Before Moving for a Job, Ask Yourself These 13 Questions

Son helping mother to move boxes, they are vacating old apartment

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Lorelei Yang
Lorelei Yang718
Wonky consultant with a passion for words
  • Ask yourself, is the pay worth the move, what's the cost of living in the new place, who will pay for the move and what's your personal comfort level with change?
  • Then, consider your family: Is the move realistic for your partner? Or will your children be happy in the new city? If your family will be negatively impacted by the move, you might decide not to move for a job.

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Congratulations! You've landed a new job. The only thing is, it's in another city. How do you know if it's worth it to move? At a minimum, you should take the variables discussed in this article — such as pay, timing and the move's effect on others in your family — into account.

Questions to ask yourself before moving for a job 

1. Is the pay worth the move?

Before deciding to move for a new job, it's important to ask yourself whether the new job is worth it from a financial perspective. Ideally, you should only move for a job if it's going to pay quite a bit more than your current job.
In a healthy economic market, one should expect to see an eight to ten percent increase in salary when moving to a new job. When job markets are tighter, increases may be a little lower, in the five to eight percent range. If you're moving between cities for work, you may also want to tack on a few percentage points in either case to account for the hassle and expense of moving.

2. What's the cost of living in the new place?

In addition to pay itself, it's worth considering the cost of living in the area you'd be moving to for the new job. Certain high-cost areas — such as New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area — are very expensive to live in. If you're contemplating a move from a low-cost area to a high-cost area, you may want to take a moment to determine how far your money will go in the new area versus your current area.

CNN Money has a cost of living calculator that takes your current salary and location to determine a comparable salary based on the cost of living in different areas. This is a useful tool to help you determine whether or not the new job's salary is enough to not only justify the move, but also to maintain (or, ideally, improve) your current standard of living.

3. Who will pay for my move?

Moving for work can be expensive, especially if you're making a cross-country or international move. At a minimum, the company you're planning on relocating for should have a relocation policy. It would be even better if it paid for some of the relocation costs through a lump sum upfront, reimbursement for certain expenses, or direct assistance. Asking about these policies should be part of your calculus when deciding whether or not to relocate for work.
If you're looking at paying all the costs of your move yourself, you should take a moment to seriously consider whether the move is worth it. Will you be able to make the money back within a reasonable amount of time? Are you able to afford the move at the moment? These factors must be taken into account.

4. What does the company's future prospects look like?

While you should always try to evaluate a prospective employer's growth prospects before taking a job even in your existing city, it's even more important to understand a company's growth prospects before moving for a job with it. You don't want to make a big move for a company that might not make it in the long term.

5. What is my personal comfort level with change?

Honestly assessing your own ability to adapt to, and thrive in, a new environment is crucial to evaluating whether a big work-related move is the right decision for you personally. If you know that you don't do well with change, you may not want to move for work.

6. Is the move realistic for my partner?

If you have a spouse or partner who also works, you need to also account for their career when evaluating a move. This is especially true if your household's finances rely on both, rather than only one, of your incomes in order to stay stable. If that's the case, you won't be able to afford for your spouse or partner to struggle to find work in a new city; and you'll need to take that variable into account when weighing the potential move against staying put where you are.
The problem of your spouse's career prospects may be especially pronounced if they're in certain careers that are licensed at the state level (so they'd need to become re-certified in a new state to work in a new state), highly concentrated in specific parts of the country (such as investment banking, where most jobs are in a small number of major cities), or very senior in their current organization (in which case there may not be many suitable jobs for them in general).

7. Will my children be happy in the new city, and is the move realistic given where they are in their educational journeys?

