Changing Jobs

The pros and cons of relocating for work

Written by Guest Contributor

When most people are looking for a new job, they restrict their searches to a certain geographic area. After all, your work commute has to be practical, even if it limits your job prospects. But what if that perfect job happened to be in another state, across the country, or even overseas?

Relocating for work used to be fairly common, but the number of Americans willing to move for their jobs has dwindled. In the late 1980s, more than a third of job seekers were willing to move for a job, and almost 19% went through with that relocation. During the past decade, though, just 11% of job seekers have relocated for a job.

A relocation, especially one across the country, can appear overwhelming at first, but it can also open the doors to new career opportunities, higher salaries, and other perks. Before you write off the possibility of ever relocating for a new job, it’s important to understand the pros and cons that relocation brings.

Benefits of relocating for work

Relocating can give you a chance to improve your living situation. You may be able to move to a nicer community and experience a different part of the country where you’ll be introduced to a new social circle of friends, neighbors, and coworkers. You’re sure to have plenty of new experiences in your new community, and there’s something exciting about moving to a new location and starting a new adventure.

Moving for work means that you may qualify for certain tax benefits where you can write off your moving expenses as a federal tax deduction, too. To qualify, your new job needs to be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job was, and you’ll need to work at your new job for at least 39 weeks within the initial 12 months after your move. If you meet these qualifications, you’ll be able to write off reasonable moving expenses like rental truck expenses, moving boxes, mileage on your vehicle, and more.

For those international moves, relocating can offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a new culture in an immersive way. You can seek jobs in a country you’ve always been interested and then get paid to live and work there. For example, if you were to take a job in Japan — a popular travel destination for many —  you could take advantage of the excellent public transportation and train system and get to see a lot of the country at your leisure over your time living there.

Of course, one of the most valuable perks to relocating are the career benefits you can see from your move. You may want to relocate to work with a particular company, or may be offered a higher paying position than you can find locally. If you find that dream job that you’ve been waiting for, your new employer may even be willing to help you with moving costs.

Downsides of relocating for work

Though there are definite perks to relocating for work, Forbes notes that the process also has its downsides. It can be difficult for you to relocate if you’re well-established in your town, and you may have to leave friends and family behind. If you’re moving with a family, a relocation brings additional challenges, like a spouse needing to find work in a new location and children having to adjust to new schools.

According to Forbes, relocating for work often means a loss of stability, which can be a significant downside for some people. Starting over in a new location is frightening, especially if you don’t have friends or family nearby who can act as a support network. There’s also an element of risk when you’re taking a job with a new company, since you may have to commit to relocating without being able to “test drive” the job first.

Juggling the logistics of relocating can be both challenging and stressful, especially when you’re relocating your entire family and your move has multiple moving parts. Selling a home and finding a residence in a new location can take time and may cause delays in your move. The relocation process can also be expensive if your employer doesn’t cover or contribute toward your moving costs. If moving out of the country, you may have difficulty navigating their housing systems, and language barriers could play into that if the hiring company isn’t helping with your relocation.

Making a positive move

Ultimately, you’re the only one who can decide if relocating for work is the right move. It’s important to carefully weigh the job offer and to make sure that the benefits of relocating for a particular position outweigh any of the negative aspects of moving. Think about whether you will love the job, whether you’ll enjoy the area, how the position can affect your entire career, and what opportunities you’ll see in the new location versus in your current city.

If you do decide to relocate, there are some things that you should do to prepare for the move, no matter where you might sit in life. Start by researching the area and identifying places where you feel you’d like to move, and consider renting an apartment or house first so that you can determine which neighborhoods you might want to settle down in, long-term. Throughout the whole relocation process, stay in touch with your employer and be sure to thoroughly review and understand the deadlines of any contracts you sign.

Whether you’re actively looking for a job in another state or are just starting to explore your career options, give some thought to relocating for work. Relocating can be an exciting and stressful adventure, but it can also open up career opportunities, introduce you to a new part of the country, and possibly help you meet some new friends and make new connections. While there are certainly downsides to relocating, you may find that the pros outweigh the cons.

About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.

About the author

Guest Contributor