Use local resources to help you decide whether a long-distance move will fit your lifestyle.
So you’ve had it with the big city and you’re ready for the country life. Or maybe working in Middle America has run its course and you want to try living on one of the coasts for a while. People decide to relocate for a variety of reasons, and work is usually right at the top of that list. But before you pack your bags and forward your mail, there are some things to consider.
Many people get an idea in their head about a place that doesn’t reflect what life in that place is really like, says Jacob Young, an SEO specialist and online reputation manager for Young Social Media. Just because you once had a great vacation in southern California and fell in love with the San Diego Zoo doesn’t mean that everyone else at the zoo wasn’t miserable from battling the traffic.
“When you’re looking at the city you’re going to go to, you have to switch brains,” Young said. “Make sure you have the right frame of mind and don’t think about your memories from childhood.” The best way to assess what life in a new place would really be like is to “pseudolive” there, he said. There are plenty of resources online that can help you get a realistic picture of what life would be like in a new town — such as local news sites, realtors and chambers of commerce – but Google Earth probably provides the best actual picture of daily life. “I literally would go onto Google maps, take the street view and ‘walk’ from where I’d be living to where the job would be,” said Young, who moved from Los Angeles to Chicago last winter.
Relocating from the City of Angels to the Windy City could have been a shock to many professionals, but Young knew exactly what he was getting into – and he’s loving it. He recommends that jobseekers who are considering a move should do a virtual audit of the location and find the closest points of interest that fit their lifestyle.
“What can I do around work? Is there a gym? A tanning salon?” Young said. “Those are the types of things you’d have to think about.”
Perhaps no one can answer these questions better than the real-life locals who live there. Young suggests tracking down some of these folks who might have the same interests as you through meet-up groups and social networking sites. From there, he said, you can ask about everything from the local nightlife to dog-friendly restaurants. “You have to be very, very niche,” he said.
The weather could be another key factor in planning a move, and Young stresses to take the seasons into account – Boston’s winters and Houston’s summers can be quite brutal if you’re coming from another part of the country. A good way to gauge this is by downloading a weather app on your phone that tracks the forecast of a particular zip code. You can tell at any given moment while you’re enjoying a Starbucks in Seattle that there’s a wind chill of 20-below in Minneapolis.
Of course, though, nothing can be better than actually visiting your target city. But Young warns that jobseekers shouldn’t go there as a tourist. “Go be a local for a weekend,” he said. “Get on the train and see how easy it is to get around.”
You might find that the culture just isn’t your cup of tea or that the zoo wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all. “I really believe it’s worth it to take that extra time,” Young said. “If you hate it, that is going to be the worst feeling when you wake up every single day.”
Andrew Klappholz is a general assignment reporter for TheLadders.