Balancing Challenge, Work Location, and Income

Figuring Out if You Want to Move

Deciding whether to move as part of your job search involves balancing the pros and cons of a particular place with your own wants, needs, and values. And if you have a spouse or kids, then your considerations also involve what the people you love want and need.

When you're searching for a job, the goal is to get a job. It's easy to narrow your focus to just find a job as soon as possible. You have bills to pay and enjoy eating. But taking the first thing that comes along could end up being a mistake and end up more stressful in the long run. It's worth thinking through what you really want, and where it may be.

There really is no work-life balance. It's all life.

Research Work Location and Compensation

After looking at work locations as part of this segment, pick your top 5 cities and research neighborhoods, industry forecasts, housing, and quality of life there (weather, outdoor activities, arts, schools etc.).

You can search online and get information on all of these factors. Since it's your top 5, chances are you know someone who lives there or who used to. Ask them for the inside scoop on neighborhoods and fun things to do.

You also need to understand what people make there in the jobs you're interested in so you know what type of housing you can afford. Also consider what type of transportation you will be using and all the potential costs such as train or bus fares, bridge or road tolls, and whether you'll have to pay for parking. can help you get a picture of compensation by location and job.

How Does Work Location Match the Things You Value?

After you have done your initial research on work locations, narrow it down to your top 3 cities and see how those places match you and what you care about. You've already done a lot of work about what you like and want, so keep that in mind.

Values can mean a lot of things and often carry lofty, aspirational connotations like integrity, truth, and compassion. But here, values means the things that you really care about.

Sometimes it's easier to list your needs and nice-to-haves. Even needs will be different for everyone.

For example, I need to be able to drive to see water. When I do that regularly, I feel better and everything in my life runs more smoothly. It fills my spirit to be near (or on or in) water. I also think it helps me keep my problems right sized so I can find my sense of humor. Seagulls just don't care whether the dog destroyed the garden then tracked mud everywhere.

For a lot of people, having water nearby is a nice to have. But for me, water is a need to have. This limits the places I want to live. But not too much because, although I love the ocean the most, lakes and rivers work for me too.

List your needs and nice-to-haves and then prioritize the nice-to-haves. Your needs are already tied for first place. This is one of those exercises that works great with stickie notes and a wall. That way, you can move things around between needs and wants and can shift your priorities as you learn more about different places.

Then match your needs and wants to the cities using the research you have done so far. If you are not sure about whether someplace has the kinds of food you like, do some more research.

Think about what really matters to you. This is an opportunity to have more of the things you need and want. It's okay to strive for what you want and need and get it. So, go ahead and get clear about what really matters to you.

You also don't have to live in the place that has all of the things you need and many things you want just because it has the most matches. Loving the place we live is far more than rationally choosing an optimum work-location. This is not about work-life balance, the things other people think you should do, or worse, the things you think you should do. It's about making sure your needs are met and then having some of the things you really want.

In the words of poet, Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Career Planning: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

For Employers

Individualize employee pay based on unique job requirements and personal qualifications.

Get the latest market pricing for benchmark jobs and jobs in your industry.

For Employees

Analyze the market and your qualifications to negotiate your salary with confidence.

Search thousands of open positions to find your next opportunity.

Related Content