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Should You Relocate for a New Job?


10/11/2011 5:45:40 PM

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

With 14 million Americans still unemployed, and the unemployment rate holding at 9.1 percent according to August Bureau of Labor Statistics data, relocating for a new job may seem like an increasingly worthwhile proposition to many. In fact, according to a survey by consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 9.4 percent of job seekers relocated for new jobs in the first half of 2011, up from 7.6 percent in 2010. However, relocating across the country –or even to a new city within the same state– for work should not be an impromptu decision. Here are a few factors to consider before you start packing.

Is where you intend to go better than where you currently are?
Are you living in an area with a particularly depressed jobs market? Have most of the local companies within your industry closed their doors? How long have you been unemployed? If you’ve been out of work for more than a year (40 weeks is currently the average duration of unemployment), have exhausted the limited prospects in your current location, and can identify target cities where your field is thriving, relocation could make sense. If you can survive on less income in the new location, it can further enhance the viability of relocation. Research the cost of living in cities that interest you using the calculator at www.bestplaces.net/col/.

Can you afford to make the move?
If you postpone your relocation until you receive a job offer, ask the employer if they will cover your moving expenses and temporary housing costs. Some may cover a portion (especially if you’ve been hired for an executive position), but most may not –and moving isn’t cheap. According to data from one workforce mobility association, the average cost of moving household goods domestically was over $12,000 in 2010. Some relocation expenses paid out of pocket are tax deductible. However, the cost of selling your home (and the financial hit you may have to take if you are underwater on the mortgage), is not.

How mobile are you?
Have you lived in the same place your entire life, with family members nearby? A relocation may be difficult for you, so consider the effects it may have on you and your family members. However, if you’re currently renting and ready for a big change, a move for a new job may be relatively easy and just what you’re looking for. If you’re ready to come back in a few years, the job market may be better and the experience from your new job will help you land a better one.

What will you do if it doesn’t work out?
If you move for a job offer but the position isn’t a good fit, what will you do? It’s always best to have a contingency plan before you relocate. Consider renting your current home rather than selling, and postponing the purchase of property in the new location until you’re established with the new company. Research the economic viability of the area as well as other potential employers. Areas that are thriving and that have a high concentration of companies within your industry will offer the most opportunities should your plan go awry.

According to the United States Department of Labor, 6 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more. While the Federal Reserve expects the unemployment rate to drop to 8.9 percent by the end of 2011, other economists have made more pessimistic predictions. If you are actively seeking employment without success in your current location, it may make sense to explore opportunities elsewhere.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - October 13, 2011.

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