Should You Move To A Big City Without A Job Offer?

Maybe you’re a small town girl who wants to experience the big city, or you’re interested in an industry that’s concentrated in some of the best cities to move after you graduate, but your senior year job hunt didn’t get you any job offers. Should you move anyway? Sometimes, you just have to pack up your bags and go — but not without knowing why you should move (or not) first!

Reasons to Make the Move

You’re ready for new challenges: When Rebekah Meiser, a recent Ohio University alum, moved to Chicago in February, she didn’t have a job lined up. “I decided to take the risk because I felt like I was becoming a drone at my old job, and I wanted to put myself in a different environment and find new challenges,” she says. Getting out of your comfort zone can open new doors to eventually getting that dream job! Staying put will just leave you drained and unhappy.

You want a better chance of getting your dream job: According to Sharon Wiatt Jones, author and former college career services counselor, one of the best reasons to move to the big city (whether it’s LA or NYC or elsewhere) is to increase your chances of actually getting hired there. “Employers do not need to recruit outside their metro area if they find enough local qualified applicants,” she says. “Relocation expenses for new hires can be avoided.” This makes you more attractive to potential employers and shows them that you’re very serious about working in your field.

Your career field is concentrated in a major city: Silicon Valley in the San Franciso Bay Area is the hub of the tech world. If you want to reach the top in that field, moving closer to Silicon Valley is a great idea. Darlene A. Johnson, senior associate director of career services at Hofstra University, says, “I would definitely suggest considering if there is a need for someone in your field in your target city. While one area of the country may have a need, another may be saturated.” She suggests searching online to find which cities have your career specialty; City Town Info provides information on cities by career concentration and includes average starting salary for the area. Then Johnson says you’ll need to start reaching out to people who work there on social networking sites. “Start building relationships with people who work at your target companies in your target geographic areas.  LinkedIn is the best place to start, as well as your college alumni groups.  This way when you are ready to move, you have already built a solid networking base,” Johnson says. Check out our advice on the dos and don’ts of LinkedIn etiquette and the five ways to use your LinkedIn to land a job.

Reasons to Stay Where You Are

You don’t have any money: If moving across town is expensive, moving to a much bigger city can really come with a high price tag. According to Jones and Johnson, you would need to consider your desired city’s cost of living, which includes rent, utilities, transportation, groceries and everything else. “It’s very difficult to rent an apartment without a job, and a move, with relocation and living expenses, is expensive,” explains Jones. Moving without a job offer lined up also means you’ll need to have enough savings to cover your living expenses for several months. Staying in your college town would allow you to improve your financial situation because you’ll be able to network with local companies through your school and have friends nearby who can share the rent when you find an apartment off campus.

You’re still not sure what you want to do: Because moving to a major city is a life-changing commitment, you need to know why you want to move and if you’re ready to face the challenges that come with it. Gracie Gordon, the girl behind Girl Meets Life, didn’t move to New York City the same night she thought of it. “Doing a lot of self-reflection is important — figuring out if you’re ready right now for the transition ,” she says. “If you find that the answer is no, then that’s okay! We all go through changes and different seasons in life, and the most important thing is to enjoy your personal journey and not rush it.” Ask yourself if you’re mentally and emotionally ready to take the risk. If not, there’s nothing wrong with postponing moving to a major city and staying in your college or hometown instead.

You can start your career right here, right now: Your dream career might actually be in your college or hometown, and you just don’t know it. If you were to move to a major city to find your dream job, you might be risking a delay in entering your career field if your months of job searching turn into a year or more. One of the advantages of staying where you are is that you’ll be networking in a familiar landscape. “The employer doesn't have to take a chance on someone who is an unknown, and doesn't need the expense and time needed to recruit from scratch. Faculty probably have contacts locally and alumni are usually more inclined to give recent graduates their start,” Jones says. And it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to relocate to your dream job in the future. According to Jones, major companies sometimes have branches in non-major cities. “If it's a large employer, you may be able to apply for a transfer to your desired city once you've done well in a regular, full-time position,” she explains. “Small and medium-sized employers usually encourage participation in professional associations, which could produce job leads elsewhere.”

Making the Choice

According to Gracie, the best way to choose is to know what you’re looking for, do plenty of research and save as much money as you can. “I’m a huge fan of making pro and con lists,” she says. “They can really help you lay out on paper what the best decision is for where you are in your life right now.” By putting together a list of why you want to go and why you think you should stay can also help you to determine how ready you are for making a move to a major city.

After you’ve come up with your own reasons, you should also discuss it with someone you trust, such as your parents or a college career counselor. “Taking risks when it comes to your career is a great thing, but I think you need to be smart about it,” Gracie says. “Preparation is key. For me, I always wanted to have a back-up plan, even if it wasn’t my dream job, to make sure my expenses were covered.” Talking over your plans with someone who has already been there or who has inside knowledge on starting in your desired career can be a great asset for developing a short-term and long-term plan, as well as any back-up plans to get you through the first few years of your career. You don’t want to move before you’re ready, but you also don’t want to lose out on the greatest adventure of your life!