The Relocation Decision: It is Not About The Job
You probably have heard of this before: I am relocating to Hong Kong because I got a really exciting job opportunity. But when you heard this too many times, you might start asking yourself: I have opportunities to relocate as well, but why the decision is so difficult for me to make while it seems so seamless for everyone else?
But probably you did not dig deeper into their reasoning behind the relocation. In fact, it is hardly ever about the job, or at least not the job alone. Well first, to take a step back, let’s suppose that as a competent professional as yourself, you are capable of landing a job anywhere in the world.
So if it is not about the job, what is it about then?
To be closer to your significant other and/or family
It may sound surprising for someone just starting their career, but it is even more surprising how many people are willing to relocate to be closer to their boyfriend or girlfriend, or move back to their hometown to be with their parents.
Actually one of the most popular reasons you hear from people leaving their current job/position is: I can’t do long distance anymore, I am moving to San Francisco to be with my fiancé. Or: I want to be in Hong Kong because my family is there and I really want to be able to see my parents whenever I want to as they are getting really old.
If my colleague’s fiancé is not in SF, or my friend’s parents are not in Hong Kong, would they still relocate that willingly? At some point the value of relationship and family will strike you and some of my most ambitious friends/coworkers are actually relocating to places out of nowhere (definitely none of the metropolitan cities), and without exception they choose to do so for their significant other or families.
Here is an interesting article on relocation decision made by working couples.
To be at a place and with the people who share your same life style
If it’s not about the job, and not about your significant other, it is probably about the city itself and the people there. Actually you already want to be in that city before finding your next job.
Some people claim that with all the modern civilization all the cities have become more and more similar, but I still firmly believe that each city has its distinct characters and legacy that have raised a distinct group of people sharing some distinct values and culture.
There are job opportunities everywhere (at least I would like to think about it that way), but why would you choose Shanghai over Tokyo, or Spain over Mexico? Location, location, location. At the end of the day, it’s not about what your job entails, but about how would you want to commute to work, what kind of schooling you’d like your kids to receive, where you want to go for shopping, or how often you’d like to see your friends.
The wrong attitude:
It is worthwhile to talk about attitude: There are two wrong categories of attitude you do not want to fall under because if you make a relocation decision based on that, it will not make your life happier or easier. 1) You think you can go somewhere far away so you don’t need to face the same people or the same type of work, so you think you can “escape” from the responsibilities or the burdens. You will be proved wrong. 2) The relocation is your partial-goal not your end-goal.
Let me explain why the idea of a partial-goal will not work (unless you are an expat, in that case you know you will come back in a few years). Otherwise, do not plan your next goal before this one, because chances are the next goal will not be as relevant or favorable by the time you cross that road.
Think about it: if you are in investor relations and you spend the next 2 years of your life building up connections with investors in London, why would you willingly want to come back to NY and almost completely lose all the relationships you have developed, both at work and outside of work ? Note that if the company decides to hire you for another separate position back in the US or anywhere else, that is a different story. But again, this is something you cannot plan ahead of time.
The right attitude:
If you have nothing else to worry about (family, girlfriend), you can choose to ride with the new adventure with the relocation and see how it goes. It is something fortunate to be able to work abroad for some time to broaden your horizons and to understand other cultures and to also look at your own culture from a different perspective.
If you have something to worry about, meaning you want to relocate to be closer to someone, or to be at a certain city or region, make the relocation decision as your end-goal: I made this decision to give up what I already have in order to achieve something bigger. I have weighed my options and I know the trade offs, and I am not looking back. Because if you do look back, you will never achieve the bigger things you want for your life. Does that make sense?
There we go, and good luck!
P.S, just wondering do you have any relocation stories to share? Or any interesting reasons not included above?