Is Leaving London the Right Move? Weigh the Pros and Cons

There’s good news for professionals looking to broaden their horizons in a new city: You can work outside the capital and still have a flourishing career in tech.

There is strong demand for skilled workers in cities throughout the UK including Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and Edinburgh. If you prefer to work for an established company Apple, Amazon, Cisco, Microsoft and Rockstar Leeds are hiring. More adventurous types can choose from a variety of startups that have the potential to become major global players.

However, even if a situation seems rosy when compared to London, there’s no guarantee that your career will fare better in another city.

Before you decide to leave London for another job, explore the major advantages and disadvantages by asking yourself the following questions:

Is This My Dream Job?

“Where you work makes a huge difference, so go for the job first when considering relocation,” advised Sally Doherty, chief marketing officer for Graphcore, a chip maker located in Bristol.

After all, there’s no point in taking a job that will require you and your family to move unless it offers better pay or advancement, higher status or the opportunity to work with cutting edge tools and projects. Is this opportunity a step up? Is the company financially healthy and positioned to grow?

Researching an employer is always important when an offer is on the table, but it’s absolutely paramount when it involves displacing yourself and possibly your family.


What’s My Next Move?

To estimate the longer-term impact of relocating, plan out your next three career moves in advance. Can you envision yourself learning new skills and advancing your career in a new city? If you lose your job, will you be able to find another one?

Living in a mid-size city with a diverse economy and strong alliances between universities and businesses can provide some insurance against economic downturn and career obsolescence. However, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan case things don’t work out. Or, assess the market conditions by working as a contractor for a few months before you accept a permanent offer.


Will Relocating Improve My Quality of Life?

“It may be possible to live closer to the office and bike or walk to work if you relocate to a smaller city like Bristol,” Doherty said. “And if you end up driving to work, the traffic isn’t hideous.”

Will you have easy access to restaurants or theaters? Will the weather permit outdoor activities? Will you have more time to visit the gym, see friends or pursue new hobbies? If the job requires significant travel, having access to a major airport could be a deciding factor.

Knowing what you want to achieve from both a career and lifestyle standpoint can help you decide if a city offers services, activities and amenities that meet your needs and goals.


What is the Financial Impact?

Measuring the financial impact of relocation can be complicated. You need to compare living-cost indexes and salary differentials and factor in the cost of moving to make an informed decision.

For instance, tech pros with in-demand skills – such as software and hardware engineers – can command “London-style” salaries in other cities. However, while prices for health care, food and transportation may be lower outside London, the expanding employment rolls in up-and-coming tech hubs such as Cambridge and King’s Cross are pushing demand and housing prices through the roof explained Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington, a provider of relocation services to businesses throughout the UK.

“A lot of people who moved to Cambridge in hopes of buying a house are still renting three years later because they couldn’t find anything to buy,” Hopper said. Consider the ratio of house prices to annual income or use this handy rental calculator to see how far your salary will go in another city. Oh, and be sure to check the market for availability.


How Will Moving Impact My Family?

Relocating may be good for you but not so good for your spouse or children. You definitely need to consider their needs and comfort level before moving to a new city.

Does the city have quality schools and a low crime rate? Will your significant other be able to find a job? Are there family-oriented neighborhoods, extracurricular activities and community events? Will you be able to find affordable child care? If possible, commute for a few months to see how the new job works out before you sell your house or uproot your family.

And finally, remember that asking yourself questions can help you figure out who you are but more importantly, where you want to go.

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