Relocating for work has benefits and pitfalls aplenty, and the most important thing you need to do is prepare thoroughly and make sure you are aware of all the hurdles that need to be overcome to make this process as smooth as possible.
To help out, here are just a handful of the most significant considerations to keep in mind if your employer asks you if you would be willing to relocate by your employer.
Do you want the job in the first place?
While the prospect of moving to a different city or a different country, and getting paid for the privilege, could be enticing in its own right, it is necessary to remember that this initial excitement will eventually fade away and you will be left with the prospect of working in a role that might not actually be all that desirable.
There are lots of factors to hang in the balance here, such as:
- Whether the job offers opportunity for future progression
- Whether it is a promotion or a sideways step from your current role
- Whether you have the skills and experience to thrive
You may already know the answers to these questions if you are relocating with your existing employer, but if you are joining an entirely different organization, then there are even more aspects to weigh up, including:
- Who you will be reporting to and who you will be responsible for managing
- How your performance will be measured
- What day to day duties will be part of your remit in your new role
Ultimately it does not matter if you are completely enamored with the idea of relocating for relocation’s sake; if the job is not right for you, it will ultimately be a dissatisfying and potentially stressful step, rather than a positive one.
How will the finances stack up?
There are lots of elements involved in calculating the value of relocating for a job, and the trickier aspects of this should be handled by your employer. However, you may need to take note of specific administrative tasks relating to your finances, such as seeking relocation tax advice to see if you will still need to file a return in your home country as well as overseas if you are undergoing an international move.
Perhaps the most important calculation you need to do is to compare how your anticipated salary in your new role will stack up against the cost of living in the place you will be moving to.
You can do this in part by using large-scale studies, which reveal the most expensive cities worldwide, of which current frontrunners include Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Copenhagen and London.
Unsurprisingly it is major cities in Western nations that have the highest living costs, while developing nations and rural regions are more affordable and will mean that your new salary will go further.
In terms of the facets which most impact the total cost of living, these will be:
- Housing costs including average rents and property prices
- Food prices and typical utility bills
- Any costs for healthcare and schooling
All of these need to be balanced against the amount you will be earning in your role once you arrive, and of course whether or not your employer will be absorbing some of these costs in order to sweeten the deal.
Ultimately if it does not make financial sense for you to relocate for work, then you may want to think twice before agreeing, or at least negotiate a more favorable relocation package with your employer to avoid it becoming more expensive than it is worth.
What are the long term prospects of the job?
Once again, it is necessary to consider not just the short term benefits that might come from relocation, such as a change of scenery and the opportunity to experience a new culture, but also the long term implications of the move.
First and foremost, you need to know whether the relocation is on a fixed term basis, as many employers may schedule a specific window during which you will be working overseas, with the end goal being to return you to your original location, all of which will impact how you prepare and plan for this.
If the relocation is in fact a long term option with no specific end date, then you also need to look into the prospects that this position brings with it; will you end up treading water because the region you are moving to is not as high up your employer’s list of priorities, for example?
It is all about making sure that your own priorities mesh with that of the new role, rather than one conflicting with the other.
All of these questions and decisions you need to make when offered the option to relocate for work also have to be contextualized in your broader social and domestic situation.
If you are a single, childless individual, then you may not have as many reasons to stay in the same place, also the disruption to your social life should not be overlooked. Equally if you have a spouse and children, you need to consider the employment and education needs of your loved ones in the wake of a move, as well as the emotional burdens it will place on them.
Last but not least, it is worth stating that for some people relocating for a job will be the best thing they ever do. Thinking everything through thoroughly is the only way to know for sure either way.