how do you decide whether or not to relocate for a job?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I am currently in a position where I am content, but I keep my LinkedIn to “open” because, well, why not? Recently I was contacted by a recruiter for a position I’m interested in but I’m not sure about the location. It would require a move to a much higher cost of living area (central Virginia to northern Virginia — seriously, the housing costs are 50% higher). I did consider that when stating salary requirements so I may have priced myself out (I am unconcerned with this; it’s what I’d need to even consider the move.)

My question is, how does someone make the decision to uproot their family? We’d be about the same distance away from my mom, but would leave other family members behind. My husband would have to find a new job, my son would have to switch schools and lose some support systems. For others who have done this, what do you consider in making such a huge decision? I don’t even know where one would start.

Readers, please share your thoughts in the comment section.

{ 292 comments… read them below }

  1. Richard Hershberger*

    “Interested in” seems rather tepid. “Enthusiastic about” might be reason to relocate. “Vastly higher salary” also might be. But I don’t see either here. Perhaps “would be a great career advance”? We aren’t told, which suggests it wouldn’t be.

    1. Sloanicota*

      A higher salary that merely accounts for the higher cost of living is no real benefit. Where I grew up in the midwest, $40,000 was a good salary for a family – given the cost of housing etc. Where I live now, $80,000 is considered insufficient to buy a house and pay bills.

      1. talos*

        This is situational! Sometimes even if the same proportion of your paycheck goes to your expenses, more money is saved in absolute terms (which helps if, for example, you move again later). I moved for a 50% higher salary, 60-70% higher cost of living, and am ahead because I’m saving more anyway (and have better benefits). Anyone trying to do this math needs to do it based on their own situation.

        1. Gene Parmesan*

          For sure, if it’s a 1:1 proportion the higher pay not only allows you to save more but allows for greater affordability of items with a fixed cost, particularly if you like to travel.

        2. Zee*

          Yeah, I’ve always found it frustrating how the HCOL/LCOL calculation is over-simplified. I was offered a really low-paying but awesome job in a LCOL area. And they were like “well housing is cheaper here!” which may be true, but my student loan payments and most other bills don’t adjust based on where I live.

    2. Interview Coming Up*

      Exactly. And make sure you’re not just excited/honored by the idea of a recruiter reaching out to you. If you’re in a field where this is to be expected at your level, well… maybe there will be better offers that fall into your lap (that you’re excited about). If it’s not usual in your field and you’re thinking wow someone wants me to work for them- remember that you didn’t seek this out. Maybe it’s just not the best opportunity for you. What if they’d never contacted you- would you be looking for jobs in that location?

  2. Sean*

    The last time we made that kind of move, my wife and I made the rationale based on not having a house or kids. Now we’ve got a house and kids, and the bar is way, way higher. A lot of people move a lot, and kids certainly switch schools, but if everything else is generally copacetic then for our family it has got to be either a) a lot more money, b) a dream job, or c) a move to an area you really want to settle to long-term for us to do that kind of uprooting given all the other circumstances.

    1. Feral Humanist*

      I agree with this. The last time I moved for a job, I was in my early thirties and fully untethered aside from two cats. I was also just out of my education, it was a pretty rare and significant opportunity, and while I hadn’t ever dreamed of living in the area (NYC), it certainly had a particular draw about it. And yet I still sometimes wonder if I made the right decision, because eight years later, I’m still in NYC (albeit at my second job in the area), and I’m going to have to self-fund my move back to the west coast this summer. And once I move, I’m done –– I’m not moving again, and with the rise of remote work, I don’t think I should have to.

      I think the increase in WFH opportunities means that it will be harder and harder to convince people to move for opportunities that aren’t unique (either in terms of the salary or the position) in some way, unless they’re trying to get to that area to begin with.

      1. Feral Humanist*

        I’ll just add to this that I think we underestimate how traumatic moving can be. I’m in a field (academia) where people often move a LOT early in their careers, because things are so unstable and precarious, and there’s zero acknowledgment of the damage it does to people’s personal lives. Obviously we are talking here about a one-time move and not moving every summer to a new one-year position, but I think in the past we’ve in general treated moving for work with less seriousness than it deserves.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I took a health survey once, and one of the questions was “how many traumatic events have you experienced in the last year?” My gut response was to answer “none,” but I checked the little info field next to the question, and some of the examples of what counts as a traumatic event were: death of a close friend/family member, diagnosis of a serious illness, and moving. I was initially surprised to see moving on the list, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me that can be traumatic. Agreed that we as a society underestimate (and don’t talk about) how traumatic moving can be.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            Yes! People tend to under estimate the effects of moving and big life events, because the events are often seen as positives. Even “positive” events create stress! And when I look up every new health condition I have these days, apparently stress is at least partially responsible for all of them. :/

            But a move out of your current town that means new jobs, new schools, new churches, grocery stores, social circles for your (and your entire family) is WHOA a lot!

            1. Kasee Laster*

              And new doctors, dentist, vet. If we were moving to my area now, I think it would be hard for us to find doctors and nearly impossible for my mother to do so (she doesn’t live with us but moves when we move, previously in her own apartment and now in assisted living) – there’s hardly a doctor in this entire city of 100K taking new Medicare patients.

              I realize “trailing elders” aren’t an issue for everyone, but it’s something to consider. Another area with huge waitlists here is mental health.

              1. Kasee Laster*

                One other factor for anyone who owns a home and would be selling it and buying in the new area: if you bought or refinanced within the last decade, you will NOT be able to match your low mortgage rate, not even close.

              2. CL*

                It’s why we can’t move. My MIL is 90 and lives on her own but we are 3 miles away. But trying to find doctors and figure out new support systems is a nightmare.

              3. Sick of the Snow*

                This is such a good point. My retired parents recently moved to another state and left my grandmother behind in a semi-assisted living facility. She had already moved once to be near them. The question now is whether it’s better to let her stay where she is, where she already qualifies for excellent benefits and has made friends, or to move her closer to my parents’ new home. After a health crisis a couple of years ago, her doctor reiterated that even small moves from place to place can exacerbate cognitive decline. I think my parents had tunnel vision about the move and just hoped things would somehow “work out.”

              4. Just Another Cog*

                Oh my goodness, yes! We retired and moved 8 months ago to our dream locale and are slowly getting acquainted with new medical, dental, veterinary providers. So far, we have found a doctor’s office we can live with, but the dentist we visited for a 6 month checkup was a no-go……”found” a bunch of work necessary for both me and spouse even though our last checkup was 6 months prior. The vet might be ok, but tried to sell us on teeth cleaning for our dog who just had them done two months prior at our old vet. (Also, it is three times the cost of the old vet.) So, we might have to keep looking there, too. The gist of this is that OP should make very sure moving is what they and the family really want since there are a lot of moving parts – pardon the pun.

            2. Chinookwind*

              The joke among military spouses is that you can find new jobs and create new social circles (especially when surrounded by people in similair circumstances), but the hardest thing with every new move is finding a new hairdresser (or mechanic or massage therapist). You don’t realize how hard it is to find personal service providers you can trust until you move into a new area with no contacts.

              1. Shandra*

                That was why a military acquaintance had his car serviced at a dealership. Then the maintenance record was always available wherever he was sent.

              2. MM*

                God, it’s so true. I’m still seeing a dentist two states away because I can’t fathom auditioning dentists where I am. I don’t trust anybody with my teeth, lol. And I did find a hair salon because I was desperate, but after four years I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re really not cutting it (pun unintended but accepted) and I need to start looking again. Having a body and moving it around is so much work!

          2. Shrimpmobile*

            I was born in Small Town but we lived in Medium Town while I was ages 2-12. Moving back to Small Town was absolutely traumatic. I never saw those friends again even though it was not that far away. it was the 80s so no internet for keeping in contact, etc. If i had kids i would definitely take this kind of thing into account while planning a big move for their sake.

          3. Phryne*

            I’ll say. A couple of years ago I moves the grand total of 500 metres (about 550 yards) from a rental apartment into one I bought. I had spend 3 months renovating it while working reduced hours. After the move, all the stress came out and I plunged into a 6 month depression.
            Granted, I am a lot more prone to depression than average and change* is one of the biggest triggers, but the mental impact of having to redefine what home is is massive even when I did not change jobs, gym, supermarket. The move OP is describing is not only a new job or a new house, both of which are massive changes in a persons life independently of each other, but absolutely everything that comprises your life all at once. All your routines, your weekly shop, a hairdresser you like, distance to a sports club you want to join, everything. Now some people might not be bothered by those things at all, or even enjoy the change to routine, but it surely must have an effect on everyone.

            *it does not matter at all if the change is positive or not. I am also not at all against change, change often is good. My subconsciousness just deals with it really really badly.

        2. Queen Ruby*

          So true! I’ve moved a lot (18 times in the past 25 years) and none of my moves have been big. Like 1-2 bedroom apartment to an area no more than an hour away. Even though I could be a professional mover at this point, it is always sooooo stressful! And I’ve never had to move anyone besides myself and 2 dogs. A whole family would be too much for me lol

        3. Cease and D6*

          And not just emotionally difficult – financially difficult too. Moving costs a lot, and the further you go, the more it costs. Early-career academics barely make ends meet as it is, and forcing them to relocate to a potentially distant place every few years doesn’t help.

        4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yeah, moving is right up there after death of a loved one and divorce, the third largest source of stress.

      2. KatEnigma*

        OTOH, WFH is what allowed us to move to our current location, which was always on our radar as a “want to live” area. Well, maybe not this exact metro area within the State, but we visited twice- in opposite seasons- before deciding to move.

        1. Zephy*

          Ooh, visiting at multiple times of year is actually a good point. My husband and I are contemplating a move from Florida to Kansas (I’ve posted about it in the weekend threads before). He’s FL born and raised, has traveled other places but never lived there. I was born in Ohio but moved to FL as a child, so I’ve never lived other places as an adult. Neither of us have ever been to any part of Kansas. We agree that we definitely need to at least visit and get a vibe check and were planning to do that this year in October/November, but maybe we should also plan another trip for February or March.

          1. In the provinces*

            If you’re contemplating moving to Kansas, you might try a visit during tornado season.

            1. KatEnigma*

              Florida has tornadoes… Anywhere with that kind of heat/energy in the atmosphere has plenty of tornadoes. It’s not relegated to the plains.

              1. Orlando not-Bloom*

                I was about to say! I’m from the Florida Panhandle originally. And not only do we frequently get tornadoes, we also get violent thunderstorms (pretty much a daily occurrence during the warm season…which is most of the year in FL), and of course hurricanes are a whole thing. If you can survive the weather in the Deep South, you can survive it most other places in the US, I’ve found–unless snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are involved. Those are a whole different ballgame of navigability that I had to learn how to deal with when I moved to a mountainous Great Lakes region for a while. But I honestly found harsh winters easier than constantly bracing for hurricanes.

                Maybe someday I’ll move out west and have to worry about volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes that are worse than the ones we get on the east half. :)

          2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

            I recommend visiting Lindsborg, KS. They have some fun cultural festivals in the summer. There is a festival that happens in October of odd years.

            visitlindsborg dot com

          3. KatEnigma*

            If you haven’t experienced a real winter since you were a kid, I’d definitely visit in February. Summers will be fine (LOL at the person warning someone from FLORIDA about tornadoes. LOL ) You’ll appreciate the relatively lower humidity of summer, but yeah… you need to see if you can take winter. Even if winters in KS aren’t terrible, compared to Ohio, let alone ND… (IIRC, you’re looking W of KC)

    2. Quinalla*

      Yes, with a house and kids, I too would have a very high bar to move to a new area. For me it would be a great career advance and/or enthusiastic about the job and/or significantly higher salary (and actually higher relative to cost of living for sure), and for those and/or probably at least 2 of 3. I’ve already told my husband we AREN’T moving out of school district unless something lifechanging happens or some amazing job opportunity for one of us comes along.

      I also WFH full time so a job that doesn’t offer that would also have a really high bar to clear as I value that highly.

      That said, I haven’t actually had to make this decision yet, but we’ve discussed it in case it did ever come up.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Very, very, VERY accurate assessment.

      We very briefly entertained what would have entailed a move from the Midwest to a coastal city (so from really reasonable COL to are you kidding me COL). Our kids weren’t yet in school. The company that was interested in my spouse was very interested in me as well even though there’s really no overlap in our areas of expertise, and was big enough that finding a position for a trailing spouse was not seen as odd but more as a method of recruitment. Even given all of that – removing us from our support systems and families, be they by blood or choice, by a cross country flight, we found that the money required to do it was far higher than what anyone was offering.

      It’d be higher now.

    4. glitter writer*

      Same. I uprooted myself a few times in my 20s and early 30s and it was fine, but I’m now married, with two kids, two pets, and a house, and our bar for ever leaving is so, so much higher. It would have to be an *absolute* dream job for one of us and tick ALL the boxes, with high enthusiasm, to make it worthwhile.

    5. GammaGirl1908*

      Co-signing. I am single and live alone, so my bar is lower than most. I work remotely and could pick up and move and only inconvenience myself. It STILL would take a dream job (both financially and materially) and a huge desire on my part to WANT to leave my current location or move to the other location. Both of those things are intertwined with the other. That is, it’s not a dream job if it requires me to relocate to a place I don’t really, really, really want to live. The bar is higher if I’m happy where I am and lower if I’m unhappy where I am, but either way, I also need to want to go to the new place.

      Mind you, I live near family (I realize a lot of moves are motivated by getting away from family), I live in a good-sized city where I have plenty of career choices and a support system, and I like where I live. There aren’t many places where I want or would need to move. If I were moving at this point, it probably would be to come closer to my support system after leaving it. Note, I have several childhood friends who did just that — moved away early in their careers and came back several years later partly because it simplified a lot of things to be near family.

      The bar would be orders of magnitude higher if a move involved even one of: real estate losses, a dependent child who would need to change schools or support systems, or a partner who would need to find a new job. I think LW likes the idea of this job more than the reality of actually uprooting her whole life and family to move somewhere she’s not 100% excited to go.

      Ha, I often chuckle at this debate when watching the real estate/renovation show Love It or List It. The real estate agent often finds the homeowner a fabulous dream property inside their budget, and it all falls to pieces because the kids would have to change schools or someone’s commute would get 15 minutes longer.

    6. carriem*

      The research is very clear on the long term effect of changing schools for children. So while there are times it is right for the family, I would not undertake a decision like that lightly in any way.

  3. JTP*

    It would take a LOT for me to relocate with my child, uprooting them from school and friends. It would take less for me to relocate if I was single or married without children.

    1. A Becky*

      For me, it’s “friends” not “school”. My folks moved when I was about nine, and I never saw any of the kids I knew again. Maybe once or twice for a couple of them, but mostly just not at all. This was much more traumatic than changing classroom and teacher, which I was gonna do anyway.

    2. Lilo*

      My family moved while my sister was in high school and it really affected her schooling particularly college applications. The schools used different grading systems, she had to retake some classes, it was a mess. I’d avoid moving a kid in high school if at all possible.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        We’re moving next summer after our oldest graduates but before our other son gets to middle school. Since I WFH forever, moving back to our hometown is finally feasible without me having to commute 45-60 each way.

        With a family the job would have to be so life changing to uproot my kids, move away from our families and friends. Most jobs are just jobs, I can find similar near me and now that WFH is more standard, I live where I want to. Not where a job wants me to.

      2. Ariaflame*

        It can depend. I moved countries when I was in high school, but I was miserable in that high school, I was dealing with bullies and lack of actual friends. Moving was the best thing that happened to me. So, a lot does depend on the situation for the kids.

    3. Alanna*

      I agree with this generally — moving kids, who don’t have a choice, should have a much higher bar than moving a family of adults, who do — but just want to add that, even as an adult, moving away from friends is a big deal! Especially once you get out of the highly mobile era of your early to mid-20s, making friends as an adult is hard. It would be very difficult for me to move away from a city where I have a robust circle of friends and social support to one where I know no one. My husband and I contemplated it earlier this year, and decided we’d do so only on an explicitly temporary basis, and only if the new job would allow for enough spending that we could make regular visits back to our current hometown to maintain our social connections.

      I think this is true even if you have kids — I grew up with parents who never relocated but also never really had any friends. They moved after I graduated to a town where they knew more people and now have a lively social circle. While I would have hated moving as a kid, the benefits of happier parents who have emotional outlets outside the family would have been significant.

    4. Freida*

      I moved from one house to another when my kids were 14 and 17; I’d been divorced for about 5 years and we were moving from their childhood home to a new, smaller house. It was less than 2 miles, no one changed schools except the 14yo who was moving from middle to HS anyway, and *whew* was it hard on them. Especially the 17yo. She’s normally exceptionally even-keeled but on the day workers arrived to replace carpet in the old house before we listed it, she refused to get out of bed and just lay there sobbing.

      The actual day of the move I put her in charge of unloading (directing the movers at the new house) while I wrapped up the old house, cleaning and so on, because I wasn’t sure we’d survive being in each others’ presence otherwise! It ended up being fine, she adapted, it turned out to be a good location for her friends to use as Friend Central for prom and so on, but it was a tough transition.

    5. Blackcat*

      Yeah, I moved with a 4 year old. 4! And the loss of his friends, our neighbors, his school community… it was super traumatic for him.

      I think this move will (long term) provide him with better opportunities, but damn, it was way harder than I thought it would be on him.

    6. Emmy Noether*

      I just want to thank y’all for your attitude. My parents moved with us on average every 3 years when I was a child (some international moves) and “traumatic” is fairly accurate for me. Especially the ones around middle-school age. Never really got over those losses of friendship.

      To be clear, I’m not against moving once for good reasons. Once can be rebuilt, once can be an opportunity, especially if the children are young. Just don’t move children on a whim.

      1. Dog momma*

        My parents moved twice while I was in middle school, and even changed churches. My sister is very outgoing, I’m much more introverted; bro was a baby; so it didn’t affect them. I lost friends I had from kindergarten. And didn’t fit in at all! to the new school. Met up with my former classmates in HS, but they had moved on, and since we were still across town,the friendships were pretty much over. They were all from the same neighborhoods & could walk home from HS together, meet up at the church hall to go bowling , go shopping, ice skating etc. I was depending on my father for a ride. I did cheer for CYO basketball for 2 yrs, but otherwise didn’t socialize with these girls again. very sad. Many are still good friends to this day. I be tried to get in touch recently ( wasn’t able to attend our50th HS reunion dt major illness) but no response to me from any of the 5 people I tried to make contact with. oh well.

        also moved for a job, 4 hrs away from my town to bigger city. Can be difficult when by yourself but I managed & made friends there and states away through a hobby. Also husband and I retired and moved about 900 miles away for better weather and cost of living. I would not have been able to retire otherwise. Was able to buy another house, have great friends and a wonderful church family, close to the beach, mountains and major cities. and don’t have to deal with much big city stuff.. although our town is growing.. too fast for us..but we’re staying. We are very blessed.

    7. allathian*

      We moved often when I was a kid. My parents met when they were in college and married when they were in grad school, I and my sister were born when they lived in a family dorm on campus. My mom wrote her master’s thesis when she was pregnant with my sister (tuition was free so they used their student loans to pay for housing, etc.) and my dad worked as a TA at that college after he got his master’s.

      I was 4 when I moved for the first time, and I don’t remember that move as being particularly traumatic. Starting daycare for the first time was a big deal for me, though. I remember having a lot of friends in the neighborhood, and going on playdates.

      We moved for my dad’s job when I was 8 and about to start second grade. Our mom was a SAHM until my sister started school the following year, there was no preschool in that location. We went to a small one-room school where everyone was more or less forced to get along because there were so few options for friends. There were no after-school extracurriculars, so we had to entertain ourselves. All the adults in the area kept an eye on everyone’s kids, but I spent a lot of time without any adult supervision from a very young age because both my parents were working, my parents were marine biologists and my mom was my dad’s assistant.

