Job relocation may seem like a good idea. But job seekers should be aware of a few things before making the decision to pick up and move.

Most job applications ask job seekers if they would be willing to relocate. While it may be an appealing idea for those who live in areas of the country with severe unemployment, making a move shouldn’t be taken lightly, or without a thorough analysis of the pros and cons.

In certain situations, the prospect of moving to a new city can be exciting. Unfortunately, if the job turns out to be less than desirable, or the area of the country is not compatible, a job seeker can feel trapped in a job, and a position. Here are five points to consider:


Moving from a large city to a small area can severely limit future job opportunities, especially for cleared professionals who may only be able to work for one or two defense industry firms. But if moving from a small town to a major metropolitan area such as Washington, D.C., consider commute times, as well. D.C. boasts a variety of opportunities along the beltway, but depending upon where you live you may face a 1.5 hour commute.

2. Family matters.

Relocating can be difficult for job seekers with large families, especially if the schools in the new area are not up to the same standards.

3. Cost of Living

Ideally, a job seeker will have thoroughly researched the new job and community. Failing to do so can lead to an expensive and stressful result- especially if things done work out and it results in having to move again to another place. Salaries will be higher in bigger cities, but so will the expenses. Research rent and housing costs before you move. This also applies if you’re moving from a major city to another location – costs may be lower, but not by the percentage you expect.

4. Read your contract.

Most employees work ‘at-will’ – which means they, or their employer, can terminate their work arrangement at any time. That’s great for flexibility – not so great if you’re considering hauling your family across the country. Make sure you understand the rules behind any probationary periods before you move, and consider your options if the job doesn’t work out. Make sure you’re on the same page with your boss before you move, and if the contract is temporary, start planning your next move now. Making a move to a new area, especially if it is farther than 200 miles, without full understanding of how long the new job is expected to last is a bad idea.

5. Consider Relocation Costs – and Refunds

Read the fine print. If a new employer offers to pay for a move, make sure there is no penalty or pay back clause that could end up costing thousands of dollars should the job situation fail to work out.

Relocation should be based on many factors. Impatience and frustration during the job seeking process, especially if it has been less than six months, should not be the sole factor in the decision to move to another part of the country to find or keep employment.

There are many cases of successful and happy job relocations, but there are also many instances of regret and severe dissatisfaction, as many affected by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) will unhappily report. Thorough consideration and investigation are key before agreeing to relocate for a job.

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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.