How Much Money Would it Take for You to Relocate?

In the present-day economy, there are clearly some areas of the country that are doing much better than others. Some places have economies that are strong; in others, things are quite bleak. For some of these places, these trends have been in place for a while – long before the recession.

Clearly, job and career prospects are brighter in some geographic areas vs. others.

In terms of quality of life – as measured by attributes such as cost of living, short commutes, mild weather, cultural and entertainment options – there are clearly some areas of the country that offer more than others. For many, living in a cold, gray, decaying city is not as attractive as living in a place with warm weather, scenic landscapes, and fun outdoor activities.

Obviously, while subjective, it’s safe to say that there are some places that are generally more appealing than others.

So, given these two variables – economy and quality of life – wouldn’t it make sense for each of us to try to move to a place that would seem to have more to offer than where we are currently living?

Logically – looking at it that way – yes. Why live someplace with less to offer.

Practically, however, it doesn’t quite work that way.


Here are four major reasons why people don’t relocate so readily:

1) Selling a Home. Homes aren’t quite as liquid in many places here right now – at least not at a price many people might want to accept. Depending where one lives, a home could be rented out. Of course, there still might be rental income tax to attend to in that case.

2) Finding a new job. It might take some time in this economy to find a new job in a new city, much less the one you might be in right now.

3) Family considerations. For many people, there are family ties that make it emotionally difficult to move. There could be relatives close by, or kids who are established in their schools. Perhaps some family members need care. Whatever the reason, the people factor makes it tough to pick up and move anywhere.

4) Resistance to change. Sometimes people just don’t want to change. People get comfortable in their surroundings and daily interactions. Even though something might seem to be exciting, fun, and profitable, it can be scary for people who don’t want their regular routines and comfort zones to change.

There are likely many additional reasons why people don’t want to move. Perhaps you are thinking of one related to yourself.

Having said all of this, I propose that you consider this hypothetical situation:

A company or organization within your profession or line of work approaches you with a job offer. They tell you that the job will be in a city over 1,000 miles away. The job will be a comparable position as your current role, in an organization with comparable prospects and reputation. Additionally, the company will insure that your working spouse, if you have one, will receive a position in that same new community that is comparable to his or her old job. One other factor: the company will provide relocation expenses.

Taking this into consideration, here is the question:

How much would your compensation have to increase, on a percentage basis, for you to accept the new position?

My hypothesis is that as one gets older, this percentage gets higher. In fact, I am guessing that it gets disproportionately higher as one gets older.

I have a friend who once told me that he wouldn’t move from his home in Wisconsin unless he was offered a salary increase which was not in any way unrealistic. I asked him if he would move if his pay was doubled, and wasn’t even sure then! He would have moved at a much younger age, he said, but now his kids were established in school, his family lived in the area, and he was comfortable.

At the time, I thought that might have been a bit narrow-focused. Now, older and with a family, I understand. Frankly, I don’t plan to move. Now, as much as truly enjoy the Chicago area, I wouldn’t mind living on the West Coast.  It would be great to have a second home, though the economics behind that are completely laughable right now – and for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line: I’m not considering moving out of the area until my kids are out of school. I now see how my friend wouldn’t want to move across the country even if his salary was doubled. Sure, it would be a good financial opportunity. But there’s more to life and happiness than money alone. For me, relationships and health play a big role in decisions I make as well.

What about you? What percentage increase in income would it take for you to relocate to a community over 1,000 miles away?


  1. says

    Another solid post! Great work!

    At the age of 24 and being single, if I were to move to a place with more outdoor activities and lower expenses than were I live now (in the Northeast), it would not take a pay raise at all actually. As long as the company provided relocation assistance, I would be happy to move.

    If it were to a comparable place as where I am now, it would probably take a pay raise of about 20%.

    On this same note, in my experiences, I have been surprised that in big companies, they generally offer the same salary no matter if you are working at a rural manufacturing facility in Georgia or a corporate office in New Jersey.

    • Squirrelers says

      Thanks for the positive feedback, MPF Journey!

      I too have seen that some companies pay comparable salaries no matter what the cost of living is. Back when I was in grad school (quite some time ago), I interviewed with a company that had locations in different locations across the U.S. One of which was the San Francisco area, which is a notoriously expensive place, albeit with a great quality of life. Anyway, I had asked about my offer and if there is an adjustment provided for geography, and they said that the “great lifestyle” of the Bay Area was a part of their compensation.

      I never took the job, though it was a decent offer and in a great part of the country.

  2. says

    We live in Houston, so anywhere they may want to move us to would probably have a significant higher cost of living. They’d have to pay us more just for that difference and then double it for us to even consider it. We’re 27 and have no kids, so we shouldn’t be so difficult, but all of our friends and close family live in Texas (Houston and Angleton and Katy mainly)…moving would mean setting up a support system from scratch and that would completely suck. We both love our city. :-)

    • Squirrelers says

      BFS – I know what you mean about wanting to stay in the same city. Support networks are very important for a lot of us, moreso that many probably realize. It has taken me a while, but I fully grasp the value now. Relationships are a huge part of quality of life for many of us, and moving for money has different utility for each of us as well. If somebody could willingly move and be more flexible, there could be significant financial benefits. But again, money isn’t the driving factor in all decisions.

  3. says

    I can understand my someone would lack motivation to move as he ages for the reasons that you mentioned. Presently, I am more than willing to move for job advancement sake but can’t say I would feel the same way in five years.

  4. says

    Hmmm AMAZING Question. If I had to put a % on it, it would be at least double if not triple to move 1K. As it is, when head hunters email me I tell them if it doesn’t double my salary (start point) then I am not interested in talking.

    First time here, Love the site

  5. says

    I’ve contemplated moving from Brisbane (average house price $550,000) to Adelaide (average house price $250,000) but family ties keep us here, That and we’re worried if we sell our Brisbane house move to adelaide we’ll never afford to buy back in

  6. says

    If you can get me a job in my field/profession in the SF bay area, I am willing to take a tiny paycut to get there!

    All our new local friends keep graduating and moving away so every couple of years we have to start from scratch. BUT, all our friends from high school relocated to the bay area.

    • Squirrelers says

      Nicole – I can understand the appreciation for the SF Bay Area. I have family there, visit annually, and think it’s hard to find any place with a better overall quality of life. It tempted me before, as I had a two job offers there out of grad school.

  7. says

    Being a dual income couple, both contributing roughly 1/2, if one of us got a great opportunity I guess the following things would be considered:

    – cost of living
    – likelihood the other person would get a job
    – the economy
    – how much travel the job requires
    – how many hours it may take

    So right now, I’d say, at least double because we’d be losing an income for an unknown length of time.
    If this dream job put one person’s work/life balance out of whack, that further limits what job #2 could be like.

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