      We went to the UK for a year when both of them got a scholarship when I was 12. In retrospect, it was quite traumatic for me to leave the few friends I had and the small school for a suburban comprehensive school with more than 1,500 pupils. I was also just getting into puberty, and I can’t say if my troubles adjusting to the move were simply culture shock or puberty-related. Probably a bit of both. That said, as I learned English and found a few friends to hang out with, even after school, I adjusted quite quickly and most of my memories from the latter half of our stay are happy ones.

      When our year in the UK ended, we moved to what’s still my current home city, and I most definitely had reverse culture shock. I guess I was subconsciously expecting to go back to what I’d experienced before, but instead I was faced with switching to a big secondary school where I had trouble adjusting at first. That first year I had no friends, but the following year, in 8th grade, I found my people and things got a lot better.

      After junior high/middle school I’ve stuck to my hometown. I’ve only moved temporarily since then, to France as an exchange student and to Spain as an intern. I went to high school here, and I’m happy that I didn’t have to move for college.

      I’ve moved twice after meeting my husband, once to move in together and the second time to our current house, which I hope is our forever home. We aren’t planning on moving until we need assisted living services.

      When my husband and I started dating, he lived 5 hours away, but he still commuted to visit his family and friends most weekends. He had no social network in that city. So when we started planning our future together, we didn’t even consider moving to the city where he worked because our families and most of our friends lived here. He was willing to leave his job to relocate, although he managed to negotiate a transfer to a regional office instead. He visits company HQ about once a month or so. At this point I can’t imagine moving anywhere else, especially as our son’s really happy at his current junior high.

      I guess moving around so much when I was a kid taught me resilience and adaptability, even though it was hard at times. But although I can’t claim PTSD from those experiences, I quite simply can’t think of any reason to move, especially now that my parents and in-laws are getting older and will need more support from us in the foreseeable future.

    8. irritable vowel*

      My parents got divorced when I was 8 and I moved almost every year as a kid – either switching between parents or they moved within the city to be closer to whatever job they had, etc. I never thought of this as a big deal until I described it to a therapist as an adult and he said, “so, it sounds like you had very little stability as a kid.” I was floored – I had never thought of it that way. It definitely helped me be more resilient as an adult, but also emotionally distant/less able to make lasting connections with people. So yeah, moving to a different school all the time and being the new kid was probably not healthy for me. Some of it (the divorce and split custody) was unavoidable, but it made me realize that my parents didn’t really take my emotional well-being into consideration when making choices.

  4. DisneyChannelThis*

    Old fashioned pro con list. Give a numeric value to each pro and each con (scale 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 if you like nuance). Sum the pros, sum the cons. Son having to make new friends is a con of 5 , having to find new dentist con of 1, higher salary pro of 5 etc.

  5. Pinacolada*

    Well for me personally, if I was really invested in the area I live in, as it sounds like you are, I wouldn’t consider uprooting for a job I was merely “interested”. It would have to be a really life-changing, exciting, hard-to-pass-up opportunity.

    1. ferrina*

      Agree! Definitely consider the kind of area you want to live in. Northern Virginia and central Virginia can be culturally really, really different. If you’re seriously considering the move, spend some time in northern Virginia and make sure it’s a place you’ll be happy. It can also deeply vary based on what area in NoVa you live.

      NoVa’s got some really cool features and amenities. There’s also some great schools (of course do your diligence with schools- quality can vary). But as you say, COL (particularly housing costs) are intense. Good on you for making sure the salary would match what you need.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        NoVA (where we live) is also a really different way of life than central Virginia (where my family of origin is from). It’s much more competitive for kids (sports, school, etc.), the traffic/commuting is atrocious, and it’s much more transient (diplomats, those whose job change with elections, military). We are planning to leave when our kids finish either HS or college. Also, if you are planning to go to the public state universities, it’s much harder for NoVA students to get into the flagships due to the geographic diversity requirements – a colleague whose kid has a 4.0 GPA, strong ACT scores, and is a 4-year varsity athlete was rejected or waitlisted at the top three in-state universities.

        Neither my spouse nor I are from NoVA – he hates it, I have a mixed relationship with the area. I love the public amenities (parks, libraries, community events, FREE Smithsonian system, Kennedy Center student ticket program) and diversity of the population, but I hate the traffic and some of the snobbery we’ve encountered. Our local schools, which are rated as excellent, have been a perfect fit for one kid, but we ended up sending the other to private for three years because our “excellent” elementary school was a horrible fit for them (MS was better, HS has been the best so far).

        Housing COL is insane. A condo here will set you back as much as single-family home in RVA.

        TL;DR, if you don’t love the job, don’t move to NoVA.

    2. ThatGirl*


      My family moved a few times when I was a kid – once in 3rd grade (my parents were buying their first house, same town, different neighborhood, I changed schools – pro tip do not move your kid after the school year has started if you can help it) and again after 5th grade.

      In some ways the 5th grade move was easier even though it was several states away, because it was already a natural transition point for me. And we stayed there through the end of high school.

      I also moved several times as a 20something, around the same metro area, and even that was annoying and destabilizing on my own. Now my husband and I have lived in the same house for 11 years, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to moving to a different house in the same area, I wouldn’t move out of my metro area without a really, really good reason. And I don’t even have kids or much family nearby.

      1. loremipsum*

        When I was a little kid my parents were academics and we moved quite a bit until I was in the second grade, I remember a number of graduate student housing situations and a very long year in a townhouse apartment in metro Cleveland. There were three moves in maybe four years, all in the middle of the school year at the holidays and I agree with you ThatGirl it is tough on kids. You do learn from an early age to having to meet a lot of new people and make new friends.

        When we moved from Midwest Big 10 college town to major East Coast metro area it was for a major advancement for my parents’ careers, but also an amazing public school system for their children. So there were two major reasons why we did that.

        Two generations later with all of the changes in work and education and I think it would take a lot to convince people to leave their communities, home, networks, routines and uproot their kids – and it would have to be for more than just a job, although that allows you to further those things as well.

      2. Lilo*

        My family once moved in May. At my old place we had like a week of school left. New place I got to be the new kid for a month and a half. It was awful.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Oh man, that would be the worst. At least my move was still in the fall so it took me awhile but I did settle in. Having to finish the school year like that in a new place would be super hard.

        2. Zephy*

          My family moved in late November, like right after Thanksgiving. My mom planned to just wait and enroll me and my sister in school for the spring, but it turns out the state we moved to had a truancy law that kicked in sooner than she was expecting (I think she thought we had a month, it was actually only 2 or 3 weeks). So, she was forced to get us enrolled for the last, like, five or so days of the fall semester, or else we would have had to repeat 5th and 2nd grade respectively. Precisely zero of our new classmates remembered us from before the break, and of course we didn’t have a lot of time to get our bearings at school, so we had to go through the whole “first week in a new school” all over again.

        3. JustaTech*

          My family moved May of my sophomore year of high school. My brother was being homeschooled (got kicked out too many times) but I was still in private school. Behind the scenes my parents arranged for me to live with one of my friends for the last two weeks of school (and another friend’s parents took me with them for a long holiday weekend to give the other family some space).

          Looking back that move was really good for me (academically, socially), but it was also hard and sucked.

    3. Spero*

      Agree. Like, not only very interested in the work but also 50% difference in income life changing. Can afford to go back to hometown for a few weeks a year for kiddo to stay close to friends and family life changing.

  6. Sloanicota*

    I think I’d have to feel positively about my vision of life in the new location to consider uprooting everything else, and it doesn’t sound like OP feels affirmatively *positive* to me, just sort of neutral. Money alone wouldn’t do it, assuming you have enough to meet your needs where you are. All change carries with it some negatives / losses, so what are the positives you would be gaining to balance them out, and are they both sufficiently likely and also clearly worth it?

    1. doreen*

      I agree. I worked for a state agency and could easily have transferred to a much less expensive part of the state while keeping the same salary. I didn’t because what I would have to give up (such as nearness to family and the ability for my kids to get around on their own when they were too young to drive) outweighed the advantages of moving, which basically consisted of a house that was both bigger and less expensive.

    2. Fieldpoppy*

      Exactly what I was going to say. I would have to be super excited about the whole picture of where the new job is in order to even think about it. Is this the breakthrough job for you in terms of level of role or work you want to do or impact on the world you want to have? Is the new area a place you envision enabling a life for your family you want (e..g, more walkable, more adventurous, the urban environment you’ve always craved, by the sea, a unique opportunity to live someplace desirable)? Is this something that would enable something meaningful for your family (e.g, access to something you think would be developmentally good for your kids)? Is there family and community there?

      I have tried to move across the country three times to a place I really want to live (gulf islands in BC), but I always end up deciding not to because the community and family I have in Ontario always trumps my deep desire to be by the sea. I would only trade off the people who mean so much to me for something super unique and where I knew I was going to an unmissable opportunity.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Agree – and consider all aspects of your lifestyle (family, friends, nonwork interests) that will change. My spouse and I (no kids) decided to move to a new region to be closer to family, but we also had friends in the area we were moving to, so we had a social life to step into as well. Then we joined clubs etc. that sort of mirrored what we had been involved with in our old location. As for work, my spouse secured a new job before we moved, and I asked my company if I could go remote, which they decided to allow (this was pre-2020). But I was prepared to quit and find a new local job if they had said no.

  7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    I start by brainstorming, writing things down without analyzing them. Analysis comes later. Right now you’re just being honest with yourself.

    Why do you want to go? What draws you away? What draws you toward that place?

    What need would that fulfill? If you search for NVC feelings inventory and NVC needs inventory you’ll get some great lists. Identifying the root need under your thought process will help you get really clear on how what you’re thinking about doing will (or will not) meet your need. That way you are less likely to go down a road without really knowing why.

    Then do the same for your family members. How do they feel about it? Can they manage their negative feelings about it? What benefits would they see (without talking them out of the costs)? What costs would they incur (without rationalizing them by citing the benefits)?

  8. LeftAcademia*

    We had kids, we relocated 1000 km – closer to family. But we have both agreed, it was the last relocation in a very long time.
    So I would consider
    1) is the location better
    2) is there a significant gain financial or career wise

    Then I would talk a lot with my partner and with the kid, and reach a mutual decision.

    1. Camper Van Life*

      Your last comment made me envision a parent giving a PowerPoint presentation about the benefits of the move to a baby who is babbling nonsensically and cooing….so adorable!

      But yes to all your points! Moving (in any capacity) affects everyone involved, so having an open and honest discussion and truly weighing the pros and cons is the way to go.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        I join in these comments by LeftAcademia and Camper Van Life.

        Our family moved every four years when I was growing up so that my parents could move up economically at their jobs. On the one hand, moving was a necessary evil if my parents wanted to advance in their jobs and this we could afford to live in neighborhoods near better public schools. On the other hand, it was really hard on us kids having to regularly change schools and say goodbye to friends.

        My experience is not, of course, your situation. But my experience informs my view that balancing whether you’ll advance economically with your family and child’s needs is a good way to think about this question.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      I’d add:
      3) if I hate this job, how easy will it be to find another one without having to move again?

      I’ve been offered jobs that looked great, but were in areas with few alternatives. I don’t want to get boxed into a corner of having to stay at a bad job because there are no other options.

      1. Yorick*

        This is why we’re not considering moving for my husband’s remote job that sort of wants people to be in office (my job is remote). Layoffs seem possible and there are more opportunities for him here.

      2. southern interloper*

        THIS. We moved two years ago to a small city in the South (from the Northeast US) for my spouse’s job, and after a year the job fell apart, and now we are stuck here. It’s been really hard on everyone in the family except my daughter. We moved just before she started high school, and coming out of the pandemic she was pretty miserable, so the move was actually quite good for her and she is living her best life. My other high schooler (son) and I (WFH) have made zero friends here. We did pick up another dog. Spouse has found another job (WFH) so we’re fine financially, and the COL here is much lower (we have a great house! with a pool!) but boy, am I lonely.

  9. JustMe*

    My partner and I relocated 3,000 miles for his job (existing job that asked him to move to set up a new office). We were young and didn’t have kids, so that didn’t factor into the decision. His work paid for the move, which helped to incentivize us relocating, and we were moving to an area where there were a lot of jobs and I could reasonably expect to find work in my field. Even with that, it’s been hard to be so far away from our families as my dad recently developed a serious disability, so we will likely relocate again within the next few years. At the same time, the move has meant that we both have advanced in our fields and will have more opportunity when/if we move back again.

  10. Thunder Kitten*

    You talked about your income increasing – what about your spouse’s ? If he doesnt have good job prospects, will you be okay on a single income ? Will HE be okay with having to take a different job ? Sometimes it works out (my husband switched industries and worked at a job he hated for 2 years when we relocated for my job), but other times it doesnt.

    1. Thunder Kitten*

      Also, you dont mention how old your kids are. Moving elementary or middle achool students is one thing. switching in HS is a different thing when considering college (if they choose to apply) requirements (transcripts, reference letters, established extra curriculars, etc) beyond the social challenges.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Amen to not moving HS kids. We moved a lot when I was growing up and we moved in both my sophomore year and my junior year. I lost a lot of credits both times because school districts have different requirements (even in the same state!!) I ended up losing a year and would have to graduate a year later. In my senior year they were getting ready to move again, and I refused to transfer schools because I would have been delayed ANOTHER year, which would have made me graduating high school at the age of 20. (I tried to talk them into letting me stay with a friend to finish out the year, but they wouldn’t allow it.) So I quit and got my GED.
        When my husband had to move when my oldest was in her senior year, I refused to go because I didn’t want to do that to her. Bottom line: think long and hard before disrupting your children’s schooling.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Yes. Full agreement.

          Reason for head bobbing full agreement – one of the mini-Scruffs is approaching HS, and the requirements, rules, and other such things are quite a bit more than they were when either of us Scruff-parents were in school. Do not assume that “but of course they’re going to accept XYZ class or credit” because the reality is, they don’t have to do so, and it could very well impact your child’s schooling.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yep. My parents were considering a move to the town my grandparents lived in somewhere around my junior year of high school – they tried to frame it as “well you could switch to this religious* high school there!” uhhh no thanks, I like my public school and also all my friends are here. Thankfully they did take me seriously and stayed in the same city till after I left for college.

        *Not Catholic.

  11. Holly*

    I’m in the process of doing this now. I interviewed for a job I really wanted in a city I thought I’ll love to live in, but I didn’t think I’d get it.
    The big thing I compared was cost of living, and having to decide if the benefits would be worth downsizing. With the pandemic, moving farther from friends/family wasn’t as big a deal as it would have been 3-4 years ago. It does mean that I have to split who I visit on vacations, but that’s still doable. The city is way more expensive, but the climate and the things to do are way better.
    I chose yes, 70% for the job and 30% for the city itself. Though I don’t have any spouse/kids to consider, so that makes the decision a bit easier.

  12. bunniferous*

    My son made the relocation to there (from a different state.)

    Cost of living in that area is tremendous, housing is stratospheric. All else being equal if you are content where you are I would stay. In general, what I would look for in considering a move like that is-would it be an advancement in career goals? Would the money be worth it? How much would I be giving up in moving? If your kids are middle school or older I would recommend staying put till they graduate unless it truly is an offer you can’t refuse.

  13. Somehow_I_Manage*

    Since you’re happy, why not negotiate on your terms? Take the position only on the condition that you can be primarily remote for the first year. Then you can try it on, visit the HQ regularly and see the neighborhood. Afford your spouse time to find a new job, and really decide what’s best.

  14. Berto*

    Moving for a job no longer makes sense unless you are untethered. Owning a home provides far more social and financial security than any job; jobs are insecure, do not pay enough for the risk of location switching, and no longer a primary source of wealth for most people. The only time to relocate is early in your career to position yourself closely to a desired industry (i.e. move to NYC to work in finance) or later in your life to downsize (i.e. move from CA to AZ, sell your house and buy for cash, work remotely for the last 10 years of your career).

    1. ferrina*

      Financially, you’ll benefit more from owning a home in northern Virginia than in central Virginia. It can be a big difference. So if the job will pay enough for a new home in northern Virginia, that will put you in a great spot (seriously, housing prices in northern Virginia can be on par with Seattle- just below New York City and the Bay Area. And prices have been consistently rising in most areas, even pre-pandemic)

    2. twenty points for the copier*

      This is the one that stood out to me:
      “The only time to relocate is early in your career to position yourself closely to a desired industry (i.e. move to NYC to work in finance)”

      I don’t know what industry the OP is in, but if it’s something where there are a lot more options in northern Virginia than her region of the state, that could be an argument for moving. We see a lot of letters and comments on this site from people who aren’t happy in their jobs but don’t have a lot of options for local employment. This can be a big benefit to moving to more populated areas, though whether it’s worth the upheaval of moving in addition to the higher COL really depends on the OP’s (or anyone else’s) specific situation.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yes. The primary factor in our last move when he’s fully remote and we could live anywhere we choose was “if my husband needs to find a new job, this new location has a significant amount of opportunities”

    3. ten-four*

      This is the correct answer. There are a very tiny handful of job opportunities that *by themselves* would be worth chasing. Moving a house/spouse/kids is a long term choice, and jobs aren’t long term. Even if you plan to stay in a job forever you can’t ensure that you won’t get laid off or wind up on a team that makes your life miserable.

      We moved a lot during the early years of our lives/marriage, but at this point we’ve got kids and a house in a city that we love – there is no job for just one of us that would make it worthwhile to move.

      On the other hand, if you WANT to relocate your family to a new place then taking a job that lets you do that is a totally sensible choice. But the decision tree is: we want to move to X, what needs to be true to make that possible. It’s not “oh there’s a job that might be interesting, maybe we should move.”

  15. Problem!*

    One thing to consider is how long you’re trapped in your new job if they offer relocation reimbursement. Most will require a 2-5 year commitment or you have to pay back moving costs. Can you absorb the financial impact if you get there and start and realize it’s not what you wanted and you end up leaving before the reimbursement agreement expires?

    1. KatEnigma*

      We’ve had relocation paid for twice, and offered many more times, and the commitment was never more than a year.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I have also had relocation paid for twice, and both times the commitment was for 2 years. Definitely pay attention to the terms of any relocation agreement, as they vary!

  16. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    For me, at this stage in my life, I have no interest in relocating. I’m too close to my family and loved ones and that’s most important to me. You have to decide what is most important in your and your families quality of life. Work is just work, and I’ve been burned enough to know no company will ever care for you as much as you care for them.

  17. EMP*

    The only moved I’ve seriously discussed with my partner would have moved us farther from my family and closer to his. They’re within a 2 hour drive of each other, so no big deal either way. Cost of living is lower near his family, but job opportunities are much lower overall. K-12 schools are OK near his family, but really great near mine. In the end it made sense to have a higher cost of living but more job opportunities and better local schools.

    I don’t think we’d move now for a job, I can’t think of one that would be life changing enough to make it worth it. If we did move, it would be if it made sense for us to be closer to his family for health reasons or something similar. Everyone has their own calculus of what’s important, where they are in their life, and what they want in their future.

  18. North American Couch Wizard Society Member*

    It’s such a huge disruption, especially if you have kids, that I would personally only do it if it was a major strategic career move, a very large pay bump, or if I were deliberately moving to that area for life/family reasons. It’s easy to relocate when you’re young and single and don’t own much, and gets exponentially harder if you’re older and a homeowner with a family.

    We moved halfway across the country a few years ago and it was still a giant pain in the neck even though we were moving to be closer to family, had a place to stay, and our kids were not yet in school.

  19. Happy Hoo*

    another central Virginian. it would take a lot for us to relocate to northern Virginia. that said, we plan to relocate out of state in a few years when our son graduates from high school.

    1. Happy Hokie*

      I grew up in central VA (RVA suburbs), went to VT, moved back home, then moved back to SWVA permanently a few years later. You could not pay me enough to move to NoVA!

