Relocating to a different city, state or country proves a complicated matter regardless of your situation. However, if you’re moving specifically for the purpose of accepting a job elsewhere, you’ll at least be free from the concerns of finding employment and making enough cash to maintain your lifestyle.
That said, circumstances sometimes necessitate a move without a job already lined up. Should moves of this nature be avoided, or are the concerns surrounding them vastly overrated? Read on for a detailed view of moving without a job, what that relocation plan requires and when it’s worth trying.
What to consider before moving without a job.
First of all, you’ll want to get really honest with yourself about your reason for moving. Are you planning a dramatic lifestyle shake-up in response to a recent work calamity (like the appointment of a boss you don’t like) or personal troubles (like a breakup)? In these cases, moving can seem like an effective way to adjust your norms, but the challenges associated with your inevitable post-move job search may outweigh the positives of such a choice.
Chief among these challenges may be the fact that, rightly or wrongly, it’s far easier to find a job when you already have a job. Career guru Alison Green of Ask a Manager explains that she always recommends that individuals secure a new position before giving notice at their current job, warning that the job hunt can often take far longer than people anticipate. Green also points out that “even if your finances allow you to go without work for [a long time], simply being unemployed — especially for that amount of time — may make it harder to find your next job, because employers tend to prefer to hire people who are already employed.”
Plus, when you factor in the other stresses associated with relocation — the expenses, the search for a place to live, the general struggle to acclimate to a new environment — the already-existing concerns of leaving a job without a new one lined up only become more significant and, in many cases, more daunting.
However, if you’ve decided that moving sans employment is the move for you, it may help to keep these factors in mind:
1. Where are you going to live?
As anyone who has ever experienced a move can verify, selecting, obtaining and settling into a new home is an enormously stressful experience in and of itself. And, of course, the strain of accustoming yourself to a new city and community compounds the pressure. Therefore, no matter how tempted you may be to attempt this: do NOT move to a new place without a place to live. Don’t ask to stay on a friend’s sofa “for a week or so” while you look for an apartment. Don’t book a hotel or an Airbnb for a brief period of time, hoping that a true housing solution will fall in your lap. Secure a permanent place to live before making your move.
2. Will you have a support system?
Of course, many people choose to move to a different location with the express purpose of striking out on their own apart from family and friends. However, a huge life shift like that can necessitate some form of emotional support from those who know you well and have your best interests at heart. Will you be within a reasonable distance from a relative or friend you trust? If not, can you reliably schedule FaceTime or Skype dates with loved ones living far away?
3. How will you approach your job hunt?
As we mentioned previously, you’d ideally have a job (or, at least, a strong lead on a job) before moving. However, if the move needs to come before the job, you’ll need to hit the ground running when you arrive in your new digs. Before you physically relocate, take the time to do thorough research on the job market in your new city, how folks living there find positions (online databases, recruiters, temp and employment agencies, networking groups, etc.), and whether you can begin email conversations with industry professionals prior to your move.
4. Find out whether there’s any opportunity to work remotely at your current company.
This suggestion certainly depends on the specifics of your job; many, many positions don’t have the flexibility for remote work. However, if your current job could be accomplished remotely without compromising efficiency (or, if your company hires for slightly-different remote roles that suit your skills and experience), it may be wise to schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your intention to move and to find out what, if anything, the company could provide in terms of flex locations. That way, you’ll at least do away with job-hunting stress.
What to do after your move.
The difficulties associated with a move don’t end when you sign the lease or mortgage and pull your moving van up to your new digs. But if you kick off your time in a different city with a clear game plan, you’ll have a valuable head start on adjusting to your surroundings and finding things to love about a novel location.
Seek out opportunities to meet new people.
For many people, the toughest part of moving to a new place involves the lack of a ready-made social network. Work can certainly prove a useful location for scoping out new friends and acquaintances, but if you’re still job-searching upon your arrival or choose to accept a remote position, you’ll need to try a little harder to expand your friendship horizons. When you get to the new city, invest some time in exploring community groups, hobby clubs, volunteer opportunities and even friend-matching apps like Bumble BFF.
Stay in touch with connections from your former professional (and personal) life.
While it can be tempting to use a move as an excuse to totally cut ties from the life you lived before, consider the fact that you’ll need past managers to keep providing references for you. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to keep your LinkedIn up-to-date, to respond to emails from former coworkers asking about your next move (within reason, of course) and to generally maintain a positive relationship with past workplaces. The same goes for your personal life; keeping your social media active is an easy, low-impact way to help your friends and family back home stay in-the-loop on the life you’re creating in this new location.