Working Strategies: Starting fresh in 2021 – a look at relocation

If ever there was a year in which we wanted — no, needed — to start fresh, this is it. For the month of January, I’ll review five classic ways to refresh your work life: relocating, returning to work after a long unemployment, upgrading your education, changing careers, and starting a business.
Amy Lindgren
Let’s jump in with relocation. While January might not be ideal for packing a moving truck, it can be perfect for exploring the possibility of living elsewhere. With the holidays behind us and the long winter nights ahead, there should be plenty of time to research new locales.
For workers too young to retire, relocation decisions have traditionally hinged on employment options. If at least one household member couldn’t be assured of finding work in the new location, moving could be risky. Families with children carried the additional burden of finding a school district to fit their kids’ needs.
A lot has changed in the months since pandemic protocols sent so many people home. Knowledge workers and office professionals discovered they can earn a paycheck from their living rooms, while some parents are finding value in remote learning options for their children.
We won’t have solid numbers for awhile yet, but early statistics indicate relocation is on the rise, with some of the most dramatic stories coming from families leaving dense urban areas for more expansive homes in the suburbs or small towns. With some remote areas improving broadband access, the possibility of working and learning from nearly anywhere is becoming a reality faster than we could have predicted just one year ago.
For those whose work can’t be conducted remotely, relocation is still a strong option, based in part on labor shortages in numerous vocations throughout the country. In some cases, retraining is being offered by short-handed organizations searching for new workers.
Regardless of your occupation, relocation is never a simple decision. Any number of things need to be considered, and multiple hurdles must be overcome before that moving truck can pull out for your new destination.
If you embark on this process, let one thought guide you: This will be an improvement. Because if it’s not, why do it? However you measure improvement — better work, safer community, lower costs, closer proximity to family — keeping those rewards in mind will give you the boost you need to make it happen.
Here are some steps to get you started on a relocation plan.
1. Let your motivation help choose your location. If you’re leaving something more than going to something — that is, if you want out of your current location more than you want in somewhere else — focus on what you want to leave behind, be that weather, crime, or a high cost of living.
On the other hand, if you’re eagerly anticipating something specific, such as a home in the country, or a place near your family, these criteria may determine your new location for you.
2. Narrow your relocation options. What if you can’t decide where to move? Well, you have to or you won’t be going anywhere. If that sounds harsh, ask yourself: How long have you been thinking about doing this? Right. Some people spend a lifetime thinking about relocating but never actually do it.
To break this logjam, choose three locations based on just about anything that matters to you and then research to let you pick the best one of the three. Do this twice more, so that you have a total of three top options out of nine that you’ve explored. If you still can’t decide, put the top three in a hat and pick one. Crazy? No, because you’ve done your research. At this stage, you need to trust your process so that you can move forward.
3. Set a timeline. In addition to your research process, other items for your timeline would include a physical visit when that’s possible, a review of work and school options (either remote or physically located in the new area), and a strategy for housing. Remember to include a goal date for the move itself, to help keep the project on track.Related Articles

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Working Strategies: Reader questions — How to revise resumes for COVID-19 job search?

Amy Lindgren: Troubleshoot your current job before looking elsewhere

4. Get started. If you find yourself stuck at any point, find a partner or adviser to help you. Remember that you don’t have to follow through on an actual move, as long as you complete enough steps to let you know if it isn’t the right idea for the moment. But if you don’t do at least that much, you’ll always wonder what could have been — and you may be missing out on a fresh start.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com.

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