Moving To Get a Job

Moving can often suck.  Moving when you’re young and looking for work almost always sucks because you are rarely moving toward a desirable location.  Locations that are desirable by definition attract highly qualified people in all fields, so your chances of landing a job in one are very poor.  Also, the more universally desirable a place is, the greater the demand to live there, and consequently the higher the cost of living is likely to be.  So guess what princess, you’re going to have to suck it up – for the short term at least.

Many young people I know re extremely hesitant to leave their cozy little nest.  Oh sure, travelling to Europe is cool in a completely non-committal way, but a semi-permanent change where you are actually moving to another location to pursue a job?  That is a whole other story.  Hey I get it, your friends are centrally located in your area, you’ve got all kinds of routines and connections that you would hate to lose and maybe there is even a special someone involved.  Your current city is like that comfy shirt or pair of pants that you’ve had for years and is as comfortable as it is familiar.  The only problem is that if your current city doesn’t have any jobs, or at least open jobs in a field you want to pursue/are qualified for, then that comfy pair of pants finally has too many holes in it!

Perspective and Entitlement

It drives me nuts when I hear teachers complain that there are no jobs out there.  The fact is that there are definitely some (I’ll stop short of saying “many”) teaching jobs out there, they just probably aren’t three blocks away from your childhood home!  I routinely talk to former classmates who complain they can’t find steady work but then instantly balk when I offer to hook them up with a rural job.  We’re talking an hour away from a city here, not in the middle of Nunavut (which also has many teaching jobs FYI).  I then open the newspaper only to find people in Southern Ontario complaining that they can’t get jobs after substitute teaching (and making little money) for years on end.  My question is why would you want to commit to living in a place where condos cost roughly 100x a teacher’s salary anyway?  That just doesn’t make sense to me in the short or long term.  The question I always hear is, “How can I get the experience that all of the urban teaching spots are asking for if no one will hire me?!”  It’s very simple, you have to move to where the work is.  Once you have some more experience and maybe even some upgraded credentials (wondering what to do with the time and money you used to use being a bar star?) then you might have the necessary leverage to qualify for the “dream” positions your formerly thought you’d just step into.

Obviously picking on teachers is a very select example, but I think that the principle is pretty applicable throughout Canada.  Another great instance is the oil sands.  We’re constantly hiring foreign workers to fill spots there (especially skilled labor positions) and yet we have hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are unemployed but content to sit at home and look for minimum wage jobs (if they look at all).  Why is this the case?  Ignoring geographical labor advantages means that you are making it much harder on yourself to build up any kind of resume, and eventually you might end up with a “hole” in your resume where you weren’t pursuing studies and yet didn’t build any relevant work experience anywhere because you were waiting for the perfect job to fall into your lap.  This often looks terrible on job applications and is not the image you want to present.

Little Rock, Arkansas Represent

Don’t take my word for it though, none other than Bill Clinton cites labor mobility as one of the most important aspects of today’s economy.  The government can only do so much in terms of creating conditions and incentives that encourage job growth, they can’t micromanage things to the point where they are going to specifically create a job in your backyard for you!  One government-side solution I’ve been thinking about is what if we offered people some sort of government grant, interest-free loan, or other incentive to move in order to pursue work?  Wouldn’t this make more sense than making it easier for people to get EI in places that have severe job shortages?  The current system seems counter-productive to me in that regard.  I remember reading about a study a few years ago where they tried this by moving many people from Newfoundland to Toronto and it didn’t work too well, but that might be because of the massive safety net we provide here in Canada.  If we gave someone a student-loan/student-grant type of incentive to move to where the jobs were, but made it contingent upon agreeing to work there for five years or something like that, I wander what sort of success rate we would see.  I think it’s worth looking at anyway.

Labor Mobility Is a Good Thing!

You know what labor mobility was for our forefathers?  Coming to the new world for 40 acres and a mule.  You think you might be lonely in your new surroundings?  Think about moving somewhere that only has a few thousand inhabitants that don’t even speak your language!  Consider those challenges, I think we as young people can rise to the challenge and find a new favorite restaurant and place to lay our head down.

One of my best friends actually just became a shining example for labor mobility.  Last spring he began a job that he knew was seasonal, and he found he really enjoyed it even though it was in a direction he had never considered for the long term before.  As the seasonal part of the job ended, he checked into what his options were for staying on full-time within the company.  In turns out that the company was definitely interested in keeping him on long term, but the only option available was to move eight hours away to a different city.  At this point my friend decided to bite the bullet and move out there.  He now really likes his job every day and has solid career prospects that could easily see him move back to our original stomping grounds after a couple of years – but here is the kicker: He might not want to because he is having such a great time.

Instead of waiting around for life to happen to him my buddy chose to go out and find a new niche for himself.  After looking around for a couple of weeks he joined a rowing team (he has always been athletic) and is loving the new challenge and group of buddies to chill out with.  On top of that, he has met a girl that he can’t believe just fell out of nowhere and is considering buying a place because he loves the area so much.  All this, and to think many of his friends originally advised him not to head out there because they had heard it was boring and didn’t they have a good thing going where they were?

Obviously not everyone is going to have the storybook ending that my buddy seems to be in the middle of, but as young people I think we’re crazy if we don’t make full use of one of our biggest advantages – the fact that we aren’t tied down!  Take a look at some classifieds, talk to some friends that have decided to find their “new world” and see what options might be out there.  It definitely sounds cliché, but don’t settle for letting life happen to you and simply pray to get your dream job just down the street from where you grew up.  Instead, take the bull by the horns and actively build a future for yourself!


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11 years ago

This is definitely something me and my BF have been thinking about and you hit the nail on the head with a lot of our concerns (not living close to family or friends, losing connections, etc…). Plus moving may not show to be a success right away. We’re thinking of moving from Vancouver to Toronto, but even though there seems to be more jobs there, there are also more people vying for them. It’s definitely a tough decision to make that’s for sure.

11 years ago

That’s a hard choice. You’re moving from one overheated housing and jobs market to another in that situation. Why not try a slightly more rural option? Thunder Bay or Saskatoon for example? I thank my lucky stars every day that I prefer a rural lifestyle, that more than almost any personal finance decision I ever make will help my bank account. The really funny thing is that I would pay a premium to live this way!

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