend to all those other parts of family life that are your responsibility as an adult. Relocating is not easy. It can be lonely, disorientating, and disconcerting. Making friends at this age in as small a city as Des Moines teaches you the real meaning of the term "clannish". But the saddest thing of all kids is this... we would have been immeasurably worse off had we stayed in Michigan. That is the horrifying truth. God be with anyone else who is contemplating such a change.

Guest's picture

I relocated at the (literal) drop of a hat in mid-2008 to get a better job and close the gap on a long distance relationship. I had an apartment at the time and a roommate, so essentially I allowed the roommate to maintain the apartment until the end of the lease, paid 1/2 the rent by mail each month and didn't lose out on my deposit or any fees.

I moved from Northwestern PA to Southeastern PA where it's about 75% more expensive to live. Living with my boyfriend has been a huge cost saving measure and allowed the move to be a little less of a financial issue.

I can't see how the move would have been as easy (or even possible) had I owned my former home. When your job sucks (or is non-existant) or you're driving 350 miles to see your significant other, well, a move isn't a bad idea!

Guest's picture

My husband and I relocated 2 states away (from NJ to MD). We were both offered a large relocation bonus as well as a very nice relocation package.

There was no reason for us not to relocate. We still live within 2 hours of his family.

Guest's picture

Very timely and informative post. I think that more people should consider starting their own business instead of relocating. The internet now makes it possible to pursue your business idea with a lot less capitol, depending on what you want to do.

Guest's picture

I haven't had any relocation lately. But if I do, then I will be transferring, and I will bring my family if ever I have one.

Guest's picture

Maybe people are afraid of failures, relocating for a job and leaving home is not quite accessible for everybody. In my case a good salary would be the incentive I need to start moving boxes, I wouldn't have second thoughts.

Guest's picture

I applied for one job for a company locally recently. I was called back by a screener first, then I had a telephone interview with HR a few days later. The local job I applied for I don't qualify for for specific experience, however because of my general experience in the field, I qualify for a job in Las Vegas basically doing the same thing for their "umbrella" company. This annoyed me. Furthermore, I've been unemployed for a year and have absolutly no savings. It would seem I would have to pay for travel there for training, however they said they would pay "some" for the relo. I knew this was the worst end of the work in my field, and most likely wouldn't enjoy it. I just don't have any money that I fly to Las Vegas for training. Asked at the end of the interveiw whether I had any questions, I declined to stick them with any specifics about pay or relocating expenses for the job. Believe me, I DO want a job desperatly because my unemployment insurance is ending! I don't know what the company is willing to commit to me for, and seeing the job was the horses rear of the spectrum as far as the work, I wasn't motivated and I said "Sorry, I don't think this is the best match for us at this time." Besides, I don't want really want to move. Especially to Las Vegas. I'm a sucker for a slot machine and it would be just a matter of time before I wound up fishing coins out of the fountains of the casinos (Remember Jerry Van Dyke in Drew Carey(get Married episode)? "STUPID!STUPID!STUPID!

Guest's picture

I am new to this site. Very interesting. I picked up after a bad relationship and relocated relatively easily to Tampa, FL and stayed for a year and a half. I ended up coming back home as I did not like that area of FL. I do not however regret my move at all. I learned a lot and there were many things I did learn and enjoy. I learned that no matter how much you read and even vacation in a place, you truly cannot get the true "feel" or sense of "place" as a resident until you have lived there for about six months. I made the mistake, like many do in relation to Florida, in believing that it would be all sunshine and trips to the beach, laid back, easy to find a job etc. What I discovered was actually quite amusing and also somewhat annoying. There was a complete lack of culture, low wages, bad public transportation, high crime, bizaare crime, transient types, terribly slow moving govt, high unemployment, on and on. I did enjoy living in a totally different area of the US as I had not done that. I did visit St. Petersburg, which was beautiful at the beaches, and I saw some amusing things to write about and the news down there was straight 24 hour Cops. Overall it was an adventure. I would definitely plan to move to another state again, but I think I would not do what I did in regards to renting the place I rented unseen from Craigslist. It was pretty bad and unclean etc when I arrived. Otherwise things went ok. The other things that were frustrating were the daily life things like getting used to how differently the South is compared to the North i.e. the slowness of the store clerks, the frustration getting things done such as phone connections, electricity etc.

Guest's picture

My solution to the relocation problem has been to apply to college in the desired city/state and then go for that reason; and try to use whatever student job center they have; basically to stay a grad student for the rest of my life as I'm now 40 and don't want to spend the next 10 years going further and further downhill like the last 10 years have gone. The trick of course is to find a college that has your desired major and some help in finding internships or part-time jobs or even dishwashing in the dorm cafeteria would be an improvement over nothingness because your first Bachelor's degree was "too long ago" even though I don't think the 90's were really all that long ago!! I've been living in transient motels and rooming-houses if I got lucky, the better part of the last decade anyway so relocation is just a matter of packing everything into my car and hitting the road.