When The New Job Comes With Relocation – A Guide

Job hunting is hard enough. It gets even harder when you throw relocation into the mix. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, when searching for a new job, it’s critical to pay attention to culture fit, opportunities for growth, and the possibility of staying at a firm in the long term. But what else should you be thinking about when relocating for a role is on the table? 

Cost of Living and Compensation 

Candidates moving from higher cost of living areas to lower cost of living areas sometimes balk at their new potentially flat or lower compensation. Moving to a cheaper metro area may not come with as large a raise as you might expect—it may not even come with a raise at all. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that compensation and cost of living are correlated. Compensation is on average higher in New York than Chicago, but so is cost of living, and compensation packages usually reflect that. You can very easily come out ahead earning a lower base pay while living in Austin compared to New York, given relative costs of living in each city. 

Local Taxes 

In fact, depending on where the new role is, you may really come out ahead. (Or you may find that your new salary doesn’t go quite as far as you think.) States like Texas, Tennessee, and Florida, for example, don’t have state income taxes. That can help stretch your pay further. On the other hand, higher local taxes, just like higher cost of living, may mean that you’ll be taking home less than you expected.

Keep in mind that taxes (and tax-adjacent costs like tolls) can add up in ways that might not be obvious from afar. Texas, for example, may not have a state income tax, but it does have very high property taxes. Nashville’s sales tax is higher than New York’s.

Local Schools and School Tuition 

Of course, there can be benefits to paying higher local taxes. If you have a family or are planning to have a family, it’s important to pay attention to local schools. Massachusetts and New York are two of the most expensive places in the country in terms of cost of living and taxes, but Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut include four of the best ten public school systems in the country. Moreover, they are home to a disproportionate number of the best private day schools in the country

School strength can be a factor in determining whether to take a job, but it can also play an important part in negotiating compensation. If considering moving to an area with weaker schools, consider negotiating for help with school tuition or assistance with admissions as part of your compensation package. 

Moving Expenses

Moving expenses are also something you can try to negotiate into your compensation as part of your relocation. Ideally, your new firm should help you in some way with your costs. Sometimes firms will agree to pay certain key bills involved with moving. Other times, they will agree to pay some percentage of the overall cost. Companies may provide a flat grant of money to be spent on moving as needed. The more senior your position, the more help you’re likely to receive. 

As you negotiate moving expenses, be conscious of how much leverage you have. Depending on where you are moving, you may be competing with a lot of local talent. Hires moving from Nashville or LA to New York will be less likely to receive significant moving concessions than vice versa. 

Getting the Buy-In From your Partner

If you are married or have a serious partner, it is extremely important that they feel excited about and committed to this move too. Communicate with them early and throughout the process. Asking someone to uproot their professional and social lives is a big deal. Get the buy-in as soon as there is an opportunity to interview. Tell your partner immediately, even if you do not think the process will  go anywhere.

Unhappy partners are the number one reason we see relocation hires fall through. When presenting a role with relocation, we won’t send the resume until the candidate discusses the relocation with their partner. Do not waste your prospective employers’ time or your own by keeping your partner in the dark. Keep them updated about how things are progressing. Check-in with them frequently on how they feel about the potential move. It is common for partners to get cold feet as the prospect of moving becomes more likely. Consider taking a weekend trip to the new location so that you can both get a feel for it. The visit can help make the potential relocation more concrete. 

Once you receive an offer, companies should offer to bring your partner to the office, introduce them to the company, the area, and arrange for a tour with a real estate agent. A social event with your partner can help them get comfortable with the risk of the move. The more comfortable your partner feels, the more likely you will succeed in the role and the relocation. 

Effects on Your Family

Naturally, you also have to consider the effects of moving on your partner’s career, and your family in general. Will your partner be able to grow professionally? Will there be opportunities for your kids to develop and get involved with new activities? Will you be able to integrate into the local culture and find people who match your interests and values? If you have family in the city you are leaving, will you feel comfortable with your ability to see them after relocating? A great fit in the office doesn’t necessarily equate to a great fit outside it. Make sure you feel good about the move itself, not just the position. 

Relocation can be as exciting as it can be stressful. You can reduce that stress by making sure you consider these factors when deciding to take a job in a new city. Don’t be afraid to ask for resources and support from your new employer as you negotiate a move. Your new firm is invested in your long term success and comfort in your new position. No one wants to restart another hiring process after a year because a new hire didn’t adapt well to their new home. Put yourself in the best position you can to succeed by thinking about quality of life at work as well as outside of it.