Many job seekers, especially those living in areas of high unemployment, may jump at the chance to relocate in order to obtain a new job. While many career advice articles focus on skills, hot industries and company culture, geography often tops the list of job seeker considerations. Many job seekers have a desire to move to a new location; others have strong desires (and motivations for staying put).

If you’re an active job seeker, however, relocation may not be an option. Changing defense priorities, the possibility of another round of BRAC, and economic realities mean relocation may be your best bet for landing a great job. But before agreeing to relocate for a new position, there are a number of important questions to ask yourself, and family members, and some of them are may not be immediately obvious. Careful planning and thoughtful consideration of the following items should be examined.


A significant percentage of people who chose to relocate for a job are not prepared for the regional changes in culture. Think Washington, D.C. and Huntsville, Ala. are the same? Think again. Culture shock can be a big challenge, creating family and marriage problems; frustration with new traffic patterns and transportation issues; regional customs, traditions, and values; and any number of region-specific lifestyle accommodations. Culture change can be a good thing – maybe you’re longing for a slower-paced life and an end to a two-hour commute. Just consider the details and be prepared for company culture to reflect the regional attitudes. (Think 10-hour work-days are the norm? Not everywhere).


Every parent wants the best educational opportunities for their child. Unfortunately, some areas of the country do not have the same level of excellence regarding resources or teachers in their public school system. Becoming informed and knowledgeable about local school options is an important factors when making a decision to relocate. Similar to schools, consider childcare costs. Day-care for one child can average $1,200 in the nation’s capital – this will affect both your desire to relocate and your required salary.

Job Opportunities for Spouses

This item is similar to the school question, as employment is not the same in every state or city. What is the local job market like for the work your spouse is qualified to do? If your family requires two incomes, this question is a critical one.


If a job seeker chooses to move to a part of the country that has no friends or family, isolation can bring great dissatisfaction, which may carry over into dissatisfaction with the new job, and a feeling of regret. The decision to relocate should not be taken lightly if the new area is very far from anyone familiar.

Moving costs

Careful cost analysis and consideration should take place before accepting a job that requires relocation. Prices can increase steeply depending on the geographic distance and how much has to be moved to the new location. Downsizing belongings before the move can help save on costs. Negotiate for relocation costs before accepting a job offer. Hourly employees can often get an hourly bump in pay to cover relocation expenses, especially in temp-to-permanent positions.

Cost of living changes

This is probably one of the most important factors to consider and research when a job seeker is considering a relocation to another city or state, particularly given the diversity of defense industry job markets. Some regions of the country have incredibly expensive housing markets that can cause severe sticker shock an unsuspecting newcomer. Before making a final decision about relocation, all job seekers should do a thorough analysis of the cost of housing increase compared to their new salary. You may find out you will not be able to afford a house in the new area. This should be discussed with the hiring manager, and if the employer is still set on hiring, salary negotiation may need to be adjusted if there is a significant housing market increase.

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Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who works as a professional freelance writer, commentator, and blogger; as well as a public affairs, website content and social media manager for the Department of Defense.