You’ve been with your company for a number of years. You have a good team, and your department consistently meets quarterly and annual production targets. Then one day, upper management announces some stunning news: for financial reasons, the company will be relocating from the city to a small town 200 miles away. And since you’re one of their best managers, they ask you to come with them.
If you think this sounds like an improbable scenario, think again. An increasing number of companies are relocating their manufacturing and/or distribution centers to rural areas. At the same time, more and more start-ups move from home offices in the suburbs or city to buildings in office parks.
Of course, some people will decide not to move because it isn’t right for their lifestyle, their family, or their career plans. However, if you do decide to relocate with your company, there are still a number of things to consider in order to make the move a personal and professional success. Keep the following seven tips in mind:
- Negotiate your relocation package. Your employer will likely offer you a relocation package, since they want to keep you on. It’s important to be aware of the elements you can negotiate. Most companies cover the costs of household goods moving, as well as car transport. But as Jacquelyn Smith points out in her Forbes article “8 Steps to a Successful Job Relocation,” you can also negotiate home selling and buying assistance; job placement services for your spouse; school assistance for your children; and, if necessary, pet relocation services.
- Research the new location. No matter how busy you are, it’s important to spend some time in the new location to get a good feel for it. Take a weekend — or a long weekend — to visit, drive around, and check out the different neighborhoods. Look into things like sports clubs, charities, entertainment, and recreational venues. That way, you’ll be better prepared for anything from shopping to dining out after the actual move.
- Consider the cost of living. The cost of living varies considerably depending on where you live. In most cases, moving from a city or the suburbs to a more rural area will result in lower costs for anything from car insurance to grocery prices. Some costs can go up when you move into a city. Sperling’s offers a good cost of living comparison tool.
- Prepare your family. Relocating is highly stressful. Make sure to take the time to discuss everything with your family and address any concerns they have. Include them in the planning, and point out the positive things about the new location to get them excited about the move.
- Be prepared to replace some of your employees. Not all employees will want to relocate, which means you’ll probably have to recruit some people at the new location. Start working on this well ahead of the move so your old employees can help with the transition. And remember to provide those who choose to leave with good references!
- Expect your company culture to change. As Mayra Jimenez states in her Inc. article “5 Reasons to Think Twice Before Moving Your Company,” you’re likely to see a distinct shift in company culture. People in rural areas often form a close-knit community, which can have both positive aspects (like mutual support) and less positive aspects (like a lack of diversity). In addition, they may have more of a laissez-faire attitude than you’re accustomed to. Instead of trying to recreate the exact same culture as before, let things develop as they will and only intervene in the event of negative developments.
- Consider how to stay in touch with your professional network. Staying up to date and maintaining professional relationships is critical to your career development. Set time aside each day — or as often as possible — to network on LinkedIn. Plan ahead so you can attend seminars and conferences, and arrange to meet professional contacts in your new location in person.
Moving with your company is likely to be a pressure-filled time. But with these seven tips in mind, you can reduce the stress and prepare for a successful relocation.