Should You Relocate Your Life to Boost Your Career?

How this decision can make or break you.

Photo Credit: Ho Verne — Unsplash
“Where we live is a central life factor that affects all others — work, education, and love.” Richard Florida.

The single greatest impact on your career arc is not your talent, alma mater, or work ethic. It’s where you choose to live.

Ernest Hemingway’s career bears this out.

As an aspiring writer, Hemingway followed the advice of Sherwood Anderson and moved to Paris to join the writing scene there. The people he rubbed shoulders with in Paris were the making of him. It’s hard to believe that Hemingway would have become the writer he was had he stayed and worked in Chicago.

Uber successful blogger and bestselling author Jeff Goins recently stated on his podcast that there is no way he could have experienced the level of success he’s enjoyed without having moved to Nashville and it’s thriving community of online bloggers and entrepreneurs.

Despite what it may seem on the surface, moving to a different city to boost your career is not a no-brainer.

While relocating can certainly be the making of your career, it could also be the breaking of your well-being.

For every person who’s been rewarded by uprooted their life and heading to their domain’s epicenter, millions more have nothing to show for their pilgrimage but broken dreams, relationships and a mountain of credit card debt.

In short, while relocating can super-charge your career, it isn’t for everyone.

What about you?

Should you or shouldn’t you?

As you mull the question, here are a few things to consider.

Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Who’s Your City, describes the chain reaction that place has on work.

“When people — especially talented and creative ones — come together, ideas flow more freely, and as a result, individual and aggregate talents increase exponentially.”

Florida refers to this as phenomena as Clustering Force

This is how domain epicenters have been created.

A few of the more commonly known ones are:

  • New York — finance
  • Nashville — music (and more recently blogging and online entrepreneurship).
  • Austin and Silicon Valley — high-tech
  • LA — filmmaking

(Who’s Your City? goes into greater detail.)

While Jeff Goins attributes his creative success to the relational network of Nashville, I’m going to take the impact of place on one’s career a step further.

Living in a domain epicenter positively impacts your domain skill in such a way that is not possible outside of that community.

We’ve known this to be true anecdotally for quite a while now.

  • Being a part of a community of prolific writers makes you a better writer.
  • Playing on a team of world class athletes increases your athletic ability.
  • Belonging to a church, synagogue, or mosque strengthens your faith.

There is, however, scientific data that also bears this out.

In Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, Scott Barry Kaufman says,

“Some genetic expression lies dormant in all of us, waiting for the perfect environmental circumstances to trigger it. This phenomenon is called “cryptic genetic variation”…”

An example is the growth of type 2 diabetes in America.

While type 2 diabetes is a highly heritable trait, the gene is increasing at about the same rate as the obesity level of our country.


Not hardly.

Our environment of unhealthy eating habits and fast-food chains on every corner has triggered previously dormant genetic expressions of diabetes in many.

Thankfully, the inverse of this genetic principle is also true.

Positive environments create positive changes in our genes.

We should think about this when considering where to live and work.

We should ask ourselves which traits we seek to grow in our lives. Then, seek out an environment that triggers them.

This is the thought process of many who move to LA in hopes of being the next great filmmaker, so on and so forth.

It’s exciting to think that there might be latent greatness in us just waiting for the right environment to spark it to life.

This sure looked to be the case for Goins and Hemingway.

This hope has led many to sell out and head for the hills of their domain epicenter in search of career riches. Not unlike the Forty-Niners during the California Gold Rush.

But before you put your house on the market, consider this.

You should only relocate to boost your career after you and your family have carefully considered what you truly want out of life. And life is more than just career.

Richard Florida explains.

“For some people, career and wealth are big components of their happiness, but that is far from everybody. Many of us know people who left good jobs and prosperous careers in law or engineering to do something they truly love.

“Others move back to their hometown after college to help run the family business or to be closer to family and friends.”

Florida goes on to cite a study by Nattavudh Powdthavee that attempted to put a dollar amount on the value of living in a place where one can see friends and family regularly.

How much money is that be worth to you?

Powdthavee’s findings may surprise you.

“Powdthavee found that if you relocate from a city where you regularly see your family and friends to one where you would not, you would need to earn $133,000 just to make up for the lack of happiness you feel from being far from those people.”

I’ve found this number to be fairly accurate in my own life.

In fourteen years of marriage, my career has taken me to three different cities. Two years ago, after having our third child, my wife and I move moved back home to be around our family and lifelong friends.

I’m not sure what the monetary value is of being able to walk down the street to see my parents on a random Tuesday afternoon. I don’t know the exact price of watching my kids play in the pool with their cousins for hours on end.

But I do know this.

In this season of my life, raising my children around family and friends is more valuable than any career boost I might see as a writer by moving to Nashville or any other writer’s paradise.


To be sure, the place you live can grow your ability, expand your network, and be the difference in an average career and a stellar one.

On the other hand, uprooting your family to chase career grandeur might be the worst thing that ever happened to your personal well-being.

So before you move, know what it is that you truly want.

Richard Florida said it best, “The thing to remember is that when it comes to place, like most other important things in life, we can’t have it all. There are real tradeoffs to be made.”

When considering where to live, don’t look for that place where you can have it all. Instead, find the place with that something you can’t live without.

Live there.

Originally published at on June 19, 2017.

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