Consider the Five C's Before Moving for a Job

Photo:  Jacob Lund (Shutterstock)
Photo: Jacob Lund (Shutterstock)

At some point in your career, there will probably come a time when you might consider moving for a job. And the decision can get more complicated if you have a significant other or kids.

When you’re faced with the decision of whether to move for work, you obviously need to take into account that moving will have a major impact on your family life, social network, and financial status. “Love and money decisions are intertwined,” said Myra Strober, an economist at Stanford University and author of the book Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions. “Although a job may sound like a money decision, it is absolutely a love decision as well.”

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Don’t rely on your gut

Making the decision to move is hugely complicated and stressful. One mistake that Strober often sees is people rushing the decision-making process. “We like to get these decisions done,” Strober said. “There is a part of us that would just like to have it over with.” Although it’s uncomfortable to be in the process of actively making the decision, it’s essential to be thorough for such a major life decision.

Take into account the short-term logistics

In the short-term, moving is going to require a lot of work. “Handling the logistics can be daunting,” said Daphne Jones, a career coach and author of the book Win When They Say You Won’t: Break Through Barriers and Keep Leveling Up Your Success. “If the company is paying for the move, there is often a company representative in charge of your move, that will help you sort through many of the moving parts, but if you are doing the move without company support the logistics will include packing, unpacking, moving cars, crating special items, and finding a new place to live.”

If you own a home, there will be the question of whether to sell or find a renter. If you have kids, you’ll need to figure out the school and childcare arrangements. If you have older parents who depend on you, you might need to take into account whether their needs will be taken care of after the move. Whatever the details are, make sure to get an idea of what they will be before making the decision.

For the long-term impact, consider the 5 C’s

When it come to the long-term impact of a move, Strober recommends using the 5 C’s as a framework. The 5 C’s include clarifying your preferences; communicating with your partner; considering your alternatives; checking in with other people who might have insight; and considering the consequences.

Clarify your preferences

If you’re considering moving for work, it’s a time to clarify what’s important to you in life. If career is the important thing, and moving will help with advancement, then that’s a high priority; but if the priority is being close to family or having a tight-knit group of long-term friends, then the disruption of moving may not make as much sense. Whatever your priorities are, find a way to figure them out before making the decision.

Communicate with your family

For people with significant others, you’ll need to talk out the decision with them. “We don’t make these decisions in a vacuum,” Strober said. This includes discussing whether your partner will give up their job to move with you, or if they will stay behind. For parents of children, depending on their age, there will also need to be a family discussion about how they are going to adjust to the new place and what their new home will look like. For teenagers, this will mean a major disruption to their schooling in the years leading up to college applications, while younger kids are going to be saying goodbye to their friends.

Consider your choices

Although moving might seem like the only choice available, there are usually still others. If you don’t end up moving, that may mean redesigning your career, finding a different type of job in your current city, or any number of other options. If you’re at a point where you think that the only career option is to move for a job, then it’s well worth taking a step back and considering what your other career options are.

Check-in with other people

In addition to discussing any potential moves with your partner, it helps to talk it out with others who may have faced similar decisions in the past. “You can’t be the first person in the world with this issue,” Strober said. This could include talking the decision over with a close friend, someone in your extended family, or a colleague who made a similar decision.

“Maybe it’s someone you don’t normally think of in this way at all,” Strober said. Although you may not normally think to talk through a decision with them, in this moment, for this particular scenario, they may have a unique insight or experience that can be helpful.”

Consider the consequences

Moving also means leaving your support network, which can include family, friends, and trusted caregivers. Whenever you move, you have to create this network all over again, often from scratch. “Not having a support structure in a new town can be stressful and lonely,” Jones said.

The bigger the move, and the bigger your family, the harder this can be. “Who is going to be in charge of recreating that network?” Strober said. “It’s the family glue.”

In the meantime, until this network has been recreated, this is going to put additional stress on the family—whether that means scrambling to find last-minute childcare or figuring out what to do whenever a kid gets sick. Depending on your resources and the location, it can be quite hard, especially in the beginning. So plan ahead accordingly.


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