If you have children, particularly K-12 school-aged children, you'll also want to take their needs into account when evaluating a potential move for work. You should research the quality of schools available in the area you're considering moving to and also think about where they are in their schooling journey. 
Moving in the middle of the school year or when children have only a year left in high school may not be advisable. A mid-year move can disrupt your child's educational experience, and moving in the last year of high school may make it more difficult for your child to successfully apply to colleges, as they may find it difficult to secure strong recommendation letters from teachers and guidance counselors at their new high school.
On the other hand, natural transition points in your child's educational journey — such as when they're making the jump from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school — may be good times to move. Since your child will already be moving schools in that transition, they may find the added layer of a geographic move a bit easier to handle.

8. What is my support network going to look like in the new city?

For some families that have the benefit of a strong support network (such as family members who can pitch in with childcare) in a given area, it may be important to weigh the loss (or gain) of that network when evaluating a potential move. If moving will significantly disrupt or  improve your support network, this variable is worth taking into account.

9. Am I going to be able to move up in the new company?

Taking advancement opportunities at the new company into account is an important variable to consider when weighing any new job offer. It's especially important when you're looking at taking the major step of moving for work. If you can avoid it, it's best not to move for a job that you may only stay at for one or two years.

10. Do I want to live in the new city?

Being excited about the city you'll relocate to for the new is an important factor that you should consider. Liking where you live is an important contributor to one's happiness and overall satisfaction, so you should make an effort to visit the city you'd relocate to in order to evaluate whether it's the right setting for you.

11. Will I be able to handle the move?

Apart from the cost itself, you should take the stress and anxiety associated with moving into account when deciding whether or not to move for a new job. If you know that you'll struggle to handle the daunting challenging of moving, it's worth asking yourself whether you should, indeed, move for work.

12. Can I vacate my current residence with little hassle?

Regardless of whether you're a renter or homeowner, the process of vacating your current residence to move to a new city can be a difficult one. Before you commit to moving to a new city for a new job, it's worth checking to ensure that you'll be able to vacate your apartment without undue penalties, sell your current house, or rent your current house without too much difficulty. If leaving your current residence will present too much of a barrier to your move, this variable should be taken into account as you weigh whether or not to move.

13. Will the move force me to give up anything that I don't want to give up on?

Oftentimes, a move will mean giving up on favorite restaurants, neighborhood hangout spots, and cherished rituals. Before you commit to a big move, it's worth taking some time to check in with yourself to ensure that you're okay with making these tradeoffs. If moving will cause you to give up on a cherished activity or access to something that you love to do, it's important to consider whether it's worth it to you to give those things up in the move.

When NOT to move for a job

There are some situations in which it doesn't make sense to move for a new job. If the finances, timing and/or personal considerations related to the move don't make sense, you may very well decide that moving for the new job isn't the right decision. The following are only a few reasons why you might decide not to move for a job:
  • The pay isn't high enough to maintain your current standard of living in the new city.
  • The company won't pay for any relocation costs, and you aren't in a position to take on the relocation costs yourself.
  • Your spouse or partner's career would be negatively impacted by the move.
  • Your children's educations would be negatively impacted by the move.
  • Your current living situation doesn't allow you to move without significant financial consequences that you can't afford, or don't want, to incur.
  • The new city that the job is located in doesn't suit your lifestyle.
  • The company's future is uncertain, and it's not clear that you'll be able to grow at it in the long term.
  • Moving would cause you to lose access to your personal or professional networks.

How much money do you need to relocate for a job?

The cost of relocating for a job can be highly variable. In large part, the cost of relocation is based on the distance between your current and new city. According to, the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,890 for a 1,000-mile move (based on a two- to three-bedroom move of about 7,500 pounds). To better estimate moving costs for your specific situation, you can use's moving cost calculator, which takes zip codes, move size, move date, and use of packing services into account to estimate your move's cost.
With the information contained in this article, you're now better-equipped to decide whether or not to move for work. Asking yourself the questions outlined in this article will help you answer the question, "Is it worth moving for this job?" with more confidence. Being deliberate and thoughtful about this major decision will help you feel more confident about your decision to take — or not take, as the case may be — a new job in a new city.
Lorelei Yang is a New York-based consultant and freelance writer/researcher. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.