Monday Mornings with Madison

Relocating for Work

With advances in technology, telecommunications, and transportation, the business world has gotten a whole lot smaller.  Companies, once compelled to expand in geographic proximity to their corporate headquarters (because greater distance would strain management and communications), can now do business on a global scale.  The global marketplace has become more reachable.  For example, in 1936, DELAG Airline  — the world’s first airline to use an aircraft in revenue service — offered passenger flights from Friedrichshafen, Germany to Lakehurst, NJ (4,000 miles) that took 53 to 78 hours westbound, and 43 to 61 hours eastbound.   That made managing a far-away business challenging, especially without Internet, fluid phone service, or computers. Today, 80 years later, a direct flight from New York to Hong Kong (8,047 miles) takes only about 16 hours.  Aviation, cell phones, Skype, computers, and the Cloud have all but erased many of the hindrances of doing business internationally… making the world a whole lot smaller.  But, it could also be said that the business world has also gotten bigger.  Global markets have multiplied business opportunities exponentially, and not just for mega multinational corporations.  Opportunities to grow abound for even the smallest startups.   In that sense, the business world has gotten exponentially bigger.

These changes have spurred companies to pursue opportunities wherever they may be.  But, to expand globally, companies often must relocate at least some of its staff to their new locations to establish operations.  For example, a mid-sized real estate developer based in New York might relocate two key managers to thriving Austin, Texas to start a team developing apartment complexes.  Or a small nursing home operator in Chicago might relocate several of its staff to open facilities in Arizona, retirement capital of the U.S.  Or a multinational restaurant chain based in Atlanta might relocate an entire team of managers to the Caribbean to expand its fast food dynasty to new markets. Whether across the country or across the world, relocation for work is not without its challenges.  What are the main considerations for employer and employee alike?

Reasons to Relocate

The leadership may decide it is in the company’s best interests to expand to a new market, country or region.  Demand is high.  Supply is low.  Opportunity is ripe.  That’s all well and good for the company.  But just because a company wants to move into a new market does not mean its best employees want to move there too.  Relocating to a new state or country is not something most people take lightly.  The average person has family, friends and roots in the community.  They might be active with their house of worship.  They might participate in community sports, hobbies or the arts.  They might own homes and have school-aged children.  All of these variables factor in to the decision to relocate.  The first step is for the employee to decide whether to go.  In making this decision, here are some points to consider.

1. Earning Power

Will you earn more money?  What is the cost of living in that location?  Will the salary in that location have more – or less — buying power?  Money is definitely a consideration in deciding whether or not to relocate for work. Does the position include a sizeable bump in pay or bonus? Or, is it more of a lateral move when it comes to salary? When it comes to career decisions, money absolutely matters.  After all, no one works for the pure joy of it.   No matter how much a person loves what they do, the primary reason to work is to earn a living.

However, even if there is a higher salary or bonus that is very tempting, look at the whole financial picture. Cost of living can be a big factor.  In some cities — such as New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and London – the cost of real estate is so high that it could swallow up even a healthy raise or bonus.  Or, for someone who is married, one income may be lost while a spouse looks for work.  All these considerations should be factored in (plus moving costs, if any) before deciding to relocate for better pay.

2. Career Path

Sometimes the reason to relocate is tied to upward mobility.  Will this new position help push your career forward?  Will it give you more prestige or enhance your professional reputation?  When considering relocation, research the position’s duties and requirements to determine if it’s one or multiple steps up in the career ladder.  Is it likely to lead to a promotion?  Also consider if the location of the new positon is an opportunity hub.  For example, for a software programmer, relocation to Silicon Valley can open the door to a wealth of possibilities, even if the cost of living is very steep.  The area also has a vast network of industry peers and countless outlets for continued professional development.  Although it may seem counterintuitive to want to relocate to a place where there is not only more opportunity but also more competitors, (and it might seem better to instead be the only person in your field in an area), it will be quite beneficial to be based in an industry hotbed when the time comes to change employers.  The moral:  think not only about how a relocation will affect you now, but also how it might affect you a few years down the road.

3.  Quality of Life

There are many variables that affect how a person feels about a job.  While a person may love their job, boss, coworkers and company, they might not love a particular aspect of the job.  For a Wall Street broker driving into Manhattan each day, it might be the killer 2-hour commute to get to work each way each day.  For a traveling salesman, it could be the stress of airline, rail or road travel.  If the stresses or disadvantages of the current job are having a big impact on daily life, relocation might be just what’s needed.  Think carefully if the move would greatly improve your quality of life.  A job in a new location might be just the ticket to erase a long-term problem.

Or perhaps relocation to a new place will simply offer a better quality of life.  For someone who likes outdoor sports and nature might find a move from Youngstown, OH to Colorado Springs, CO could really offer a better quality of life.  When considering a relocation, consider all of the variables, not just those related to the job.  Those with a family also need to think about how a move will affect the spouse and children. How will a move affect their lives?  Will it be hard to relocate for a teenager daughter in her senior year of high school?  Will the family need to learn a new language?  Will they consider it a disaster or an adventure?  Every member of the family that will be relocating should be considered.

4.  Break the Boredom

Do you do the same thing every day?  Does the waitress at your daily lunch spot know your order by heart?  Do you drive the same route every day?   Do you see the same people at networking events and at the gym?  Has your routine become a rut?  If you’re sick and tired of doing the same-old, same-old, a change may be just what the doctor ordered.   For someone who has grown tired of his current place or surroundings, relocating could be just what’s need to reinvigorate the soul and refresh the mind.  Collaborate with new co-workers, meeting new neighbors, and developing new routines could add a level of excitement and adventure that is worth the challenges.

And there will be challenges.  Moving from one place to another always has its issues.  Those are things that can be handled day by day.  If the decision to relocate was considered thoughtfully and made for the right reasons, then everything else will sort itself out in time.   Good luck!

Quote of the Week

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney


© 2016, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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