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At my current job we have two corporate offices, one in the town where I went to university and the other right next to a major city. Since I've now graduated and begun a full time position I plan to move to this city and begin working at the other office.

Whenever I tell a local colleague about this decision I am met with something like, "Why would you want to leave here?" or "What's wrong with this region?". It seems like people are offended that I don't want to settle down and live where they do.

How can I handle this in a professional manner? I get this question almost every day and simply saying, "I only lived here for school" doesn't seem like an appropriate response.

Reasons for the move include:

  • More things to do in the new area
  • My long term girlfriend would love to move and hates where we live (stating this is typically met with imitation whip cracking)
  • Better job opportunities for both of us
  • Closer to friends and family

the list goes on and on

EDIT: I haven't been using the family line because most people here know that my parents live on the other side of the country. I only have a few relatives that I'm close to in the area and would like to avoid discussing them.

Also, people have not been yelling but have asked these questions with a particular tone that clearly conveys their displeasure/feelings of offense.

I don't have the option to avoid telling people because the move will have an impact on my current project and since the decision was made word has travelled fast, a.k.a. the cats out of the bag.

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    IMO if it is true "I want to be closer to family" is an answer that doesn't offer much rebuttal. – Myles Jun 23 '15 at 19:23
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    How about "I won't get angrily asked about my personal reasons, in the other city" – AviD Jun 23 '15 at 23:32
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    Are people getting shouty and redfaced when they ask these questions? Because they don't seem like "angry" questions - they seem like questions you'd ask someone who is moving from their current location to another one. – HorusKol Jun 24 '15 at 2:29
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    @HorusKol Agreed. It think there could be a culture or language barrier in play here. – Lilienthal Jun 24 '15 at 8:09
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    I agree with the "close to family" line. To avoid the whiplash, don't mention your girlfriend, just say your friends and family are there ;-) – algiogia Jun 24 '15 at 10:46
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Whenever I tell a local colleague about this decision I am met with something like, "Why would you want to leave here?" or "Whats wrong with this region?". It seems like people are offended that I don't want to settle down and live where they do.

How can I handle this in a professional manner? I get this question almost every day and simply saying, "I only lived here for school" doesn't seem like an appropriate response.

Yes, the response "I only lived here for school" may send the message to your local colleagues that "otherwise, I hate the place where you have chosen to settle down". This is probably not the message you intended to send.

Something more along the lines of "I really liked it here, but we just think [the major city] is overall a better place for us personally in the long run." basically says the same thing, but perhaps in a kinder way.

And you could always add "The thing I'll miss most is working with all of you." if it's the truth.

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    He shouldn't need to pretend he likes his current location, people should understand everyone has different priorities and tastes. – Andy Jun 23 '15 at 22:38
  • This suggestion sounds almost like openly refusing to share any reasons. A valid strategy (if asked by a complete stranger or in a rude way), but not necessarily going to count as social nicety where I live. – Jirka Hanika Jun 24 '15 at 12:16
  • @JoeStrazzere - Maybe not that different. There's no such requirement. OP says they got asked "angrily", so a curt answer is in order, I think. If the question was honest, your suggestion still allows a follow up. – Jirka Hanika Jun 24 '15 at 12:30
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    I agree with this answer...but I also feel like these people are not very considerate, respectful, or even aware of the world beyond their front doorstep. I would try to word things amiably in general, but in this case, the OP may even consider just telling them to back off and grow up. – Panzercrisis Jun 24 '15 at 14:03
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Family and girlfriend are pretty good reasons to comply with their wishes and move. Because both family and girlfriend know how to hurt you, and they know where you live :)

If your reasons for moving are simple and basic, keep your explanations simple and basic. Don't make something complicated out of something that's not.

  • Family is always an excellent reason, and it's the reason I'm stating when people ask me why I'm moving right now (and it's the truth). It provokes a much more sympathetic reaction than saying something that could be interpreted as "This place sucks." Honestly my fiance and I really don't like the city we're in, and only moved here for work, but my coworkers would be pretty offended if I said that. – thanby Jun 24 '15 at 12:44
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    @thanby Family is always an excellent reason because when they want something from you and they want you to do something from them, they care about what they want and they don't necessarily care what you think. They have ways of "persuading" you to do what they want and they'll make you an offer you can't refuse - hence, the universal sympathy you get when you mention the word "family" :) I have more rights as a citizen and as an employee than as a family member :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 24 '15 at 13:15
  • Family is an excellent answer because it covers vastly different scenarios. Person 1:So why are you leaving? -- Person 2:I'm leaving for family reasons. -- Person 1:But your family lives in the area. -- Person 2:Exactly, like I said, I'm leaving for family reasons. – Dunk Jun 25 '15 at 17:43
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It seems like people are offended that I dont want to settle down and live where they do.

