People don't move as much as they once did, according to data from the U.S. Census. In 2016, 11.2 percent of Americans moved, which was fewer than in any previous year. Although people seem to prefer to stay put nowadays, some things may make them consider a relocation.
One of those things is a new job or a transfer at a current job. In 2016, 20.2 percent of people who moved did so for work. Relocating for a job can involve a fair amount of time and effort, but for many who decide to move, the effort is well worth it.
If you are considering a new job in a new city or country, or if your employer wants to send you to a new area for work, here's what to know before relocating — along with some tips to help ease the transition to a new home.
If you live alone, the only person who has to decide if moving for a new job is worth it is you. But if you have a partner or spouse, you'll want to keep his or her needs and opinions in mind when deciding whether or not to relocate.
Some people can be more flexible about location than others. A partner who works from home might be better able to change cities than one with a more traditional job. For example, if your spouse has built up a successful career in your current area, he or she might be reluctant to uproot and leave that behind.
You also want to think about the type of opportunities that will be available to your spouse in a new area. While some jobs are in demand pretty much everywhere, others are very location-specific. If your partner's in entertainment or publishing, for example, it might be difficult for him or her to find work outside certain regions.
You'll also want to think about your kids if you have any. If your children are young enough, moving from one city to another, or even to a new country, might not phase them. But if you have older kids, they will have to go through the process of transferring schools and leaving behind a group of friends.
If you’re moving your family, there are some things you can do to help them get used to the idea and to help them get acclimated quickly after the move. For example, you can spend time helping your kids learn about your new town or city. Right after moving, you can spend the weekends exploring your new home, visiting important landmarks and trying out the famous restaurants.
One way to make the relocation easier for your family is for you to go first and then have your spouse and kids join you later. For example, if you are moving in the middle of the school year, it might be easier for your children to finish up the year at their current school rather than transfer in the middle of the term.
Having your partner and kids wait to move will also give you time to get used to the schedule and demands of your new job. By the time they’re ready to move in, you'll know what you're doing on the job and will have gotten to know your new hometown a bit better.
Moving isn't cheap. In 2017, the average move cost anywhere from $426 to $1,126. A variety of factors affects the total cost of a move, such as the size of your home, the amount of stuff you’re relocating and the distance of the move. While moving the contents of a four-bedroom home within the same state typically costs between $800 and $2,000, moving the same amount to a new state usually costs more than $2,000.
Before you move for a job, it's worth it to find out what, if anything, the company will pay toward your relocation. Some companies offer relocation assistance or cover any expenses incurred as a matter of course. Others might not automatically assist, but may negotiate with you. You might arrange to have your employer pay for some of your moving expenses before you accept the offer.
You have a few options when it comes to finding out what your company will pay for if it wants you to relocate for the job. Perhaps the easiest way to know what expenses are covered is to ask the human resources department. Some businesses have written relocation policies that outline what costs they pay for and which costs are an employee's responsibility.
If HR is tight-lipped or if the relocation policies vary from department to department, another option is to contact a co-worker who recently moved for the job and ask them what, if anything, the company paid for. Keep in mind that the expenses a company covers can vary based on a person's rank within in the company and whether that person is a new hire or a current employee who's being transferred from another area.
It helps to put on your negotiating hat when figuring out what your company will pay for and what expenses you'll be responsible for covering. Here's a list of common moving expenses that you can negotiate for:
Once you come to an agreement about who will pay for what during your relocation, be sure to get it in writing from your employer or the HR department. Also be sure that you know how to go about getting the money to cover your move. Will you have to submit receipts for reimbursement or will the company write you a check up front to cover any expenses?
A dollar isn't necessarily a dollar. Depending on where you’re moving, your current salary could go very far or it could leave you with a shortfall each month. Before you decide to move, find out if your company offers cost-of-living stipends for more expensive areas or if you'll be expected to survive on the same salary even in a very pricey area.
Before you decide to relocate for work, it helps to consider the opportunity cost or potential of the move. Specifically, will moving to a new area for your job help in your career or will it hold you back? Once you move, will you be able to move up in your career or is the position you will have a dead end?
It also helps to think about what type of opportunities exist in the new area. Will you be moving to a city that has plenty of jobs and low rates of unemployment? For example, if you're moving for a job at a company that's the only game in town, what will happen if your business should go belly up or you get laid off? If your current employer is the employer in an area, it might be difficult to find a new job if your current opportunity doesn't work out. You might have to move yet again.
On the other hand, it also helps to consider what you're leaving behind if you do take the relocation offer. Is your current hometown full of job options or is unemployment high? Will you be able to move up the ladder in your career if you remain in your current city or town or have you reached the top level in your current location?
Think of your relocation on a personal level, as well. If you're a country mouse and an employer wants you to move to the big city, will you be happy there? Likewise, if you love the benefits of living in a city and your employer wants to send you to a far-flung location, will you be able to make the needed adjustments to thrive in that location?
Also, consider the options for personal growth and development in your new home. Here are some things to think about on a personal level:
Finally, simply ask yourself if you like the job. It's not worth uprooting your entire life to move to a new city or state for a job you only feel lukewarm about.
Sometimes, an employer might want you to go abroad — either to work in an international division of the company or to set up a new office in a foreign nation. Some of the same considerations apply when moving to a new country as when moving to a different state within the U.S.
For example, you'll want to think about the potential for a higher or lower cost of living, who will pay for the move and how your family will adjust. Moving abroad also brings with it some unique potential challenges. These can include:
How long your company sends you overseas influences where you'll live. Who moves with you can also play a role in influencing the type of housing that's most appropriate for you.
It helps to have an idea of how you'll be able to get around in a new country. You might be lucky enough to have access to a company car or be able to lease or buy your vehicle during your stay.
If that's the case, make sure you're familiar with the rules of the road in your new country. In some places, people drive on the right side of the road. In others, people drive on the left. That might not sound like a big difference, but it can be very confusing if you're used to driving on the right and move to a country where everyone drives on the left!
There's also the issue of your driver's license. Not every country recognizes a driver's license from a U.S. state as valid. You might need to either get a license from your new country or apply for an International Driving Permit, which is more widely recognized. You'll also likely have to purchase a new auto insurance policy if you move abroad. Different countries have different minimum insurance requirements, meaning that even if your policy is valid in your new country, it might not offer sufficient coverage.
If figuring out the regulations and rules of driving in your new country seems like too much of a hassle, explore other transportation options. Plenty of international cities, such as London, Tokyo and Paris, have excellent public transit systems. You can get to most places via bus or train. Other cities might not have the best public transit options. Knowing what's available and how reliable it is can help you decide whether going car-free is an appropriate choice.
Depending on your company and where you're headed, you might have months to get ready or you might need to leave next week. How much preparation time you have can influence how you negotiate with your employer, what your family decides to do and whether relocating is ultimately the best choice for you. Ask yourself these questions before you decide to move: