Whether you are just embarking on a new career or are an experienced IT pro, the perfect career opportunity may not be in your back yard. It might just require you to pack your bags, say goodbye to friends and family and head toward some horizon. Are you ready to make the move?
The opportunity you seek may be with a company you’ve had your eyes set on since you received your certification. There are many advantages of going with a well-respected company, such as Microsoft, Cisco or Google, starting with prestige. There is a lot to learn from working for an established, stable organization with well-run sales and marketing arms. For technical professionals, it is an enviable position. It’s the chance to be close to the technology, to be a part of building the next great product and to have access to a tool set unavailable to the rest of your IT colleagues.
Another common reason to consider relocating is the chance to pick where you want to live to better meet your lifestyle. Have you ever wanted to experience California or New York? Perhaps you like to ski. Never think it’s too late to pursue your passion.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Before you say yes to any opportunity, there are some things you should consider. You can start by making a quick list of pros and cons associated with your move. It’s best to do this early so you’ll have realistic expectations as a result of knowing exactly what you are getting yourself into. It is also important because if you truly want to make something happen, you need to have a plan.
Things you should evaluate include the impact of the move on your lifestyle, family, children, friends, non-salary-related finances and career path.
- Lifestyle. Start by making a list of favorite recreational activities. These are things you do outside of work. Are you on sports teams? Do you enjoy regional sporting activities like skiing or cycling? Do you enjoy city life, arts and theatre? Will these venues still be available when you move? How well will you adapt to a colder, wetter or more humid climate? What impact will this have on the type of car you drive, your sports gear or recreational toys?
- Children. Consider these same impacts on your children or spouse. How will they adapt to new schools, making new friends and their own recreational activities? The decision becomes tougher when children and spouses are involved, but if you have clearly thought out and discussed the pros and cons of the move, it does not mean that your decision will be any different.
- Family. If you are part of a close-knit family, consider how often you will get to visit them or they will visit you. If you move to a highly desirable location like California or Florida, you may be surprised at how you might not get a chance to miss family.
- Friends. Friends are like family. They too will visit, but don’t expect relationships to stay the same. You may continue to stay in close touch with your old pals, but in order to feel settled, you will have to create new ones when you move. Until you do, I can promise it won’t feel like home. It does become easier if you move to a place where you know a few folks already. And even though you’ll make friends through work, you’ll still want to create a balance by making friends outside of work.
- Selling Your Home (and other expensive property). There are financial implications beyond the new salary that you will want to give careful attention to as well. These include selling your home and vehicles. How is the real estate market doing? Will you lose money if you sell your home? Will you have enough equity to purchase a new home? What type of home will you be able to afford based on the new cost of living? Do you have to downscale your living arrangements and worry about storage facilities? If you’re moving from a rural area to a big city like New York, will you have to sell some of your vehicles because of public transportation and garage fees? If you are moving to a colder climate, will you have to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle?
- Further career opportunities. A very important aspect to consider is future career opportunities offered in a new place. There might be career opportunities within the same company because more positions are available in the thick of things at headquarters, or there may simply be a larger market to choose from. Larger cities offer more opportunities than rural areas.
Make A Plan
Once you have decided to embark on your new adventure, the next step is to make a plan that includes actual dates. Only by assigning a timeline to your plan will you feel committed to making it happen. Your plan should include:
- Setting a target date. You may just be able to pick up on a whim if the opportunity arises, but most likely, you’ll have family obligations. These include not uprooting your family near the end of a school year. You may also want to target your move to occur after payouts of bonuses from the previous year. There is no need to be hasty and leave opportunities on the table.
- Contacting the Visitor’s Bureau for relocation information. The Visitor’s Bureau is usually a part of the chamber of commerce. Ask for a relocation package. This will include information on communities, housing and major employers in the area.
- Making an initial visit to the area. This should be at least a four- to five-day trip that includes exploring housing communities, schools and recreational activities. Contact one of the real estate agents listed in the chamber of commerce’s relocation package and schedule a time for them to show you the area. These services are free. Study the other materials included in the package and prepare a list of questions to ask while you are there.
- Check out the local paper. Find out more about the local housing market and research job opportunities.
- Preparing your resume and sending it out. It is never too soon to start sending out your resume. It is unlikely you will find the ideal job the first week you start looking, so make sure you start this process four to five weeks before scheduling your trip. The more resumes you send out, the more potential interviews you can schedule for your visit.
Finding the right job is a numbers game. It is important to send out as many resumes as possible and to explore different opportunities. You want to develop a well-rounded perspective of the job market in your prospective town, and the only way to do that is to pound the streets. One strategy I highly recommend is sending your resume to companies you might be interested in, even if they don’t appear to be hiring. Many times, recruiters are on the lookout for new employees, and that’s how careers are made.
Negotiating The Package
There are a number of things you should include when it comes down to negotiating the relocation package, beyond your salary. Use the following checklist to make sure you are not forgetting any:
- Cost-of-living adjustment: Cost-of-living calculators are available at the major job sites on the Web.
- Initial home-finding trip: The new company should allow for a four- to five-day trip for you (and your spouse) to find a new place to live.
- Cost of moving possessions: This includes all of your household possessions and vehicles.
- Temporary housing: Minimum of two months’ living quarters.
- Temporary storage: For anything that doesn’t fit into your new home.
- Closing costs on existing home: This should include closing costs and real estate commission fees.
- Closing costs on home at new location: Again, closing costs, title and real estate commission fees.
- Relocation allowance: A per-head amount for each member of your household.
- Tax help: For car registration and taxes on your moving expenses.
- Trips back home to close up business: Typically this is a verbal arrangement that allows you to deal with any outstanding details.
Your new employer should be willing to pick up most, if not all, of these expenses. An alternative to having them pay for the actual expenses is a lump-sum relocation package. With lump-sum packages, your employer provides a fixed dollar amount, and you pay for expenses yourself. Depending on your possessions, it may be more advantageous to opt for this package. If you are moving by yourself, $10,000 should cover the expenses. For a family of four, you should probably ask for $20,000. You may be able to pocket a bit of the allowance if you invest a little bit of time in researching economical relocation options. For instance, by listing your house yourself, you will save 6 percent in real estate fees. You may also look into renting a truck and moving yourself to your new location. The important thing is to save all the receipts for income tax purposes.