Should You Relocate for Your Job?
26th June 2023
Should You Relocate For Your New Job?
The biggest career opportunities often arise in or around big cities. If you live far from the bright lights, when is it worth considering a move of home as well as a change of job?
Sometimes, relocating to take up a new job is about as close to a no brainer as you can get. If you’ve no ties, no commitments and are moving to take up a role for lots more money and better prospects, well, what’s stopping you?
Of course, life isn’t often like that. So here are the factors to weigh up when relocation is a less obvious decision…
Happiness and wellbeing
We’re going to be moving onto the career-based stuff in a minute, but first, let’s consider perhaps the most important issue of all. The moment you read that the job requires relocation, what’s your gut reaction? For some, relocation may feel like the perfect opportunity for a life refresh. It may be genuinely exciting or, at the very least, something they’re relatively comfortable with. For others, it may stir feelings of worry, of being away from family and friends, or fears that moving may have a detrimental effect on their ability to do the work.
You may feel you’re able to work around any such issues – lots of people do. Then again, you may feel you can’t. Ultimately, there’s no more powerful job relocation question than: ‘do you want to?’.
It’s not the case that everyone who ever relocated for a job did so because of the big salary increase. Sometimes, people will move for future career potential or for personal reasons (about which, more in a minute). It is fair to say, however, that salary can be a big factor.
It’s important to balance any increased salary with any increase in costs. Moving from the North to London will almost inevitably mean an increase in mortgage/rental costs and travel expenses. If the salary is one of the main incentives for your move, it’s important to look not just at the amount your employer is willing to pay, but the disposable income you’ll be left with each month.
If you’re aiming to build a career with a retailer, you may find there’s significantly more opportunity to do that when you relocate.
Often, that’s simply a matter of geography. Live in an area of the country where your employer has a couple of big box retail outlets and, unless you want a lengthy commute every day, your career options are limited to the development opportunities offered by those two outlets.
Work in an area of the country with many more branches, a warehouse and head office, and you stand a much greater chance of being able to move upwards. You also benefit from being able to make more sideways moves, giving you a much greater breadth of roles to explore.
Relocate to an area of the country where your employer has many more opportunities for progression and you’re likely to find that lots of other retailers have a major presence in the area too.
So even if you don’t plan on staying with your current employer forever, you could find moving to a major retail hub (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc) puts you in a prime position to take up offers from other retailers.
So far, we’ve explored relocation only in the sense of what you’re moving to, but it’s also important to consider what you’re moving from. Next to a job that has always felt restrictive, uninspiring and, perhaps, just plain boring, the chance to relocate to a role that offers progression, inspiring work, great people and a sense of appreciation may be all you need to sign up for relocation.
There’s no legal obligation for companies to support existing employees with relocation expenses (unless their contract says otherwise), so there’s certainly nothing that requires a company to help a joining member of the team to relocate.
Nevertheless, you may find some companies – particularly those that offer a broad package of benefits – do offer some support. At the most basic level, this could involve helping out with the cost of removals. They may offer a relocation allowance. Or, at its most extreme, we’ve heard of employers willing to actively help new staff identify the best areas to live in, provide temporary accommodation and subsidise the cost of the move.
Relationships & responsibilities
If there’s one thing that tends to act as a block on relocation for work, it’s life’s relationships and responsibilities. If your partner or spouse is settled in their work, how will they feel about relocating? They may see at as the next stage of your adventure together. Then again, they might not.
That calculation becomes even more complex when children are involved, especially if they are settled in school. Moving can be stressful for children, especially as they grow and make stronger bonds with their friends. Then there’s the challenge of getting them into your preferred school.
At the other end of the age spectrum, caring responsibilities for older relatives may make the issue of relocation difficult. Then there are the friendships you’ve built in your existing location.
There’s nothing to stop friends visiting you (and vice versa) or keeping in regular contact over Zoom, but the question remains as it was in section 1. of this post: do you want to?
How to find the right relocation solution
If you’ve never relocated for work before, one of the biggest challenges is that you simply don’t know how it will work out. You think you know how you or your family may react. You think you can see the possibilities mapped out ahead of you, but you never really know.To make sure relocation is the right move for you before you commit to upping sticks, consider these options:
Give yourself three to six months in the new role to decide whether it’s the right move for you. During this time, keep your base where it always was, return home at weekends and holidays, and live in a hotel or look for a flat share while you’re away at work.
The salary (or work support) will need to give you that flexibility, but it will at least give you the reassurance that the career choice was a good one, which may make other commitments easier.
Ask for hybrid work
Not every retail role can be packed into a four-day working week or offers two/three days a week working from home, but if yours could, asking could help eliminate the need to move entirely.
Similar to working away, but a shorter, formal period arranged with your employer that gives you time to ‘test’ not just the company and the role, but the area you’ll be moving to.
Could your role be carried out in a location closer to your current home? If so, you may be able to replace relocation with a commute.
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