If you want to look for a better job or are facing the prospect of a layoff, relocation may be one of the options you’re considering. Sometimes relocation can be exactly what you need to do. Other times, it can turn a problem into an even bigger problem.
How do you know if relocating to find a job will be the right course for you?
Relocating isn’t a risk-free proposition
Up until a few years ago it was common for employers to pay some or all of the costs of the relocation by a new or current employee. That’s no longer true today.
Should you decide to relocate, chances are you will be paying the entire cost of the move yourself. Not only will that cost you money, but it also creates a very real risk in the event that you’ll lose that money if the relocation doesn’t work out and you’re forced to return home. Then you’ll also have to cover the cost of the return move.
Even for a single person, an out-of-state move can cost several thousand dollars. That can put a lot of money at risk finding a job.
Evaluate your industry and career field
The risk of relocation goes beyond the cost of making the move. The bigger risk in fact is that the job market may be no better in another city than it is where you’re living right now. If you received a biology degree in PA, for example, do you know that there would be more science jobs open to you in a different location?
Before incurring the monetary costs of a relocation, first do a serious evaluation of your industry and your career field. If the market for your field is weak nationally, relocation may be little more than an attempt to find temporary employment. The same factors that might result in a job loss or make career advancement impossible at home, could happen in a distant city just as well at it has where you’re presently living.
Look at the big picture of your career. If the field is in decline, relocation will not solve your problem.
What will you be leaving behind?
Still another relocation risk is what you will be leaving behind. If you have close family and friendships where you are living now, you’ll probably be giving much of that up in a new location. If you have a family, you’ll also have to consider your spouse’s job or business, and ties that your children have, such as school, friends and close family relationships.
If you own your home, this will further complicate relocation. It may be difficult to sell or rent your home to make the move. And you may even need the capital from the sale of your home in order to be able to relocate.
You may decide that what you’re giving up in order to make the relocation won’t justify the benefit. But this is something you’ll need to carefully consider before relocating. Once you make the move, it will be too late.
Alternatives to relocation
There may be alternatives to relocation, especially if your field is in decline. Some of the best opportunities are closer to home than you might think.
Transition to another field or industry. One alternative is making a career change. You might be able to make a jump into a related industry or career right in your own backyard. You’ll have to determine if you have the skill set necessary to make such a change. If you do, the transition may be preferable to a relocation.
Start a business. For people who feel stuck in their current job or career, self-employment is often the best option. Does your current job provide you with any skills that you may be able to sell to clients and customers? Or is there a business that you are interested in going into that you have the skills for? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you may want to consider self-employment rather than relocation.
Return to school/train for a new career. Still another option is to retool. You can do this to prepare for a new career. That may require that you return to school to get a new or additional degree, or that you get specific training that will prepare you for the new field. This option isn’t limited to a new field only. Sometimes you need to get additional training, or an additional degree, in order to advance in your current field. It may be less expensive, and more beneficial in the long-term, to get more schooling or training than to relocate.
Sometimes relocation really is the best solution. But today, relocation carries risks that it didn’t just a few years ago. Before making a relocation and taking on those risks, first take a careful look at options that are available to you much closer to home.
photo by drstarbuck