Willing To Move for a Job? It Could Boost Your Salary by 10% or More

Businessman in office with moving boxes

The number of job seekers relocating fell to the lowest level on record in the first quarter of 2023, according to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas report, which found that just 1.6% of U.S. job seekers relocated in that time period.

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This is down from 3.7% in the final quarter of 2022 and 4.6% in the same quarter last year. Rising housing costs and inflation, combined with the rise of hybrid workplaces and remote work, were the main drivers of this trend.

“Of all the individuals who would be willing to move for a new employment opportunity, many can’t, owing to the associated expenses,” said Peter C. Earle, economist at the American Institute for Economic Research. “We’ve had two years of high inflation, relatively speaking, and the prices of everything from housing to groceries to fuel are higher than they were even three years ago. On top of that, wages have largely stagnated for two years. A move is a costlier proposition in 2023 than it was in 2019.”

Yet, if you’re willing to move for a job, your salary could jump by 10% or more, according to a LendingTree study

In some states, these increases could be much higher. Indeed, the largest increases in quarterly earnings after switching jobs and moving to or within a state are in Ohio, with a 33% boost. This was followed by moves to or within Connecticut and New Jersey, where workers saw a 26% increase in earnings, according to LendingTree data. 

Other Factors To Consider

However, experts agree that job seekers should not take only the salary increase into consideration when considering relocating. There are several other factors to weigh as well.

The cost of living in a new city, for example, can easily wipe out any salary boost and make the move financially useless. 

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“Salaries in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas often exceed salaries in Midwestern cities, where cost of living is much lower,” said Mark Berry, senior human resource specialist with Insperity. “However, this salary boost may be offset by the increased prices in a more expensive city.”

In turn, Berry recommends that candidates use cost-of-living calculators to gain an idea of how much they would need to earn in the new city to match their current standard of living.

Other experts recommend considering the actual opportunity and what it means for your career, instead of the raise in salary solely. 

“For example, a salary increase is not necessarily the same as a career growth trajectory,” said Harley Lippman, CEO of human resources company Genesis10

“Sometimes a salary boost may be nice, but the cost of living in a new location makes this less favorable. There are many factors such as quality of life and taxes to take into account.”

Salary Is Not Always the Best Benefit of Moving

On the other hand, there are additional benefits that can come with a relocation beyond a raise in salary. 

“To some firms, individuals who relocate signal an above-average level of motivation. That may lead to opportunities for promotion or other positive considerations,” Earle said.

Finally, taking moving costs into consideration is also essential, even though some companies offer this perk as part of the relocation package. Other more personal factors, such as quality of life and commute time and costs, are also important. 

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All in all, experts agree it’s crucial to weigh the salary increase against a slew of other factors, and even more so in this economic environment. 

Whether more workers will be willing to relocate in the near future remains to be seen, as the workplace has changed dramatically since the pandemic. 

“That being said, as long as the labor market remains tight, and hybrid and remote opportunities are available, the trend against relocation could continue,” Berry said. “A recession or rise in unemployment, or a shift in the culture around flexible work arrangements, could cause the trend to reverse.” 

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