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Relocation: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

04 Apr, 2017

One in three Australian professionals are currently working remotely and that number is growing. In the meantime, the average job, if there is such a thing, lasts around three years. So when and why would you relocate for work these days?

Peter Cappelli, Director of the Centre for Human Resources at The Wharton School, believes there is a general decline in mobility for work given the remote working trend* and also what companies are willing to offer.

“If you were offered a new job in another city where you have no ties or networks, and you suspected that the job would probably not last more than three years (which is a good guess), how much of a pay rise would they have to give you to get you to move?” he asks.

Quite a bit. As a general rule of thumb you should earn 10- 20% more than your current salary* when changing jobs in the same city. But when you are relocating you should and can be a little more aggressive.

But as anyone who’s been in the workforce for a substantial amount of time knows it’s not always about the money. There are many other factors that need to be examined carefully before making the leap to uproot your life for your job on the promise of career advancement and a bigger pay-check.


Think About What You Will Miss.

“We hate losing and we are hard wired to care more about what we lose. So think about what you’ll miss because that is what you will think about the most,” says Penelope Trunk, co-founder of several startups and business commentator for the BBC and CNN.

Trunk suggests to truly question what you are prepared to give up, saying each relocation is not only about getting new stuff which is fun and exciting, but also making decisions that will put limits on other possibilities. ***


Visit the New Location More Than Once

Visiting the new location many times will help you evaluate its true positives and negatives. Visit the new location with a partner and a friend and get their opinions. Go when it’s summer and winter, if possible. See if you can work there for a week or two before making the final move. You’d be surprised what you may uncover that is both good and bad about the place.


You Will be the New Kid on the Block

For a while you will be the foreigner, the newbie and you may not “fit in” for a long time. For seasoned “expats” that nearly extinct sector of the workforce, this is nothing new and they actually thrive in this environment. For others it can be tough going. Be mentally and personally prepared to be the odd one out and miss your friends and family. You will eventually fit in but that can be a slow process depending where and who you are.


Take an Overview on the Cost of Living

For example, don’t be misled by cheap rent if you have to instead buy a car just to get around. Look at all expenditure realistically. Estimate how often you will want to “go home.” Does “going home” mean an airfare and expensive accommodation and how will this affect your budgets, holiday plans and annual leave?


Do You Really Know about the Job, the Culture and our Manager?

This is a particularly pertinent question. What if things fall apart? Is your job in sufficient demand in the new city and could you work there beyond your current role? Because if your job turns out be constricting to your career, your manager is inept or the culture is toxic, you need to think of exit plans. Thinking about these issues and investigating all unknowns about your work and environment will give you some peace of mind before you sign on the dotted line.


What Does Your Gut Tell You?

Jacquelyn Smith of Business Insider advises to listen to yourself and be honest.  “If you’re doing a lot of second-guessing, you probably have your answer: You’re not comfortable with forging ahead. On the other hand, if you can’t stop thinking about the prospects of this potential move and have an unstoppable feeling of elation, you also have your answer: Take a leap of faith. You could catapult your career.”



*Peter Cappelli – Human Resource Executive Online May 19 2014 Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

**Jacquelyn Smith – Business Insider July 2 2015 15 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Relocate for a Job

***Penelope Trunk February 11 2012 Seven Big Relocation Mistakes