15 Useful Tips for Relocating for a Job (+ Pros and Cons)

Getting from Point A to Point B can be a hassle — but not impossible.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a woman packing boxes in her apartment

Relocating for work is a great opportunity for you to further your career. But, despite it being a good step in your professional life, you might find the whole moving process to be a lot less exciting. Between moving out of your house and into a new one, you also have to juggle starting a new job, learning a new city and establishing a new routine.

While all these things might seem challenging, there’s no need to panic! Whether you’re halfway through a move or still contemplating it, these useful tips will help make your relocation a piece of cake.

Why relocate for a job

Moving away for work can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. First and foremost, it can teach you resilience, since you’ll likely have to overcome some challenges on your own. This can be incredibly rewarding and help boost your confidence.

Besides teaching you self-reliance, moving for work can expose you to new ways of thinking as well as new ways of working. This can have a positive impact on your mindset and overall approach to work, as you gain new knowledge and consider new perspectives.

Speaking of perspectives, relocating can also help put some things into perspective. It can help you re-evaluate what truly matters to you and what doesn’t, as you put some distance between your “norm” and yourself. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the proverb goes — but the opposite can happen, too.

Pros and cons of relocating for work

It’s often said that we regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do. But it’s still not a good idea to do things just for the sake of doing them. To help you make a decision, we’ve listed some of the pros and cons of relocating for work.

The pros

  • You get to meet new people. Moving away will require you to hit “reset” on your social life. This can be a great opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds.
  • You push the boundaries of your comfort zone. This increases your confidence on both a professional and personal level, as you become more resilient and self-reliant.
  • You gain new experiences. Living abroad can be a great way to broaden your horizons and become more familiar with different attitudes and cultures.
  • You progress your career. In most cases, you’ll be moving away to pursue something better than what you’ve got, be that a higher position or a better salary.
  • Your quality of life can improve. Depending on where you go, you might have access to services and amenities that you currently don’t.

The cons

  • It can get lonely. When there are no familiar faces around, things can get tough. It can feel even more isolating if you move to a place where they speak a different language to yours.
  • You lose your sense of routine and stability. Everything you know, from your apartment to your gym to your local corner store, won’t be there anymore.
  • Moving can get stressful, tiring and expensive. There will be many, many things to take care of, and this can get exhausting, especially if your employer doesn’t offer relocation assistance.
  • You might experience culture shock. While being exposed to new cultures can introduce us to new ideas and perspectives, it can feel overwhelming initially while we adjust.
  • It can get hard for your family. You’ll have to find ways to navigate the challenges your children and/or spouse will be met with, like changing schools and potentially feeling isolated.

What to consider before relocating for a job

Not everyone has the same priorities in life. But practicing some self-awareness and prioritizing what matters to you is essential when making up your mind. To help, we’ve listed five important things to consider.

1. Career advancement

Perhaps the most important thing you’ll have to think about before making your move is if it makes sense for you career-wise. What could you obtain from it? A significant pay increase, better benefits, a higher position? Consider your more long-term goals, and see whether this move fits in with your future plans and aspirations.

2. Cost of living

Not everyone relocates in order to make more money; for some, other things, like better job security or quality of life are more important. You should, however, be able to live comfortably, as life will most likely be hectic enough on its own, at least initially. You don’t want to find yourself worrying about money on top of everything else.

If you have received a job offer, do your research and ensure you’ll be able to get by on the amount of money you’ve been offered. Negotiate better terms before accepting it if not!

3. Quality of life

Before making your move, consider the needs and priorities you’ll have in the foreseeable future. How long will your commute be? Will you have access to healthy food, public transport or cultural integration programs? How far will your nearest hospital be?

Then there’s the more practical stuff, too. For example, if you’re a wheelchair user, you need to consider how accessible your future hometown will be. If you have small children, meanwhile, you’ll have to research what the healthcare and childcare systems are like, and so on.

4. Distance from home and/or family

If it’s important to you that you attend big family events, like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, take into account the time and money you’ll need to get back home each time.

If this is the first time you’ll be moving away from your hometown, consider how the long distance between you and your loved ones might impact your relationships. Although there’s no way to fully predict this, evaluating how important their physical presence is to you can help you make a better decision.

5. Cultural differences

When moving away, it’s vital to consider any cultural attitudes in your new town that might differ to yours and impact your day-to-day life. For example, what are people’s attitudes concerning things like alcohol consumption, religion or dating?

