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Insights & advice

How to decide whether to relocate for work

March 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • 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.

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Thinking about relocating?

Being offered a new opportunity in your career is an exciting prospect, and perhaps especially so if it involves moving somewhere new.

It might be that you’re exploring the idea of moving with your current company, or maybe you’re looking to take a leap of faith and accept a job somewhere new on your own. If you’re thinking about moving abroad for work, there’s even more to research and think about.

While there’s lots to consider when it comes to the job offer itself, there’s plenty more so when it comes to moving, including how relocating may impact your family, finances and well-being.

Career

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:

  • Company culture

    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.

  • Career progression

    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  

Family

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.

Social life

Along with thinking about how your work-life will be impacted by a new job opportunity, you’ll also need to think about how a move could impact your time spent outside of work.

For example, moving to a more rural location may provide the option for more space and a lower cost of living than city dwelling. However, this may mean that it’s harder to meet new people, or that there’s less to do with your time off.

If you enjoy going out, you may want to look at the amenities, sporting venues, dining, and local entertainment options where you’re moving to see how this may impact your free time. Similarly, if you’re a homebody, moving to a big city and taking on a higher cost of living as a result may not feel like it’s worth the money.

There’s plenty of research that shows a clear link between our social circles and levels of happinessOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window . We also know that social isolation and lonelinessOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window  are both linked to negative health conditions. If you’re someone who thrives in social settings and enjoys spending time around friends and family, how are you likely to cope if you remove yourself from this social circle? How will things like time zones and your new work commitments impact your ability to stay in touch?

Along with looking at how to stay connected to your existing social circle, you’ll also want to think about how to meet new people if you move. Do you know anybody in the area? Do you have friends, family or colleagues that can help introduce to someone? Will you be moving as part of your team during the relocation? Can you volunteer or explore other opportunities to get involved with your new community?

Moving away from the people you care about can be challenging experience, but with plenty of options in terms of staying in touch, it’s possible to continue friendships and relationships from afar.

With that in mind, you may want to think about the local internet availability when considering your move; it might seem like a small thing, but this access will play an important part in helping you stay in touch with friends back home, and will also give you access to tools and apps that can help you meet new people locally.

Finances

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.

  • Day-to-day saving

    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.    

  • Childcare costs

    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.

  • Moving costs

    If you’ll be paying for the move or perhaps storage out of pocket, you’ll need to plan to cover these expenses.

  • Living arrangements

    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.

  • Life milestones

    If you’re planning on getting married or starting a familyOpens in a new window, the change in your day-to-day financesOpens in a new window may impact your ability to save or borrow to cover the costs of these and other important life events.

Physical and mental well-being

Even weighing up the pros and cons of a possible relocation can be stressful, let alone the move itself. It’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself while you think about your decision. If you decide to move, you should also consider how this may impact your health: 

Mental well-being

For some people, the prospect of moving somewhere totally new can be exciting.

Especially if you’re starting your career or perhaps if you don’t have any dependants, now may be an ideal time to move somewhere new and explore all it has to offer. Moving also has the tendency to be stressful, especially if it’s to somewhere you’ve never been or don’t know anyone. Consider putting a plan in place to manage anxiety or stressOpens in a new window.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, around 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)Opens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window , while another 15% will experience milder cases of seasonal depression. One way to take care of your mental well-being, especially during colder and darker months, is physical exercise.

Physical well-being

Studies have shown that stress can affect our physical healthOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window , impacting everything from our digestive and immune systems to our skin, muscles and joints. Staying active can help you manage feelings of stress or being overwhelmed that could occur because of so much change. Physical activities like yoga, hiking, biking or joining a walking group can not only be great ways to exercise, but also to meet new people.

Another thing to consider is the access to healthcare in the new location. If you have pre-existing conditions and/or a need for ongoing physical treatment, you may need to consider the availability of healthcare providers, as well as how accessible they are.

Certain workplace benefit plans will provide virtual healthcareOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window, allowing you to speak to medical professionals online. This could be particularly useful if you’re moving somewhere more rural with perhaps limited access to health care, or if you’re moving to a city where local services are overwhelmed.

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.

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.