    2. Hampton Roads Sucks*

      It’s wild. When I had to move to the Virginia Beach area for work back in the early 00s, *everyone* was moving into Tidewater/Hampton Roads specifically, and Virginia in general. There was a huge steady influx of people packing and leaving their states to come to Virginia. Nowadays, people can’t escape from this state quickly enough. I had dozens of local friends most of my first decade here, and now they’ve all moved. Mostly out of state, but with a few couples who keep packing up and moving around VA every other year or so because they can’t find a place they both like and which is affordable to live, but they don’t want to move far from their aging parents. So they just keep bouncing around the state.

      1. Hampton Roads Sucks*

        As you can tell by my name, my partner and I are also looking to get the heck out of Virginia, or at least Hampton Roads. He’s lived here most of his life, but is sick of how awful and corrupt things have become around here. Meanwhile, for similar reasons, I don’t want to be able to say someday, “I’ve lived most of my life in Hampton Roads.” Don’t know where we want to go yet, but we sure don’t want to stay here.

  20. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

    I’ve relocated twice — first from a place I loved but had no employment opportunities to a place I didn’t know and was only moving for the job. Then a few years ago from a place I hated but had lots of great jobs in my industry to a place I love that has…not so many great jobs. I learned that for me, no job is worth living somewhere I don’t love. If you like where you are and you aren’t already over-the-moon excited to live in the area the job is in, the best job in the world isn’t going to change that. There’s so much more to life than work, and until I got out of that situation I had no idea how much it was harming my quality of life to tolerate a place I didn’t love for a job I did love.

    If you are genuinely excited to move to NoVa, all the work of relocating is 100% worth it to land in “your place.”

  21. T.N.H.*

    Wanted to add something I haven’t seen yet. Which location has more opportunities for your kids especially in the areas they are interested in (if they’re old enough to have those)? Think long-term if possible about specialized high schools, sports teams, and cultural events/activities they will participate in through the years. For me, these are the things that make up a childhood way more than being close to family who you might wind up seeing only a few times a year regardless.

    1. OrdinaryJoe*

      I would second this! My parents relocated for my father’s job between 8th & 9th grade … it was OK, kind of hard fitting in, but the opportunities I had a high schooler and college student were *amazing* and so much better in the new location. I honestly wouldn’t have the career and life/life style that I have now if we hadn’t moved.

  22. amoeba*

    I’d say it also depends on what kind of person you (and your family!) are. I know both people who’d hate moving and being uprooted and people who’d be excited by the thought of living somewhere different. My boyfriend and I are both in the latter camp, so for us it’d probably be easier to move, provided it’s a good job in a cool place we’d like to experience. (And I think we both felt that way even as kids – I remember dreaming of relocating with my parents!)

    Of course, it still depends on external factors as well, and it’s certainly harder with kids/a house/etc. But I do think a huge part of it for me would be “do I feel excited or scared by the idea of relocating?”

  23. Blujay*

    I’ve relocated for “push” factors and “pull” factors and their weight depends on each situation. Ten years ago I relocated for a push- I didnt want to live in the state I was in long term and so took an opportunity that put me somewhere I’d rather be.

    The following (smaller) relocation was based on the pull of what I could get for me and my partner- paying of my student loan balance in two years and recreation options for my partner.

    If I had kids, I’d be looking if the schools had better options for them. And same on opportunities for my spouse. Or if the job compensation meant my spouse didn’t need to have a specific earning levels, that might be a plus.

    I understand parents don’t want to move kids lightly, but my dad passed on some opportunities to keep us in place and I regretted not being able to go- so I think it depends on the kid.

    1. Blujay*

      A friend grew up in Northern Virginia and his school had a whole technical wing- they like rebuilt cars and stuff. Way more options on paths to take an opportunities to learn than any school I grew up near.

      1. ferrina*

        NoVa has some great schools and a ton of opportunities. It’s within an hour of all kinds of amazing things. Of course, do your diligence- school quality will vary (as with anywhere). And of course, that’s just one factor to consider.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        It is insane the classes they have here. At HS orientation, one of my kid’s friend’s parents and I were joking that we wanted to take a couple of the classes. In our school system, there is also a system where you can take some classes at your base school and then be bused to another school that has a specialty program like dance, cooking, auto shop, musical theater, or cybersecurity. You can also choose AP, IB, or dual-enrollment at the local CC.

  24. KatEnigma*

    We moved last year *because* my son was 4, not 5. He will start Kindergarten in the fall (late summer birthday) and we’re committed to staying where we are until at least he finishes elementary school, if not high school. We might make the move between elementary and middle schools or POSSIBLE middle school and high school. Otherwise, we wouldn’t make that decision for ourselves. We wanted to be nearer a major airport. We did move to be closer to some family, that made us further from other (more helpful) family- but it’s not like they were at all local. We also made the decision based on what other jobs (primary bread winner) would have available to him in the immediate area, even if it meant a 2 hour commute, if there were changes in his current job and he had to get a new one, so that disruptions would be minimal.

    When it was just the two of us, we moved from CA to WI and the consideration was “we want to be able to afford our own home.” Despite 12 years in the Bay Area, we were glad to leave (exactly 10 years ago today!) When we moved from WI to ND, it was because my husband was extremely dissatisfied with his job, and being iced out after he took paternity leave, and there was nothing paying even close to what he was currently making in the area. Plus the ND job was offering to pay for him to get his security clearance, which is a significant cost, and then opened up a huge selection of future jobs to him, that he hadn’t been able to apply for in the past. Our son was 4 months old, so he didn’t really factor into that. Then he changed jobs (back to the CA company, now Denver based and fully remote) and we were looking of ease of him flying to Denver on what was supposed to be “once a quarter at most” that had turned into once a month. Plus a climate where it wasn’t too cold to go outside 3 months of the year, no matter how much you bundled up (there is no safe way to go outside for more than 15 minutes, max, when the air temp is -30 and the wind chill is -50+ It wasn’t just being wimps) Plus his family lives on the opposite side of this major metro area- 40 to 60 minutes away. We did look at schools for our son before we made the commitment to move.

  25. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I’ve moved 37 times, half as a kid and half as a professional, and within the US and globally.
    If you have kids, make it a family decision. moving has incredibly serious repercussions on kids, and should be done thoughtfully and with more considerations than “more money for the family”
    Personally, factors now (I have no kids) include: partner’s career and preferences, community attachment, COL, actual job fulfillment, pay, and weather, though not in that order. Compromises are a must. And back to weather, it’s bigger than anyone acknowledges. Moving to Germany has meant half the year in depression inducing winters.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I have also made a lot of moves, both as a child and as an adult. I was a military brat who went to 10 different schools before I graduated from high school, including changing schools my senior year of high school, which was not fun.

      Even as a military brat going to base schools (sometimes – sometimes we lived off base and were at civilian schools, which was awful, because the other students had the friends they had known since kindergarten, including the school where I went my senior year), it was hard. Even at base schools, where everyone is in the same situation, it’s hard to be the new kid.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got to use “reliant and adapts well to new situations” in my college essay, but looking back, I would much rather have been able to write about the best friend I had had since second grade.

      Moving is really really hard. Making new friends – even as an adult – is really really hard. (Finding new doctor/dentist/vet. Learning the layout of the new grocery store. Figuring out who can watch your kids in an emergency. Finding a book club.) Don’t do it unless you are getting something huge in return.

      1. emkay*

        Yep. I’m a military brat too, and I moved a ton in my twenties before really understanding that living that way is a CHOICE not everyone makes, because there are huge costs (financial, emotional, social, time-based) to it.

        1. emkay*

          This was despite HATING the moves as a kid. When you don’t grow up with strong ties to a certain place, it takes a real mindset shift to start valuing and developing ties like that later.

          1. A Non E Mouse*

            Not military, but attended 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools (though the transition between middle school 2 & high school 1 was in the same district with the same people), and then also moved a lot for my higher education based career. I’ve been in the same metro region for the last 11 years (but still have moved fairly frequently).

            When I hit my three year anniversary at my current job, I started feeling all these itchy, gotta-move-on feelings, because of that history. I just constitutionally was not used to that kind of longevity. And, it has definitely impacted friendships – how or why do you go deep with friends if you’re just going to move and never see them again without great effort on both your parts? My ‘oldest’ friend that I stay regularly in touch with is from high school #2 – and that’s probably because we also went to the same college.

    2. Emmy Noether*

      Ah, this is the thread with my people! I was moved on average every 3 years as a child, some international, some in the middle of the school year. Not military, always went to normal local schools, so always had the fun of getting into friend groups that had existed since infancy. And then around year 3, when I had a good grasp of the language/culture and solid friendships are established finally, buh-bye.

      I am now a potted plant – no roots beyond what will move with me, and I can move easily as an adult. And I am adaptable and resilient for sure. I’m not doing this cr*p to my children, however.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, there’s a reason why so many diplomat kids go into the diplomatic service themselves, they’re so used to that lifestyle.

      2. Anon vet*

        I love your potted plant analogy, and I AM doing this to our kids. I’m a brat and a vet, hubby is active duty. I know no other life and love this one – and am raising my kids to enjoy the adventure as long as it lasts. They’re on their 3rd school – and they’re in late elementary. It’s feasible that we’ll move three times in the next three years, depending on hubby’s assignments. I know it will be rough for our kids, especially because we discourage the use of social media and encourage old school letters mixed with Zoom dates to keep up with old friends. But I know of very few other ways of life where we can see and understand the beauty of our whole country – and hopefully the wider world beyond. They’re welcome to figure out what roots look like as adults – I just know that our roots have wheels and a timer. I get itchy if I live anywhere more than 3 years.

  26. ResuMAYDAY*

    Have you spent time in this area? If possible, take a long weekend there with your husband to scope it out, including a Friday or Monday.

    1. ferrina*

      If possible, I recommend a Monday or Tuesday. As well as the cultural aspect (central Va and NoVa can be pretty different), get a feel for the traffic. The DMV traffic varies from “fine” to “oh gawd why”. Normal commutes are 30-45 minutes one way, but 1-2 hour commutes are pretty common too. Factor in how often you’ll be at the office (vs remote) and what your commute time will look like compared to your current commute. If you’re going from a 20 minutes commute to 45 minutes, you’ll feel that.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Spend a whole week. Mondays and Fridays are alternative work schedule days for federal workers, so you don’t get a really good sense of the traffic unless you’re here Tu/W/Th.

      I also recommend renting/extended stay housing in NoVA before buying a house to make sure the commute works for you. We live ~15 miles from DC, and it’s an hour door-to-desk commute one way. People who live in places where traffic is normal are always shocked that it takes that long to go less than 20 miles during rush hour.

  27. Vaca*

    Put together a spreadsheet with all the factors you think matter listed from bottom to top in the A column. Then in the B column list how important each is to you – the easiest way is to scale this to dollars. So salary is worth 1, housing costs are -1; closeness to family might be 50,000 or it might be -10,000 (depending on how much you like your family), etc. Then, on the next tab, copy JUST the items in column A. Column B, put your existing situation, C put your new situtation. Go down the list and fill out the values. Most will be scaled from 1-10. So in the hypothetical example of “closeness to family”, the existing situation might be a 10 and the new situation might be a 3. REALLY IMPORTANT: don’t flip back to the first tab. Let the scores fall where they will. On a third tab, copy the same factors, column A is existing, B is new. Then, the score for each item is the weight from the first tab times the score from the second. Once you’re done, you add them all up. This is obviously just a tool, but it’s a really good framing device to force you to think through what’s important and decide how you value it, then to force you to confront the results and see if they make sense. Learned his in business school and I use it for every major life decision.

    [Very basic example]
    Tab 1
    Salary 1
    Housing expense -1
    Closeness to family 10,000
    Prestige of job 5,000

    Tab 2 Job 1 Job 2
    Salary 100,000 150,000
    H.E. 25,000 50,000
    Family 10 3
    Prestige 4 8

    Tab 3 Job 1 Job 2
    Salary 100,000 150,000
    H.E. -25,000 -50,000
    Family 100,000 30,000
    Prestige 20,000 40,000
    Total 195,000 170,000

    1. Princess Peach*

      This is a good idea. I did that when I had three likely offers coming from very different parts of the US. One was a clear standout, and it made my decision very easy.

  28. My take*

    For me, I’m not moving for a job :). Basically at all but if I did, it would have to be an incredible opportunity in a place I (and my family) was excited to be.

    I left a field that would have necessitated career moves (academia) because I plan my work around my life and not vice versa now.

    But that’s me now (in my mid-30s with a family and an established place to live I love). Totally get that other circumstances/life stages/etc will be different for others.

  29. Lisa B*

    My family and I made a pretty substantial move – a little over 300 miles to a state where we didn’t know anyone. The things we factored in – 1) the job opportunity gave me *at least* a 5-10 year jump on my career and was a huge move towards my ultimate end goal. Required a very serious conversation with my partner to make sure he was on board. 2) my partner’s job was fully remote, so he did not need to get a new position as a result of this move. 3) 300 miles was not unreasonable for long weekend family visits (us to them or them to us). 4) the new area was conducive to rebuild our social network – absolutely necessary given we didn’t know anyone. 5) the new job’s salary put us in a position where the logistics of setting up home in a new area still put us in a strong financial plus.

  30. OKaye*

    As with any major life decision, it’s a cost benefit analysis. The LW has done a pretty good job of listing the costs, with very little (listed) benefits – is this a great career move? Is this a company or role worth uprooting your life for? etc. Salary is only one piece of that puzzle; you’re looking at an entire lifestyle change, and you need to make sure that the new position and all that comes with it merits that. For a lot of folks that especially means looking at and considering things not directly related to the position itself (better schools, safer city, better dining/entertainment/museums/shopping, place you’ve always wanted to live, etc.), because of how many changes are really involved in a move like this. And it also means weighing the family factors – are your kids at an age where a move makes sense, or are they two years from graduating? Is your husband’s job field one that’s very easy to move, or is he in a niche industry where it’s difficult to find work? (Or, in the post(-ish)-COVID world, is it a job that can be done remotely, whether for his current employer or a different one?)

    I’ve done three major, life-uprooting moves in my career, but I’m single and childfree (save for my cats, who are mostly unconcerned by their physical location and more concerned about the relative fullness of their food bowls), so my cost-benefit matrix looks a little different. Even so, I’m established enough where I am now that it would take *a lot* to get me to move anywhere other than closer to my aging parents. Heck, I’m considering moving to a different neighborhood in my city to be closer to work and I’m even hesitant about that move!

    1. Double A*

      The cats may make you think you’re ruining their lives during the actual weeks of the move, but they do indeed settle in after awhile.

      1. OKaye*

        As if my cats’ lives aren’t ruined on a daily basis by such atrocities as me moving my chair an inch to the right, or opening and/or closing a window, or picking up a toy that I’ve tripped over thirteen times, or—

        Well, you get the idea ;)

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          The scary vacuum cleaner came out yesterday. It was touch and go around here for a good 4o minutes after.

  31. El l*

    Ultimately, it comes down to, “What lifestyle am I signing up for?” With secondary questions:

    “How does it compare to my current lifestyle?”
    “Will my family’s lifestyles be massively different?”
    “Is this my shot at a personal dream?”

    While it’s totally personal how you go about this, my thought on where to start is to visualize what your days would look like on the job. Think about travel demands, commuting demands, how those compare to today, and whether the work seems notably more interesting than it is today. If it’s a dream you’ve always wanted to try/do, that’s worth a lot. Then apply similar thinking to your spouse and kids.

    Finally, watch your thinking as you give these answers. Specifically, watch for we humans having an instinct towards “loss aversion.” We overvalue what we have versus what we “could have” if things were different.

    1. Spearmint*

      Loss aversion is a real bias, but I also think people often underestimate some of the difficulties of moving. For example, I’ve known many people who assumed it would be much quicker and easier to make new friends and build a social support network from scratch in a new location than it turned out to be.

      1. Princess Peach*

        Definitely true. My partner is a social butterfly, and we figured it wouldn’t be too hard make new friends. Six months after our cross country move, well… it was March 2020.
        Only within the last 9-12 months have we been able to reestablish a social life.

      2. El l*

        Maybe. My experience has often been the opposite, from what I’ve seen in both myself and friends. Namely, they assume they will be unable to make a circle in the new place.

  32. Pink Brownie*

    My family has uprooted several times in my life, mostly my parents when I was young, then when I wasn’t as young but still needed them nearby. Then I, myself, uprooted my family. I’ll go in parts:

    My mother used to work for the federal gov’t (now retired) in a high-crime “state” that was hard to escape (think of an island that’s not in the Pacific). She was offered a lateral move to a less crime-ridden area – and, because it’s the federal gov’t, they paid slightly more due to COL. So, with the fear of God in their souls, my parents uprooted us when I was 14 and my brother 4. I knew the language fairly well, though it wasn’t my first language. My first year was terrible! Major moves are awful for teenagers. But my parents weighed this against the fear of simply losing me or my brother to violence. What prompted the move was when a family friend’s children who were slightly older than us were carjacked, the daughter was raped, and both children were left in a field in the middle of nowhere. Compared to that, they took what was offered.

    The second time, I was already in my early 20’s, my brother is 10 years younger. My mother could not advance without relocating. The pay they offered was outstanding, plus relo assistance. That sealed the deal and they moved. I followed. My parents did it again a third time, for the same reason (better opportunity in a different state) when my little brother was in 11th grade. He suffered the most, TBH.

    When my kids were 6 and 1 years old, my husband got injured at work and wasn’t able to continue working (he worked for the federal gov’t as well, and worker’s comp is a joke when you’re a federal worker – but that’s another story). We lived in a high COL area (near northern VA, actually!). It was just my income and we were about to lose our house. My parents had already retired and helped us find a home in a state near them – even bought it for us and we rented it from them at cost. My income alone was enough to then support my own family. Now that my kids are older, the thought alone of uprooting them is not something I can stomach. It’s really tough. The job would have to be outstanding – I mean, my making double what I make in a low COL area, because otherwise it is NOT worth it.

    TL;DR: think of your children’s ages and whether they can adjust. The younger they are, the better they’ll adjust, though it’s still no guarantee. The job would have to be amazing and you must be desperate before considering it. Just friendly advice from someone who’s been moved around less than an Army brat…

    1. Beth*

      Yes, one of the things that had crossed my mind was along the lines of “Will moving mean you and your family can escape a dystopian h3llhole?” Under the current political climate, for example, if I had school-age kids I would consider it in their best interests to get them well away from my current location (Florida).

  33. Well...*

    I don’t know if this perspective is helpful to your current situation. I’m married but no kids, and I’ve moved to multiple different countries for my work. My husband can’t always make the move with me, and we’ve lived apart for our jobs in the past, so our priorities are highly skewed towards our careers (they’ve had to be, or one of us would have had to give up).

    I always find when I move, I struggle a bit in at first in the new place, but I am also super sad to leave the old place. No matter where it is, I’ve found restaurants I like, I’ve made friends, I enjoy the routine of my work. I’ve loved something about everywhere I’ve lived, from big cities to small towns. So my opinion is moving doesn’t really change your overall current happiness too much, but it does expand your experiences and gives you more to reminisce about.

    If it’s good for your career and your husband is just making a lateral move, I’d say go for it (though I can’t weigh in on how that situation changes with kids). If one of you has to take a career hit for the other to take/keep their job then I’d weigh: how important your careers are to both of you, which career has more ultimate potential (to make you and your family happy, to bring in $, etc), how much you can live without taking this job vs. your husband can live with changing jobs, which career has more flexibility to bounce back from a set-back.

  34. 2 Cents*

    My family had to move twice due to job loss (yay, bank mergers!). My sibling and I were in elementary school and it was kinda hard. When job loss hit again and we were older, my parents decided one should stay with us and the other could contract / go on the road rather than uproot us again. I’d move only if it was a career opportunity of a lifetime or an unbelievable salary, not for “meh,” which is how this is coming across. And don’t underestimate having a trusted network–those take time and energy to build from scratch.

