You’ve got the credentials and training in hand, but you haven’t found the career you want where you currently reside. You find through internet sources and the U.S. Department of Labor publications that in order to find jobs in your field you have to relocate to another city and state. What should you do?
You don’t know anything about this city you’re thinking about relocating to. You’ve never been there, not even for a visit. Or, you may have passed through on the way to somewhere else. Or, you may have visited but was way too young to remember anything. You can guarantee, the city has changed somewhat since you were a kid.
Being faced with the dilemma of having to leave home and relocate to some strange place can be daunting. If relocation is inevitable, you might as well make the best of time and technology to do it correctly by following these steps.
Study the area you are planning to move to. Learn everything there is to know about the town you are thinking about relocating to. Do you know anyone local who once lived there? Set a date and time to have lunch with them and pull as much information about their hometown out of them as possible. Find information about your chosen city on the web. Even small towns have some kind of listing on the internet. Check out or buy current books about the city you’re researching. Fodor’s Travel Guides have information about every state and major city in America plus countries overseas. Find out as much information about population, ethnicity, economy, government, education, real estate crime rate, housing, utility companies, rankings in its state and in the nation, and the cost of living, Call the local chamber of commerce and municipality and request information in the mail.
Apply for work in your chosen city. You should by all means still be working, even if it is not in your field. I’ll explain why in a moment. In the meantime, while you work and save, start sending cover letters and resumes to companies you’ve targeted to relocate to that have job opportunities in your field. Complete online applications. Make telephone contacts when applicable. Local career centers have access to a national database of jobs. Once you become a registered member of the career center, you will be able to pull up the employment information about your target destination and apply according to each job’s specifications.
Visit the area. Plan a visit to your selected city of relocation. Plan the quickest and best route to get there and back. Call potential employers and see if they would be willing to make an appointment to interview you. Plan to stay anywhere between three days and a week. That should be long enough to give you a feel for the city. Before you leave home, gather any and all maps – both paper and map apps. Prearrange to stay in a cheap but accommodating hotel. Remember, this is not a vacation or a honeymoon. This will be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so you don’t need to splurge. Besides, if you don’t like the city, you’ll have to repeat these steps for the next city on your list of relocation. While you are there, observe first hand what gas and food prices are as well as the price of clothing and other basic needs. Are the prices higher or lower than where you currently live? Visit apartment buildings you’d viewed on the internet previously. Talk to locals about their own experience in their city and community. Do they feel safe? Do you feel safe as a visitor? Visit employers you had sent resumes to and introduce yourself if they weren’t able to fit you in for an interview. Visit employment agencies and apply for available positions, even if you got hired by someone in the city already. It doesn’t hurt to have a back up plan.
In the meantime, while you are planning, and before you go for a visit, work and save as much money as possible for your visit and your relocation move. The cost of living may be higher, and it will take some time to adjust. It may also take time finding the perfect fit between you and a company. Set a goal to save at least $5,000 to $10,000 before leaving home. Once you do move, live frugally and keep on saving, because nothing is guaranteed.
Make the move. It may take months or a few years before the employer contacts you with the dream job offer that you can’t turn down. If it does take more than a year, visit your city of relocation choice again for a week. Or, use steps 1-3 to visit another city that may have a lot of openings in your field. Relocating isn’t easy. You may need up to a month to give notice and resign your current job, relinquish other obligations you may have, find an apartment, get a moving truck, get address change information out, and do the actual task of moving. Be clear with the employer about the timeline so that he or she will not expect you to be on the job the next day.
Relocating as a career move is a bold undertaking. Not everyone can do it, nor want to do it. One thing is sure, if you plan ahead, save and stay organized, you will have a better chance at successfully relocating than if you had not.
Author’s personal knowledge