How to Take a Job Far From Family and Friends

How to Take a Job Far From Friends and Family | CorporetteHow do you tell your friends and family you’re moving for work? How do you even decide to take a job that’s far away from family and friends? Reader L wrote in with an interesting question:

I’m a recent college grad and I just accepted my first job offer (yay!). I’ll be moving across the country, and I’m working on updating my closet. There’s just one (sort of) huge issue.

I have no idea how to prepare my family and friends for this. I haven’t told anyone that I will be moving, and the move is literally two weeks away. What’s a suggestion for the easiest/quickest way to tell people, without hang-ups?

Congratulations, L! We’ve talked about how to job hunt in a different city, how to make new friends, and I’ve shared my moving tips for Type As — but we haven’t talked about the decision of whether or not to move for a job, nor have we talked about how to tell your friends. So, readers — if you’ve had a big move, how did you tell your loved ones? How did you decide to take the job?

For my $.02 of advice for Reader L, I would note:

  •  If you’ve already made the decision to take the job, just do it — if you can’t break the news to your family or closest friends in person, give them a call. Emphasize the opportunity and how excited you are for the job (as well as, perhaps, the short plane flight).
  • Know when your first visit home will be so you can tell your closest a specific date.
  • If your parents are unfamiliar with newer technology like Skype, teach them how to use it.
  • To the extent you can, leave a lot of time in your schedule to go to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with friends.

Personally, I’ve made a few big moves, first from the suburbs of Cleveland, OH to Evanston, IL for undergrad, then from Northwestern to New York for my first summer internship at a magazine, then from NYC to DC for law school, and back again.  It’s never easy to leave good friends and family behind (to say nothing of moving house and settling in to a new city) but it is sometimes a necessary evil. On the flip side, I’ve turned down amazing career opportunities because they involved major moves — I turned down a huge legal opportunity on the West Coast because it came up right around the time I’d started dating my (now) husband.  I wonder about it sometimes, but I have no regrets about my decision.

Readers, what are your experiences and thoughts with taking a job far from friends and family?  Have you made big moves in your life? 

Pictured: Moving Day, originally uploaded to Flickr by Gavin St Ours.


  1. I almost had this problem myself! When I was gradueating from law school, I did NOT have a firm offer from a really decent place. So before my dad lined me up with this strange process serviceing Job in NYC, I met a guy at a pub in Georgetown who told me that with my look’s brains and personalty, I could come work for him in Virginia Beach, where he had the monoply on selling flood insurance, and I could make at least 6 figure’s a year. Back then that sounded like alot of money (and it still is, of course), so I told my DAD about it and he was skeptical. He told me he wanted to investigate and to get the guy’s business card (I only got his phone number). Dad could NOT find his business and his investigation on the web came up empty, so when I called him, some young girl (mabye 13 or 14) answered and said that her dad was out delivering pizza’s. I said is this the same guy that sell’s FLOOD insurance , and she said yes. So I asked her why he had to deliver pizza’s if he was makeing alot of money and she said he needed a second job to make end’s meet. FOOEY I thought, b/c the job was not goeing to happen.

    So I wound up NOT takeing him up on his 6 figure offer, and NOT haveing to move down there. Instead I took a job where I delivered subpeenas for a while in NYC until the manageing partner offered me a real WC defense job, even tho I knew absoleutely NOTHING about WC law!!!! Now I am doeing very well, and dad is happy b/c he is goieng to have a Partner in the family and I hope to be abel to get a husband b/c of all of that. YAY!

  2. So, I moved across country for college, then across globe (to East Asia) right after I graduated. I guess I’m a bit surprised that the OP’s family and friends didn’t even know that the move was a possibility. I’m not one of those “tell everything” to my parents types, but they usually at least get a hint that I’m going to be moving somewhere before I decide to do it. Either way, the move is done now, so I agree with Kat, just go. You’re just out of college, so people expect you to be moving.

  3. What is your gross income on your w-2? I don’t actually see a box that says gross income…. Is it your medicare/SS wages?

    • It’s the number in Box number 1. “Wages, tips, other compensation”

      Here is a good chart:

      • But if that’s the case, why is the number in box 3, SS Wages, higher?

        My listed salary is roughly what box 3 says and box 1 is less by about $8K. Isn’t gross income supposed to be the higher number?