    1. ferrina*

      I know a family where the dad got a new assignment (military adjacent) that was about 3 hours away. They had several school-aged children, and they decided to keep the family where they were, and the dad got an apartment in the new city. Every Friday he’d drive back to his family and spend the weekend with them.

      1. allathian*

        Lots of people do this, including the top boss of my employer. Granted, we have lots of flexibility and he can relatively easily work part of the week remotely, but his office is at HQ. He has an aparment where he lives during the week and then he goes back to his family for the weekend.

  35. Tio*

    -How much do you have in savings? Remove a generous amount for relocation costs.
    -Will the remaining cover your expenses if your husband is out of work for a while? How long? Does that match up with how quickly you can make an educated guess at it will take him to get a job? What if he doesn’t?
    -How do the schools in the new area compare to the ones in the current one? Will they be the same or better quality? The same or more expensive?
    -If you have an emergency and need someone to watch the kids or come help, who will it be, and how long will it take them? Having someone nearby to help is incredibly important at certain stages of life
    -What’s the downtown of this area like? Are all the stores you need conveniently located? Any other services?

    And all this is assuming you actually want the job. I honestly wouldn’t do any of this math if it were a job that was a lateral move, or if you didn’t like the job or the area much. Conversely, if you’re excited about the job or would love a chance to live in X area, that would swing the other way.

  36. Clefairy*

    I have two thoughts as someone who uprooted her life in 2020 (yeah…) for a job that ultimately went out of business within months of me moving.

    1. You mention moving away from family, which is a huge consideration. But you didn’t mention friends- I’d seriously consider your current social life and support network, and really think about the reality of leaving them behind. I moved with my hubby (so yay, I got to bring my best friend) BUT I am a highly social person, and while I’ve made some surface level friends here, I am really lonely and really miss my friends and social life from before I moved.

    2. I moved to an area I would never consider living, even outside of the fact that I left my friends behind, for what I considered a dream job. It felt worth it to live in a place that really didn’t mesh with my personality and culture (I moved to a very non-diverse, religious part of Utah). I felt like this was worth the tradeoff of the admittedly amazing job I was coming for. However, when that job was yanked away thanks to the pandemic, and I got a new job that was admittedly good but not AMAZING, it really tipped the balance of things and really showcased how much I do not like this area. SO, when considering a move, I’d try to consider the place itself outside of any context that the job brings- because anything can happen, you don’t know how the job is going to go or how reliable it’s going to end up being.

    All that being said, I don’t really regret moving because had the pandemic not happened, that job would have really thrown my career trajectory into a really cool and unique direction. BUT the last few years I’ve been lonely and pretty miserable, and I am spending a huge amount of money moving back to where I was before, potentially without a job if I can’t find something before the move, this summer.

  37. KB*

    I have not done this as an adult myself, but as the child of parents who moved the family 4 times in 12 years, I would have extra consideration for your son. Depending on his age, a move to a new school/community far away from friends and support systems could be extremely upsetting. Speaking from my own and my brother’s experience, the moves we did before age 8 were fine – we easily found new friends and support systems. After that age, it became very hard for both of us. We struggled to find friends and fit in with our new schools. The children at the last school we moved to (at ages 8 and 10 respectively) had already made solid friendships and developed their social groups, and as newcomers it was very hard to find an in. My brother especially had a hard time, and didn’t have strong friendships until he began high school. Looking back, I wish for our sakes that we had not moved at that stage in our lives. If your son has extra support systems in place for physical, mental, or emotional health needs, a move could be even harder. He would have to adjust to new teachers or counselors, and those support systems might be administered differently in northern VA than what you’re used to. All that is to say, think carefully about whether your son is young enough or emotionally prepared enough for the move to be a positive time of new adventures, or if it would be a negative time of leaving friends and support behind.

  38. The Somewhat Average Gilly Hopkins*

    I relocated during the pandemic due to receiving a much higher-paying job, but my partner had to find a totally new job and the COL was much higher…. if I could go back in time, I would have stayed where I was. My partner took *2* years to find a new job, and I suspect moving contributed to some mental health issues they subsequently experienced. And we didn’t even have children, which would have added a huge amount of stress to the child’s life and ours.

    Basically, I don’t have general advice, other than to say don’t do it unless your partner and child REALLY want to move! Interestingly enough, we also used to be located in Central VA, and I really miss it. (Not so much the new governor, though…)

  39. Princess Peach*

    I moved 1500 miles for a job a few years ago, and there were a lot of considerations that went into it.
    – The new job paid significantly more (even taking COL into account) and offered some specific things I wanted for my career

    – I did not have those opportunities in my hometown

    – My partner was at a point where they were frustrated with their own job and looking for a change, so that timing was good

    – Our social life was shifting due to other people moving, making life changes, etc., so leaving behind our friends and social network was also less disruptive than it might have been a couple years earlier

    – Our remaining family was already spread out geographically, and we did not have any care taking responsibilities at the time of the move

    – Although Covid was unexpected, I did have an eye on likely political & broad social trends, and it was important for us to take those things into account. Without derailing too much, I’ll just say that my new state is far less hostile to my career than my old one.

    – Both my partner and I liked the general area we moved to. Other offers were less geographically appealing in terms of weather, things to do, proximity to [whatever], etc.

    We had opportunities to move before we did, but the timing was not right, and other elements of our lives mattered more. I think that was the overarching factor – the move looked like an exciting opportunity and not a logistical nightmare.

  40. Nobby Nobbs*

    Take a hard look at traffic. Traffic where you’d be living, traffic where you and your spouse would be commuting, traffic for An Evening In The City, how well you and your individual family members deal with bad traffic. It’s a major quality of life issue that people often don’t notice until it’s a problem, and if you’re moving from say near Richmond to near DC it could easily become a problem.

    1. NoVaSeaBizcuit*

      yes i agree on considering traffic. and not just traffic to and from work but also general traffic going anywhere after work until pretty much after dinner time can be brutal depending on where you are in the NoVa area. Traffic in the area is also really inconsistent. There can also be considerations regarding events in DC which affect the surrounding areas due to road closures, influxes of people, etc. Also just driving in DC, which you may or may not have to do depending on the job and your lifestyle, is a nightmare. NoVa can be great, though it is a wide-ranging area and it varies wildly in terms of expenses, schools, etc. if you’re just on the other side of the river from DC near the Pentagon vs. 15 miles or more away. But there’s lots of things to do, including free stuff (museums, parks, etc.) and there are multiple airports reasonably nearby (Dulles, Reagan National, BWI)

  41. Little Beans*

    This is such a personal thing. I’m not professionally ambitious enough to even consider relocating for a job. My spouse and I own our house, our kid is in school here, we’re close to family. Plus, I actually love my current job and location…
    Even when I was younger and single, I took a lateral move that delayed my career in order to move to the area I wanted to live long term. So, for me, other life factors have always been more important than the job anyway.

    1. allathian*

      Yup, that’s me too. Obviously it helps that I’m in the capital metropolitan area, so more people move here for jobs than relocate elsewhere for them. Although lots of office employees moved to the surrounding areas with a lower COL because they could afford an extra room or two to use as a home office and a single family home with a yard rather than an apartment. When all the cultural events that make life in a city attractive for many people shut down, moving to a less crowded area was an option many people decided to take.

      Very few employers have required a return to the office full time, most that went fully remote during the pandemic lockdowns are hybrid now, although the ratio of remote vs. in-office days varies widely depending on the employer and the job.

  42. HugeTractsofLand*

    I moved from NYC to rural New England with my partner because we genuinely wanted to live in NE and the cost of living is cheaper. So 1) we really wanted to move to that location, 2) we’d actually save money, and 3) we moved closer to family+friends. We still only made that move because my partner was approved to work remotely (so we were guaranteed one stable salary) while I had scouted the job market in my field in NE and had a plan A,B, and C for getting some kind of job within a set timeframe. We also had the savings necessary to put down a new deposit and furnish the place, pay movers, etc.. And we’re childless so that wasn’t even a factor!

    All that being said, I’m not seeing a good case for you to move in your situation. It’s more expensive, your new job could stink and then your husband would be out a job too, you’re moving further from family (if you care about that), and it’s a big change for your kids. I’d tuck away this option for further investigation if you really like the idea.

  43. Ann Onymous*

    I can’t speak to making this decision myself, but I can speak to being an impacted family member. When I was 13 my parents made the decision to move our family several states away from the only place I could remember living. The move meant a much better job for my dad and being in the same state as my grandmother who was recently widowed and had no other family nearby. I was upset about moving at the time, but in retrospect I ended up being a lot happier after the move than before. We all came to like our new town, my new school was a better fit for me than the old one, and a shorter commute plus more reasonable work hours meant getting to spend more time with my dad. I also had the opportunity to get much closer to my grandmother since we spent a lot of weekends with her. I don’t know specifics of your situation, but just wanted to share that a move can end up being a positive thing outside of just the work impacts – even if you’re unsure at the time.

  44. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Depends if you’re “desperate” for experience or not. I am from a HCOL area so it’s also pretty normal to move to middle America to get experience and not have to live with three roommates until you’re 28! Of course now some of those places like NC or Atlanta are becoming pricey now too

  45. PDB*

    I once changed careers and moved from LA to Seattle. It was a spectacular failure. I was fired after one month.
    But I landed on my feet when a couple of former students hired me back into my former profession the Monday after my Friday firing.

  46. Lenora Rose*

    Middle aged, with deep roots where I live, a completely paid off house, and kids. Right now I would only consider moving for:

    – a dream job for me or spouse with a significant pay raise. (I’m not sure either of us are dreaming of better jobs)
    – a place where I already have some personal contacts (So multiple provinces, plus Minnesota, Illinois, a very very few international spots, but most other places no)
    – a place I genuinely want to live (that means not the US and not some of the provinces, but would open up a few other countries)
    – a place with housing affordability roughly equivalent to where we are now (That cuts out swathes of some OTHER provinces…)
    – a place with minimal hassle of passports/ID/taxes/work permits (so likely not out of the country after all…)
    – a place where I felt the school system would provide well for my kids (let’s be honest; having to start in a new school and make new friends is hard but can turn out fine in the long run; moving to a bad, unsupportive school system never is.)
    – a place where the politics are, or at least make effort to be, inclusive on several different axes

    And not one out of those things, but the great majority of them. It would take a massive amount for me to try and rebuild an entire new community from scratch but I guess it’s not impossible, while I’m not sure it’s at all possible to currently move me somewhere where I would be afraid of worse discrimination against (exact person and reason redacted).

    1. ferrina*

      Roots make a big difference. I wouldn’t leave somewhere where my roots run deep- that makes such a difference in quality of life. I don’t necessarily mean bio-family (sometimes bio-family are part of deep roots, sometimes being near family is a con of living in a place, and sometimes it’s a non-issue), but a community of people I know and trust and value, and who feel the same about me. If I were deeply connected to a community, it would take a lot to uproot and try to start again somewhere else.

      That said, I’ve lived places without those roots and while moving logistics are a headache, they are temporary. My sibling regularly moves around every few years and puts down a type of roots wherever she is, and that works for her. So know yourself and what feels like home to you.

    2. Melissa*

      Not the US but Minnesota is fine… Haha I’m teasing but it caught my attention. I’m middle aged too, and I used to be always up for a good move; I was quite a nomad in my 20s. It’s seeming less and less appealing the older I get, so I plan to stay here (Connecticut) until retirement at least.

  47. DataSci*

    I wouldn’t relocate for a regular job. We relocated ten years ago for my wife’s job, but it’s a career fed position so there’s a lot of job security. I’d only consider it for something like that or tenured academia where you can reasonably expect the job won’t disappear in a few years. Especially with a kid, moving is hard and stressful. Uprooting everything for something that may only last a year or two isn’t worth it in my opinion.

  48. Colette*

    Things I’d consider:
    – what additional costs would you be taking on (housing, childcare, visiting family, etc.)?
    – how old is your child? (Younger kids typically find it easiser to adjust.)
    – what kinds of support do you have now that you will have to find in the new place (family, medical, social, etc.)
    – what about time off? If your plan is to come back on vacations, that means you won’t get to take other vacations – is that OK?
    – what are the advantages of your new location, and are you going to use them? (e.g. if it’s better for outdoor activities, are those things you enjoy?) What advantages are you giving up by leaving your current location?

    Moving to a place where you know no one is hard. So if you’re going to do it, it should be because you really want to live there for more than just the job.

  49. old curmudgeon*

    We did this back in 1999, moving nearly 2,000 miles when our kids were teens (14 and 16). In our case, the decision was entirely about moving to a place with greater diversity, better schools, much lower unemployment rates, and a political climate that aligned better with our beliefs. To put it in the bluntest possible terms, our kids were approaching adulthood, and we wanted them to make that transition in a setting where they’d have vastly improved opportunities in terms of education, employment and relationships.

    It was hard. It was hard on all of us, but especially on our kids, one of whom was about to start high school and the other of whom was about to start their junior year in high school. We could not have done it earlier, because we were caring for aging family members in the state where we had been living, and as long as they were alive, we couldn’t leave – but boy, howdy, those first few years in our new location were rough. At this point, both our kids are very happy to be living here, and fully agree that the move was the right choice to have made, but they would have given very different answers 22 or 23 years ago.

    For us, finding jobs was secondary to the relocation. We had a short list of destinations that we were considering, and we were prepared to move to whichever one had the first good job offer that my spouse or I got. We were fortunate that the first good offer came from our top-choice city, but we’d have been fine relocating to any of about four possible destinations.

    If I was in the OP’s position, I would take a really hard look at things that are a priority for them and their family, and compare those things between the two regions. These could include job opportunities for others in the family, entertainment, sporting activities, schools at multiple levels, places of worship, political beliefs, environmental concerns, availability and nearness of any specialized medical providers that anyone in the family needs – in short, what is important to you and your family, and how do those things compare between your current place of residence and the possible new position?

    Ultimately, for most jobs, you’re only spending about 40 hours per week actually performing the work, so finding a place where you can be happy and fulfilled for the other 128 hours in a week is really important. Someone in a recent thread here observed that “we are not our resumes,” and that is so, so true – you are far more than your job, and if living in a new city makes the rest of your life unhappy, it’s not worth taking a job there at any salary.

    Good luck – I hope you reach a decision you are happy with.

  50. Jennifer Chase*

    I did this type of move when I was younger and single. I would not do it now. Being near friends and family, being settled in a school system are too important to me. Unless there is a massive improvement in salary which would be life changing to your family, I just don’t see the benefit. In addition, you need to think about what would happen if that job ended up being something less than anticipated or if you were ultimately RIF’d. Y

  51. Double A*

    As I get older, the importance of being near family grows. I sometimes daydream about moving but my daydreams involve how I could convince my parents and inlaws to come with us, and the fantasy location is where we would be closer to extended family.

    But that’s a very personal reason. I know plenty of people who choose location specifically to be FAR from family.

    As a kid we moved a lot (because of my dad’s post doc), and for me it was actually great. I was a confident, adaptable kid who made friends easily and it laid the groundwork for me to feel confident striking out on my own. So in terms of impacts on kids, it’s going to vary a lot based on your kids’ personalities. Moving isn’t necessarily traumatic for kids, though I know some people worry about that (and for some kids it’s harder than others or they have very important supports in their current location that will be hard to set up again).

  52. JustMe2*

    I read over half of the comments, and I didn’t see anyone bring up commute time. The closer you live to DC, the higher the cost of housing. The farther you live from DC, the longer the commute.

    1. Bruce*

      Oh yeah, my niece near DC has her quality of life determined by how well the Metro is running… I had family that used to commute from Loudon starting in the 1950s, it was not fun…

  53. Fluffy Fish*

    What does the job give you that your current job, that you are happy with in both position and location, does not?
    How will it materially change your life?

    Future earning potential?
    Future growth potential?
    This matters for things like retirement and sending kids to college.

    Include your husbands future job in this location as well. Of course you wont know what it is but are his skills easily transferable to a new job or will the search be long and painful? Can you afford to be a one-income household for a while? How does this affect his earning potential and growth?

    Does the new location provide opportunities that your current does not?
    Such as better schools? More cultural and recreational opportunities?

    How old are your children? Changing schools in high school can be a lot different than changing schools in 3rd grade.

    How much do you realistically see your family? How much more difficult would it be to arrange family visits?

    How do you normally feel about change? Do you find it exciting like a new adventure or does it fill you with dread and anxiety?

  54. Lologrl*

    Speaking as someone who has never lived anywhere longer than 4 years my entire life (military family, various higher education for myself and spouse, then both of us teaching in higher ed in the same field, plus moving for parental medical reasons), it’s never easy. We would find ourselves getting settled, making friends, feeling financially secure, routine down, and then something would occur (job loss, starting grad school, etc.) that would require us to move. Especially in higher education, you have to follow the jobs. And we don’t have children, so I know there are additional challenges there.

    Do I regret any of our moves? No. We have had amazing experiences and grown in our careers, and we feel like we have finally found our long-term home. But I don’t know that I would have made the choice to move as often as I have if not for our various situations.

    I just recommend taking all factors into account. We would 100% move again for the exact right situation – great jobs for both of us, a desirable location, close to friends or family or at least somewhere we could make new friends. Lots of luck to you!

  55. Bruce*

    Speaking as an old Navy brat who moved frequently as a kid and also as a current homeowner… things would have to really suck for me to want to make a move like this, or the new opportunity would have to be a real life changer. I’m from VA, have family in both Richmond and the DC area and they all love where they are, once settled in they would not want to switch… Throw in moving a kid and having spouse change jobs? No way without a huge reason.

  56. Spearmint*

    Moving to a new area is such a huge stressor on everyone, I would only recommend doing so if the benefits to your career and lifestyle are really, really worth it to you. Consider the many non-financial stresses of moving:

    – You and your husband will no longer have a local group of friends and social supports, and will have to build that from scratch. This will take longer than you think, and is much harder when you’re older and have more responsibilities.

    – Your husband will likely be unemployed for awhile and will have to leave a job he may be satisfied with.

    – Your kids’ entire lives will change, from routines to friends to school.

    – The logistics of moving itself are always more stressful and time consuming than you think they’ll be.

    I’m not saying don’t move for your career, it had worked out for many people, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so lightly. It’s often hard on kids, hard marriages, and hard on you, and ime people usually underestimate how hard ping will be.

  57. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    Back in 2001 I was working in a very small niche industry, of which there were only 3 employers where I lived in Rochester NY. I had worked for 2 of them and the 3rd was a hot mess and I would have never gone there, so when I became dissatisfied with Job #2 after a shakeup in management, I had 2 choices: 1) Stay in the same city but change careers/industries and 2) Move away from where I lived. I decided on #2 because I really wanted to stay in the industry and knew I would be a desirable candidate to other agencies. I started sending out resumes and got a job offer in Milwaukee, WI at a big pay/position jump, plus they paid all our relocation costs.

    We made the leap to a place with no family or friends, mostly because my husband was stagnating at his job and the move was a bigger market for him, and my daughter was only 3 so I knew she would barely remember living in Rochester or moving away from what she knew. It did wind up being more expensive than we thought, and took up 3 years to buy a house after selling our NY one, but it was the best decision we ever made. The area has only gotten better in the 22 years we lived here, hubby got a job making lot more money, we settled into a lovely home that we still own, and as predicted our 25 year old daughter only remembers living here.

    With a child it was a bit of a struggle if daycare fell through, but I think being a tiny team of three made us very close, and my husband had to step up as a very involved caregiver because he was my whole support system when we moved. I now can’t imagine what life would have been like if we’d stayed – I am now 5 jobs past the one we moved for, and we’ve truly thrived the whole time.

    I think it also helped that my husband had moved around a lot as a kid for his father’s work, so picking up everything and moving wasn’t too weird of an idea for him. We did agree that we wouldn’t bounce from state to state every 5 years like his family did, but that if we were going to make the leap, doing so before our daughter started school was the time that most made sense.

