America has always enjoyed a reputation for being the land of opportunity. History has seen waves of immigrants from all over the world, braving considerable dangers and taking immense risks to pursue the American dream. Even though new restrictions have curbed the rate of immigration, non-migrants still find that pursuing a work visa in key growth areas like Salt Lake City will provide months of lucrative seasonal wages, often several times greater than what can be earned in other countries.
Yet within the United States, you’ll find an increasing number of people who feel that their opportunities are restricted by location. Some wage earners persist in areas where the cost of living is much higher due to demand; coastal cities like New York or San Francisco are common examples. Others who live in more affordable cities often face an above-average unemployment rate. While it would seem evident that relocating could provide a better outlook, these are the major barriers to people moving across the country in search of improved prospects – and keys to overcoming them.
Lack of information
In terms of both effort and expense, relocating isn’t easy. The cost of living isn’t the only factor; you’d want to have a job ready when you make a move. The need to find a job from a different location further restricts one’s options. In the information age, mining data as much as possible will help to filter opportunities based on expected wages versus the cost of living. Sites like Glassdoor offer job search tips, while others such as Numbeo help break down the cost of living not only by city but on the level of individual expenses. By overcoming the information problem, you can identify areas where real opportunities exist to improve your net gain each month.
Making lifestyle changes
If you’ve lived in one place for an extended period, chances are you’ve grown accustomed to the lifestyle. This makes it difficult for a lot of people to consider relocating even when the information points to a better opportunity. Sometimes, lifestyle changes are necessary; affordable housing in the big city may mean a small apartment, or even shared lodgings. This can be a big deal for someone who grew up with the house to themselves. Draw up an expected budget for a new location, and compare it with your current one; find out which expense cuts will help you balance the budget with the least impact to comfort and convenience.
Weighing the social factor
For many, the prospect of relocation isn’t just a matter of making the numbers work. There’s a human element involved. Parents will need to consider their kids’ education options and possible adjustment; social support networks also help in other ways, such as child care and dealing with emergencies. If you have friends or family in another city, it could be an intangible factor that significantly improves the experience and mitigates risks. Now that we live in a world dominated by social media, the ability to reconnect and renew relationships, as well as expand one’s existing network, can greatly improve prospects for relocating across the country.
As many millennials have found out the hard way, chasing the American dream is more challenging than in generations past. By making the right adjustments and planning effectively with a long-term outlook, you can spot real opportunities that will make any move worthwhile.