For couples, the decision of whether or not to relocate for a new job can be difficult. There are a number of factors to consider, and, for the “trailing spouse” (the one who will leave their job behind), the decision can be even more complicated. How do you decide which career takes priority? Does it come down to the job that is most lucrative? Is it about geography or family? Here are a few factors to consider in this very personal decision.
Cost of living for you and your family
Cost of living is an important consideration when making this decision. We each have a minimum amount of money we need to earn to make ends meet and if you are considering moving to a different geography this number may change dramatically.
As many people have learned the hard way, a job that pays more might not be the best option if the new locale has a higher cost of living. According to CNN Money’s cost of living calculator, a $50,000 salary in Fort Worth, Texas, would be comparable to a $91,000 salary in Brooklyn, New York. You will need to research your new destination to determine if it’s the right fit financially before you make your decision.
You must also think about your family. If you have children you should consider how the move may affect their education and personal lives. Similarly, if you have close family members such as parents or brothers or sisters nearby, you need to consider the impact moving away will have on those relationships.
Both your and your spouse’s career goals are important to consider as well. Think 10 to 15 years ahead; where do you see your career and where does your spouse see his or hers? Does this move take either you or your spouse closer in that direction without completely derailing the career of the other? The move may make sense if it strategically places either of you in a better position to achieve your goals without causing too much detriment to the career of the trailing spouse.
Have a plan in place for the trailing spouse
If it makes sense, and you decide to relocate, think about ways to make the career transition less stressful for the trailing spouse. It can be challenging to find a new job in an area where one doesn’t have an established network or knowledge of the job market. Help your spouse build this network and knowledge before you even move. Encourage him or her to spend time on social media connecting with people in the new area, researching the job market and even reaching out to current connections to see if anyone can facilitate introductions to target contacts. These efforts will go a long way to not only reducing stress during the transition but making the task of finding a new job much easier.
Spousal outplacement services can mitigate the stress of a career transition by helping you set priorities and make sound decisions. If your or your spouse’s company provides spousal outplacement benefits, take advantage of them. The outplacement services provider can help the trailing spouse navigate the job market in their new geography. It can also help with resumes, LinkedIn, interview skills and other critical topics related to a successful job search.
Outplacement can also offer support in a trying time. The trailing spouse is making a lot of sacrifices for their partner’s career and strong emotions may come to the surface. It is important to deal with these feelings in a constructive way so that they do not affect the job search or cause resentment and damage the relationship. The attitude and emotions of all involved during this time can have a big impact on the success of the relocation and the job search of the trailing spouse.