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Relocation: Location, Location, Location

The realtor will tell you itís all about location, but there are many other factors to consider when deciding to relocate

By Nancy J. Mellem

The ideal time to relocate for a career is just after college. Relocation is relatively painless if roots haven’t been established, and the only person directly affected by the move is you. It still requires careful planning, and an honest assessment of your needs and goals. There are several questions you must answer before you begin scheduling the interviews.

Where are the jobs?

Answering this question may seriously restrict your choices for relocation. For example, a computer programmer will have far more relocation options than a structural engineer focused on building ships.

Have you already received job offer(s)?

Obviously, job offers determine where an applicant will settle, but the follow-up questions are still important to consider before entering into negotiations with a potential employer.

Surprisingly, a job offer from a company might not determine exactly where you will have to settle if that company has multiple locations. Perhaps you have received an offer for a position in their New York office, but you know they have an office in Los Angeles and you would prefer to live in L.A. A little diplomacy in this instance might please both parties, “I would be very pleased to accept the position of program manager in your New York office, but I’m aware that you also have offices in Los Angeles. As I am interested in settling in L.A., I was wondering if a similar position might be available in that office.”

This might also be the time to explore the option of telecommuting. It can’t hurt to ask if there is a program in place within the company. For more information about telecommuting, see Molly Joss’s Get With IT “Make the Telecommute” column.

What is the cost of living in that area?

It’s a simple fact that $40,000 will go farther in Topeka, Kan., than it will in New York, so knowing the cost of living in a city is crucial before entering into negotiations with a potential employer. A comparison chart of cities’ indices is available at

How will the location affect the work environment?

It may be a generalization, but not a wholly inaccurate one that the bigger the city, the faster the pace. Do you work well under pressure, or do you explode under pressure? Answering this question honestly will lead to happiness in your work environment. Don’t forget to take the commute into consideration when answering this question as well. Your workday starts the moment you leave your house, and doesn’t end until you get back home again.

What’s your lifestyle?

If these considerations haven’t shrunk the playing field entirely, your personal lifestyle choices will. Do you prefer to be near or far from your family? Are your outdoor sports based on a certain type of topography? Would you shrivel up and die without regular access to an opera house?

These are quality of life issues that you must take into consideration. When they are answered, your decision about where to settle might be made for you.

There might be more questions for you to consider based on your individual circumstances. Having the clear answers to these questions will make one of the potentially most stressful changes in your life far easier to bear.

Nancy J. Mellem is a contributing editor to Graduating Engineer & Computer Careers magazine.


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