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Next Stop, Reloville
Old 07-11-2009, 05:43 PM   #1
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Next Stop, Reloville

I heard about this book on NPR and although I haven't read it yet, the thesis resonated with me. I joined a corporate training program out of college where we moved every 6 months. After graduate school, I joined a firm where moving every couple of years is expected, but I haven't made my first move yet. I didn't much care for relocating when I was single, but doing it while married presents a new set of pros and cons. At least you will know at least one person when you get to your new city! But it becomes much more difficult for the spouse to maintain his/her career. I don't know what our siutation will be when the call comes to move at some point in the future. We have discussed it but not come to any firm conclusions (my previous thread on the subject is here, I ended up taking the job). The dissappointing thing is that it seems like you could be subject to relo at any big company (my current employer is more candid about it than most). But the jobs that offer the most interesting (intellectually stimulating) assignments and the best compensation are often given to those most willing to relocate.

Back in the day when communications were slow, I can understand that a company run by John Smith would want to have someone he knew well in charge of the Madagascar office. These days, you can instantly communicate with anyone around the world, no matter how remote, via phone and email. Scanned documents travel instantly across the internet. So what is really accomplished by relocating someone's family to Malaysia for 3 years that they couldn't do from the home office? Of course there's no substitute for "being there" in some situations, but if you really need to see someone, you can always get on a plane and be there in less than 24 hours. Sure, being flexible on location makes it easier to take the "perfect" next job that you need to keep moving up the ladder.

What have your experiences been with relocating? Is excessive relocation just a relic of the old days of corporate command-and-control structures?
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:22 PM   #2
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Well, I've just relocated twice with a Mega Corp, but it was because the CEO didn't like the state where I did my work.

It really surprises me that companies would relocate a person numerous times and carry the costs, but apparently some still do. One factor may be the time difference. DH had employees in India...the time difference made issues difficult at times.

There could be a benefit to relocating when more shmoozing needs to be done by upper management...not only to keep things in order in their own "house", but to be there to meet and entertain others that could be potential customers.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:04 PM   #3
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Never had to relocate, darn it.
In all seriousness, I had several scares during the BRACC process back in the 1990s, but it never materialized. That would have been a very negative impact.
If there had been a voluntary move offered and we could escape the cold weather, I personally would have gone for it, but LH had family here. So we stayed put.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:48 PM   #4
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We relocated a total of nine times over a period of 15 years - five during my eight years in the military and four during my first seven of 27 years with mini-megacorp (not IBM although it did seem like it for a while). Spent the last 20 in the same location although not in the same house.
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:27 AM   #5
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What have your experiences been with relocating? Is excessive relocation just a relic of the old days of corporate command-and-control structures?
Spouse and I moved 19 times between us during our 20-year careers. So my first piece of advice would be to marry someone who's in your same career field and possibly even the same company. But I guess that works better in the military.

If you're a possible contender in a multinational corporation then the powers that be need to see how you handle yourself (and the problems) in a foreign culture. Instead of homesteading with the same ol' office buddies for two decades, you're moved around to get exposure to thousands of co-workers who can help you develop (or destroy) your professional reputation. As you hopscotch across America, you see enough of the differences of the company's various branches to be able to tease out the minor changes (or streamlining) that will make a huge difference by the time the effects ripple up to the top.

In other words you can't learn how the whole company does business, let alone know how to run it, if you haven't seen the whole company-- and if it hasn't seen you.

That's the Navy's perspective for officer careers, anyway. And having been subjected to it for over two decades, even despite the frequent transfers there are still huge differences in the way the various submarine homeports do their business. Most types of behavior in Pearl Harbor would scandalize New London and necessitate your early transfer, while their currents & tides would be far beyond the ability of most San Diego or PH shiphandlers. And Norfolk submariners can't imagine why anyone would want to move so far away from the seats of military & political power, unless it's to deploy to the Mediterranean to work with NATO. They can't even spell Singapore or Hong Kong or Yokosuka or Chinhae, let alone see how those places could affect world power balances. Then there's those boomer sailors...

Perhaps, unlike the Navy, you have the possible option of electing to stay in the same ol' place, possibly doing the same ol' job, for decades. Of course it might impact your promotions and your pay package, but that's the price of homesteading stability.

Another advantage to all of those moves: we've lived all over the world and in many different cultures. We have more friends in more places than we ever expected to cultivate in one place. Oddly enough, Hawaii was the last place that spouse and I ever expected to be assigned to. When we got here, we were pretty sure this was where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives. Six months after we were transferred to San Diego we were absolutely positive that Hawaii was where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives.

