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I've gotten myself in a weird situation and I wanted to know what you smart folks thought . . . I moved to my current city a few years ago. After getting out as much as I can, trying to make friends, moving across town a couple times, I've come to realize that this town just isn't a good fit for me and I don't really have a future here. Unfortunately, I didn't finally, fully realize this until about a month after starting a new job here.

The job itself is pretty good. I've been welcomed enthusiastically and the company clearly cares about its employees, which makes me feel even worse about wanting to leave. I don't think working remotely is feasible. They seem very opposed to having remote workers philosophically, and the tax/cost of living situations between this state and the one I want to move to would make staying really financially disadvantageous for me.

As for my work history, I've only been out of school for just over 4 years so it's pretty short. I stayed at my first job for 2.5 years and had a one-year contract. I did have one FTE job that I left after six months because it was a bad situation and was making me miserable. Otherwise it's just this new job.

So, my questions:

1) How do I spin this relocation to the current workplace and new workplaces? It's not technically for family or anything which I know sounds a bit better. Can I just say it's for "personal reasons" and leave it at that?

2) I know it'd be ideal to stay at least a year, but I just can't see myself wasting another year here for the sake of work. When can I realistically start applying to jobs in the new city? I was thinking about trying to wait a few months until the new year starts, but will that matter or be important?

3) How do I deal with my current employer? Should I tell them ASAP that I want to leave, or should I wait until I've got a job offer in hand?

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    If pushed on "Personal reasons" then "I want to move closer to friends and family" is a nice catch-all phrase that lets them know quite clearly the reason you're moving, without inviting or requiring too much detail. The recruiter is human, don't forget, they know how important it is to be somewhere you want. It also doesn't particularly matter whether it's friends/family: the recruiter won't care about the specifics to that level. You want to be near your support network, whether they're blood related is irrelevant. – Jon Story Oct 2 '15 at 12:08
  • @JonStory That's what I was thinking, but are they going to think I'm a weirdo for taking this new job and THEN trying to move vs. why I didn't just get a Seattle job instead of this one? Or am I overthinking it? – Windows9 Oct 3 '15 at 19:04
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    You're over-thinking it. Your situation right now is that you want to move cities. To do that you need to get a job in that new city (most people don't have the luxury of moving first), that's very understandable and happens all the time (I did it 12 months ago, for example). Your situation a couple of years ago may have been entirely different and you didn't care where you lived or had reasons to live where you do.... as long as you're happy to, and able to, attend interviews and relocate in time for your start date, no company is going to care. – Jon Story Oct 3 '15 at 19:07
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    .... in fact I've found that companies are often happier if you want to move for personal reasons, rather than professional ones, because it suggests you're otherwise a loyal, happy employee. – Jon Story Oct 3 '15 at 19:08
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Firstly, never tell your current employer you want to leave until you have something else lined up and in writing. It's a sure fire way to get yourself labelled as a "flight risk", and they'll start planning for your departure and replacement whether you have left or not.

When telling anyone for the reasons why you wish to relocate to a particular location, you can simply tell the truth that you thought that the climate/atmosphere/culture was a better fit for you personally. Most organisations probably don't really care that much, so I would not broach it unless asked.

Beyond that, concentrate on making sure that you are the best candidate you can be. It's often more difficult to get hired when you need to relocate. Some companies offer relocation assistance, some don't. Asking for it may make you less attractive to an employer if they don't do it automatically.

So basically look for a new job in your desired location, answer honestly when asked for your reasons for relocating, and don't tell your current employer you are intending to leave until you have a written contract!

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    Sometimes it's easier to move first and then find a job. So in this situation, it might be better to resign without a job. – Amy Blankenship Oct 1 '15 at 22:11
  • @AmyBlankenship Of course that is an option if the OP has the financial capacity to support themselves for a potentially indeterminate time. Since we don't know that, I simply suggested what I thought might be the least risky approach :) – Jane S Oct 1 '15 at 22:22
  • Right, but some cities are worth taking that risk to go to. For example, if I'd known earlier what I know now, I would have found a way to move to Atlanta before 2010 or San Jose before 2013. Those are cities where once you're there, it's really easy to get a job, and if you're not there it's really difficult. So I'd consider living out of my car if the city is the right one. – Amy Blankenship Oct 1 '15 at 23:01
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    I could probably swing that financially but the city I want to move to is only about a 3 hour drive away so I think it'll be OK to look from here at least at first. – Windows9 Oct 2 '15 at 1:17
  • If it's only 3 hours away then yes, I'd just search for the new jobs. Make it clear in covering letters that you are intending to relocate back to the area (so they don't worry about whether you'll try to commute) – Jon Story Oct 2 '15 at 12:05
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How do I spin this relocation to the current workplace and new workplaces? It's not technically for family or anything which I know sounds a bit better. Can I just say it's for "personal reasons" and leave it at that?

No spin about the relocation is necessary. If asked, the answer is simply "I've decided to move to [the new state]".

I know it'd be ideal to stay at least a year, but I just can't see myself wasting another year here for the sake of work. When can I realistically start applying to jobs in the new city? I was thinking about trying to wait a few months until the new year starts, but will that matter or be important?

Start applying now. Finding a new job in a new locale can take time. Leave your current job only after you get a new job.

How do I deal with my current employer? Should I tell them ASAP that I want to leave, or should I wait until I've got a job offer in hand?

Wait until you have a formal offer and acceptance at your new job before giving your notice at your current job.

You don't know how long it will take to land your next gig. And you don't have a long history at your current job. Telling your current employer now runs the risk that they will let you go sooner than you would like. And being under financial pressure might mean that choosing your next job must be done hastily, leading to a less than optimal choice.

Stay on the payroll here until you land the next one.

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1) How do I spin this relocation to the current workplace and new workplaces? It's not technically for family or anything which I know sounds a bit better. Can I just say it's for "personal reasons" and leave it at that?

Always keep your cards close to your chest.

To the current workplace, just submit your 2 weeks. If they ask why, "I'm relocating". They shouldn't ask why. If they do, you can choose how honest you want to be. Shouldn't impact anything, its not like they will be able to share the info in a reference and you aren't banking on a future rehire.

To the new workplace, my answer to "Why did you leave your last workplace/relocate?" would be "I needed a change in pace." The end.

2) I know it'd be ideal to stay at least a year, but I just can't see myself wasting another year here for the sake of work. When can I realistically start applying to jobs in the new city? I was thinking about trying to wait a few months until the new year starts, but will that matter or be important?

Start sending out resumes, start seeing what bites. Just because you get a callback doesn't mean you need to interview. Just because you interview doesn't mean you need to accept an offer.

Do some catch and release fishing to see what the job climate is in your destination and to get a feel for what it will take to get back to work.

3) How do I deal with my current employer? Should I tell them ASAP that I want to leave, or should I wait until I've got a job offer in hand?

It's always best to hold out until you have a job offer. If you can hold out or not, submit your 2 weeks notice. I wouldn't get any further ahead of myself than that. You don't want to give a vague "I'm quitting eventually" heads up. If anything, that could just backfire and lead them to terminate you before you're ready.

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