Moving cities as a Development/Acquisitions Analyst?

How tricky is it to move markets generally speaking?

Is it true that its better to move younger in your career? What's the optimal time? 

I'm getting good experience at a decent size developer as a analyst. Been there 1 year 3 months. The issue is I'm sick of the northeast city I'm in. It's expensive, overrated, too progressive for my taste, and people are generally up tight/stressed. The developer I work for only builds in this city. I want to move to smaller markets in the southeast (so not Atlanta or Miami). Looking for a slower pace of life near the ocean. 

I'm trying to figure out the ideal time to jump ship. Looking to gain more experience at my current shop, but don't want to stay too long to avoid getting stuck- if I get a promotion I'd feel shitty about leaving shortly after, but don't want to leave too soon because I want to be valuable enough when I leave to attract other firms.

Does anyone have any experience jumping ship from a bigger market to a smaller, more "localized" market? It seems tricky to find jobs as most get hired through connections/family. 

Comments (10)

Most Helpful
Oct 4, 2021 - 1:58pm

So I actually did the opposite... left a southern city for the northeast (I'm in NYC area, I say it all the time, don't mind calling it out!) in my 30s. 

So, I have a lot of friends in the industry up here and down there... 

Thus, my answers....

Moving markets is easiest when your role/specialty is market agnostic (like finance/cap markets stuff, etc.), when it is really "market driven" (like zoning/entitlements) it can be difficult. Developers totally are known for preferring to hire "locals", regardless of position. Still, it is WAY easier to go from "BIG" city to smaller city... the whole "if you can make it here you can make it anywhere" is very true imho. So, do NY'ers get jobs in Florida..... all the F'ing time. Sure it works same for other SE cities like Charlotte. Still, it requires true dedicated effort to make a market jump (including letting headhunters know you like it down south...), so you have to be ultra proactive. 

Timing is tougher... Is is better to go "young"... probably, but not necessarily for career reasons. The longer you stay where you are, the more likely you are to develop roots, maybe marry a local, and just otherwise complicate your life. From the career standpoint, I'd offer the same advice I always do on career moves/jumps... do what is strategic (meaning.. move for upgrades in pay, title, responsibility, and potentially firm/deal type/class). Making a market move for market move sake is fine, but could be sub-optimal (like if you need to get home to family or whatever, just go, but that is not necessarily career optimal clearly). 

If this is your first true job post UG, I'd recommend staying at least two years (I mean not that far anyway)... if you do get an amazing job op before that, take it! But, I would hold off on the full "go to market" thing until after the 2nd anniversary (HR and the like will be more favorable to you at that point anyway). Still, take the time now to network and figure out what city you want to move to. Visit and get to know people. I'd try and narrow this to one or two cities, and target them, will be easier. 

Since you are coming from "big" city and are currently an analyst... I'd aim for associate roles and thus move with promotion (pay could be dicer, as if going from high to low, you may need to get paid less, really hard to say). You could lateral, but I'd really recommend against it, I think you can get that associate title in this type of move easily! Good luck!

Oh final last point, if the firm you are at now is "well known" down south.. this is much easier... if "unknown" (you say they build in just one market)... this will be somewhat tougher but far from impossible or even that hard. Just need to network and self promote more! 

Oct 5, 2021 - 8:04am

Thanks for the reply. You bring up good points. I'm more of a finance guy so I think those skills will be more transferrable to other cities/regions. The point about making a career jump is something I'm really thinking about. I'm in DC area (I'll call it out now), there are 20 or so developers that have the same amount of deal pipeline that my company does. In some of these smaller cities, there are either 1-2 or none. I'm willing to go to a smaller developer/acquisitions firm 100%, but still want to work on a lot of deals so I gain more experience. 

  • Manager in RE - Comm
Oct 4, 2021 - 6:24pm

Considering this is your first gig out of college, and you're still early in your career, I wouldn't rush quite yet to go to a smaller, slower paced market. You might be missing what the larger city has to offer. There's the resources and the network the bigger city will have. You might hate it or be more bored with your career in a smaller market because of how limited it has become. Big cities definitely have some negatives that you are certainly right on, but many people stick around because the benefits seriously outweigh the cons.

Do you feel like you're getting some level of satisfaction out of your job? i feel like if you were, those negatives of the "big city" wouldn't really be bothersome. Moving might not greatly solve this, your satisfaction could be worse because of how limited things have become. A different role or shop might be a better change for to feel like you are headed somewhere.

I'd only look at moving markets once you've exhausted all possible alternatives because it's just too hard of a decision to reverse if you end up not liking it.

Oct 5, 2021 - 8:17am

I'm not exactly rushed to leave my company or city, I just know that I want to move cities at some point within the not too far future. I like my current job a lot, the pros outweigh the cons, and most importantly- I'm in a good learning environment where I can ask my mentors unlimited questions.

Like I said, I'm really not happy with DC. Moved here for the job opportunity and most of my social circle moved here. That's it. My social circle is starting to move away, so then I'd only be here for the job. I figure with enough experience, I can move to another full service real estate company similar to mine in a location I like and still be apart of an industry I love. 

  • Manager in RE - Comm
Oct 6, 2021 - 11:54am

That's good that you're getting good experience out of your current role. It's certainly tough when your social circle gets smaller, but to be honest I think that becomes more normal the further out of college you are. I'm 6 years out and I've had friends move to different cities, for reasons like yours, new job opportunities, be closer to family, etc.. Either way check out those other markets that interest you and check out other ways you can grow your social circle or make the current ones tighter.

Oct 4, 2021 - 7:30pm

As long as you have good deal reps on your resume my experience has been that it's easier than you may think. But it's also my experience that the longer you sit at a firm the better the role gets (e.g. you're up to speed on all your projects and contacts so workflow is more efficient, can relegate or at least have templates for more menial tasks like modeling or putting a book together, you've put in your years of facetime so can leave a bit earlier or feel more liberal with vacation days).

Oct 5, 2021 - 10:57pm

I'm in the west not east, but am now in my third city and it's worked well every time. Hopefully I'm in current city for good. Granted, I'm in acquisitions so knowing local development process isn't as pertinent and being an out of state owner and operator is common. 

Oct 6, 2021 - 11:59am

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