        • Well, I guess it depends on who is asking for your “Gross pay”
          If it is the Federal Government (i.e. what to put on your tax return) then “Gross pay” = “Your total federal taxable gross pay.”
          That means your gross pay minus any pre-tax deductions, which is counterintuitive.

          If someone else is asking for your gross pay, other than the federal government, they might be asking something different. But I always use the number in Box 1 when asked for gross pay.

        • Retirement contribution. Retirement contribution is not taxed federally but is not exempt from SS tax.

          There are a few other benefits that fall into that category as well…but usually it’s retirement.

          • Thank you both. This is for a housing situation. For eligibility reasons, I don’t want my income to be too high, but I don’t really get what they are asking me for when they say annual income based on gross income.

          • Ugh, they actually asked you for “Annual income based on gross income”? I don’t think that’s a thing. ;oP

            Anyway, I would just put the Box 1 number from your W2, that is a reasonable thing to do and a good source to be able to show them if they question you for some reason.

          • Yep. It says “annual income” and then it says “annual income is usually calculated by gross income unless you are self employed in which case it may be net income.” Ugh indeed!!!! I am just going to guesstimate and hope for the best. Thanks, Zora!

  4. I transferred from Massachusetts to Denver, CO when I was 27. I always felt that I needed to try living somewhere else and I would never be ready to settle down until I did it. I remember at the time I was hanging out with a bit of a party crowd and I was really over it, although I did love my friends. I had been losing roommates and rental properties left and right, but didn’t want to buy a place of my own there. I moved with little more than my dog and what could fit into my car (ok, I did ship a few boxes of clothing). It was absolutely the right decision and I didn’t have any doubts. I think some people, including my mother and my best friend, thought I’d be back after a while. Others knew that I needed to go, that there was nothing left for me where I was. I bought a condo a month after moving. Almost 20 years later, I’m still in Denver, married with a son and another dog, although I’ve changed jobs a few times. You just have to go with your gut and believe that those who care about you want you to be happy.

  5. this is why we can't have nice things :

    Since I know the topic of watches has come up on this site before (Kat did a post on buying her Cartier), I thought I’d ask – how do you feel comfortable walking around with $5-$10K on your wrist?!

    I just had my watch (not anything fancy) pickpocketed on the subway. By the time I realized it had happened it was too late (not that I would have confronted the guy). My husband had a pair of Oakley sunglasses also lifted out of his bag recently on the bus. A few hundred dollars here and there, not so terrible- but if someone stole my $5,000 watch?! How do you guys deal with this? Do you only wear such items in your office? Have it insured and hope for the best? I’m genuinely curious.

    • Same way you feel comfortable with an engagement ring or other pricey jewelry. Make sure it’s insured, be aware of your surroundings.

      I used to work in a sketchy part of town and would always turn my engagement ring around when walking alone at night so the big expensive looking stones were in the palm of my hand. Not that it would stop someone, but I figured it wouldn’t draw extra attention to me. I don’t wear my precious gem jewelry on vacation (put it in the safe) but I sure do shine it up before a big presentation at work.

      • Same here on turning the engagement ring around. I also have a $5K watch, but only wear it to work/fancy events. I don’t wear it to the gym or anything like that…that’s where the old Timex comes in!

    • What?! Naive rural girl here, but how do they even do that? I understand a mugging or something (“give me your watch!”) but pickpocketing… did they just gently take it off your wrist?

      • this is why we can't have nice things :

        Google “pickpocket taking watches”. I guess it’s not that hard, they pretty much do it without you knowing it, because typically they distract you (I think it was when I kept feeling something touching my head, and I would turn around and it was nothing – maybe he was touching my hair getting me to turn the other way, and then unclasped the watch?)

        Good point, I guess I never worry about my rings because they are stuck on my finger and require a significant amount of force to remove. But I do have them insured.

        • Wow. Interesting – from what I just looked at it would seem that the continuous metal clasp style is harder to steal than the leather bands, which I suppose is good.

    • Insurance.

    • I guess it’s just that my left arm is well insured? I have a hard time getting my double clasped well fitting watch off and my rings fit snugly as well. I try not to be too flashy and to be alert.

    • I destroy watches, so I truly can’t have nice things. For everything else (incl. husband’s watch): jewelry rider.

      But for dear things, they don’t go where they are unlikely to return (e.g., beach vacation).