So amid all the upheaval & disruption of moving, perhaps it's worth being grateful to the company for paying you to do the retirement relocation research that you'd otherwise have to pay to do on your own...
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:08 AM   #6
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I relocated 4 times in the first 17 years of my career. I would not have advanced as quickly if I had not been willing to relocate - to me it was well worth it careerwise.
  • If you have the talent to advance in your org, you will advance more quickly if you're willing to relocate. I doubt that has changed.
  • You're right, relocation is not necessary as often as it once was.
  • You didn't hint at your profession, makes a big difference. Examples: If you run an auto assembly plant you simply can't do that remotely. If you're in Sales, you can't do that remotely. If you manage claims for an insurance company, more likely you can work remotely.
  • But I don't think you can manage people as effectively remotely, which makes relocation worthwhile. If you've ever tried to get things done exclusively by e:mail, v:mail, phone and/or video conf - you know things still get terribly lost in translation often. Technology has not replaced being there yet at least. You can travel, but that gets expensive.
  • If you're a technical resource, you can more likely work remotely, but even then there are limitations.
  • I relocated a lot as a kid (from a military family) and I think it's a huge benefit. I have lived all over the world and all over the US. You see other cultures, other places and learn to make friends and adapt. I think people who live in essentially the same place all their lives are at a huge disadvantage, and usually oblivious to that fact. I have seen it firsthand hundreds of times with co-workers who have never lived anywhere else. They tell me 'this is the best place to live, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else!' I ask, 'where else have you lived?' Answer, 'no where.' I ask, 'how could you know if you've never been anywhere else?' Vacations do not provide the same experience at all.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:57 AM   #7
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It used to be said that IBM stood for "I've been moved".

My son said he didn't want to become an engineer like me because he did not like what he saw I have to do--move around and work anywhere. He does not understand yet that he may have to do the same thing anyway. At least I get paid well for it.
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:08 AM   #8
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Like others have posted, I have had to move every few years all through my life either due to my job or due to my ex-husband's job. I think the need to move probably varies depending on one's occupation but in ours we had to move. As for WHY moving is required these days when technology is such a great communication aid, I am tempted to think that often there is no justifiable reason. But then, much of what is required in the workplace has no justifiable reason. It is just another hoop to jump through.

Anyway, my experiences....

In childhood back in the 1950's I spent considerable time living in various places outside the country, because my father had the urge for extended visits to remote locations. I may be well traveled but at heart I am a homebody. What I have always wanted is to have a home, and roots, wonderful advantages that so many people have and yet do not appreciate.

Even in my government job, it was made clear to me that there are no non-management scientists above a GS-13 at my location and that if I want to be promoted to a GS-14, I would have to move to the DC area. I never applied for such a promotion with change in location because when I came here, I decided that New Orleans would be the home I never had and I would develop roots here.

Well, circumstances can be ironic, and Katrina persuaded us that one more move won't kill us and is prudent, so we will be moving again next year after ER. Hopefully that will be the LAST time!!! This will be the only completely voluntary (major) move of my life since 1968, when I moved out of my parents' house in Hawaii and flew to the mainland at age 19.

I want to spend 20 years in one location like REWahoo has. Actually I would like to spend 40 years in one location, but since I am already 61 probably biology will not permit it.

If we move next year, I will have spent 14 years in Louisiana though the first 3 were in Baton Rouge. That is a record for me.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:29 PM   #9
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I grew up 60 miles from here. The farthest away I ever lived from there was 160 miles away, down south in the big city. Sometimes I think my world is too small.
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:37 PM   #10
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We moved 14 times in the 20 years with the military, and then only three times in the next 20 years. Both DW and I agree it's been enough. We got to see a lot of neat places, but packing up a house, even if someone else does it, is a pain in the a$$! Roots in this house are growing very deep!
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:57 PM   #11
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My last move was almost two decades ago but prior to that I moved 7 times, lived in 3 countries and had 11 j*bs. All except the last move were organized by me. I did it in order to advance my career. It's been a wonderful life experience and much richer than what is available at any one location. One of the benefits is having connections everywhere. Granted, it's a nightmare for a couple in which both are ambitious. In my field (healthcare) the hiring organization still does try to find opportunities and links for the SO if he or she is in the healthcare field, but I suspect your're on your own in the current economic environment if you are in private industry unless you are being actively recruited. Good luck!
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:51 PM   #12
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Relocation is definitely in the w*rks for me and dh2b. It may wait the 10 years til he retires, or it may happen sooner. If something juicy in a form of a j*b promotion a la transfer comes up for him, I would be willing to relocate in a heartbeat.
I am well traveled, and have been all over the country and overseas to Europe 2x and the Caribbean 4x for fun trips.
I've lived here in East Nowhere for 29 years. Time for a change.
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:29 PM   #13
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I'm probably the poster child for relocation, at last count I had moved over 25 times. We have moved 10 times in the past 15 years (Geneva-Sydney-Paris-London-San Diego-San Jose-London-San Diego-Alice Springs-San Diego-San Jose). Over the last 20 years I have lived in 7 different countries (Australia, UK, France, Switzerland, US, Pakistan, Mexico).

