“My spouse won’t move.”
You may have heard this if you have ever hired someone who would need to relocate their family. You may have even heard it after you extended the offer. If it happens that late in the process, it may be just an easy excuse because they weren’t going to accept the position anyway.
Whether your spouse and family are willing to relocate to a particular city is something that should be discussed and agreed on together — very early in the process. Why waste everyone’s time if it’s not going to work?
Relocating is a big decision. I’ve done it several times. And each time, my husband and I discussed it early on. Was this a part of the country we were willing to live in? Was this city one that we’d be happy in? What did the housing market look like? These are just some of the considerations.
If you are early in your career, you probably want to figure out what kind of future opportunities are in that area. Is it family friendly? Are there good schools? Can you afford to buy a house? If you are later in your career, you may think of your next move in terms of where you might want to eventually retire, or live closer to your grandkids.
Regardless of where you are in your career, there are some common considerations. Assuming it’s a job you really want and an organization you really want to work for, here is my advice on what to consider when relocating:
- Family. Do you have young children who would have to change schools and make new friends? Keep in mind that just moving from one suburb or town to another in the same general area still means new schools for your kids, even though you didn’t change jobs. We did that once in the Chicago suburbs. We made a point of driving our daughters to see their friends from the old school and neighborhood to minimize the change. But we also moved them across the country when they were starting freshman and senior year of high school — something many parents would never consider. All kids are different, so you need to look at this closely. And of course, there’s the question of whether your spouse can find a new job if you move or arrange to work remotely at their current job.
- Geography. Is this a part of the country you’d like to live in? Is natural beauty and weather a big consideration? We lived and worked in the Chicago area from 1983 to 1995. I got tired of all the traffic and wanted to move our family to the Northwest, specifically Portland, Oregon. Before I had a chance to start looking for opportunities, I got a call about a great opportunity in Dallas. When I told my friends where we were headed, they sarcastically pointed out that there weren’t any mountains and oceans there. Yes, I knew that. But there was a great job opportunity.
- Culture. Regional differences are real. I grew up in Minneapolis and my husband grew up in Ohio. We found that Texas really wasn’t us. But we’ve been very happy in the Midwest and New England. Early on in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a colleague told me that before I arrived he was curious as to whether I’d be more east coast or Minnesotan. I asked him what he had concluded. Without hesitation, he said east coast. I laughed and said that’s fine, as long as I’m not considered rude. My personality and style is a balance of “Minnesota nice” and east coast intense.
- Housing market. Can you afford to buy a house or condo in the new city, or is the real estate sticker shock too much? Having owned in the Chicago suburbs, Dallas, the Boston area, Ann Arbor and now the Providence area, I know that price per square foot means something. The smallest yet most expensive place we have ever owned was in the Boston area. With online real estate searches so easy to do, you can start getting an idea of what you can afford early on in your search process.
- Airport access. Are there many direct flights in and out of your new airport? More importantly, are there direct flights to where you want to travel to see family and friends? We are only a short 20-minute drive from the Providence airport, but there are not many direct flights. We often find ourselves opting for the extra time and hassle to get to Boston’s Logan Airport when we travel just to get direct flights. This is a big change compared to living close to major airports as we did in the past.
As you think about your career, be open to the possibilities. But as you consider your non-work life and family, keep all these considerations in mind. And be willing to make some trade-offs.
Last week, we were back in Minneapolis to visit my family. It has changed a lot since we moved away 30 plus years ago. It’s a beautiful, vibrant city with lots of culture. I told my sister while there that I’d consider moving back if my grandkids didn’t live somewhere else. We moved back to New England last year to be near the grandkids. So we keep exploring the Providence area and the rest of New England, and are happy to call it home again.