    So a vote here for taking a chance on relocating!

    1. Bruce*

      That’s a happy story, and I appreciate the details you gave that show how it worked out for you :-)

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        You are welcome! We had just the right mix of time, place, love and luck, I think.

        Seriously though, Milwaukee is SO COOL. Everyone should be lucky enough to live here!

    2. Dog momma*

      Hey ! No longer, we’re from Rochester too! I was a nurse, husband a teacher. Wouldn’t have been able to retire & stay there, so we moved regrets

  58. Turtlewings*

    Basically the only reason I’ve moved as an adult was to get CLOSER to family, lol. In my case, I’ve tried living far away from my family (my parents retired and moved to Alabama), and I hated it. I felt lonely and adrift. Several years ago I moved from Alabama to Texas, away from *most* of my family — but only because my sister was moving there. Living with her was my only reason for moving to that specific area of Alabama anyway, and I’d grown to loathe my job there. For what it’s worth, the move to Texas turned out to be a great choice personally and professionally! But I still live with my sister, plus I now have another sister a mile away, and a brother in the next town.

    It occurs to me that my family is a lot tighter-knit than most…

    1. ferrina*

      Lol! I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum- I moved 2,000 miles to get away from my family! It’s funny how it’s such a spectrum when it comes to families. It sounds like your family is really close (emotionally and location-wise!), and that sounds amazing!

  59. Dust Bunny*

    My parents relocated first for a VASTLY better career opportunity for my dad (my siblings and I were little and either not in school yet or only in the lowest grades), and then because that job closed its offices in that state and moved everyone to another state. Siblings and I were in elementary and middle school by then and things weren’t going terrifically, anyway, so the move was a fresh start–we kids were opposed at first but got over it pretty quickly. It definitely helped, though, that we didn’t have deep commitments to the schools in the state we were leaving, and were already hundreds of miles from any extended family.

    I haven’t had to make this decision as an adult, and I don’t have a spouse or kids to consider, don’t own a home, and don’t have a lot of extended family around, so it would come down to pay, working conditions, and if it was somewhere I might want to live.

    What you describe doesn’t sound like a clear “win” to me, but you know more about the prospective job than I do.

  60. Rainbow Brite*

    I’ve happily relocated for my husband’s job and I’m planning on doing it again in the near-ish future. For a move to be worth it, I have to love a) the job (including salary or career advancement), b) the location, c) the idea of relocating for its own sake, or d) some other factor (like moving closer to friends, family, etc.). Any one of those will do if it’s enough of a draw, but more than one is even better.

  61. sookie st james*

    My parents relocated twice so I can offer a kid’s perspective.

    The first time, we moved to a new city when I was 7. At first I hated it, was terrified to move, hated them, but just a few months post-move I already loved it. My parents knew we would have a better overall quality of life (lower COL, nicer lifestyle) and I’m glad they made that decision. Young kids are adaptable. My dad commuted to the old city spending about 4 hours a day on transport, so the move was more about wanting a better life for us than moving *for* a job.

    Second time: My dad had to move to a new country (this is europe, so more like moving states for you guys) for a new job when I was at university, and my family decided not to make the move with him. My mum stayed home so my younger sibling could finish school (about 1.5 years), and they made it work taking it in turns to visit on weekends. She moved there permanently after we were both at university.

    The job he got was almost too good to turn down, but I honestly don’t know what would have happened if us kids had been younger – we would have been *very* resistant to moving as teens (and my parents living apart for any longer than they did wouldn’t have been an option) and we would not have been moving for a better life – it would have been very hard not only adapting to a new culture but moving from a sprawling seaside city to a very dense city with not a lot of kid-friendly spaces.

    I think an upheaval has to be about more than just the job – in both cases, my parents were excited by the opportunities and lifestyle that the new city/country offered. If your kids are moving with you, their happiness and quality of life has to be a factor. Kids make new friends (the younger they are the easier usually) but think about the effect the environment will have on them – how will they get around when they’re too young to drive? will they be taken from a place where they’re safe to play outside a lot to a place where they’ll be kept inside a lot more? will the difference in COL mean they have to go from having their own space to sharing a room?

  62. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    My math might be off here, but I wonder if LW has considered moving halfway and both her and her husband having longer commutes. (I’m thinking that central VA –>NOVA is ~2 hours). If you throw some telework in there, it might be doable.

    1. ferrina*

      It’s possible, but it’s a very specific lifestyle. 2 hours is pretty optimistic- if you’re commuting in rush hour, you can get backed up really badly. And have contingency plans for when I-95 comes to a complete stop (i.e., every long holiday) and your commute becomes 4 hours (I am not exaggerating- I made the mistake of trying to leave D.C. for Thanksgiving during the commute, and it will haunt me forever).

      I know families that make it work, but I know a lot more people who hated it.

      1. bmorepm*

        I would say 2 hours is actually completely unrealistic…depending of course, on the specifics of where each location is, but 2 hours for richmond to say, mclean/fairfax area is generally not typical even in the lowest traffic times, and considering central Virginia includes the area up to 45 minutes south of richmond, that just keeps creeping up. Basically cosigning your comment, ferrina, but also saying to llama above, that however long you think it’s going to take, it will always, always be longer.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Math doesn’t apply to I-95 traffic between Richmond and NoVA. If you live in Fredericksburg, which is about halfway between them, the person commuting to Richmond generally has a one-hour commute and the person commuting to NoVA/DC has about a three-hour commute.

      When I have to go into the office, I have an hour-long commute from NoVA to DC, and I live less than 20 miles away.

  63. PM by Day, Knitter by Night*

    A couple of thoughts…

    – I lived about 15 years in NoVA and can think of two specific things you should consider, in addition to COL. The first is traffic. Not just rush hour traffic – all day every day traffic in a lot of areas can be brutal. I wouldn’t go back for the traffic alone. There are public transportation options but they vary widely depending on where you are. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the other thing except to say that there is a certain intensity or competitiveness that permeates a lot of the communities. Especially true around kids, academics, sports, but also among professionals. I’ve lived many places – NoVA is intense.

    – I moved a lot as a military kid. I loved moving; my brother hated it – so the impact on the kids will vary and may be hard to predict. I do agree that moving them once they start high school should be avoided if possible. But I wouldn’t necessarily assume that it will be a negative.

    – We moved from a very high COL area (NYC) to a lower COL area (SE NE). We focused on housing prices and the difference was pretty drastic. But we failed to take into account pretty much everything else. Spoiler alert – the overall COL was not that much lower. I realize you’re going the other direction, but definitely make sure you look at all aspects of COL to get an accurate sense of how much more it’s going to be.

    1. new year, new name*

      I’m not sure exactly how to describe the other thing except to say that there is a certain intensity or competitiveness that permeates a lot of the communities. Especially true around kids, academics, sports, but also among professionals. I’ve lived many places – NoVA is intense.

      I was waiting to see if someone would mention this – I’ve lived in close-in Northern Virginia for almost all of my adult life and love it, love my community, love my neighborhood, do not want to leave. But I also decided a long time ago that if I ever had kids, I’d move away before they reached school age. Based on my friends’/neighbors’/relatives’ experiences, I find the cutthroatness of school choices, kids’ activities, academic expectations, etc. in this area to be completely overwhelming and, in many cases, pretty negative for kids’ and families’ well-being. My much-younger cousin took a nontraditional path through high school, which probably wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows in the ruralish area where I grew up, but the stress it put on my aunt & uncle was striking. Anyway, just something else to think about!

      1. bmorepm*

        agree with you both, although I also struggled with how to characterize this in my comment elsewhere.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        NoVA is full of better-off-than-average Type As. I generally try to avoid the obnoxiously competitive ones. My kids do recreation league sports, scouts, drama, and volunteer work, which tends to keep us away from the crazies. (Lacrosse and travel soccer parents are next level.) We also don’t enforce the cutthroat academics at home or send them to prep classes outside of school – my kids are in the level of classes appropriate to them and are expected to do their best in them. If you’re someone who feels pressure to play the game, it may be a problem, but there are also plenty of normal people to social with who play sports for fun and will still like your kid if they get a B or aren’t taking honors/AP classes.

        I did make someone wildly uncomfortable once when they were complaining about how many resources special ed kids took away from the “smart ones” by letting them know they were talking to one of those children’s parents and watching them flail to get the foot out of their mouth. I refuse to take on that discomfort when they’re the one being the asshole.

      3. Seashell*

        I live in what sounds like a comparable area in the NYC region. It does have its downsides regarding pressure for kids to achieve, but you could not pay me to live somewhere rural. I have relatives with kids in a rural area and there was little support/encouragement for their kids to go to college. I doubt those schools would do well with kids with any special needs or disabilities, and I doubt the community would be very accepting of a non-conforming kid.

  64. Meep*

    My parents still live in the same house they bought in May 2000 and I have only ever moved once as a child because my dad didn’t want us in that school district (the middle school was considered a feeder school into drug abuse at the time and I ended up going to one of the top 100 high schools in the country as a result). Since you are concerned about uprooting your children, look at if there are not good schools if not better in the new area that would benefit them. That #100 school was an absolute joke, but it definitely helped my chances of getting into college, for example.

    Also, consider what job opportunities your husband will have. It sucks but a lot of mens’ egoes (the good kind) are tied to their job which can negatively affect his quality of life if he feels like he has to find a “lesser” job. There are a lot of studies on this if you want to look into it.

  65. All Het Up About It*

    I’m really going to be interested to read this whole thread. I’ve thought about when I’m ready to move on to my next job if there’s really anything I want in my area and if I could find anything I’d like at the pay band I’m now accustomed to that is remote seems… unlikely. At least in my desired fields. There are so many components to consider! It seems overwhelming even when it’s more hypothetical. Or how do you target areas you’d like to live? Or find jobs in areas, you hadn’t considered, but the job sounds awesome?

    I’m glad the LW asked this question!

    1. ferrina*

      A few things to think about when looking at areas:

      -What are your personal values? Are these values reflected in the communities around you?
      -What are the things that make for a good night out? What are the amenities you want close at hand? For me, I need a good Indian restaurant and a good Thai restaurant within 15-20 minutes. This will look different to other people.
      -How much do you like to be outside? When you are outside, what is it that you like about being outside? An earlier commenter lamented not being able to go outside for 3 months/year in -30 degree weather in North Dakota. Some people would be fine with this, most of us would pay a sanity cost.
      -What other communities are important to you? Religious communities? Hobbies? Think about what makes you happy, and make sure the new place has that.

      That will help you be able to narrow your focus. Don’t be afraid to rule things out for reasons that feel silly- no matter how good a job is, I would be really sad if I couldn’t have vindaloo for a year. And that matters!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      ferrina has good advice. I have also job-hunted with the intent to move. In my case, I like the job fine and there was room to grow at that company, but I realized the location wasn’t right for me (and remote work isn’t a great solution for me either).

      how do you target areas you’d like to live?

      For me, I know I like living in a mid-sized city. There are a lot of mid-sized cities in the US, so that doesn’t help narrow it down too much. I know there are certain climates that don’t agree with me, so that knocked out some broad areas of the country. And I decided I wanted to live close to family/friends, or in a place that had easier travel opportunities to them (direct flight vs. lay-over, 3 hr car ride with little traffic vs. 3 hr car ride with heavy to give two examples of what “easier travel” can look like).

      I ended up with a list of ~8 cities in two regions of the country that met my criteria, and then I just started job-searching in all of them. I focused more on a few cities than others (ones I had visited before, ones that were closer to family), and I accepted a job offer that met my job criteria and moved.

  66. Pink Brownie*

    My family has uprooted several times in my life, mostly my parents when I was young, then when I wasn’t as young but still needed them nearby. Then I, myself, uprooted my family. I’ll go in parts:
    **TW for assault**
    My mother used to work for the federal gov’t (now retired) in a high-crime “state” that was hard to escape (think of an island that’s not in the Pacific). She was offered a lateral move to a less crime-ridden area – and, because it’s the federal gov’t, they paid slightly more due to COL. So, with the fear of God in their souls, my parents uprooted us when I was 14 and my brother 4. I knew the language fairly well, though it wasn’t my first language. My first year was terrible! Major moves are awful for teenagers. But my parents weighed this against the fear of simply losing me or my brother to violence. What prompted the move was when a family friend’s children who were slightly older than us were carjacked, the daughter was raped, and both children were left in a field in the middle of nowhere. Compared to that, they took what was offered.

    The second time, I was already in my early 20’s, my brother is 10 years younger. My mother could not advance without relocating. The pay they offered was outstanding, plus relo assistance. That sealed the deal and they moved. I followed. My parents did it again a third time, for the same reason (better opportunity in a different state) when my little brother was in 11th grade. He suffered the most, TBH.

    When my kids were 6 and 1 years old, my husband got injured at work and wasn’t able to continue working (he worked for the federal gov’t as well, and worker’s comp is a joke when you’re a federal worker – but that’s another story). We lived in a high COL area (near northern VA, actually!). It was just my income and we were about to lose our house. My parents had already retired and helped us find a home in a state near them – even bought it for us and we rented it from them at cost. My income alone was enough to then support my own family. Now that my kids are older, the thought alone of uprooting them is not something I can stomach. It’s really tough. The job would have to be outstanding – I mean, my making double what I make in a low COL area, because otherwise it is NOT worth it.

    TL;DR: think of your children’s ages and whether they can adjust. The younger they are, the better they’ll adjust, though it’s still no guarantee. The job would have to be amazing and you must be desperate before considering it. Just friendly advice from someone who’s been moved around less than an Army brat…

  67. Butterfly Counter*

    I was in a similar situation. For me, it came down to math.

    We would go from a $100,000 a year combined income in a low COL area to $55,000 a year in a high COL area. While that income, at the time, was enough to sustain us, job opportunities for my spouse were very limited, and we would barely have our heads above water for a long, long time. At that moment, where we were, we were getting ready to purchase a home. The move would put off home buying for a minimum of 5 years, if ever. We didn’t have kids.

    So with that math, I turned down the job.

    Also, I was a kid whose family moved around a lot. It impacted me greatly since I’ve never been one to easily make friends. So, while it is ultimately the decision for you and your spouse to make, don’t discount harm done to your child(ren).

    1. ferrina*

      Yes, definitely factor in your kid’s personality. I have one kid that is slow to make friends- he’s a likeable kid, he has plenty of casual friends, but he just doesn’t have super close friends who he’s really attached too (he’s friendly, but surprisingly cautious). My other kid makes friends super easily, and can quickly find someone she connects with. She walks into a room, and 20 minutes later she’s been voted president. She would complain about a move but ultimately be fine; my boy would take longer to adjust, so I’d need to think more deeply about how he connects to the place that we’d move to and if it’s a good fit for him. He also tends to be in touch with his feelings, which is really helpful.

  68. Jamie not Jaime*

    Speaking as the wife whose husband relocated for jobs (currently we’ve been married 27 years and have moved 9 times in that 27 years. He is a chemical engineer by degree, has worked in chemicals, then in manufacturing, working his way up from a process engineer to plant manager) each change was met with, how do we make this work for our family? First some background info…. We married in college, and his first job out was with the company where he did work-study. We moved a couple years later and as a teacher in a specific area, it wasn’t easy finding a job, but I got very lucky. We ended up moving less than a year later, had a baby, and I again got lucky with a job. We moved 3 years later, after baby 2 came along because he realized where he was professionally was not working. He was excited to get back in to chemical manufacturing. That job/company he regrets leaving to this day. I had transitioned to a stay at home mom. Both children were preK age, so it worked. Baby 3 came along during that stay. We were there 5 years. Now, we have children in school. He hears grumbling, concerned about changes, he switches to a different area of manufacturing. That job was going to be a big move. First things first, we arranged for me and the children to stay until Christmas break. I handled all the paperwork for the school transitions, and it went smoothly. I was working part time as a preschool teacher/director during that time. The company moved us 3 years later. Again, the moved happened during Christmas break, I had already been in contact with schools, so everything went smoothly. The next move was to a different company, and I insisted the kids finish the school year and we move during the summer. It worked out well. So, we’re there 2 years, Hubby is sensing things are changing, and is contacted by a former boss about a job. At this point, we sit our oldest down, because he’s in high school, and we have a serious conversation with him, and ask his thoughts on moving. He was okay with it, and we had our choice of 4 schools he could attend that were in decent driving distance for Hubby. We visited the schools, met with football coaches, principals, other kids, and we allowed him to have a voice in where he went to high school. We were there 6 years. I started teaching high school again, and when Hubby realized some shady things were happening at work, I asked him to find something that would keep us there until 1. I was fully licensed again and 2. The middle child graduated high school. He did, and we moved in the middle of the pandemic. We’ve been fortunate we’ve only moved one other time and it was 45 miles up the highway from where we were.

    Now that you have our story, my advice… we sit down and talk to each other about what our expectations are. He is honest with me about his job, what he is seeing, what he is thinking, and 9 times out of 10, he has been right about what he sees and thinks is happening. He knows I have horrible anxiety, and stress over these situations. But he still communicates with me. My spouse will forever and always make more money than me. As a teacher, even in my specific area of study, I can find a job. I may have to commute (been there. An hour each way) but I’ll find work. We talk money. Open, honest communications about money. This is what we can afford if you take this job at this salary. But the biggest deciding factors for us are his mental health, his job security, and how will it affect our children. Do we regret some moves? Yep. We do. Am I thankful our children were able to see the world outside our front door? Yep. My kids have an incredible appreciation for everyone and see people for who they are only. They are social, adaptable, and incredible people. How much of that is our own influence and how much of it is because they’ve lived in some pretty interesting places, I don’t know. But I’m pretty darn proud of the young adults they are. We made sure we got involved in their schools, in the community where we moved, and we asked questions.

    No relocation is easy. We’ve been lucky to work with relocation specialists that each company utilized to make transitions “easier.” Really, they are there to help with the logistics of selling your home, buying a new one, and moving. YOU have to do the leg work. Talk to each other. Talk to your children (age appropriately and if applicable) and do the math. He accepted jobs that were either lateral moves to lower cost of living areas, or a bump in salary, and we lived in lower cost of living areas.

  69. Biff*

    I wouldn’t move a kid who is in Middle School or High School unless they are keen on moving (and NOT starry-eyed about it, but keen on the whole concept and being realistic) or it’s move-or-starve. I got moved during high school and my every effort to have friends in the new high school was a major flop. I’m almost 40, and I still see impacts of this in my life, unfortunately. There’s certain stuff you just can’t get back and not having those touchstone experiences can paint you as other, even as an adult. In retrospect, I feel that the senior year of high school is when most people start to figure out networking, and if you take that early, foundational network away, it’s a big deal.

    1. Melissa*

      I didn’t move but had no real friends in high school, and high tailed it out of the state as soon as I graduated. (And I’m a pleasant person! As an adult I have many friends and I get along well with almost everyone.). I feel like there’s some real idealization of the high school experience in this thread.

      1. Meep*

        I had friends in high school and I still talk to some of them. The number of people who thought they would have their “Disney Channel movie” moment in high school at all costs was pretty amazing. In fact, one of my former friends went off the deep end of senior year trying to make it happen. The ones that are worth it will stay your friends even across country.

      2. twenty points for the copier*

        Agree! We didn’t move but I changed high schools in 10th grade and after being in the same system with the same kids for 10 years I was excited for the change and opportunity to start fresh. And of course was the same not-particularly-popular but had enough friends to get by nerd that I had been at my old school. It was fine and I don’t regret the switch (the academics were better though there were fewer elective options) but it wasn’t until college that I really felt comfortable enough around my peers to learn better social and networking skills.

  70. Healthcare Manager*

    As someone who’s moved around the world 3 times, I wouldn’t move for a job.

    I’d move because I wanted to live in that place. Jobs are far too fickle and can easily not be what you’d expect.

    Alternatively, I’d only move for a job if I had my career pathway mapped out and leaving where I was was necessary for career progression.

