Willing to relocate? Ask yourself these six essential questions before you decide to pack up and go.

Ben Franklin's famous adage, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” is never truer than when you are looking for work in a brand new place. Relocating for a job requires that you lay some groundwork, but where do you even begin? It's essential to research the region to which you plan to move, as well as its economic conditions, but self-knowledge is also a vital part of the process.

Before emailing your resume to some far-off employer, here are some things to consider and key job relocation questions:

1. What is my risk tolerance?

Ambitious, creative and entrepreneurial people are used to testing the limits of their comfort zones. Freelance ventures and impractical lifestyles are not for everyone, particularly when job security has defined your career. You may have enjoyed your position at XYZ Company but moving for a job is warranted due to a partner's job transition, or you need to relocate to be closer to friends and family. Changing jobs is stressful, but changing to a new location adds unfamiliarity to the mix. Ask yourself whether small shifts throw you off-kilter, or whether trying something new energizes you. Your leap of faith can be smoother if you know your tolerance for risk beforehand.

2. Do jobs in my industry exist in the region in which I am willing to relocate?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics makes finding U. S. regional economic data a snap. If the job market in your new city is different from your current city, your career opportunities will rely on your ability to adapt to emerging or affiliated industries, or to upgrade your skill set. Want info on local cost of living and home values? Best Places and City Data evaluate these items along with demographics, educational levels, environment, unemployment rates, property tax and other economic outlook data. Anyone who has pounded the pavement can tell you that a job search is a job in and of itself, but prior research will make relocating infinitely easier.

3. Am I willing to take less money for better quality of life and more time?

A local job search is challenging enough. Moving for a job compounds this challenge since you need to discern if your new pay will cover basic expenditures and cost of living differences – and let's not forget about relocation costs.To prepare, you might want to start shoring up your finances and making fiscal adjustments such as cutting back on non-essentials. Compare the cost of living between and quality of life in your current region and the new one. A salary calculator can be instrumental in determining how much you'll need to earn to stay afloat.

4. Do I have the employer's perspective in mind?

Convenience and cost are two big reasons why hiring managers will not take a second glance at an out-of-area candidate. Allay their fears by mentioning in your cover letter that job relocation plans are already underway, and that you're available to interview at the employer's convenience. Reconnecting with a friend or relative with whom you can stay short-term or finding temporary housing may enable you to list a local address within your resume's contact information section. LinkedIn can help pinpoint decision makers in your industry, enabling you to reach out to locals before you've made your move.Be sure to state upfront that you don't expect prospective employers to pick up expenses related to your relocation. Fortunately, some job search expenses may be tax deductible. Keep the employer's perspective in mind before you send out that first inquiry letter.

5. I need to relocate. Is a career change feasible at the same time?

The economy has changed in significant ways in the last decade. Consider the outlook in your industry, and how many working years you have ahead of you. No matter what field you're in, picking up a new skill will make you more marketable and will increase your confidence. While some go back to earn a degree, many avail themselves of skill development through online courses or free online certifications. Just as when preparing for a job interview, your preparation and research will provide a strong foundation for taking the next step, or exercising caution before doing so.

6. Should I quit my job and just move?

Perhaps dumping the corporate rat race and striking out on your own sounds like a plan. However, before launching a potential new life in an unfamiliar city, dig deeper.

  • Is it more cost effective to rent or to buy?
  • What is the standard of living?
  • How long will your new commute take?
  • Find out what the locals do for fun: are they outdoorsy, culture enthusiasts or tech types?
  • What will you do in your spare time?
  • Knowing the regionalisms - such as calling a soft drink “pop” vs. “soda” - will also help you feel more connected to the locals.

When thinking about relocating for a job, pace yourself. No one is completely inured to the risks inherent in leaping into the unknown, but with plenty of preparation, you can soften the blow as you land.

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