How to Decide if You’re Ready to Move for A New Career

In today’s society, it’s getting more common to move for career opportunities. The fact is, if you want to work in a field that doesn’t have a presence in your hometown or desired community, then there’s almost no other option. But moving for work takes a serious financial commitment. So how can you decide if you’re financially ready to move for your career? I’ve been down this path twice myself and I can say that it never gets easier. That’s why I’m sharing a few points to think about to help you make this important decision.

Do You Have the Job?

First things first: do you already have an offer on the table? Or are you going to move to interview for jobs? You don’t need to have an offer to move, but you will need more of a financial cushion if you don’t have one.

Here are the things to consider if you already have the offer:

  • Are they paying for your move?
  • What salary are they offering?
  • How does the salary compare to the cost of living in the new city?

Here are things to consider if you are going to search for work:

  • Do you have an emergency fund of at least six months to cover your expenses? This should include the cost of rent, groceries, debt, entertainment, and actual emergencies.
  • Are there other work opportunities available in the new city that you can take while you search for your dream job?
  • Are there ways to minimize your expenses, such as living with a roommate?

Are There Opportunities Where You Live?

Before you pack your bags and head off the new city, remember that the career landscape in the US is always changing. As cities offer tax breaks to companies to move them in and new industries grow in unexpected places, your city might offer more opportunity than you realize. So take a look at your city with brand new eyes and see if your industry has suddenly sprouted up!

If you do find companies, even one company, that is involved in your industry, seek out informational interviews with people who work there. That’s the best way to get any inside scoop on the potential for career growth in your area – both with this company and any of their competition which may be popping up. Bonus: those you speak with will also be able to share how they broke into the field and this new connection may even lead to an unexpected job opportunity for you!

Do the Cost-Benefit Analysis

This works if you have an offer or not. Take either the salary you’re being offered or the starting salary for your field in the new city and compare that with the living costs. Typically you shouldn’t spend more than 25% of your income on rent, although in a large city this ratio may not even be possible to achieve. You can find the average costs of rent by simply doing a Craigslist search for apartments and seeing what size and condition of an apartment you would be willing to live in. Next, take a look at the income potential in your job. Is the salary you’re being offered close to the top of what you’ll ever get? Or is there a lot of room to grow? If you’re going to hit the salary’s ceiling early, that means the apartments you’re looking at now are the same size and condition you could be in ten years from now. If there is room to grow, then this move can be considered more of an investment which will hopefully pan out to a better lifestyle in your future.

Finally, look at your current financial situation. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, you probably shouldn’t move until you build one (unless you have offer and moving costs in hand). What about debt? It’s best not to move with debt, but if your current city truly doesn’t offer work in your field or work that pays well enough to save up money, then make sure you have a plan for how to get out of debt that can be worked into your new budget. Finally, do your budget based on the offered salary or a typical starting salary in your field and make sure those numbers add up!

Make Your Decision – And Stick to It!

Once you’ve made a decision to stay or go, commit to that decision for at least one year. I know from experience how difficult it can be to stay in a new city when times get rough – and how hard it can be to stay in your current city when you want to move. But if you don’t have the emergency fund you need to support yourself when you move, then staying until you have that is what you need to do. Likewise, if you move for a new job and are having a hard time getting acclimated, you’ll lose a lot of money on this investment if you just go back. Whatever decision you made, you came to it for a good reason so stick to it and make sure you’re working towards your goals. This time next year, who knows where your life may be headed! As long as you’ve moving forward and taking steps each day to achieve your dreams, then you won’t have to worry about regretting where you are now.

Image Credit: qthrul

Shannon Mcnay

Shannon McNay is the Community Outreach and Customer Support Manager at ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. Shannon loves to share her own experiences and tips she's learned along her own path to help people optimize their finances for a brighter future. You can follow Shannon on Twitter at @shannonmcnay.