  71. kiki*

    I think a big early consideration is identifying what benefits this new job would bring to you. Is the pay higher (adjusted for COL)? Is this job a stepping stone to better opportunities than you could feasibly get while staying put? Are you really, really excited for this new job?

    Then you weigh those against the costs you mentioned. I’d pay a lot of consideration to how likely it is that your partner could find good work that they would like. Could you reasonably support your family on your salary alone for a while? Would moving set back your partner’s career trajectory?

    On moving away from family, it doesn’t sound like you’ll be moving terribly far away, but if you are very close to your family or rely on them for help, that’s definitely a big thing to consider.

    On uprooting your kid, it can be tricky. I moved around a bit as a kid for my dad’s career and I actually think it helped make me better-adjusted than others who stayed in the same place their whole life. I’m not an extrovert, but I can always find new friends in a group of people; I am really great at navigating new environments. But I also didn’t need special support systems or accommodations growing up.

  72. BlueSwimmer*

    I have lived in NOVA for 30 years. It’s a great place to live with excellent schools and lots of activities. It’s also becoming insanely expensive. Houses in my neighborhood in Alexandria regularly have multiple bids and go for above the asking price. Take a trip up and drive around neighborhoods you are interested in, checking out the houses for sale.

    Then, consider the commute you will have– many people here have killer commutes in order to live further out and have a nicer house for the money. Check out the NOVA reddit and ask about your possible commutes between your future office and possible neighborhoods. Commutes here are not just about the miles between two places, so getting the inside scoop is key. Then decide if you want a less nice home to live closer to your office or are you willing to spend a lot of time commuting.

  73. OP*

    Thanks for the thoughts everyone! I am sure this is all moot since I have not heard from the recruiter since writing in, but to answer some of the points, I work in local government and switched to my current position a year ago because my old job was stressful and I wanted better work-life balance and a boss who didn’t yell at me in the hallway for answering an email sent to me without his permission. I went from a leadership position to more of a middle management position. I cannot see staying in this position long term. I want to get back into leadership, which this would do. Also, my retirement plan would stay the same and pension is based on last 5 years salary, so even though I still have 20 years it would be a positive move there. Kiddo is in the third grade and would likely adjust ok. Husband doesn’t love his job so no concerns with leaving, just with finding a new one. We would be the same distance from my mom but further from his family so the kiddo wouldn’t see cousins as often. We are familiar with NoVA traffic and that, housing costs, and being away from family would be our major concerns.

    1. Bruce*

      That is useful context. I think a 3rd grader could adjust, I agree with others that moving high schoolers is a lot more challenging (though for me moving from Tidewater to the SF Bay area at the start of 11th grade was actually a good thing… for one thing I was introduced to Monty Python, another was that the school had more advanced classes and professor’s kids that I had to keep up with :-) ) Good luck whatever you do!

    2. Olive*

      This seems like a good time to move as long as you can afford housing.

      What are prospects like for leadership positions where you are currently? A big consideration might be if your department/field/city is small enough that finding desirable positions will be hard for you going forward without relocating. It would probably be better to make the move now than to wait 5 years and realize that you have no realistic way to advance in your current location.

      I successfully moved a kindergartener across the country, but remained unhappy that my parents moved me before second grade. A big difference in the two moves (both from larger to smaller places) was that I felt like we went from being active in our old community with a more diverse set of friends and acquaintances to being an extremely boring family who never did anything fun or went out anywhere except church. Being closer to some family members didn’t balance that out. I realize as an adult that my parents were stressed and didn’t have existing friends in our new city, but I never stopped feeling like I moved to the most boring place in the world. Even though it’s not always been easy, I’ve combatted that with making sure that my own kid immediately had some other other outlets besides school.

    3. ferrina*

      Thanks for the additional context!

      Sounds like you’re in a pretty good place to consider moving for the right job! I grew up a couple hours away from my cousins, and would regularly see them for holidays and a week or so for summer break (my aunt and uncle would let us stay at their place for a week to do a day camp in their area with my cousins). It worked out pretty well! The traffic and housing costs are rough, so it sounds like you’re being smart in thinking critically about what would and wouldn’t work for your family in those areas. You can also dig a little deeper on the different areas around NoVa- some commutes are much worse than others (I worked in Arlington for a few years and found a side commute that was just 20 minutes each way), and ditto with housing costs. Definitely make sure your salary is adjusted for the cost of housing. For your husband, one of the perks of being in NoVa is that you’ve got a lot of employers within an hour. If needed, he could find an initial position that he plans to stay in short term until he finds a more closer one.
      Good luck in your job search! (both near and far!)

    4. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP — Thanks for supplying some context. Given what you say about your recent job history, the move sounds like it would make more sense for you, if the recruiter decides to follow up.

      Even if this lead doesn’t turn into anything — maybe it’s time for you and your husband to start planning your next move? If his career is portable and you don’t want to stay where you are for much longer, it might be time to start looking more actively.

      My only suggestion would be to try to move the kiddo before they start middle school. The older they get, the harder they are to transplant.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I cannot envision moving to NoVA for a better work-life balance, TBH, unless your employer is open to remote/hybrid work or you can live very close to work. Pre-pandemic, when I had to be at work 5 days/week, I lost at least 10 hours/week to commuting (and live within Metro distance), typically did not have dinner with my family, and often went straight from work to kids’ activities and school things. My quality of life is much better now that I have a hybrid schedule and only commute 2-3 times/week. I also have an amazing boss and team at work and enjoy what I do most days.

      My husband is a fed, I get the higher salary in NoVA helping with pension – it’s one of the reason he’s agreed to stay here.

      Housing is nuts, but you probably have more flexibility if you’re working in Virginia instead of DC. It gets increasingly expensive as you get close to the city, and you’ll get more bang for your buck further out. Bonus points if you can reverse commute (away from DC in the AM/toward DC in the PM).

      Also, if you’re coming in to Fairfax County, your child will be eligible for consideration for the advanced academics program (AAP), so ask about that before you register for school, if you think it’d be a good fit for them.

  74. Jen*

    I was moved a lot as a kid. Corporations in the 70’s and 80’s thought nothing of transferring executives, and my dad often went looking for greener job pastures. I went to nine schools, K-12. I’ve also recently helped my retired dad sell his house and move to another state. Overall, I would say moving is very, very hard. Much harder than people give it credit for being. The stress of relocating is very real, and I still see the effects, in my adult life, of having so many moves as a kid. That said, if everything else about a move was good (great job, great location, other important factors like extended family, hobbies, partner’s career, money), I wouldn’t hesitate to move little kids. Preschoolers and primary school students don’t have friends as much as they have playmates, and they’ll make those fast in a new school. I wouldn’t move a middle school or high school student unless the move seemed necessary (job loss, health care needs in the family, military transfer, incredible financial opportunity), and then I’d plan on the kid needing lots of support and TLC and help staying connected to friends and extended family.

  75. Avril Ludgateaux*

    Note: the following advice is coming from a person who is very risk averse.

    I think you have to weigh just how disruptive this will be to you and your family, versus how much of a career or lifestyle advantage this will actually bring. Because you have a child, in my opinion, you should probably have a frank family discussion to gather their perspectives. Specifics of your situation matter: how much is you mother involved in your day-to-day, for example; how old is your son (younger kids can be more resilient to being uprooted); how reliant is your son on his support system; what about the benefits package (especially things like health insurance); how attached is your husband to his job/employer and is his career one where he will have an easy time finding new employment; how big of a cultural/lifestyle difference are your origin and end points (I know you’re moving within the same state, but coming from a densely populated state, even going a few towns over can be a vastly different sociopolitical environment, which for me is important); how much will the financial opportunity be offset by moving costs, let alone cost of living (you did mention considering the latter in your minimum salary – but did you consider what happens if your partner takes a pay cut or is long-term unemployed after the move? If you own your home, consider the costs, potential losses of selling right now vs. the costs of buying a new place with current interest rates as they are.)

    And not least of all, how badly do you want this new opportunity, and why? Especially as you said you weren’t actively looking for a new role, what is compelling you toward it? Is it a title promotion? Is it the money? Does it come with better benefits? Are you unhappy or less-than-happy at your current employer? If so, what is making you feel this way – content/nature/material of work? Management? Stagnation? Overwork? Burnout?

  76. merula*

    I moved a ton as a kid, and typically in the middle of the school year. Third grade was the first year I spent the entire school year in one place, and then we moved in the summer between 3rd and 4th.

    It was pretty traumatic, even when it was a move that I wanted as a kid (moving closer to extended family). Part of that was that us kids had no part of the decision at all, it was basically all my dad making decisions that were better for his career. I remember one Saturday he got a call offering him a job most of the way across the country and he accepted on the spot and then announced it to the rest of the family.

    I don’t think it’s always traumatic for kids, but not moving in the middle of the year and targeting natural breaks in schools helps. (Although make sure the breaks in the new place correspond to the breaks in the old place; moving between 5th and 6th sounds great if your elementary schools go through 5th, but if the new ones go through 6th it’s a different story.) And make the kids a part of the process, have their input in your pro/con list, etc.

    1. Bruce*

      Ooof… I can relate, I moved a month into 5th grade, and it was the worst year of my life “so far”…
      I’m commenting a lot on this post, stirs up many memories…

  77. Green Tea*

    I currently live in NoVa and it is lovely with good schools here but so very expensive, so I definitely get your concerns. For me, relocating to another area would require a big enough salary bump to be worth it: my spouse and I have informally set a minimum requirement of a $100K bump to relocate for a job for either one of us – which would be effectively doubling either of our salaries – and more for an area like NYC or SF which comes with a higher price tag. The area itself is also very important, not just in terms of COL but also climate, community, walkability, employment opportunities for your spouse, politics, etc. So if you haven’t made a weekend trip up to explore, that would be my top recommendation if you do get an interview. What are your outside interests and how do they align with the area’s offerings? If you enjoy biking or kayaking, or trying new restaurants or cultural events like going to museums or seeing plays, this is a great spot to be, so close to DC. If you enjoy being a hobby farmer in your spare time, you won’t be happy here.

    Also, find out whether there is flexibility to go hybrid, so you could have a longer commute twice per week for more affordable housing vs. a shorter commute five days per week that makes you live in a really expensive neighborhood, or have way less space than your family is used to.

    For the job itself, would this move come with good upward growth opportunities that align with your career interests? Is the company/org well respected? Is the industry stable right now, or have similar companies been doing layoffs?

  78. JSPA*

    Richmond (say) to DC (say) or Bethesda (say) is 2.5 hours, depending (sometimes hugely depending) on traffic.

    If they offered a 4 day schedule, set up as 2 x 2 days, with 2 overnights per week in DC, would you be able to keep your home life in place, commute 5-7:30 AM twice a week, and back after evening rush hour?

    The greyhound appears to be $16 each way, if that’s too much driving (this assumes you’re close to the respective termini).

    If I were someone who could work in a moving vehicle, I’d consider it effective use of time (and the extra money would cover hotels and transportation).

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Richmond to DC is 2.5 hours when there is no traffic and I-95 is moving, which is to say, never. Greyhound stops in every small town between, and you should basically take any travel time and multiply it by at least two when doing it via Greyhound. More people commuting that far take Amtrak/VRE or a commuter bus, but it’s still multiple stops and long-haul.

      My spouse and I both have coworkers who live as far out as West Virginia or Pennsylvania and do things like this. It only works because they have spouses who do not work or family members who care for their children, and they tend to miss A LOT of activities/performances/school events. Do not recommend.

  79. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I moved from east coast to west coast for a job at a household name Tech Giant. (I already had a job at a subsidiary of another household name Tech Giant, but I was very unhappy there.) Here are some of the factors I considered:

    – I was single and living alone, and not particularly attached to anybody there. I had some close friends, but no potential life partners or whatever. (At the time, I was also in a LDR with someone on the west coast, but that actually didn’t have too much to do with it – I tried to exclude that from my thinking as it wasn’t clear that we were a Forever Match.)
    – The area I’d move to has an excellent job market in my field. Especially with 2 Tech Giants on my resume, I could trip and fall into a new job almost without trying if I need to. (Maybe not right now, but most of the time. And right now I still think my prospects are OK. This factor might also matter less in this post-COVID-onset remote-friendly world.)
    – I had a few friends in the area already, so I knew I didn’t have zero support network. I also was somewhat familiar with the area as a result of visiting them before.
    – I didn’t have family on either end, so it wasn’t really a factor for me, but this is likely a factor for most people.
    – I know that I am quick to make friends, so I was confident in my ability to find new friends and make a new support network when I landed.
    – The job was much, much better – doing work I was very, very interested in, at a company with a ton of lateral move opportunity (team transfers within Tech Giants are typically very easy, as they’d rather keep the talent than lose it on the whole).
    – My company arranged for the entire relocation (hiring movers, finding temporary housing, etc), so it really was quite painless. I knew that such a move would be much more difficult unassisted, so I actually kind of jumped at the opportunity to get this adventure “for free”.

    Do I miss the east coast? Yeah, totally. But I also haven’t been back to visit since then (I was very busy, and then COVID happened, and now it’s been nearly 7 years). I didn’t expect to love that even the crappy cheap apartments here tend to have outdoor space (even if it’s a tiny Juliet balcony), and I didn’t expect to miss the changing of the seasons as much as I do (we technically have seasons, but it’s nothing compared to witnessing Boston shift from summer to fall to winter). I wish I had thought a little more about what it would be like to live somewhere as industrially homogenous here – most days it feels like EVERYONE is a software engineer everywhere you go, and that can feel kind of stifling and sad. But overall, I think this was a very good move for me, and I’m happy I did it.

  80. RCB*

    Keep in mind that it’s also a different cost of living, not always a higher cost of living. We moved from a cheap cost of living (Indiana) to high cost (Northern Virginia, so same area as the OP), and yes, housing costs went up dramatically, but vehicle costs went down significantly. In Indiana we had 2 cars, which meant 2 car payments, 2 insurances, 2 gas, 2 maintenance, etc. In Northern Virginia we barely needed a car so we had 1 much older car that we rarely drove so we saved about $1,000 a month just on car costs, and that helped a lot to make up for the increased housing costs. We did get salary increases too that helped cushion some of the blow, though not all of it, but in the end it all evened out, and the QUALITY of life is so much better overall too. Not sure how much you pay in health insurance but if you pay mostly out of pocket I know that the DC area is MUCH healthier than Indiana, so health insurance is significantly cheaper too, so that might help out as well, but depends on your specific situation.

    1. Beehoppy*

      This also depends on WHERE in NOVA you live – my guess is you’re in Arlington. Anything further out and you DEFINITELY need a car.

      1. Green Tea*

        I live out in the Mount Vernon area, way past Arlington, and we are definitely in the ‘one car for the household, only occasionally used’ boat like RCB. It depends a lot on how comfortable you are with biking/walking, with the bus/metro system and how many days are needed in the office vs. from home. Before Covid, I went into the office in DC 5 days a week via bus and metro because I dislike rush hour driving – it wasn’t ideal, timewise but it was definitely doable and I preferred it to driving.

          1. Green Tea*

            It’s very possible it’s not walkable to the standard YOU prefer, or that metro’s shutdowns and substitutional shuttle service or VRE transportation feels intolerable to YOU, but I promise you the buses and trains are full of people who do this every day.

            I having been in our current house the past ten years, I know this area very, very well. And like I said, commuted to DC via public transportation for seven years pre-Covid for five days a week, and currently do a two day per-week hybrid schedule. There are dozens of places within a 20-30 minute walk of me: grocery stores, restaurants, a second hand shop, gyms, other stores. Extend that out to a bike ride, and that number more than doubles. There are multiple bus WMATA or Fairfax Connect bus routes within walking distance that I can take to either the blue or yellow line trains which makes it easier to avoid shutdowns: REX, 171, 159, 151, or the 308. The REX will also take me to the King Street VRE, and the 308 will take me to the Franconia VRE if the metro is shutdown and the shuttle service isn’t great. But, to be honest, the express shuttles during shutdown from Huntington and from Franconia to Pentagon have actually been faster for me than the normal metro route, so I don’t often bother with VRE. If you have a car and enjoy your car’s comforts and convenience, more power to you – like I said, we have a car too that we sometimes use. But it’s not an all caps NECESSITY like Beehoppy says.

  81. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Apparently, I am way more cavalier about moving than most here, but even I would only move if there was a big draw for the new place – absolutely amazing job, salary, dream location, etc. I moved overseas and back with a child each time, and I kind of thrived off the chaos of exploring all the new doctors and stores, and community. But that was possible because the job that precipitated the move each time was a big draw.

    1. 867-5309*

      I was thinking the same thing for me! I’ve moved cities, states and countries for work.

      When deciding about my last move, I did an excel grid with a series of factors that looked at my current job and three others who made an offer or I knew the offer was pending. In addition to columns for salary, bonus potential, stock options and vacation, I did a 1-5 scale on location general, politics of the city or state, major airport, weather (I prefer cold to hot weather and one of the jobs was in Florida), vibe of the team, passion for the work and few other ancillary things that are important.

      I will say that in this case, I opted for the job with the lowest overall score (salary, vacation, etc. were similar to another role) because I felt there was something special about the team and the change they were undergoing and I wanted to be part of it, even if the industry and location did not rank the highest.

  82. bmorepm*

    given these specific details, I would just also acknowledge how much more difficult it is to exist in that geographic area-it takes 2-3 times as long to get anywhere, it’s so much more expensive, less convenient, it’s very much a super specific “vibe,” with so many people in the area for federal/political jobs, the traffic..oh god, the traffic. I might be biased, because I loved living in the richmond area, and obviously there are positives about nova-the diversity of culture, food, good schools, to name a few…but given the specific area in question, my bar would be SO MUCH higher than it would for another area. just my two cents :)

    1. OP*

      Richmond is awesome and absolutely my favorite place that I have lived. (No stranger to moving, just all as a single person.)

  83. ChareerChameleon*

    Seriously. My first relocation was because I knew a good job in my field would likely be in one of three places and I lived somewhere else entirely. It was a great move, and part of the consideration is that my partner and I were both sitting on offers there.

    My second relocation was because it was a good step on the career path I had in mind for myself. A management role with a strategy component and plenty of technical challenge. They offered to find my partner a role that was lateral. The job itself was meh, but gave me critical experience that made me in high demand for the next step. My partner’s job was a letdown, but he found a hood niche for himself and was highly valued. The location was a horrible fit and I was itching to leave.

    The third relocation required maintaining separate residences 5 hours apart. The job was great, the location was great, and we managed the distance. Not ideal, but doable. Then the job got stagnant.

    The fourth relocation was because I needed a big challenge because I felt like I wasn’t learning as much as I wanted to be learning. It was a learn-a-new-language move. And we maintained two residences plane rides away. Again, it was for critical experience, but there was also a part of me that just wanted to see if I could still do this type of thing and make it a positive experience.

    These were successful because I have a supportive partner. Each time brought an overall financial advantage, but it wasn’t necessarily significant (I based it on breaking even with allowances made for living in a more desirable place, etc.). I think it would be possible with kids but I don’t have them (I moved states multiple times because my parents relocated for work, including in high school). There was never any expectation that I stay close to home because my parents never stayed close to home. I fly family out to visit me when I want them to visit. It takes great money management and planning. Also, I really am a chameleon, and I dig new environments and experiences.

    Kids are super resilient, and there are support networks and services in most locations (or virtual) – they’re just a PITA to find and set up. In rare cases, you may need specialized services and you know you’ve gotten lucky with your provider; in this case, it’s a great reason for not relocating. All of the front-end inconveniences are considerations that should be included in your initial negotiation.

  84. catscatscats*

    My husband and I were in a similar situation a few years ago. He was frustrated with his job and got recruited for an interesting opportunity in a different industry that would require a move to a different city, but potentially higher salary. We’d moved pretty consistently every 1-5 years and the opportunity came just as we hit 5 years in our current location.