While these might be topics you wouldn’t even think twice about, you’ll still have to imagine yourself existing within that new context. Depending on how important (or not!) some things might be to you, reflect on how comfortable you’d feel amidst individuals who could largely hold opposing views.

Tips for making the move easier

Settling in a new place can be a little tricky. There are steps you can take, however, to make the move easier and (hopefully) start to feel at home faster. Let’s get into it!

1. Ask about relocation packages

Depending on the distance, relocating can be costly. In many occasions, companies cover their employees’ expenses and offer help with finding suitable accommodation. Enquiring about available relocation packages is a good idea, then, as it could help with your budget and save you from unnecessary stress. Asking your new employer for monetary assistance might seem like a sticky move, but if you’re moving long-distance, it’s a reasonable request.

Even if they can’t offer you any compensation, perhaps they could advise you on the best locations for your accommodation and direct you to a good real estate agency.

2. Create a to-do list

Moving can be a logistical nightmare if you’re not organized. The best way to keep your cool is to have a clear outline of tasks. You may think a mental checklist will be enough, but a meticulously crafted to-do list is a must.

Even if you aren’t a list enthusiast, a physical or digital to-do list will help you keep track of your progress and ensure you don’t forget important tasks. Some of these include contacting the post office, registering your vehicle, speaking with your insurance company, liaising with your former and current landlord, and letting your utility providers know you’re moving out.

3. Have a clean-out

There’s no better time to get rid of things you no longer need than during a move-out. As you’re sorting through all your belongings, chances are you will come across a lot of things you didn’t even remember you owned. While packing, then, have a designated box for things you want to throw out, sell or give away. The less you have to take with you during your move, the easier your relocation will be!

4. Pack smartly

Before jumping into a sea of bubble wrap and cardboard boxes, you need to do a little research first. Especially for long-distance moves, there are many factors to keep in mind before packing your belongings. For example, taking inventory and organizing the contents and labeling each box is a good precautionary measure.

If you feel overwhelmed by the process, then it’s worth hiring professional movers to help. Not only will it take away a lot of stress, but it will also guarantee that your possessions arrive safe and well at your new home.

On another note, your boxes could take some time to arrive, so make sure you’ll have enough clothes to get you by until they do. So, an extensive packing checklist will be an excellent match for your to-do list.

5. Do your research

Relocating isn’t just about starting a new job and moving into a new house. You’re also moving to a completely new place.

A good way to prepare before you relocate is to learn about the community you’re moving into. In other words, find out about the city’s culture, local traditions and history. Doing the same for your company is also wise, as it will help you set realistic expectations.

The more you know about your new home, the easier it will be for you to settle in. Although it might take a while before you start calling yourself a local, you will have a solid foundation to start with.

6. Make new contacts

Relocating can often mean leaving family and friends behind. While some see this as a fresh start, others find saying “goodbye” very difficult. Regardless which group you belong to, the best thing you can do is to start building a new support network from the onset.

The way to go about this is to reach out to relatives, contact friends of friends or reconnect with old acquaintances who are local to the area. Even if it’s for a casual meetup or simple advice, establishing a new network of contacts will help you acclimate faster.

7. Find a route

Even if you feel confident in your navigation skills, discovering the best route to work before your first day is a smart move. Presumably you would have also checked the distance from your new apartment or temporary housing to work before signing your lease.

Depending on whether you plan on driving, walking, cycling or taking the bus to work, there are some relevant factors to think about, including the commute time, transportation links and parking options. Finding out all these in advance will help you stay on top of things in the midst of your relocation, and it will make your first day at work a lot easier.

8. Make a new budget

Revisiting your budget and calculating your upcoming expenses will be important before your relocation. Along with moving expenses, you should consider other costs. For example, restocking your pantry, purchasing new furniture and paying the initial utility bills will probably crank up your monthly budget, which means you’ll have to be more flexible.

Another point to consider is the costs of living in your new location. You might have landed a higher-earning position, but if the cost of living in your new city is higher, your budget for amenities, groceries and transportation will be too. Therefore, make sure to factor in all these changes and adjust your monthly budget accordingly.

