When Does It Make Sense to Move for a Job?

by Miranda Marquit · 15 comments

Earlier this year, my husband applied for a job in Minnesota. It looked like we might need to move — and move fast. In the end, though, his current position provided him with just enough that it wasn’t worth it for us to move halfway across the country.

My husband’s current position doesn’t pay more money than the other job; while he received a small bump in pay, it still doesn’t match what the new position would’ve offered. However, making a move to another city for a job shouldn’t just be about the money. There are other factors to consider.

Why Moving Didn’t Make Sense for Us

Even though the other job offered more money with only a slightly-higher cost of living, moving really wouldn’t have worked for us. First of all, the job was only for a year. Moving would’ve meant uprooting ourselves from a town we like to somewhere unfamiliar. And what would’ve happened if my husband didn’t end up with a contract renewal at the end of a year? We’d be stuck there with no job prospects.

The move wouldn’t have been much of a step up for his career, and our family would’ve been in a worse position. Moving can get expensive, and we knew we’d have to figure out what to do with our home. Due to the market in our neighborhood, we would’ve had to come up with about $15,000 to make the sale work. Or we could’ve rented out the house — but becoming long-distance landlords wasn’t palatable. And we didn’t much like the idea of my husband moving out on his own either.

In the end, a combination of factors made it clear that moving wasn’t the best option for our family. All of the downsides to the move outweighed the higher pay. When his current position offered him just enough, it made it worth staying. Of course, no matter how hard he works, or how many students want to take his classes, it hasn’t resulted in a full-time position here — but it’s still better than moving for an equally shaky situation.

Should You Move for a Job?

Before you make the decision to move, it makes sense to look at the whole situation. Don’t become blinded by the promise of higher pay. The first thing you have to look at is the cost of living. If you’re moving to an area where the cost of living is significantly higher, you might not end up with more disposable income, even if you have a higher salary.

You also need to take the rest of your family into account. How will they handle the move? Are there things for them to do? Does your significant other have a job that he or she is giving up? What about school and activities? Carefully think through the consequences of selling your home, as well as the costs of moving. Make sure it’s completely worth it before you uproot yourself.

Have you moved for a job? How was your experience?

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  • iccapscoin says:

    Great post. I worked in a large city for about 5 years, saved some money and bought house there. Then I moved back to to my home town and now rentals from that house is taking care of my living.

  • Amit says:

    Definitely you should think of all important factors when making a big decision. Family is a very important part of life. Make wise decisions.

  • Compare Online Stock Broker says:

    Good decision indeed. Higher pay may make you tempting to move but it is always good to see all factors

  • Indian Stock broker says:

    Hi Miranda,

    I think you and your husband has taken sensible decision. family comes first above all and no point in earning extra bucks which invariably means, you are trading your time for the money.

  • Randall says:

    My family & I have moved a small number of times due a new job or transfer. In every case, my new employer paid for the moving costs. When our children were in elementary school, we accepted what our new employer said about the local school, but after arriving, we were very disappointed, as the new school was teaching materials that our children had had almost a full grade earlier. My wife had an elemt ed degree & ended up homeschooling our kids for 4 yrs which was a good experience, though unplanned. The next time we moved, we were very careful to check out the local schools for ourselves & ask for test scores from the administrators, & visit the school & talk to teachers in the grades that our kids were in, & the result was a smooth transition to a good school which we were very happy with, & all our children did very well there. So my advice, is to don’t accept what the new employer says about the school or community, & check things out for yourself. You can do some research online, but visit the place in person & talk to people face to face. Before we signed the papers to buy our new house, I went door to door on the block & asked neighbors about the neighborhood, & several pointed out things that I had not noticed.

  • SAM says:

    I worked in a large city for about 5 years, saved some money and bought house there. Then I moved back to to my home town and now rentals from that house is taking care of my living.
    So my conclusion is that movement only helps only if it promises significant raise.

  • Mara says:

    I moved after graduate school for a job in a very high cost of living area and the salary was not that great but offered good opportunities. However my other offer was very close to where I was (close to friends) but not many options if the job wouldn’t work out (even though it was higher pay/lower cost of living). It was hard to drive cross country and do it but I have to say it has been fine. I do get annoying with the cost of living and so wish we could save more but at the same time our everyday live is a dream…close to a nice city/airports but far enough that we can still live in a nice quite neighborhood, short commutes, good schools, good people. Everything has an opportunity cost and the important thing is not to think the grass is greener somewhere else..assess your situation with realistic eyes rather than comparing it to the best aspects of what the other place would be

  • property marbella says:

    It is a difficult decision to make if you have to move far. Friends and family are important in your life and it can take a long time before you meet new friends.

  • Mike Goodman says:

    I absolutely agree that one should not be blinded by the promise of a higher pay. You have to sit down and make a list of your expenses right now (transpo, food, rent, etc) and what you expect them to be be when you move. You might just realize that the difference in your salary will no be enough to cover them.

  • Levi Blackman says:

    I’m planning a move once I have a little money saved up and finish school. I want to work with investments so I am planning on moving from the Texas country to one of the financial hubs like Chicago.

  • MoneyNing says:

    I moved to the States for a job right out of graduate school. I didn’t think about the consequences too much at the time, but it literally changed my life. The first few years were extremely tough because I left my family and friends behind for a stressful job. But I stuck it out, found another way and now I’m happily married with 2 kids running an online business.

    It’s safe to say the situation would be much different for me if I just stayed at the comforts of my parent’s home and found a job there. You can plan and plan but then you’ll never know what life will be like unless you move there.

    Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut and then make the best out of the path you choose.

  • dojo says:

    We haven’t moved and will probably not do it too soon. Sure, we’d like to relocate to somewhere warm, but we need to make our business work better and then consider the move. For a 12 month commitment though, no way

    • MoneyNing says:

      Beware of the higher standards of living that usually comes with moving somewhere warm. Like Kostas alluded to in the comment above, many people in high standards of living cities are unhappy because they are actually spending more money in those places and saving even less with a higher salary.

  • Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone says:

    I’ve had friends who have moved for a job and it ended up being a terrible decision. They went from having a comfortable home, friends, and family around, to living in an area where they were paying more to exist and were not happy. Sure, the money was good, but when things were balanced out, it wasn’t worth it to them. Definitely consider everything prior to a move.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    We haven’t moved for a job, though my Dad did when I was growing up and saw all they had to take into account. You’re exactly right in that there is so much more to consider than the pay. It needs to be right for your family, provide good opportunities and balance with the new cost of living.

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