    We were open to moving (no kids, no house) but unsure (hadn’t been looking). We played a behavioral econ game to elicit our preferences. First we calculated the equivalent salary for him in the new location, to find the absolute minimum we’d need. Then we calculated how much he’d have to earn to compensate for me (possibly) losing my income, plus the cost of moving and needing a larger down payment for a house. This range was our minimum acceptable range, and it was on the high end of the offer, which told us we were risking a pay cut.

    Then we started to play a game. Starting at a ridiculously too high number (like $10 mil), we asked each other whether we’d move for that annual salary. We worked our way down to the upper end of the range we already had, to solicit the monetary value of moving/job opportunity. This gave us two pieces of info: (1) the monetary value we ascribed to the opportunity and (2) my husband kept talking about how he could work for a few years and then quit after making a lot of money.

    At that point, it was pretty clear that we should not move just so he could be earn extra money we didn’t need at a job he wasn’t sure he’d like. The risks weren’t worth the money offered, and the issues with his job were better addressed in other ways.

  85. Medium Sized Manager*

    Taking work out of the equation, think about your quality of life if you moved:

    – Do you have family nearby? How often would you see them if you moved?
    – Same but with friends. What does your life look like if your support system changes?
    – What do you like to do on the weekends or in your free time? Does this change if you move?
    – Are things about your community that are unique/hard to find? Sports, theater, people who share your interests/culture, etc.

    If your QOL will suffer, it’s probably not worth it. If your QOL is going to be about the same or even better, then think about the job and apply your normal “do I want to change jobs” considerations.

  86. Echo*

    Do you want to live in northern VA? Are you excited about it? (I’m from there and so I think parts of NoVA are pretty rad, but I am biased.) I think the only scenario where I’d relocate is if the job were in an area I felt genuinely really thrilled about the opportunity to live in – and where my partner did too. I think the money and cost of living matters less than feeling at home, to be honest.

  87. CG*

    My wife and I moved about 500 miles once with a 4 year old. We were already nowhere near my family (who I am not close to) but were moving away from hers. This happened because we had both been working for the same very large company, in different divisions, and the company did one of its notorious annual layoffs and laid us both off within about two months of each other, with generous severance.

    We weren’t super happy on a personal level with the city we lived in, and our son was small enough that he didn’t have a ton of close friends, so I asked my wife if she’d be cool with me applying for jobs in [city we live in now, which we’d visited on vacation] and she agreed. I somehow managed to get a job there, and we moved, and we’ve been here for the last eight years.

    From a childcare perspective, it hasn’t been great; since we are no longer living near any family members at all, we do not have anyone other than ourselves who can pick up our kid from school. However, from a quality of life, growth, career, and personal happiness perspective, it has been ASTOUNDINGly good. She and I were just discussing this last night – “thanks [new company] for hiring me! thanks [old company] for laying off a married couple with a small child!”

  88. YetAnotherAnalyst*

    When we made our big move it felt like a huge gamble, but it was also sort of a no-brainer. My spouse wasn’t able to find work where we were, but had an offer for a job he liked (very nearly a “dream job”) in another state. I was employed where we were and just about making ends meet, but state budget nonsense meant my employer was struggling to get contracts signed and the writing was clearly on the wall for layoffs. We had friends and my family nearby, but the situation with my family had soured enough that moving 250 miles seemed like maybe a good idea. The big risks were that it would be traumatic for our kid (it was a little), that I would have trouble finding work (I didn’t, but I did need to start over in an entirely different career), and that my spouse’s job wouldn’t be what he was hoping (he mostly loved it, and has been very successful). I’d say things have generally worked out really well from that move, but even ten years on I sometimes really miss the support network I had and the sense of place from living where I grew up

  89. Sara without an H*

    I have mixed feelings about moving for jobs. I worked in higher education (just retired — yay!), a field where you really don’t get to pick where you live. You go where the job is, like it or not.

    Most of my moves made sense on paper, in that I was moving up in title and/or salary. (I did one lateral move to get into a new specialization.) That said, moving is expensive, and I I lost money for the first couple of years on each of them. A couple of these jobs turned out to be in organizations that were toxic. (Academic libraries are quite good at concealing the dysfunction until after you’ve signed your contract.) Changing jobs without relocating is rarely possible in higher education, so escaping Toxic U. meant moving again.

    Based on all this, I’d discourage anybody from moving for a job unless it was a really exciting opportunity AND an area they’d be happy to live in. I’d also recommend thinking about what you would do if the new job went pear-shaped and you needed to find something else.

  90. WorkingRachel*

    I think it’s pretty destructive that we’ve normalized relocating for work, at least when it takes us away from important social ties. (I know some people, particularly non-white people, who move and take their extended family along.) I think my own ties with friends and family are much weaker because I moved so much as a kid and in my early twenties. Moving makes us more dependent on the capitalist system and weakens our ability to form community and be interdependent with that community. I’ve always said I would never move for work after being affected so negatively by my parents moving for work when I was a kid, and I’ve made choices about my career to support that (for instance, I’ve resisted going to library school because so many librarians have to move to find a job.)

    I don’t see any compelling reasons for you to move, so I’d advise against it. It would be a different story, of course, if you were truly strapped financially or had no job options where you are.

  91. cheeks*

    Personally, moving for a job feels a lot like moving for a boyfriend. I’m definitely not doing it unless there’s a solid relationship already in tact.

    That means – is the company one you’ve been following for a while? Is it a stable position? Are you in touch with other employees there who can vouch for the workload?

    What’s your relationship to the new city? Have you spent a lot of time there and does it feel comparable or better to your current living situation? If it’s a higher cost of living, the salary needs to reflect that, and I would negotiate for that from the very beginning.

    Given the uncertainty of your letter, I would advise against moving for this particular job. But if you’re open to moving, I’d do more research on places you can picture yourself living and then apply to jobs in those places. Do some research on the salaries offered for your position. What would the cost to move look like and will the company cover any of it? Will they provide any assistance with finding a new home if you are uprooting your family?

    I think having some of this information ahead of even applying will get you much further in the long run. Good luck with the search!

  92. ThatgirlK*

    A support system can mean everything if you have kids. I am not sure what your plans on for your family if you want more kids or you are done. But I have 3 and its hard to imagine not have both sets of Grandparents/Aunts etc around to help out. The same goes for my sister in laws as well. My in laws have always provided us daycare since my oldest was a baby (VERY, VERY much their choice and at their insistence) which was a huge help to us during some tough personal economic times. Is your child in school or will he need daycare? Can you afford that expense?

    We toyed around with moving out of state before we had 3 kids, and my oldest was young. But we knew that one of us would likely have to be a stay at home parent, and that wasn’t finanically possible for us. So we stayed put. Good luck!

  93. talos*

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet (although I did skim some…) is that moving itself can be a pain, independent of the money it may cost, and depending how much stuff you have and the mechanics of getting it to your new place it can be weeks of packing before or unpacking after.

    1. OP*

      Ok. I’m weird in that for the first 15 years of my adult life I moved 8 times. We’ve been in our current place nearly 10 years and it’s super due for a good going through and culling anyway.

  94. Beehoppy*

    As someone who has lived in Northern Virginia for over fifty years, some other things to consider are:
    traffic/commute time – it’s TERRIBLE here
    pace of life – this can be a fast-paced GOGO GO career is everything environment – is that something you’re comfortable with
    schools – overall the school systems are very highly ranked and this may an area thats important to you.

  95. Cause I'm a lady, that's why!*

    My husband and I relocated for work almost 2 years ago. We have no kids (just a cat), and we were already looking to possibly relocate to another state. For us it’s the pay and also the job market – where we are is THE place to be in our industry. We’ve had ups and downs, but it works and our families are super supportive. We’ve also made a lot of great friends all over the country because of this, so it’s been a great experience.

    We based our decision on the following:
    1. Pay (cost of living is higher, so pay has traditionally been better)
    2. Location (in this case, the hub for what we do for a living)
    3. Opportunity (we want to try our own thing soon, or at least move up)
    4. Connections (people who can connect us with stakeholders)
    5. Why not? (we were both ready to try something new)

  96. Really?*

    Didn’t have a spouse and kids, but I’ve done this. Seven times as an adult (once as a second-grader.) And all were fairly lengthy moves — 800 to 1400 miles — so not around the block. Almost all of my moves have been job-related; one (the last) was family related. My immediate family was scattered by the time I left grad school, but I remained close to my parents and one of my siblings through visits and phone calls.
    My two cents as to considerations: A wise colleague once advised me not to turn opportunities down outright, but to instead consider what compensation package (money, vacation time, other perks) would make you consider the position, or make the negatives (location, some unattractive duties etc.) worthwhile. If they are willing to meet your requirements, then you have something to discuss. If not, you haven’t lost anything. So I think you approached the opportunity correctly, but you may not have set the compensation high enough, depending on the answers to the rest of the questions.
    Is it possible for you to move to a location that is between central and northern VA and would both you and your spouse be willing face that commute? (I had colleagues who lived around Princeton so one could commute to DC or Philly, and the other to NYC when remote wasn’t a thing.)
    How difficult will it be for your husband to get a comparable or better (to him!) job in the new area? If it’s difficult, or if he is likely to be unemployed for period, the package has to be worth it! And don’t forget relo costs, including house hunting trips.
    Speaking of relocation, if you own your home, you will have to decide to rent it (and being a landlord ins a pain in the butt!) or sell it. And interest rates have risen, so you may not be able to afford as much as you would have, even aside from the difference in real estate costs.
    Is the new job something that would be a fabulous career move, or something that you have always wanted to do? If so, then it may be worth the upheaval, particularly if the compensation package is good.
    Would the job, title, and company position you where you need to be in the future?
    What about the prospects for your trailing spouse – same considerations.
    And are other family members available to pick up the slack those that may be aging or need assistance in the future?
    Will you mind devoting a portion of your free time to relieving/supporting the family members who are handling any care needs.
    Others are better qualified to comment on moving children, but of course that is a consideration, too.

  97. Well That's Fantastic*

    If your current job said, “Hey, we’re opening another branch in [destination city]. If you switch, we’d adjust your salary for the cost of living,” would you rather go or stay where you are now?

    Would the salary bump be enough to offset not just the cost of living, but also what would be needed while your spouse searches for a new job?

    What are the long-term career prospects for both your field and your spouse’s field in your current city and the new city?

    I live in the city where I grew up, but my sister and her family live in one of the best places in the country for my career field. When I was single, I would browse job listings there and applied to a few. Unfortunately, the pay wasn’t going to be enough to off-set the higher COL, so it never made sense to me to move. When I got married, my spouse had a remote job that could be done from any U.S. state, and we tossed around the possibility–but a new job for me would have to offset the increased COL for our whole household, since his pay wouldn’t increase with the move. Now we have a house with a mortgage at a ridiculously low interest rate, aging parents who need much more support than they did a few years, and it’s hard to imagine any job where I’d be willing to completely relocate. (I’ve considered a few hybrid jobs that would require me to spend a few days a month in my sister’s city, though.)

    1. Anon for this one*

      One thing that may not be relevant for this specific situation, but is important for relocation in general, is whether anyone in your family needs specialized treatment in any way. If someone has a complex medical situation requiring regular appointments with multiple specialists, that’s a lot harder to set up in a new place than just finding a primary care doctor and a dentist. My kid is in a special school for smart kids with dyslexia, and I’ve told my spouse moving is off the table unless we have a spot lined up in an equivalent school.

  98. Ridiculous Penguin*

    I had a “Glass Castle” kind of childhood (reading that book felt like looking in a mirror), so lots of things were less than ideal. But moving 6 times and going to 8 schools within 4 years was the hardest part of all of it.

    Some of it was from one place to a place in the next town over, but there were also two big jumps (2,000 miles the first one; 750 miles the second) that really affected my ability to make friends (which persists to this day, and I’m turning 50 this year). It also seriously impacted my parents’ marriage because they had no support system and left all of their family 2,000 miles away.

    I would have to be 100% certain that I’d be in the new place for as long as my kids were in school; that it paid significantly more (and not just because of a higher COL); that it was a job I was excited about and would advance my career; and that my marriage was solid (I did one move for a job with my then-one-year-old son, and we ended up divorced by the time he was three).

    1. Jen*

      I feel you as a fellow fifty year old who feels that struggle to make friends! I definitely feel like “noping out” on folks, year after year, and having no little to no connection to extended family, affects a person’s ability to connect with people in deeper ways. OP has one eight-year-old who will still be close to extended family, so not the same thing. But in the general sense, for folks who are reading this for “general moving” advice, the fact that your kid can find a new lunch table in a hot minute (which I could) doesn’t mean they’re learning the important relationship stuff teens learn through long-term friendship ebbs and flows. Moving older kids can come with a cost.

  99. 3x Job Mover*

    We moved for my husband’s job three times, all within three years. Each factor was:
    Profitability – he had more room for growth if he moved on.
    The area – we hated the one city we ended up in; the weather, the traffic, the pollution (cough Pittsburgh), so leaving looked like a fairytale.
    Housing – the city we moved to was cheaper.
    The cost of moving – DIY vs DFY was a huge thing and we ended up getting a UHaul instead of using a company.
    Politics/Medical Availability – we, unfortunately, moved to a blue dot city in a red state that immediately hammered women’s health care into the dirt the minute we got here. That stuff matters.

  100. Museum Conservator*

    I’m an art conservator, and moving all over is part of the job. Is it healthy? No, probably not. But I have friends all over the US and the world now, and got to spend ten years living in a foreign country that is now like a second home. Much harder if you have kids to uproot and a spouse who cannot work remotely.

  101. anywhere but here*

    As someone who relocated to an extremely high COL city, I would strongly recommend against, since it’s harder to find a good (relative to expenses) salary in subsequent roles. This organization really wants you, but what about a few years from now when you want to be somewhere else? Will you be trapped due to salary vs. COL constraints? Do you move back to your original city? Money goes much farther in some places than others, and that’s a consideration for all the roles after you move, not just this first one.

  102. PizzaSquared*

    Over the years, I’ve learned that where I live (both in the macro sense — state, city, climate, etc. and the micro sense — neighborhood, block, dwelling, and so on) has vastly more impact on my quality of life and happiness than my job does. It’s also (usually) harder to change than a job if I decide I don’t like it. So at this point in my life, I would basically never move for a job. No job is good enough to give up living where I like living to take it. If I was already looking to move (or at least wasn’t happy where I was living) the situation may be different, of course.

  103. cabbagepants*

    I’ve moved 3x for work. Once to take new job I was thrilled about, once as an internal transfer when that first job evaporated, and the last time when I said fuck it and came home.

    I’d only move for a job if I also, independently wanted to make that move and the job was just one of many motivations. Moving is just so incredibly disruptive.

    1. moving costs more money than you think, always. Selling and buying houses is full of costs that you never get back, from the realtor’s fees, to loan costs, to the inevitable repairs. Movers break your shit. you have to reregister your car. etc times 100.

    2. moving takes longer than you think. it always took a minimum of an entire year before I was back to my previous level of mental bandwidth after a move.

    3. the new job will have zero gratitude to you for uprooting your life. they might lay you off 6 months later.

    4. friendships and other relationships are never the same after a move.

  104. KatKatKatKat*

    Weighted list of pros and cons! It’s very important that it’s weighted because some things are way more important than others. I like do use a scale of between 1 and 5, but if you may prefer 1 to 7 or 1 to 10.

    When I did mine, it ended up being 42 vs. 43 – so I knew it was very close! I ended up moving, and loved the city, but hated the job. Several jobs later and I am happier than I could have ever been in the prior city!

    From your letter, there seem to be so many more major cons than pros, so this probably isn’t the right job – but the weighted pros and cons list will help you visualize that!

  105. Ahdez*

    Honestly, in the next 5-10 years, I probably would not move solely for a job (30s with 2 kids, spouse, dogs, and house, plus live near in laws).

    I think the only reason would be the long term. If the new job provides room for significant career growth AND it’s a place my family would want to be in the medium to long term AND it’s either near my family or I could justify the loss of family involvement/help with the kids, I’d consider moving.

  106. Jellyfish Catcher*

    Take a mini vacation to the new area: drive around, read the local papers, get the general “vibe.”
    Look at the area, schools, and job carefully and critically. And discuss what happens if the job isn’t for you or your spouse can’t find one, or your child doesn’t have the resources they need.

    I note 2 significant downsides: loss of close family and your child losing some support systems.
    Don’t assume that they can be replaced short term; every type of support seems to have a significant wait list these days. Or it turns out to not be what was represented, even unintentionally. And the family support, whatever level it was, will not be there.

    Family is important, and once you don’t have close connections, it is not the same. Sure, there’s zoom, but it’s not the intimacy of hanging out in your aunt’s garden or your grand’s kitchen, just doing stuff, listening to their lives and feeling their love.
    For me, several moves during my childhood tore those significant relationships of my childhood: grands, aunts, an uncle, all of which I missed wherever we lived . I was lucky enough to move back as an adult, and rebuild some, but you can’t replace those years.
    There is no totally safe answer – take care.

  107. DawnS*

    Having lived in Nova for 3 decades, DO NOT DO IT. The traffic gets worse every year (I am not kidding, 99% of people plan their life around traffic) and it’s very transitory. People come and go based on military jobs, political appointments, etc. One of my best friends came in, we got close, and she moved 11 months later. I raised my son there and it was not healthy for him because people leave all the time. If it was going to be a step in your career and you would then move somewhere else, maybe, but we left 2 years ago and I meet my friends half way, I do not go back. Best of luck!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Maybe it’s because I grew up in another transitory area (military), but people coming and going is just kind of normal to me, and it’s so much easier for the kids to stay in touch these days (we had to write letters and pay for long distance phone calls back in my day). My child’s best friend is currently living on another continent, and they are able to text, email, and FaceTime. The friend is returning for HS in the fall (has a parent who works for State coming off assignment), and it’s almost like they never left. It also makes for a far more diverse population on multiple dimensions.

      Especially once you get to middle school, kids kind of get together and grow apart naturally going to different schools and getting into different activities, and the variety of new people is nice and good for building social skills. I far prefer it to places like where my husband grew up – homogenous population who regards anyone who hasn’t been there since birth as an outsider and is really hard on new people, especially kids or people who are different.

      I would not pick that as a reason not to move here, I’d go more with the traffic, the cost of living, and the UMC snobs.

  108. Dawn*

    If all you’re getting out of this is a pay bump that makes up for the higher cost of living – which will end up being higher than you think, relocation is no joke – I wouldn’t even bother thinking about it further. It’s not worth all that for something you seem mildly interested in.

    If you’re more interested than it seems like you are, then sit down and write out a list of reasons why you’d be interested enough in this job to move and see how it stacks up.

    1. Dawn*

      Like I realize I’m reading a lot into two paragraphs but I really took away the impression that you feel like you should be more interested than you are; if that’s the case, where is that feeling stemming from? I’d probably start with that question: why do I feel like I should be more open to this “opportunity” that I need to talk myself into?

      1. OP*

        I would 100% have applied for this job if it were local. I mean, I did apply for it, but I would have absolutely no qualms about it if it were local.

  109. trapped*

    NoVA sucks. The cost of living is bloody stupid. If you find an “affordable” place, your neighbors will be cockroaches blasting music at 3am every night. But that won’t last long because every inch of green space will be quickly bought up by developers and turned into “luxury” apartments asking for 1900/mo for a studio, so you and the roaches will be more in the hole than before.

    I HATE it here, can you tell

  110. Kiesa*

    Moving is a gamble. Sometimes it’s worth it and sometimes it isn’t. I would not recommend moving unless you can identify significant advantages to the move.

