15 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Accept a Job in a New City
By Jacquelyn Smith
We've solicited readers to submit their most pressing career-related questions.
With the help of Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," we've answered the following: "I've been offered a job in another state. How do I decide if relocating is the right decision?"
"It would be great if all the best jobs were in your backyard, but sometimes the position you really want is hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away," says Taylor. "Relocating can seem like a high-stakes proposition with too many unknowns. Even if you're disenchanted with your current position, at least it's the devil you know."
You may also be comfortable with non-work related aspects of your life, like getting around town, familiarity with your neighborhood, proximity to friends and family — and your impending move may affect your partner or loved ones. "This is not a decision to take lightly," says Taylor. "But the axiom, 'no risk no reward' rings true in the practice of job relocation."
She says if you do your homework and can withstand a little adventure, "the results can be life-changing."
So, if you're considering such an option, here are 15 questions to ask yourself before making a decision:1. Have I done my homework on the new city, the new job, and the new company?
"Research, research, research," says Taylor. "It's one thing to do your homework on your next employer, but when your prospective new job requires you to uproot your life, it's time to do some serious sleuthing. The more you know about the job, company, and the new city, the more educated your decision — and the less stressful the choice will be."
2. Have I created a budget?
Create a budget, including cost of living. "Make sure that you remain financially responsible," she suggests. "Review the cost of living in the proposed city, your salary, and other income, as well as home, car, and other expenses, before agreeing to any offer."
There are several cost of living calculators online, such as those on Salary.com or Payscale.com.
3. Have I weighed the pros and cons?
As with any tough decision, it helps to make a pros and cons list. "Commit to writing all the positives of the relocation and the negatives that relate to each," Taylor says. "For example, Pro: I will get to explore a great big city. Con: I will miss my hometown friends. The bottom line is: What am I gaining and what am I forfeiting?"
4. Do I know everything I need to know about the job?
Ask informed questions — those that show you've done preliminary research. "Be sure that you completely understand the job description; meet your prospective boss and several coworkers at least twice at their offices; tour the new workplace; and get a sense of the work environment and culture."
5. Will I like my new boss?
Of course there's no way to answer this with complete certainty before you start working for them — but think about whether it would be a good fit. "Be sure to spend as much time with your new boss as you need," says Taylor.
"This person will have the most influence on your job satisfaction — more than any other single factor. Is your new manager someone you can learn from? Is your long-term career of genuine interest to your boss? Is there chemistry? Are there signs that raise concerns?"
6. Does the position offer growth?
Try to ascertain whether the position offers sufficient upward mobility, not just from where your career is now, but once you're on board.
"This is your opportunity to inquire about your career path," she says. "You can also ask about how others have taken on greater responsibility over time in the department. Just be sure not to sound overly aggressive and to frame it as a desire to grow and learn."
7. Is the salary desirable, and is it adjusted to the cost of living in this new place?
Make sure that the salary you're offered is competitive and worth the big move.
"A general rule of thumb is that you should earn 10% to 20% more than your current salary when changing jobs in the same city," she explains. "But when you're relocating, you can generally be a little more aggressive, depending on your industry, current salary and background — unless the cost of living is significantly lower in the new city."
Do your research online and find out what the salaries are for your specialty in the new city. Remember to take into consideration other factors, such as benefits, incentives, and advancement opportunities, says Taylor.
8. Am I familiar with the company's track record and understand its growth outlook?
This is not just about your job, or even a department. It's also about the company you're joining. (You wouldn't want to uproot your whole live for a company that has a grim-looking future.)
"Make sure you have clarity on their past growth and future prospects," Taylor suggests. "If they're not public, you may have to do more due diligence and ask more questions, without coming across as intrusive."
Ideally, you want to contribute to a growing team, company, and industry when making this level of commitment, so better to know all you can upfront.
9. Have I used social media to dig deeper?
Through LinkedIn, chat boards, various websites (like Glassdoor), and blogs, you can find out a lot about companies from current and former employees.
"Retention or turnover levels are a good topic to ask about when considering a relocation," says Taylor. "A company with a revolving door reputation would suggest a large, billowing red flag."
10. Does the new metro have a strong employment market?
"You should be relatively assured that you'd be marketable in that city and happy to stay there should things fall apart," she says. "Is your job general enough and in sufficient demand in the new city? What is the employment rate there? Who makes up the employment base? Could you pursue interim or project work between jobs?"
11. Have I discussed and negotiated moving allowances?
"Understand and be able to negotiate allowances, ranging from the move itself, to arrangements for the sale of your home if you don't sell in a certain period (if applicable), what they will pay for, whether there is a contract or severance package and so on," recommends Taylor. "Policies will vary from one company to another, so tread lightly and diplomatically."
12. Do I know anyone in this new city? Am I willing to leave certain people behind?
There is much more to a job relocation than a job.
Consider the personal side of this move, she says. "Are there family members, relatives, or friends in the new city? Some that you hate to leave behind? It's helpful for some to have a friend in the new town who can make them feel welcome and supported," she adds.
Some people make friends easily and find that to be a rewarding new challenge. "Just be true to yourself and have realistic expectations."
13. Have I talked to my family about what they want?
You may well have to take into consideration the opinion of others before getting too amped about the relocation.
"Check in with all those affected — like your partner, kids, parents, siblings, or anyone who you feel might be impacted," says Taylor.
"On the flip side, the new job could take you closer to family members or friends. Having open and honest communications with all those involved will be critical."
14. Have I spent enough time in this new city or town, and is this community the right place for my family and me?
"There's nothing like being there," she explains.
Think about what's most important to you and your family, and find out whether the new location offers these things.
Spend time looking at housing, local schools, traffic patterns at various times of the day, and places where you would pursue activities outside work. Check out the local attractions, parks, beaches, shopping, restaurants, clubs, and cultural or religious organizations.
"Also ask about the climate year-round and talk to as many people as you can," says Taylor. "And if you can, try to attend a professional business or industry meeting during your travels to get a sense of the 'professional climate,' as well."
15. What is my gut telling me?
Most often, your gut instincts are accurate. The problem is that people don't always follow them.
For example, 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," Taylor concludes.