I don't believe that relocating is for everyone. Anyone who is extremely close to family is likely to struggle. I've survived as I like my own company. For anyone who needs people is can be a lot harder.

I know we have not yet made our final move. Our problem is, even after making all those moves, we really don't know where we want to be. For us the problem is there is not 1 place we want to live, but multiple locations we would like to spend part of our time at on a regular basis.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:41 PM   #14
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I spent my entire life living in the little Cape Cod house my Dad built here in western PA until I went away to college in NYC at age 18. Got married a week after graduation and lived in assorted NYC area tenements with my husband while I completed a masters and he finished med school and residencies(the hospitals now have nice apartments). After which we moved twice(VA and CA) while he served in the military. He got out to start his own practice here in PA. After his passing, I sold our house about about 20 miles away and moved to be closer to my job. I also wanted a smaller, brand new place(I'm not handy in the repair department). However, about 7 years ago, we(should say "he") bought a vacation house in FL, so I keep that for occasional visits in winter. My cousin lives in the house rent free, maintains it for me. I might make one more move in the future, back to the Monterey Peninsula, but will have play it by ear. I have learned I can be happy almost anywhere.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:30 PM   #15
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... back to the Monterey Peninsula...
We loved living there when it wasn't so freakin' cold & foggy.

Which was too often.
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:16 PM   #16
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Soup, I think you should consider yourself on the fast track. I don't know if I can say the same for myself, and I still had to move quite a number of times. Just be happy that you'll be paid to experience different cultures.
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Old 07-14-2009, 09:40 PM   #17
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Never moved for a job, although we did relocate to the NYC area a dozen years ago. I have made some sacrifices to do so, but mostly I just chose a big enough labor market that there was always another potential employer down the street. Now that I have small chil;dren, I am extremely resistant to the idea of relo.
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Old 07-15-2009, 06:44 AM   #18
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I grew up 60 miles from here. The farthest away I ever lived from there was 160 miles away, down south in the big city. Sometimes I think my world is too small.
Same here Martha. My first job out of college was 180 miles from where I grew up. With a megacorp. Felt like a very small fish in the ocean. Two years later, moved back to my home town for a better job with a small upstart company. Great learning experience. Then ended up with a company I stayed with for 27 years. And it was in my home town.

I envy my nephew who left home as a teenager and moved to the east coast for 3-4 years then moved to Colorado for a few years working in the restaurant business. Now he lives on the AL coast and owns 2 bbq restaurants there. He was the rebel in the family but probably has enjoyed a more interesting life in his 31 years than I ever thought about.
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:46 AM   #19
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Same here Martha. My first job out of college was 180 miles from where I grew up. With a megacorp. Felt like a very small fish in the ocean. Two years later, moved back to my home town for a better job with a small upstart company. Great learning experience. Then ended up with a company I stayed with for 27 years. And it was in my home town.

I envy my nephew who left home as a teenager and moved to the east coast for 3-4 years then moved to Colorado for a few years working in the restaurant business. Now he lives on the AL coast and owns 2 bbq restaurants there. He was the rebel in the family but probably has enjoyed a more interesting life in his 31 years than I ever thought about.

Coastal AL is not very far from where you are. At some point your responsibilities to your aunt will become less, and when they do why not drive to coastal Alabama and visit him? Since you are retired, you can have your cake and eat it too, as they say. You could enjoy his interesting life and yet still return home when you tire of it.

I agree that moving around the country does provide an interesting life, but there are a lot of easier ways to make your life interesting. I don't feel that the interesting aspects of upheaval and moving to location after location is more important than having a hometown and roots. I would love to be in your shoes, so to speak, and to actually have an easy answer when asked where I am from. How amazing it must be to have friends living nearby that one has actually known for 50 years.
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:07 AM   #20
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I averaged moving every 2-3 years while with the feds -- my agency thought relocation was good for employee development and the agency. You had to move to get promotions. I actually enjoyed relocating (in my younger days) and lived in a variety of places across the country, often somewhat remote locations. I don't think I would have enjoyed staying in one place -- even now I am thinking of relocating but it would be my first move not tied to a job...
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