How to decide whether to relocate for work
March 2022 – 15 min read
If you’re thinking about moving for a new job, you may be excited for the possibilities and opportunities ahead.
There’s plenty to consider when deciding whether to relocate whether for the short-term or long-term.
Weighing the pros and cons, talking with friends and family, and doing research into your possible new home will help you decide if relocating is right for you.
When evaluating your new job opportunityOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window, it’s important to think about how moving could impact your career over the short- and long-term.
For example, you may want to consider the offer’s benefits, and how this relates to where you’ll live. Will you have access to any workplace benefitsOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window, such as vision, dental and drug coverage? What’s covered Opens in a new window - Opens in a new windowwill vary depending on where you live in Canada, so you may find that benefits coverage is important to cover both routine and unexpected healthcare costs.
If your new offer doesn’t include benefits, you may want to think about purchasing some coverageOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window instead. Some companies also offer insurance as part of their benefits package, so you may want to look into this or ask about the options available.
When considering relocation, there’s also the cost of moving to think about. If you’re moving within an organization, they may cover the costs and provide a relocation budget as part of the deal. If you’re moving to pursue a new opportunity completely, you may be responsible for covering these costs, which could amount to thousands of dollars depending on how far you’re moving.
While a great offer on paper may be exciting enough to make you want to consider relocating, it’s also important to think longer term. There are other factors that may impact your decision, such as:
Culture varies widely based on several factors, including industry, sector, whether the company is in a rural or urban setting, whether it’s in a primarily English- or French-speaking province or territories, and much more. Some more established organizations may have a more corporate setting, while a start-up may offer something on the more casual end of the scale. Some businesses prefer a standard 9am to 5pm set-up, while others may trial new ideas like the 4-day workweek. It’s important to make sure you feel the company values and culture are right for you to avoid feeling unhappy or overwhelmed.
This new role may be exciting now, but what happens when you’ve made the most of it? Is there the option to progress within the business? If so, how does the new role offer any opportunities to upskill? You may want to evaluate whether there are continuing education programs or other opportunities that can help you advance. If you need to look elsewhere, how’s the local job market in your chosen industry? If you’re moving with a partner who’s also working, this may be something that both of you need to consider as it could impact whether your move is for the short-term or the long run.
Flexible working options
The pandemic forced many organizations to embrace working from home and taking a flexible approach to returning to the office. If you’ve grown to like working from home, you may struggle with returning to the office full-timeOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window. If you’re used to being in an office or physical work environment, working from homeOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window may make it hard to connect with colleagues, which can be important – especially in a new city or area.
Flexible working may be particularly important if you have children, as this could play a role in your options when it comes to childcare.Opens in a new window - Opens in a new window
If you have a family, 1 of the most important things to think about is how a move will impact your spouse and children. There are many things to discuss with your partner, such as:
What work opportunities will be available in your new area?
Will they be able to progress their career, or will relocating result in a lateral move, or even a step back?
Are there opportunities to meet new people and make new friends in the area?
Do you both envision a short-term move, or is this a long-term change?
If applicable, how much is the cost of childcare?
What does the housing market look like, and how will that impact your living arrangements?
How will the cost of living in the area impact your short-term financial commitments as well as your long-term goals?
The answers to these and other questions will help you to see if you’re on the same page about whether a relocation opportunity is a genuine option.
If you have children, thinking about how a move will impact their schooling, friendships and well-being will be important. The age of your children will play a factor, too. If your kids are small, it may be easier for them to make new friends and adapt to change. However, you may find moving away from family limits your childcare options as well as emotional and social support, which can potentially create more stressOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window.
Kids nearing the end of high school will likely be focusing on what comes afterwards, such as university or collegeOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window. If your kids are thinking about post-secondary education, interruptions to schooling could have an impact on their grades at an important time. Moving them away from peers and friends could also cause frustration, so it’s important to consider how this could impact not only school, but potentially their overall happiness.
Finally, you may want to look at what’s tying you to your current home. If you’ve been there for a long time and/or have school-age children, you may find that you have connections within the local community along with friends and family you’ll be leaving behind. How will you cope with this changeOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window? If your family is very settled and happy, consider how they may react to the possibility of moving.
One big thing to think about is how much this move is going to cost, and how it may impact you now as well as later down the road:
Cost of living
If your new job offer pays more than your current role, this may seem like a positive. But if you’re moving to an area with a higher cost of living, you may see this increase is quickly spent on higher monthly expenses. Do some research into your new area to see how far your take-home pay is likely to go.
Consider how your new income and expenses impact your ability to saveOpens in a new window, such as making regular contributions to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)Opens in a new window. A rainy-day fund is especially important when moving, as if for any reason things don’t work out, you may need a security blanket financially while you consider next steps.
Saving for retirement
If your monthly expenses will increase, you may want to think about how this impacts your pension contributions. This could be especially important if you’re nearing retirementOpens in a new window, or if your new offer doesn’t involve enrolling in an employer-matched plan.
As the cost of childcareOpens in a new window varies so much between provinces and territories, you could end up paying more or saving more depending on where you move. This has the potential to have a big impact on your monthly expenses, so you may want to start researching possible options, especially if you’re moving away from your current caregivers.
If you’ll be paying for the move or perhaps storage out of pocket, you’ll need to plan to cover these expenses.
How will your living situation impact your finances? If you’re already a homeowner, you could choose to sell your home or rent it out. In this case, you could enjoy a profit that would help with the cost of moving. However, if you’re moving to a more expensive market, this profit may have to go towards buying, renting, or even furnishing somewhere new. If you’re saving to buy your first homeOpens in a new window, you may not be able to save as much if your monthly expenses increase, which could mean you have to wait longer to buy or apply for a high ratio mortgageOpens in a new window. A city with a hotter housing market could also result in higher prices or bidding warsOpens in a new window.
A back-up plan
What happens if it doesn’t work out? It’s not a question you might want to consider, but there is the possibility that the move doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps your spouse or children don’t feel completely settled, maybe you’re struggling with the change of pace and lifestyle, or your finances are being negatively impacted. It may even be that the job itself isn’t the right fit.
If for any reason you don’t feel that the move was the right choice, what then? It’s important to discuss an ‘escape route’ or back-up plan in the event things don’t work out:
How soon will you be ready or able to move again?
How will moving impact children’s schooling?
If moving involves leaving your job, how will you cope financially until you find something else?
Will you move back to where you were before, or somewhere totally new?
What will your living arrangements look like?
While it’s great to look at the positives and opportunities that a new job offer and new city can provide, it’s also important to be realistic and have discussions about how you’ll move forward if things don’t go to plan.
Deciding whether to relocate is a personal decision and will be different depending on the circumstances of each individual and family.
If possible, ask around to see if you know anyone who’s relocated before, and see if you can ask them for some insight and honest feedback on the experience.
Whichever decision you make, taking time to fully weigh the pros and cons and how a move could impact your financial, physical and mental well-being can help you make the right choice.
The information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. This information is general in nature, and is intended for educational purposes only.