Unraveling the Relocation Decision and Making the Leap Strategically

Trust a guy who works in self storage to develop an eye for the little stuff. I've come to believe that it's the little things that matter the most when it comes to the quality of our lives. But the little things are exactly what people don't normally look at when they are making a relocation decision – and they should. Why? If you relocate to another city for a job and are unhappy, it's not going to be because you don't like the job or your salary. I've talked to many people who were unhappy about a move after they made it. If your relocation ends up giving you the blues, the reason will probably be something that seemed little when you were first considering the relocation: you didn't realize the commute would drive you crazy, you miss your family and friends, you don't like the weather, you can't find your favorite brands in the local grocery store, or the local culture isn't a good fit for you.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't relocate or that you shouldn't be willing to try something new and have an adventure. What I'm suggesting is that you leave yourself an exit strategy. Even email is retractable these days – certainly YOU should be! How do you set up your relocation so that you can beat a hasty retreat if the new situation isn't to your liking? Here are a few ideas:

  • Decide on a "trial period" in which you plan to try out the new job. Your trial period should be long enough for you to be certain how you feel about the new city as well as the job – but not so long that the transition phase seems to drag on forever and adds inordinately to your moving expenses. If your new job includes a training period, your trial period should be longer than the training period itself, so that you can get a feel for what the job is like when you're really on it.

  • Don't sell your home right away. (In this market, you probably won't be able to anyway!) If you can, find short-term renters. Decide how long you want to test the waters in your new city (6 months? a year?), and offer a lease for about that amount of time. You can rent your home fully furnished, if you are comfortable doing that, or put your furniture in storage for the time being.

  • If you can, don't move at all for the first few months. Commute from a distance by finding somewhere inexpensive to live during the week, and returning to your former home town on weekends. Some employers will cover the cost of commuting or will let you telecommute some of the time, commuting to the new location for just a few days per week or on alternate weeks. If you can arrange a system like that, do so – it will make it easy for you to try out the new city without being totally committed to it. One way to make this system less expensive is to find someone to stay with in your new town. If you do have to move out of your old home for financial reasons, rent a short term apartment in the new city, while staying with family or friends in your old home town on weekends.

  • Use your time wisely – off the job. Explore neighborhoods in your new town. Check out grocery stores, libraries, schools, churches, parks, bus lines, bike trails, doctors and dentists – anything that is likely to be a big part of your family's lifestyle.

  • Don't burn your bridges. This may seem obvious, but don't burn your bridges at your old job. You may decide you want to come back.

Think strategically about whether to let your employer know that you are just trying the job out to begin with. You may find that it's worthwhile to seem less than thrilled about the new assignment. If your employer knows that you haven't burned your bridges in your old home town, you may be able to negotiate for better working conditions, better benefits or even a higher salary later if the company finds you indispensable in the new location.

If you're thinking of relocating for a job, go for it! Just remember, you can always come back.

In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Birmingham Self Storage center. He also was recently meeting customers and staff at the Denver Self Storage Center.

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