9. Spot new spots

Relocating also means leaving your regular spots behind. A good way to become familiar with the area near your work and your house is by setting out to find new go-to places, including coffee shops, grocery stores, gyms and restaurants. The more time you spend exploring your new town, the more settled you’ll start feeling.

Doing a little research beforehand, however, is also a good idea, especially for essentials like drugstores and supermarkets. Plus, knowing which is the best take-out in the neighborhood in advance won’t hurt!

10. Test the waters

There is a certain adjustment period you must go through before you start settling in your new home. However, in some cases, your lifestyle might not be compatible with your new neighborhood or apartment. Signing a flexible contract, then, will be a smart move (pun intended). That way, you’ll be able to find a more suitable home for yourself without fuss.

It’s important, however, to allow enough time before you jump the gun and call the movers again. Once you get to know the area well, you’ll be able to find what’s available on the market and make an informed decision.

11. Think before you buy

Similar to the previous point, give yourself some time to settle in before making commitments. This also applies to buying things before you’ve had a chance to move in. Although you might be tempted to splurge out on the IKEA catalog, wait until all your things are out of their boxes first. Once that’s done, you’ll know what you actually need to buy.

On another note, if you’re not convinced your new apartment or house fits your needs, hold back on big purchases such as couches and bedframes. That way, if you decide to find another place, you won’t have additional things to move. Of course, if your new place is completely unfurnished, that might not be an option.

12. Pre-schedule appointments

It’s very likely that the first few weeks will be quite hectic. Not only will you have to juggle between a new job and a move-in, but you will also have to arrange certain appointments to get everything up and running.

Amid all the tasks you’ll have to do, it’s wise to arrange every appointment you have prior to your arrival. These appointments will probably consist of your movers dropping off your boxes, signing your lease agreement, as well as having handymen carry out general maintenance, furniture delivery and broadband installation.

Unless you’re okay living without internet for a couple of weeks, it’s important to set up these appointments as early as possible. Not only will this allow you to settle in faster, but it will also save you from having to constantly dash out during your workday to meet these appointments.

13. Familiarize yourself with the local language or dialect

The last thing you’ll want on your first day of work is to get to the office and find out that most people on your team speak in a heavy accent you’re not familiar with. Thankfully, platforms like Google, YouTube and Duolingo are on your side in this case.

Before you move, start exposing yourself to the local dialect or language by listening to podcasts, watching short films and even practicing speaking it yourself. In addition, check out if there are any language lessons offered to expats to help them integrate better upon their arrival to the city.

14. Accept that adjusting might be difficult

Let’s be honest: it doesn’t matter how many times you look at virtual maps of your new neighborhood or how many times you scroll through your new municipality’s Facebook page. Starting a job in a new city will come with its set of challenges, and it’s not possible to be fully prepared for every single thing that might crop up.

That’s where it helps to have realistic expectations of your move. As the BetterHelp team points out in an article, moving away is a major event in your life, and, “often, significant events cause a mixture of emotions, such as happiness, excitement, stress, anger, and disappointment.” If you experience any of these, be patient, stay present with your emotions and allow yourself as much time as you need. (And arrange weekly calls with your BFF, too!)

15. Plan your next trip home

If you’ve spent time away from home before, to go to summer camp, college or even take on temporary work, you’ll know if you’re one of those people who tend to suffer from homesickness easily. But, even if you have done those things before and didn’t miss home in the slightest, relocating for work will be a vastly different experience to moving out of your parents’ house to go to university.

As such, it’s always a good idea to plan your first trip home or arrange to have a friend or family member visit you if possible. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to, which can make getting through your first weeks away more bearable.

Key takeaways

Although it might have both upsides and downsides, relocating for work can be greatly beneficial, both on a personal level and for your career. That said, there are several things that need to be taken into account before your move, so don’t go contacting that real estate agent and selling your current home just yet! As we’ve seen:

  • Not all companies offer to cover their prospective employees’ moving costs. As a result, you might have to negotiate a higher starting salary or more perks to level things out.
  • Distance from home, amenities in your new area, cost of living and cultural differences are all vital things to consider before moving.
  • Moving away can be a great way to gain new perspectives on both a personal and professional level, as you learn more about yourself and a new culture at once.
  • Working on your self-awareness and prioritization will help you prepare more effectively in advance and ensure you don’t lose sight of your goals and aspirations during the move.

Do you have any other relocation tips? Let us know in the comments section below!

Originally published on September 13, 2019. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.