Many people convince themselves that whatever they're doing at the moment (school, city, workplace, hobby, club, etc) it's the best thing to do in the whole world and everybody else dreams to do same (be them). Or at least they try to convince others to validate their lifestyle by assuming it. It's a popular coping mechanism. By moving out, you're basically challenging their perception of reality. And it's hard to NOT be offended by that.

IMHO the best thing to say is "I just want to try out new things". They'll answer "you'll run back to us crying" and you'll say "yeah, most likely" and then you both part ways happy. They feel safe because your leave seems to be temporary. You're validating their life choices by admitting this place is "the best" and the other city is inferior. And you don't really care because you either won't come back or you will come back and pretend it was the plan all the time.

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If you want to remain polite, you could just tell them that you're looking for a new job opportunity, and the one you found seems to be a better fit for you.

If they get increasingly agitated or offended about it, keep in mind that you really don't owe them an answer as to why you're moving, only that you are moving.

Honestly, though, if your colleagues in one office don't understand why you would possibly want to move to the other office within the same company, then that should probably be a sign that they probably aren't much in support of each others' career growths. This might be a red flag if you're ever offered a position to move back to that office.

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    Spreading the word he's looking for better job opportunity could get him in trouble with management. Better to stick with the "close to family" line. – algiogia Jun 24 '15 at 10:44
  • If that's really the case, I'd be questioning why I'm working with that kind of management to begin with. If management isn't going to support my career growth within the company, then I'd much rather find a company that has management that would. – panoptical Jun 24 '15 at 14:15
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I think the important thing is to remove the conclusion that your decision reflects on them in any way. This is a good policy for conflict resolution in general: phrase your views and explanations for your actions as personal attributes. Ie. don't say that movie sucked, say I didn't like it or it wasn't for me.

So in this case, a good response would be to say "I'm just more of a city person. As beautiful as this town is, I just miss the energy of the city." (If this is true for you, of course, adapt as necessary).

This response has the benefit of deflecting a discussion. If you don't give them a rational reason, they can't respond with logical arguments. They'll just have to accept what you tell them.

Personally, I would be a little offended by such questions: I don't feel I should have to defend decisions like this. If you start making up an elaborate reason for your actions, you're implicitly agreeing with people questioning your personal decisions. A vague and personal deflection doesn't give them that satisfaction.

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    This is my recommendation as well. Few people will find fault with "I'm just a city person at heart." Then drop it. If they try to probe further, they are just trying to figure out why you might like the city better. Best not to come up with reasons why which they will find fault with or compare to their reasons for staying. If pressed, just point out that it's different than here (Not better) and that you feel happier. 'But the city is so crowded' ... "Yes, it's certainly a different environment." ... 'What do you like about it?' ... "Nothing in particular, it just feels nice." – Adam Davis Jun 24 '15 at 15:00
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Might be also relevant in which country this is happening, as politeness is defined different everywhere.

But generally you shouldn't talk bad about their city (unless there is really something bad about it), one day the other office could shut down and you would have to go back.

On first glance, it seems to me like they are only teasing you because they know you good enough that you will take it serious. Take it with humour, maybe that's their way of dealing with losing a good coworker.

And if they really keep going, tell em your girlfriends happiness is to you more important than theirs, might be only their envy talking.

Stay nice however, there's a saying "you always meet twice in life" ...

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I dont have the option to avoid telling people because the move will have an impact on my current project and since the decision was made word has traveled fast.

OK, but just because people know about the move doesn't mean you have to discuss why you're moving. Be vague and change the subject:

Co-worker: Why are you moving?

You: Personal reasons. Now, about [WorkTopic]...

Co-worker: No really, why are you moving?

You: As I said, it's for personal reasons. If you're concerned about how this impacts [Project]... (Then explain how this is going to be handled)

If they won't lay off, they have officially made things weird and be blunt about the fact that you don't want to discuss it. You can also point out that people have been rude about it already:

Co-worker: I just want to know why you're moving.

You: I've already given you an answer and I'm not changing my mind about moving. People have already been rude about my reasons for moving and I am not having that conversation anymore. I would rather focus on work and this is a distraction.

At this point, walk away if possible. If not just change the subject. Repeat "I'm not having this conversation" if necessary. It should not be necessary unless your co-workers are truly obnoxious but this, (stating this is typically met with imitation whip cracking), makes me think you might actually have to.

Also, people have not been yelling but have asked these questions with a particular tone that clearly conveys their displeasure/feelings of offense.

That's a personal problem. It's not your job to manage their feelings of offense that you don't want live in that city the rest of your life. They're going to feel how they're going to feel about it; it's not your problem.

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