Which job location to pick when?
The choice of job location is influenced by both professional and personal priorities. These in turn change at different stages of your career.
As a result, so will your preferred location(s).
Starting your career
The #1 consideration at this stage is to get employed, preferably in a job consistent with your educational background and aspiration of type of company/work.
The goals at this stage of the career are building a work ethic, collaboration with colleagues, & how to be productive in an institution. These can be learnt in any location.
You are young, single, and with a paycheck coming in every two weeks. The natural leaning is towards locations which have lots of choices of after work activities.
Some of you will land jobs in these locations. More power to you.
However, priority #1 at this stage is to land a job, get started with your career and the path to financial independence. Take the best job you can land in a location which has after work activity as well.
You’ve been at work for some years and become productive in your job.
Get focused. Get ambitious
Pick a work specialization, build expertise in it, and take on challenging assignments (Ref - Pick the specialization which best meets your goals ).
The location choice in turn will get determined by where you can find the opportunity to build this specialization and get the challenging assignments. Given that you are aiming to move from generic to more specialized work, odds are that the location choices will narrow.
Still young and very likely unattached so naturally keen on being in a place with active social and recreational options.
Be mindful though that this may be the stage of your career where you are likely to be working the hardest. You have the energy, the time, and also know how to do something well. Your employer is going to work you hard and your ambition will drive you to do so too. This can lead to long hours and extensive work travel.
So be thoughtful before putting money down for that fancy downtown apartment lease.
Early - Mid career
Been at work a decade, maybe a little more. A first level manager or an expert in a specific work type. Still young, energetic, and ambitious.
Aim for the most challenging role which you can land.
There is however one important consideration.
Around this time, you may be married, or about to. Decisions now need to balance not only your career goals, but also of your spouse of partner.
If only one spouse is working or choses to work, aim for the best opportunity for the working spouse and the location follows
In the event both chose to work, the goal changes to ensuring two good careers.
If the career& income differential between the spouses is significant, a possible choice may be to find the best opportunity & location for the currently better positioned spouse while ensuring the other spouse also has gainful employment.
On the other hand, if both spouses are similarly positioned in their career trajectory and income, the career interests of both need to be considered equally.
Finally, you’re still quite young, and very likely so is your partner. The inclination hence will be to live in locations with prolific social and entertainment options.
The choice of location will need to balance three considerations – your career, that of your partner, and the desire to have an active after work life. The larger locations of your employer (if both spouses work in the same company) or metro city locations which offer job choices are good location options. These will provide more opportunities to both spouses to pursue good careers and also after hours social activity.
Late - Mid career
One or both spouses have accrued years of experience.
Keep building on it and ensure growth in expertise, & job responsibility.
Growth in job responsibility may come within your current organization, or with a peer one. If you can grow with your existing employer, super. But in the event you do have to look out, you want to be in a place where you can find alternative and challenging roles. Very likely in industry hubs or larger cities.
At this time you are likely to have families with growing children at an important stage in their education. Good quality education and stability in schools/social settings will be an important family priority
This in turn will require that you can work in a location for some years. Your industry hub or a large city which offers more job options may be a good choice.
Spent decades at work. Very likely at the peak of your career or past it.
You want to ensure that you & your spouse can stay employed and in roles where your experience & expertise are best leveraged.
The better locations are the industry hubs where there are greater work opportunities for senior /experienced professionals with organizations or as entrepreneurs.
You are most likely empty nesters by now.
If you have lived in your current location for a while, odds are that you have built engagement with your community – socially as well as in community activities.
In that event, you may be less inclined to re-locate at this stage.
Plan to move to your desired late career location before you get to this stage. Make the move when you are still in the later part of your mid-career. Since the better locations in the later parts of your career are the larger industry hubs, make that move before you get to the last leg of your career.
In the early years of your career, be location neutral. Focus on staying employed and building knowledge/specialization in your area of work.
Having found a life partner, both your career priorities will become considerations in the location choice.
With the passage of time you will feel the need for stability in your location for personal reasons like education of children or social & community commitments. When you see this stage approaching, aim to work in industry hubs which have multiple job options or in locations with limited availability of professionals with your skills and hence better odds of your retaining your job.
Keep swinging !
You may also want to read - Change your deliverables as you gain work experience