Q: There is another part of the country that I’ve always dreamed of moving
to. I’m afraid if I don’t act soon, I’ ll never do it. How do I decide if this is a good idea?
Many people have a place they’ve “always wanted to
live.” Perhaps it is a location you once visited that
still enchants you, or it may simply be an indescribable
feeling that you should be in that area. If you
are a 20-something without family obligations, by
all means make the move—if it doesn’t work out,
you’re young enough to bounce back. Plus, this
challenge will serve as a learning experience.
If you’re older, though, or have responsibilities,
you are well advised to look candidly at the reasons
for leaving your current environment. Do you feel
lost in a big city, and yearn for a more human scale?
Do you dream of bigger and better design projects
that you feel are only available in a larger market?
Maybe there are personal issues you hope to leave
behind by creating a physical distance. Or perhaps
you are simply bored and long for a change of pace.
By looking honestly at the reasons for a potential
relocation, you’ll be better able to determine if the
move is likely to meet your objectives.
Here are eight questions to consider as you evaluate
the idea of “movin’ on.”
How much do you know?
If you fall into the “I’ve never been there before, but
I’m sure I’d love it” group, I would strongly advise
you to make a pilgrimage to your dream locale as an
initial step. Many people have uprooted everything
and gone to a new location, only to find that their
perceptions of the destination did not match reality.
Do your homework: Read, ask others, do research,
and don’t overlook the value of an in-person site
visit. Is this really a place where you can make a life?
What’s the attraction?
Do you yearn for a particular destination because
of geographic factors such as weather or proximity
to recreational areas, or is it the design community
or the job market that is luring you? Whatever
your reasons, can your needs be met in yet another
market? For example, if you’re looking at Southern
California for the weather, are you limiting yourself
by ruling out Florida or Arizona? If you think you’re
going to be uprooting no matter what, be sure the
locale you’ve selected is the optimum one based on
your personal criteria.
What’s your time frame?
Is the itch to move something you need to address
immediately, or is it a course of action you have
time to plan? If you go now, will you sacrifice a possible
year-end bonus from your current employer? If
you wait, will you miss a season or period of time in
the new location that you might benefit from? The
adage “timing is everything” is particularly appropriate
when considering a major relocation.
Are there options other than a permanent move?
Is it possible, for example, to ask your current
employer for a sabbatical or unpaid leave of absence
to allow you a chance to explore your thoughts and
evaluate your needs without the pressure of day-today
distractions? Armed with a fresh perspective
on your present situation, you might find that your
desire for a change of scenery was a fleeting one, and
that an extended vacation was all that was needed.
Are you moving toward … or away from?
Would a move represent a step in the direction of a
new goal or interest, or are you trying to leave something
behind? If the former, that goal can possibly
be reached where you are now. If the latter, is the
issue you’re trying to leave behind essentially going
to follow you? Or, similarly, will the same dilemma
eventually arise in the new location?
Would this move simply be part of a pattern?
Some people seem to have a habit of not staying
in one place for very long. While not necessarily a
negative thing, such a pattern may be signaling an
issue you might want to address (pun intended). See
if you can identify any sort of predictability to your
moves, whether they are major geographic changes
or just employer-switching. If you’re coming up on
a time when you might typically expect to feel wanderlust,
ask yourself what the real concerns are that
are driving your need for change.
Does this move “feel” right?
As creative professionals, we tend to have highly
developed senses, including the sixth sense that
some call intuition. Certain people make happy and
successful life transformations based on little more
than gut feeling. If you’ve had past experience trusting
a hunch—or if whatever is currently driving you
is inexplicably strong—you might want to follow
your impulses. Just be prepared to have a hard time
explaining your actions to those who neither trust
nor value their own instincts!
Don’t forget the values of balance and moderation:
Even the highly intuitive need to temper their
impulses with rational analysis from time to time.
What are the trade-offs?
Remember that every location has advantages and
disadvantages, be they as simple as the weather
or as complicated as the culture. If you’re looking
to leave an environment where you’ve spent your
entire life, you’re probably in for an unparalleled
adventure. But keep this in mind: You may also be
leaving behind an important support network you
won’t be able to duplicate, at least not in the short
term. Likewise, a change in geography might mean
a career or salary boost, but it could come at the
cost of losing a beloved outdoor diversion, hobby, or
association that gives you joy and would be missed.
Depending on your stage in life, family obligations,
and the differences between the job markets
you are moving from and to, a geographic move can
be a small event or a major life transaction. By asking
yourself the right questions now, you can save a lot of
heartache and “adventurer’s remorse” later on.
Do What You Love for
the Rest of Your Life:
A Practical Guide to
Career Change and
Personal Renewal, by
Bob Griffiths, $13.95,
Random House Publishing
How to Choose or
Change Your Career
For a Lifetime of
Success, by Nicholas
Lore, $16, Simon & Schuster
Life’s a Bitch and Then
You Change Careers,
by Andrea Kay et al,
Stewart, $15.95, Tabori
& Chang, www.hnabooks.com
Smart Moves: Your
Guide Through the
Emotional Maze of
Relocation, by Audrey
Smith and Kraus
The Complete Relocation
Kit, by Reginald
Howard Battles, $17.95,
The Big Guide to
Living and Working
Overseas, by Jean
Marc Hachey, $49.95,
ISSI Publishers, www.amazon.com
Making the Big Move,
by Cathy Goodwin,
Your Next Move, by
Dan Finnigan and
Marc Karasu, $9.95,
Relocation 101: Making
the Most of Your
Move, by Beverly D.
Roman, $14.95, BR