    Things I would consider
    * Do both of you like this new area and feel comfortable with the culture?
    * Are there a lot of opportunities in your industry (in case this job doesn’t work out)
    * Are there lots of opportunities in your husband’s industry (will he resent leaving his current job?)
    * How does the move change your financial risks? (I moved from a place where I could afford the mortgage with just my salary to one where I couldn’t. At times this makes it hard for me to sleep at night.)
    * Will this require changing your delegation of household duties and are both of you ok with that?
    * What alternative support structures are available?
    * What changes will this make to your housing situation? (If you own, don’t forget to factor in mortgage rates. Also, you don’t want to immediately buy without understanding the area and that can mean mini-moves to/from temporary housing.)
    * Can both of you handle the climate? (is there a difference in this case?)
    * How easy does your kid make new friends?
    * How easy is it for two working parents to have a kid in this area?
    * How easy is it to get after school care? (some schools provide after care and others don’t)
    * It feels like one should evaluate the schools. However, I haven’t found ratings to correspond significantly with how well my eldest kid did at a school. Much of it came down to individual teachers and school culture which is much harder to know ahead of time.

    When our kids were 1 and 7 my husband was laid off and accepted a job in a significantly higher cost area (with my support) that turned out to be a very bad fit for me. We then moved to an area closer to family and a good job for me that was a very bad fit for my husband. We moved a third time, trying to find a compromise location, and then a smaller move a fourth time. My eldest kid is now in 8th grade and has attended school in 4 different school districts. This latest move he’s found a good set of friends and I’m not leaving again until both kids have graduated from high school.

  111. 1qtkat*

    So I moved from NOVA to central VA pre-kids. At that time, I was moving so I could stay with my partner who had matched for residency. When choosing his residency placement choices, we considered the ease I could find work, weather, housing prices, etc… Now that I have kids, it will take a lot to move back home to NOVA, even with the increased salary, you may not be able to stretch your money as much since things are so much more expensive and it’s just a different vibe up there and the traffic congestion is terrible.

  112. TH*

    We always say, never turn down a job you haven’t been offered. Even if the chance is small that you’ll go for the change you are likely to get some good perspective on your market value, work culture, and current personal and work priorities. It’s impossible to really get a sense of a new location or job without spending some time exploring them.

    That said my husband and I relocated to the place we love best in the US, where we had purchased a second home and spent a lot of time 6 years ago. He was 49 and I was 47. He left a job that had toxic elements, but also tremendous job security and many things he loved. I was working from home, so didn’t need to change. It was WAY more difficult than expected. It was much harder on my husband to leave his job than expected and get established in something new. Financially we were/are fine and were realistic in our planning, but letting go of his old profession was more difficult than he thought. It was also hard for both of us to do all the adjusting needed with a big move. We are happy with the decision, and I’m glad we did it when we did (instead of 10 years later as planned), because I think it all gets harder as you get older. I had moved a lot before and it was never easy, but this was surprisingly challenging.

  113. Avocado*

    So many factors:
    -can a working partner find a job there?
    -are any children going to have their schooling interrupted (like moving mid-senior year)?
    -will anyone in my family be made unsafe by the policies of that state?
    -can we get the health care we need?
    -do we like the weather, recreational activities, culture?
    -how intolerable is my current job, and how many options do I have?
    -how does the salary and cost of living play out?

    For me, health care is a huge one, as my partner needs to remain near a particular research hospital. (Then again I am only open to remote work at this time.)

  114. Zellie*

    I moved during the pandemic because my job had just become to toxic for me to stay. While I’m single, I left behind friends and a home I adored. I had my routine and enjoyed where I lived. I would not have moved had I been able to get a local job comparable to what I had.

    I moved several states away, enough so that grocery stores and other small types of things are different. Not bad, mind you, but it required a lot more re-orienting than I expected. The area and the vibe of the area are different. I love my new job, but miss my friends and what I considered home.

    Moving is hell. I agree with TH — it probably gets harder as you get older, but I have moved a lot. The longer you live in one place, the harder the move. Only do it if you are truly excited about the job and are gaining greatly by not only uprooting yourself, but also your family.

  115. Jay (no, the other one)*

    We moved a lot before our daughter was born. I was both the primary breadwinner and the trailing spouse (he was originally in academia. Don’t ask) so every time we moved I found a job before we got there. Then we landed here, the kid arrived, and we figured we would stay put. Hubs left academia when she was 2 and found a new job locally.

    When she was about 12, he started thinking about a CEO/ED position. That wasn’t going to happen here. I wanted to support him and I also wanted to stay sane and do right by our daughter, so after some thought we came to an agreement. 1) The two of us had to agree on location – he didn’t get to choose unilaterally. 2) We had to be able to live on his salary for at least a year. At that point we were pretty much 50/50 parents. I knew that if he took on a CEO position he was not going to be available as much and I wanted to make sure I had the time and energy to help the kid get settled, which meant finding a school, a dance studio, and a religious community as well as coping with the actual move and sale of our house here. 3) He could look for two years. If we still lived here when she started high school, we were not going to force her to move.

    He looked at three or four jobs and we ended up staying here. Definitely the right decision for our family – and he was much more satisfied with that decision having talked it through and explored what was out there.

  116. Satellite Gal*

    I recently learned that my Dad turned down his dream job, because it would have required moving across the country in the middle of my junior year of High School. My mom offered to stay behind with me until I graduated and then we would relocate, but my Dad didn’t want to separate the family for that long. I asked him about it once more recently (10 years later) and he said that while it was his dream job, he liked his job at the time, but he loved us more. He has since gotten a new position that is essentially his dream job and is very happy, so just because he said no then, didn’t mean he had to forever.

  117. Transmissions from Schitts Creek*

    I did this at the beginning of the pandemic and regretted it. I’m not sure how much of this was the move and how much of it was lockdown. The city I moved to was not sexy but had a lower cost of living and was “only” a 2-hour drive from my family and 2-hour flight from my friends. That seemed really easy to manage in early 2020, but it hasn’t been. It’s been really isolating, the travel has been harder to manage than I expected, the cost of living here increased dramatically and is now in line with the coastal Southern California city I love that I left to move here (but I don’t like it here at all), and everything feels harder without a good support system. To not end up like me, I would highly recommend doing a LOT of research about everything you want/need from a city OUTSIDE of your job. Schools, hobbies, extracurricular activities, clubs to join if that’s your thing, gyms, spas, pickle ball leagues, whatever you’re into. Make sure it’s there & accessible (and affordable!) if it’s something you want to have in your life. I figured I’d be traveling enough that it wouldn’t matter, but that hasn’t proven to be the case at all. Work is fine but if it’s the only thing you have going for you it won’t be enough for you to be happy somewhere.

  118. Mimmy*

    I’ve been dealing with this a bit myself. The types of jobs I’m looking at are somewhat niche, so after graduating with my Masters, my husband and I initially talked about expanding my search beyond the state we currently live in, evaluating each opportunity based on certain factors. However, hubby ultimately wants to move back to where he grew up (and still has family and friends), so after a couple of months, we narrowed my search. Our concern was that we would not know anyone if we moved anywhere else.

  119. LP*

    Ooh, I sent a very similar version of this question to Alison earlier this year, but it wasn’t answered. But it was literally worded almost the same thing at the end. In our case my husband was offered a promotion that required relocation, and we weren’t sure what to do. I could keep my job, so that wasn’t the issue, but it was also to a much higher cost of living area, and we have two kids (not in school yet though). Anyway what it came down to for us, was this: he thought to himself, had his company (or another) posted this job, would he have applied for it, knowing that it required relocation? And the answer was no, he would not. We really like where we live right now, and as soon as he knew that in his gut, he was comfortable turning it down, despite the uncertainties this might bring him going forward in his career (luckily for now he gets to keep his old job, and he’s viewed very favorably within his company, so hopefully this won’t hurt him long-term).

  120. ABAAA*

    People have listed a lot of good considerations, but from the details provided I don’t see any way this job would be worth a move:

    – further away from family
    – husband new job
    – kid new school
    – more traffic
    – higher cost of living
    – moving expenses – Even companies that offer relocation rarely cover the full, true cost of moving a whole household
    – home-selling expenses – Remember that every time you sell home, you lose at least 6% and likely closer to 10% of your home’s value in commissions, repairs, cleaning, staging, etc. All else being equal, the fewer times you sell your home, the easier it will be to maintain and grow your wealth.

    OP, don’t even consider this unless this job could reasonably put you on a path to a tremendously higher salary or promotion trajectory, or if you could describe it as “my absolute dream job with an accordingly amazing salary increase.”

  121. Shandra*

    I had two colleagues at different large firms, both of them single, who transferred from the head office to field offices in other states. They both returned to head office city within a year.

    Colleague 1 seemed to think as long as she had a job in the new location, everything else there could be managed. Colleague 2 moved to be closer to family, and discovered that just because they loved the area didn’t mean she would.

  122. Ollie*

    I bailed from NoVa to Florida for 10 years and then came home to Central Va. Yes the salaries are a lot lower but it is so much calmer here. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in NoVa but it’s a nice place for a day trip.

  123. Maggie*

    My family of three moved to a new town two months before the pandemic. We moved mainly to shorten my commute. We moved to a small CT quiet town with excellent schools and nice community.
    During our move husband could not help as much due to recent shoulder surgery. My eleven year old son was crushed. I didn’t realize how long it would take him to adjust.

    If you have kids I would think three times before moving. We only moved 30 minutes from our old town and we are driving back here all the time to see friends, doctors and go to the beach.

  124. Caters*

    I’ve relocated for a job once because I wanted to live there- my new job didn’t pay quite as well as the one I left but I loved the area and took a good enough job to get me there. We kinda muddled along for a bit while still looking and both of us ended up with jobs we loved- my husband ended up with that company for 15 years. We are still very happy in this city and I’m glad we did it.

    Now that we have kids, I would need a job to provide some sort of benefit to my family- more money, more flexibility, more vacation, or a dream job for one of us.

  125. Delilah*

    Oh – I JUST had to go through this math myself, when a recruiter reached out this week. I didn’t end up doing a pro/con, and ended up going with my gut. Not sure it was the right decision not to apply (good to keep those interview skills sharp), but I didn’t really want the job. It was an interesting thought process in ‘how much would I need to be paid to be in a miserable job?’ In this case, it was about $100k more, and a paid relocation to the city I love second best (but I’m currently in the city I love best). And even though I’m dissatisfied with parts of my current job, taking on working for a horrible boss, on the (possible) eve of a recession, just didn’t feel right. (That said, one person’s horrible boss is not everyone’s! At that level, it’s so often who you click with.)

  126. Therese*

    I’ve lived in Richmond and NoVA – I would say go for it. To me, Richmond is fast losing its small town charm and culture, though it still has a severe lack of interesting jobs. It will be similar to NoVA in 10 years anyway. NoVA has so much more career wise – I found it a really exciting place to live. I moved to Richmond (from NoVA) about 10 years ago for its culture, and my career and ambition completely stalled out. I sometimes think of moving back to NoVA and restarting my real career but it’s probably too late. Do it!

  127. bitter grapes*

    If you earn a mid to high six figure salary, you probably comfortably live in Northern Virginia. Anything less and it’ll be a struggle. Good luck buying a home at a reasonable price, the market is overpriced and cutthroat. If you’re looking to rent, also expect to pay a lot for the bare minimum.

    The schools are fine, I guess. You’d be short (not quick though) drive or metro ride away from all the museums in DC and there are a lot of beautiful parks and hiking spots.

  128. Not Totally Subclinical*

    I’ve been at my current job level for several years now. Unless I wait for my supervisor to retire and manage to get hired into their position, the only way I can advance in my career is to take a job in another city.

    However, for several years I had family needs that kept me tied to the area. Now I’m married to a former military brat who really really doesn’t want to move again. We have older schoolkids, and spouse has a bulky hobby/side gig that would be extremely difficult and expensive to move. It would take a really spectacular job in an amazing location and with a massive salary for me to justify uprooting my family.

    So I’ve made my peace with my current position being as far as I’m going to advance. It helps that when I have looked at other jobs in my field, they don’t pay enough more than what I make now to make up for the cost of moving or the increase in COL.

  129. Silverose*

    I’ve done a lot of relocating in my life but never just for a job – there’s always a stronger reason for the location than that. My biggest relocation – completely across the country – was done without a job lined up for either me or spouse and to a much higher cost of living area because we sensed that within about 5 years it would be a safer place for us to live. 2 years later, the job situation worked itself out, and while we still struggle sometimes with the HCOL, it turns out we were right about being safer where we are now than where we had been.

  130. Zee*

    I don’t have kids or a spouse, so I can’t comment on that aspect. But one thing to consider: housing. Not just the cost of housing… is there housing where you’re thinking of moving? I was offered a job in a rural area where the average rent was low, but there were literally no open apartments in the town. I’ve also lived in major cities that were experiencing major housing crunches and even with the ability to afford market rent I really struggled to find anywhere.

  131. Raida*

    I’ve had mates move long distances, and others decide not to.
    They always do pros and cons, of staying and leaving.
    You can usually find a con in staying, and that should be calculated into the value of leaving.

    Checking what each family member considers valuable to them is another big one – is a kid enthusiastic about living near the beach? Is a kid terribly anxious about leaving three clubs behind? Are there opportunities for everyone?

    Include the nitty gritty like planning a trip to work and to the shops – Would moving change commutes to a time that would be tiring or aggravating? Is the public transport reliable? Can you pop to the shops for milk or is it a minimum half hour round trip? Is there good parking? walking paths, biking paths?

    If there are plenty of ‘things to do’ in the new location, are you actually, honestly, going to put in the effort to get out and do them?

    And of course, does the (generally) increased salary cover new living expenses?

  132. Just me*

    As a career military spouse with kids, moving often was part and parcel of life. Unfortunately our moves were in February/March which was not good timing for the kids. Once the oldest were in junior high we stayed in my hometown. This was partly because I felt the need to be helpful to my parents and also because my mom traded letting the kids go to her house after school (while I worked) for my doing shopping for her. After my hubby retired and went on to do various civilian jobs (in the surrounding areas since that was where jobs for him were available), at various points I considered working elsewhere but never was able to come up with justifying the added expense in both time and travel of trying to find a job out of town. Every time the list of reasons to stick with the current job outweighed the higher potential pay. Things like convenience, flexibility, congenial coworkers, friendly relationships with vendors and customers, and lots of little things like being able to go home for lunch and switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer. So I understand the OPs ambivalence and lack of real enthusiasm for relocating. Unless there’s a compelling reason to move, my advice is to stay put. Keep your options open for consideration, but be realistic in your own mind about the pros and cons.

  133. Rainy Cumbria*

    My partner and I have relocated for work a couple of times, and I think that understanding the stress of everything involved in doing so has gradually raised the bar of what makes a job worth uprooting for. We’re currently relocating again, and this time we were persuaded by better work opportunities for both of us, and the prospect of living in a more exciting part of the country. You have to decide what’s worth it for your whole family.

  134. Inkognyto*

    I moved from my home state over 1500 miles. It wasn’t my decision. It was our decision. This was a long discussion about career growth and other things with my spouse. A lack of job limitations for a career in a small city. I was already $ capped pretty much 4 years into my position. I tried a lateral moved for an entry level and they hired an experienced person for it. That cemented the career decision. Neither of us was happy, a change had to happen.

    We could keep living there, but I’d have to leave one of the bigger employers to hope to get a better job elsewhere. This was 20 years ago.

    We took a survey online. I doubt it exists now, but it was over 200 questions, on what you like for hobbies and temps and nature etc. It then compiled the results into various cities with those each state.

    My spouse took the same quiz. Then we found overlaps. 2 Vacations into the area (one in spring and one in mid summer when it was HOT) we decided on and talking with a friend that was 200 miles closer let us find out more. This was a move from a Northern state into mid/east US.

    My spouse moved down here found a job to cover her rent etc. She found a rural house between 2 large cities with land for the horses. We bought the house. She lived in the house until I could move, eventually I moved after 3 months of remotely looking for a job and finding one.

    It was not easy. I wasn’t sure it was the correct decision for years, the adjustment took a while. Moving to different climate areas and having less friends was very odd. But there was also so much that was new and different. Four seasons was nice, not two, cold and summer.

    I am close with my family, but also, this wasn’t about them. An uncle told me this when he knew my mother was shocked, I wanted to move this far. “This is your life not hers.”

    This was about me and my spouse. We knew that if we didn’t move in a few years we wouldn’t. She did not want to live in a city, she couldn’t. College in a city, it just crushed her soul for years when she was in college. The longer you are in a place the harder it would be to move that distance.

    I’ve missed out on family things but I’ve also gained a lot for me. I’m living my life with my spouse. I have a lot more career opportunities, and so does she. Decisions are made and you live with the consequences.

    Do not make it lightly and not alone if you have a family.

  135. waffles*

    I have moved 8 times in 15 years, and in my sector it’s very common to move for work. All of my moves have been for work, and I have lived in plenty of places I’d never dream of making a permanent home, so my experience is different than others who would only move for a dream opportunity. That said, here’s some things that I now think of as I get older and have kids: (1) if you don’t like it professionally or personally, how long will you stay before you move again, and what does that mean for everyone in your family? (2) is there any way for your family to stay put for 6 months or a year while you try it out? Many people in my sector with families, especially when kids are old enough to participate in a conversation about moving, do try living apart if everyone feels strongly it’s worth the sacrifice on all sides before making a full family commitment.

    Personally I also provide a cautionary tale: I moved recently to a place I had specifically never wanted to live, but my partner lost his job and after almost a year of searching we were not in the position to turn it down. We moved knowing he needed to stay in this new role at least 3 years and maybe up to 5 before we could move again, and we both agreed that moving would always be on the table (our kids were too young to participate in the conversation). But now, 2 years in, I see how difficult it will be to move for our kids, and that will absolutely factor into any future decisions. This is my inexperience as a parent, but I didn’t understand when parents say that sometimes moves are hard on kids, the consequence of that is you need to be there for emotional support more than usual. That means you have less time or opportunity to make your own friends as an adult, and you also have to do that while you are getting used to a new job, and the administrative work of getting set up with new doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc. We don’t see ourselves retiring here, and we don’t particularly love it here, but we may be here longer than expected, and I’m not sure how I feel about that! So, you may choose to move, and you might not like the place or your job ultimately very much, but you may not be able to move again as easily depending on how old your kids are.

  136. SpaceySteph*

    We’re moving this summer, uprooting a family of 5. Selling a house, buying a house, leaving friends we’ve had for 15 years. In our case we’re moving closer to family (although closer is relative, we’re gonna be ~10 driving-hours closer to both sets of parents, but its still 5 and 10 hours away respectively). We’re moving to a better climate/terrain, but a smaller city without some of the perks of a big city (major airport hub, dining, arts/culture, and the biggest letdown for us… no zoo!).

    I have cried a few times over the decision. Moving is a royal pain no matter how excited you are to live in the new place. With current mortgage rates and rising house prices, we’re definitely going to be set back a bit by the new house even after selling the old house. But we’ve outgrown our current house so would probably have looked to move locally in a few years anyway.

    I think its important to be excited about both the job (not just the salary) and the location. A few years ago a friend posted a meme when she made a similar move, that I’ve thought about often since we decided to move: “Picture This: its 10 years from now. You’re married. Nice home. Good Job. Your kids are asleep. It’s snowing outside and tomorrow is Saturday. All the hard work was worth it. You made it.” I’m just holding on to that belief that we’ll be happy in the end, when we make it through this huge upheaval.

  137. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    There are quite a few details that are missing here.
    How hard would it be for your spouse to find a job? Because that’s important for them. If they can’t find anything they might end up depressed and wanting to go back and resenting you. And how easy would it be for them to make new friends?
    How old is your son and how extroverted is he? Extroverts tend to do better at making friends, and I see various remarks about not moving when the kid is in high-school and other points in life.
    What’s in it for you? You’re interested but is that enough? Does it represent a move up for you? Is there an aspect of the job that would be new, that you’d be looking forward to learning about? Is it a job that would look good on your CV (at a prestigious firm for example, or in an exciting field)? And how easy would it be for you to make new friends?

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