In a perfect world, you would find your dream job without having to look very hard. You’d make good money, have great benefits, love your co-workers, and live exactly where you want to be.
Reality, however, is much different. You’ve probably spent weeks – or even months – trying to find a job in your city that meets all of the criteria you’re looking for – whether it’s salary, location, benefits, or the ideal industry. But only a few lucky people ever get the opportunity to find exactly what they want, where they want it. As for the rest of us? We’ve probably all gotten to the point where we start to consider relocating in an effort to widen our job search.
Just over four years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. I was living in my hometown of Victoria, BC, just about to complete a 12-month government contract position. I had applied to well over 20 different jobs in the city, and was getting discouraged. I was getting job offers for positions I ended up not being interested in, and was being rejected from the ones I really wanted. This led me to expand my job search not only to outside of my city, but also outside of my province. With only a few years of work under my belt, I thought I was willing to consider moving in an effort to gain more experience.
After weeks of phone calls and in-person interviews, I received two job offers – one was a marketing coordinator position for a non-profit organization in Vancouver that paid $40,000. The other was a communications manager position for a small city in Alberta that paid $57,000. The job required 5-7 years of experience, and I only had 2. But they flew me out for an interview, and when they called me a few days later, I was shocked that that they offered me the job. Even though I wasn’t exactly qualified, they said that they saw something special in me, and knew I could handle the job. To this day, that is the biggest compliment I have ever received during a job interview.
Logically, I should have taken the management position in municipal government and moved to Alberta. Not only did it pay (a lot) more, but it would have given me experience at a job (communications manager for an entire city? come on!) that I wouldn’t have been able to get for years (if ever) in Victoria or Vancouver.
But I ended up choosing the low-paying non-profit job in Vancouver instead. Here’s why:
Lack of a support network
It was extremely intimidating just thinking about leaving a place where I have friends, family, and a network of people that would be there to help me if I needed them. I’ve moved away from home before – to attend university in Michigan – and I was so homesick during that time, that I ended up coming home before I finished my degree. I didn’t want to leave, only to have the exact same thing happen. It wasn’t fair to me, or to my prospective employer.
Starting over in a new city
For some people moving to a new city is an adventure. It will take time to learn the city and the surrounding area, make new friends, and get comfortable. I knew that because I wasn’t planning on settling down in Alberta, starting over in a new city for less than 5 years just wasn’t worth it for me. If I was going to leave my hometown, I wanted to move to a city I could see myself living in for the foreseeable future.
Financial costs to relocating
Moving expenses can sometimes cost thousands of dollars – especially if relocating means you will have to fly instead of drive. Some costs associated with moving can be deducted on your tax return, but since you usually have to pay for the costs up front and get reimbursed later, many people looking for work just wouldn’t be able to afford it.
I was lucky that the employer was offering a generous $5,000 moving allowance. But moving all my stuff to another province wasn’t the only financial cost to relocation. I was a 3 hour drive from a major airport – meaning I would get less visits from friends and family, and I wouldn’t be able to afford to go home as often as I wanted. Living in Vancouver, my family and friends are only a 90 minute ferry ride away.
Opportunity for growth
With some occupations, only certain locations will offer you room for growth. As someone in marketing and communications, most opportunities are found in large cities. I knew that as soon as I outgrew the position in the town in Alberta, I would have nowhere to go, and would be forced to relocate again. I think it’s really important to weigh both the short-term and long-term benefits of any job, and where you could see yourself 5 or 10 years down the road if you decide to take a specific career path.
When I turned down the job in Alberta, they offered me more money to start, as well as a guaranteed raise after 6 months. It was an extremely attractive offer, and everyone thought I was a fool to turn it down. But you know what? Four years later, I’m still so happy with my decision. I couldn’t imagine how different my life would be had I chosen that path. I certainly wouldn’t have met so many great people in Vancouver. I wouldn’t be living in Germany, and I probably wouldn’t be a freelancer either.
With Statistics Canada revealing that there are 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy, if you don’t mind packing up and relocating to a new city, it might be easier to find the kind of job that you’re looking for. I wasn’t willing to do it 4 years ago, but I don’t think I can see myself living in Vancouver for the long-term, so who knows where I’ll end up down the road. :)