Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how many tech companies require their workers to relocate. San Francisco, New York, Boston, Denver… it really could be any city.

There are plenty of positives to relocation. But there are also a lot of negatives that anyone considering relocation should be aware of. I will cover both the positives and the negatives in this post. But what I am actually excited to dig into is the evolving requirements for relocation in the tech industry.

Excitement of Opportunity

There are many positives to relocating for a job. You might live in a small community that doesn’t offer you the lifestyle you want. Perhaps the job opportunities are fairly limited. You may be young and unattached and in these circumstances, the new opportunity offers you lots of ways to explore a different lifestyle.

From my own experience, I’ve made 4 major moves in my life. In each case, my wife and I identified how the new location would offer us a better lifestyle and would allow us to live our life according to our values. I would highly encourage any of you thinking of moving to make a comparison between where you live now and where you’ll be moving to. Consider:

  • How will your lifestyle be impacted? Be honest with the positive and negatives.
  • How affordable will your lifestyle be? Make sure to talk to people who live in the new location to make sure it’s grounded in reality.
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks for your spouse and/or your kids?

Full Cost of Relocation

Moving for a job carries a lot of risks. If you have a family, it will compound the cost and effort involved. We’ll assume that the company is covering the actual cost of the move. But that cost is one of the lesser ones in my mind.

First, you have to bring to closure your life in your current location. Where you shop, eat, socialize and go for activities will all change. For example, you’ll need to wind down your gym membership and any clubs you were active in. If you have kids, there’s school and extracurricular activities to consider.

If you own a home, the process of selling the current home and buying a new home will take a significant amount of time, stress, and carries its own level of financial risk and uncertainty that could be shocking, especially if you’re moving from the midwest to San Fransisco.

There’s the potential lifestyle shift. How similar is the new location to where you’re moving from? Will you be able to do the things you love? Will they still be affordable and convenient? The time required to adjust will not be insignificant.

How about your social network? I’d expect that you’re starting over and that you won’t have close family in the new location. If you have kids, the support network you’ve built in your current location should not be underestimated. When we moved from Kansas to Colorado in 2005, we spent a lot of time and effort rebuilding our connections and support network.

How much time do you have to make this transition? I often hear that families have to split up so that the new employee can take the new job within a few weeks. Let’s assume that in this case, it’s the dad that has the job offer. He’ll have to move out early, stay in an apartment while the mom and kids try to deal with the laundry list of things to do before they can move to the new location.

What happens if the job doesn’t work out or if it’s so stressful that after a few months you’re looking for something new?

Times are Changing

Luckily, things are shifting and the need to relocate in the tech industry is lessening.

For Haught Codeworks, we’ve had a 100% distributed team since 2006. There is no need to relocate. We’ve been able to successfully collaborate with a fully remote team since our early days. And the tools and infrastructure necessary to collaborate remotely are much better today than they were in 2006. The notion that you must all be co-located is no longer a requirement for a successful team. We have proven to ourselves and our clients that we can successfully ship amazing software without needing to be physically in the same place.

Another benefit has emerged, teams that are co-located have started to benefit from a remote-first approach. Many of the tools and techniques we use as a distributed team are improving how teams in the same physical location communicate and coordinate efforts. No longer does an employee have to feel disconnected or out of sync if she needs to work from home a day or is traveling offsite.

More and more teams are taking advantage of only coming into the office 2-3 days per week without losing the ability to work well together. Eliminating the commute can save money, time and reduce unnecessary stress.

We’re not alone in working as a distributed team. I am hearing that more teams are making the shift to working remote. With one of our new clients, I am guiding them through the process of rebuilding their engineering team. They just hired a team lead that is remote and the new team will be fully distributed.

The trends are clear to me. I see the percentage of remote teams increasing and that more co-located teams will adopt remote-first principles.

This remote-first trend will lead to more new hires avoiding the risk and cost of upending their family for the chance at a new opportunity. Be willing to remote!