Mindsets and Motivations Series: Exploring Relocation in the Era of Remote Work

August 8, 2023

Ashley Meyer

Ashley Meyer

Despite the rate of Americans moving for work sitting at 1.6% (Challenger, Gray & Christmas), companies are still looking to relocate as an option in a tight candidate market. 

A man in a remote conference on his computer

“The number of US workers willing to move for a job has been declining since the mid-1980s, but since the pandemic, those numbers have fallen off a cliff.” thehill.com 

In today’s world of remote work, is relocation still an option, and if so (we think it is), what does it take to find success when inspiring a candidate to make the move of a lifetime? 

If you and your team come to the decision to entertain offering relocation so you can open your talent pool options, you need to get inside the mind of a candidate. 

What Inspires a Candidate to Relocate? 

Opportunity, Impact, and a Better Life: With several challenges to overcome to get someone to relocate, you will want to consider several factors to create a competitive and desirable relocation package.  

So why would someone entertain relocation in the first place? One of the main reasons is career advancement. More and more often, when someone moves up the “corporate ladder,” it’s by moving to another company, and if that means relocating to get to that next level, it is one of the main reasons someone would entertain it.  

Another reason is to get their kids into a better school district that offers better education and opportunities for them. Another reason is the weather change. After spending so many years in the snowy Midwest or East Coast, a move to Florida or Texas might be tempting.  

If and when you find a candidate who is the right match for the role and ready to make the move, you will want to ensure you have a lucrative relocation package. Here are a few areas you will want to consider when putting together the package: 

An Easy Reimbursement Policy: Make sure getting the candidate reimbursed for their expenses is easy. Whether this is giving them a set budget or a full reimbursement, keep it simple. Most expenses will include movers, travel costs for food, gas, and lodging.  

Temporary Housing: As discussed, with a challenging housing market, it should be assumed you will need to set up temporary housing while they are looking for a new place to live.  

Spousal Income: One of the largest challenges and pushbacks is when a spouse’s income is lost if they make the move. If this is the case, you may want to consider some temporary financial padding while your spouse looks for a new role. 

Exploratory Trip: If your new hire is unfamiliar with the area, you should give them and their family the opportunity to come and explore. Set them up for a few days to check out the city shops, restaurants, and local entertainment. Setting up some time for their manager or a mentor to give them a tour can also help them feel more comfortable with the move.

Data-Driven Decisions: Cost of Living vs. Cost of Staying

One of the main things you will want to get is market data on the cost of living in your area. How does your city compare to other cities in the US? Is your city more expensive than other cities? You will want to keep this in mind when considering the salary range you are targeting. Please note that if you are in a lower-cost-of-living area, someone coming from an expensive city like NYC is not necessarily going to take a pay cut because the cost of living is less, so you may want to target cities that are in the same bracket as yours or less expensive than yours.  

Relocation Objections: 

Relocation is one of the trickiest obstacles to overcome. Any cross-country move includes moving parts, and the impact of uprooting is felt by everyone involved, not just the candidate. When interviewing a candidate, it is wise to be realistic in communicating their challenges with the hiring manager. These obstacles include: 

Their Spouse’s Job: Most families have a 2-person income, and according to a recent survey, the biggest hurdle was their spouses’ job. With relocation, unless the spouse is already working remotely or not working, will have a financial impact on their income. 

House Prices and Interests Rates: Home prices have skyrocketed during 2020 and 2021 on top of a very competitive market where so many houses were being bought sight unseen just to beat the competition. Although that market has slowed, it is mainly due to increased interest rates that were previously around 3%, and they are now sitting at around 7%. Many people would not want to sell in this market if they had bought in at a low-interest rate. Who would want to swap 3% for 7%? 

The Influx of Remote Work: Remote work isn’t new, but the pandemic has brought to light that many people can perform their roles just as well without being in an office. Having the option to work remotely has become a way for companies to set themselves apart from the competition by giving candidates this option. Now many people won’t even consider a role that doesn’t have this option. It is a great perk if a company can offer it; however, not all roles can offer that. Some industries need onsite staff such as manufacturing, lab roles, and construction.  

Families and Children: The second most common reason someone would not relocate is because they need to be close to their families to help with their children. Additionally, uprooting their kids out of a school they are in isn’t a feasible option for everyone, especially if their kids are in their junior or senior year of high school.  

Taking these factors into consideration can make the cost of relocating a candidate expensive, so really assess the need for an onsite employee. If an onsite employee is your best or only option, having a strong relocation package and targeting candidates that are more likely to move will help you get the ears of today’s top talent.

More than recruiters, Titus Talent Strategies is a team of Talent Optimizers who genuinely care about the work we do. We empower companies to put the right people in the right seats through informed, connected strategies that combine data with an empathetic understanding of what makes people tick. We recognize that our partners are investing in us and that results mean more than just people placed in a role. It’s about impact and connection. Connect with us today to learn more. 


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