When I was 18, I had decided to leave home and move across the country to take advantage of the booming economy out West. For me, it was an exhilarating chance at a blank slate to be designed however I wished. It was the door to lucrative job opportunities, money to be made and experiences to be had that just didn’t exist in my home city at the time. And while I did gain my independence, learn to live on my own and land an incredibly sweet student job, I was back home within 8 months.
If you’re thinking of relocating for an incredible job opportunity, here are 8 things I think you should also take into consideration:
1. Moving costs.
Of course, some companies who hire you prior to your move may cover some or all of your moving costs, but because I had moved out on my own without securing a job, all of my moving costs were out of pocket. I had planned for the move and had targeted to save up $10,000 by the summer before my move (which I achieved), but what I hadn’t planned on was moving back within 8 months. Because shipping was expensive and so were luggage overage fees, I had to sell or give away most of my stuff at a great loss.
2. A new city.
Obviously. Although I had been prepared that this wasn’t near the “big city” feel I was used to back home, it’s one thing to know it in your head and another to have to live it. I was used to Shoppers Drug Marts all over, with some open 24 hours and the majority open until midnight. I was used to cultural diversity and not feeling or being treated like a minority. I was used to being able to get a bite to eat no matter what time of night it was. I was used to so many little things that I obviously took for granted that I suddenly missed when I decided to pack up and move. I wasn’t used to clubs meaning cowboy boots and electric bulls!
3. No friends.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m far from a social butterfly, but things got really lonely, really fast. And I don’t think being a single girl helped one bit. Girls were either already established with their social circles and weren’t really looking to add anyone else or weren’t looking to befriend potential competition, while the guys weren’t looking just to hang out. Eventually, I did meet a group of welcoming people, one of whom later was one of my bridesmaids (and I one of hers), but it took months before I got there. And those months sure were lonely.
4. No family.
Now technically, this wasn’t exactly true. I had chosen that city because my cousin, his wife and two young daughters were already living in that city. However, they were on the opposite end of the city and couldn’t replace the support system I had back home with my immediate family. Instead, I spent hours every day on the phone with my mom, my brother, my grandmother and to a lesser degree, my dad, my grandfather and my younger cousins. We would chat over MSN (back when it still existed), Skype and play internet games but it just couldn’t really fill the void I had created. I hadn’t anticipated missing my family this much as you never have time to miss them when you’re under the same roof, but on the positive side, the distance helped me grow closer and appreciate the relationship I had with each and every one of them.
5. No contacts.
In your home city, if something goes wrong, you know who to call. If you get sick, you go to your family doctor. If you get a cavity, you go to your dentist. If you have car problems, you call your mechanic. These contacts are non-existent in a brand new city, and being an 18-year old single female, I was terrified of being taken advantage of. One morning, I awoke with my jaw locked shut. This had never happened before, and my entire life, my family and I had gone to a dentist we all trusted. If he couldn’t fix it, I would trust his referral. But in an unknown city, the best I could do was Google a nearby specialist, take a taxi and hope for the best. I ended up spending over $500 for the “specialist” to stick a ruler in my mouth and tell me how many millimeters I could open my mouth, and how far I was from “normal functionality.” It would be months before my jaw mysteriously popped back open.
6. Differences in cost of living.
This is a big consideration if you’re relocating because of job pay. There’s no point in moving somewhere that pays double when cost of living is triple. I lucked out when I moved out because I had secured student housing for the amazing price of $333 a month. Sure, it was a shared accommodation with 3 other girls (we all had our own rooms), but 4 girls and 1 bathroom and 1 tiny kitchen sometimes got chaotic. However, had I not gotten a spot there, the extra money I was making would have all been spent on rent. The lower tax rate in Alberta compared to Ontario was another huge benefit, but also encouraged me to spend a lot more since everything seemed so much cheaper. Everything else, however, was more expensive than living back home.
This point was based on a coworker who recently moved to the city for this job. Although his move was only 2 hours, he’s far removed from his friends and family. Typically, this wouldn’t pose a huge problem, but a couple of weeks ago, he got into a bad car accident, leaving him car-less while he tries to figure out what to do. Other than the coworkers he’s only known for a couple of months, he knows no one else in the city, so after his accident, he had no idea which mechanics and body shops to bring his car to, he had no way to and from work (thankfully, Uber is still alive and striving), and, most importantly, he had no one to check up on him. He had suffered a bad concussion, and from my recollection from an accident I had many years ago, it required my mother to wake me up every 2 hours to check up on me. He has no one to do that for him here, nor does he have anyone to bring him to doctors to get checked out. This morning, he fainted before work and hit his face. I urged him to get it checked out again – the last he told me was that he was trying to find a ride to get to a doctor. I suppose working contract positions are great in that they pay a much higher hourly rate, but our sick days are unpaid, and as his are accumulating now, he was trying to see if there was a way to avoid taking even Uber. (Scenarios like this make very strong cases for having a fat Emergency Fund.)
8. Getting around.
On my coworker’s first day of work, it took him over an hour to get home, despite living less than 10 minutes away from work. He was unfamiliar with the area, and his GPS had been set to shortest distance, not quickest route. It took him right through the rush hour highway traffic – it literally would have been faster if he had walked home. We helped him get that sorted the next day, but learning your way around a new city can involve a steep learning curve. When I moved out west, it took me awhile to figure out the public transit system and how the fares worked. It was nothing like home, where the buses ran North-South/East-West along their routes; instead, the buses were destination-centric. Take Bus 1 if you want to get from Point A to Point B, Bus 2 if you want to get to Point C, but if you just want to go straight down the street, take Bus 1, transfer to Bus 3, then wait for Bus 4. It was incredibly confusing and didn’t make any sense at all to me.
EDIT: 9. A Back up plan in case the worst happens.
Edited Sunday, March 20, 2016
I’m sad to say that if you’ve been offered a great job but it’s just a contract position, perhaps you should reconsider before taking it. The coworker I had mentioned above had had too many absences (many of which were due to the unfortunate accident) and was laid off this week. Heartless, yes, but that’s how a lot of big corporations function. He’s now stuck in limbo – does he move back home, or does he try to stick it out here with no job prospects? His car isn’t even fixed yet, so he doesn’t have a mode of transportation to either get to and from interviews or to move himself back home…