      My mother’s charm bracelet was stolen when we were little and I’ve always mourned its loss. So I am careful with the non-fungible nice things that I own and they don’t go out much (and should be in the safe and not my dresser).

  6. To the OP, would the move come as a complete surprise to those close to you? After college is a common time for people to move and when you were interviewing for jobs wouldn’t the location of the jobs have at least come up it casual conversation with your friends and family? I went to college in a different city then where my family lived, so they didn’t expect me to come back immediately (six years post-graduation and still haven’t), but we did talk about opportunities that were local to them.

    From your question though, it sounds like this is going to be a shock to those around you, so I’d tell them ASAP. Just blurt it out, because you need the remaining two weeks to allow them to spend time with you and say the good-bye (temporary). I agree with Kat’s point about ensuring that you have a visit date identified, even if it is months away, so people know this isn’t an abandonment. As far as avoiding “hang ups”, I think you missed that by not gradually introducing the option of interviewing outside your hometown. Ultimately it is not your fault if people have issues, they will of course miss you, but we all heal.

  7. I moved from San Francisco, CA to Western MA for a PhD program. It totally seemed like the right decision career-wise and I’d previously moved to another country for a year when I was younger, so I didn’t anticipate how difficult it could be. This isn’t exactly to the OP’s question, but I would recommend preparing for it to be a lot tougher than you think. You are leaving your people (whoever you define as your important people) behind and they are going to go on with their lives without you. And you may also experience culture shock. And it gets harder to make deep friendships as you get older… I know there is still some stigma, but seeing a therapist can be great for this (I’d never been to one before the move). Moving is a huge stressor and moving to somewhere where you have no support system can be tough, especially if you are going to be putting in long hours for work and won’t have a lot of time to do social activities in order to meet new friends.

    • Breadwinner Mom :

      I agree with T. My wife and I moved with our 1 year old son from NYC to the suburbs of San Francisco almost a year ago. I, too, had spent a year living in another country on my own when I was younger, and I love the adventurous aspect of uprooting and trying something new. However, after almost a year in this new place, we are still looking for “our people,” and it feels hard! I even have two good friends within a 40 minute drive, and still, we feel a bit like we’re living on an island. Part of it is having gone from city to suburb, and part of it is having gone thousands of miles away from my family and our networks. We’ve made a few new friends, but we don’t have a community, and we don’t have anyone in our neighborhood to hang out with. I work, and I love to work, but I’m at a small company and don’t hang out with my office friends outside of business hours. Also, I’m now pregnant with our 2nd child (my wife carried our first), so I am going through the stress of worrying that others at the company may view me in a new way or question my ambition when I tell them. I’m used to working with all men, but being pregnant makes the environment feel slightly threatening. I’m not a lawyer (former i-banker, currently in strategy and management), but I am really impressed with the community on this site, so I’m thankful for the enlightened threads I’ve read through!

  8. Celebrate! :

    Throw a got-a-job/good-bye party for yourself. Send an invite and tell everyone the last-minute great news of getting a job you want in this bad economy, and how happy and excited you are to get to experience a new city. Buy some chips and enjoy…
    Job offers usually come with start dates intended to permit 2-weeks notice to the current job, so having only two weeks left is not that unusual. One of my closest friends got a job on a Thursday to start on Monday in a different city (same company so no background check, etc.). It happens.
    If you sound sad or you imply that you feel bad about leaving, everyone will hold on to that. If you tell everyone how excited you are, they will have no choice but to be excited with you. It will also be a lot easier for your family to “let you go” if they see how happy you are about it.

  9. I’ve made several moves since I left home at 18, to totally new places.
    2 pieces of advice:
    * Don’t go into it with preconceived notions. Get to know your new area on its own merits. Use this as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone – go to dinner alone, check out new bands, go to a festival. Don’t live in that box of your former life, get out & meet new people and try new things.
    *Have a social circle outside of your coworkers. In my case, I was a 20something working with all men who were old enough to be my father or grandfather, so there’s no way they were gonna be friends. How did I make friends? I joined and found some groups that interested me and I went to Meetups. The first couple of times I was nervous but then I got over it.

    Best of luck!

  10. Amelia Pond :

    I don’t think anyone mentioned this, but I would definitely tell your close friends in person/via telephone before you post something about it on facebook. Facebook is an easy way to tell the rest of your acquaintances that you are moving, but not ideal for people you are close to.

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