Question for Those Who Moved Cities

I'm hoping to re-locate to a new city/market next year. Young and want to explore a different part of the country. My key hesitation is whether this experience is worth the potential back-step in career progression. I have a strong network in my local market, know all the major players, typical deal terms, etc. like many of you.

For those of you who have moved cities mid-career, do you regret or recommend the experience relative to the impact it had on your career progression? Did you feel your career took a backwards step since you had to learn a new market, network a new Rolodex and prove yourself to a new group of people?

I work in development (office/resi) if that counts for anything. Thoughts much appreciated.

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Comments (21)

Sep 26, 2016 - 10:12am

OP similar situation to you right now. Plan on re-locating to a new market. Based on conversations I have had with recruiters (you should reach out to them) and potential employers-As long as you have ties to the area (friends, family, etc and have been to the market many times) and most importantly have deal level experience you should be fine.

Nothing can replace deal level experience. If you buy an office building in Seattle you're doing pretty much the exact same work in Miami.

No one says you have to lateral or regress. I am applying for positions above my current title I.e. Analyst to senior analyst

Sep 26, 2016 - 10:37am

I've lived and worked in Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Atlanta. Each time I had to meet knew people and learn new markets and new companies, which was annoying, but not overwhelmingly so. I don't think it's had any impact on my career progression at all.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Sep 28, 2016 - 10:12am

Hah, Pittsburgh isn't dirty anymore like that, but the snow does get nasty because of the salt they have to put down on the roads to keep them safe. The snowplows come through then and scrape it all off onto the sides of the road.

I'm nearing 30 and I remember when downtown Pittsburgh was gross and pretty unsafe though when I was a kid.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Best Response
Sep 26, 2016 - 3:49pm

I have relocated before and i have to say it was the best decision i have made.

It might seem scary in the beginning and uncertain, but is worth the risk and amazing for your personal growth and network.

Getting out of the comfort zone is where you grow as a person.

In the beginning i would research seminars and business clubs in the area, where you can go and meet interesting people. Trust me, people respect people who have experience in a different market/city. It might seem that for a while your career is going backwards, but basically it just takes time to meet the right people you can work with and progress super fast, because you already come with a certain experience.

You might feel you go backwards, then jump up 10 levels.

In future you might even be the connector between people from your old location and current location.

There are many opportunities in such event, depends how much confidence you have in your abilities.

Sep 26, 2016 - 5:50pm

Interesting, thanks for the feedback. I'm frankly surprised to hear nobody felt they moved backwards given how long it takes to get in sync with a market, obtain a baseline network and start to be dangerous--encouraging stuff. I've always been told conveying your permanency/reassuring that you are not a flight risk from that new city is most critical which echoes some of what REPE8 stated.

Sep 26, 2016 - 8:13pm

Think about it this way - if you work for a REPE firm or a developer and your office is in one market, there's a really good chance that's not the only market you're in. You might cover a whole state, or a whole region, or even the whole country. You have to get in sync with every single market you're in. That's not all that different than moving markets.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

Sep 27, 2016 - 9:14am

Two thoughts:

People also get lazy being in their home market though. If you take your networking and hustling religiously and treat it as your mission in life for the first year you're in a city, I suspect you'll catch up nicely.

And this won't necessarily inform your decision whether or not to move, but in the event you do, I'll also say that in my few experiences hopping from city to city (have moved to SF, LA, and NYC on separate occasions), give it at least a year before you decide whether you want to stay longer or not. People are different, but for me it always took about a year to get comfortable with a new town, learn the social nuances, feel like I have mastery over my new job, build a few good friendships, and start to get reliable flow in the dating market (if that's important to you). You may have days where you wonder why the hell you moved - just do yourself the favor and give it a year, and if you still feel that way after 12 months, then maybe you should start thinking of relocating. Best of luck my west coast friend

  • 3
Sep 26, 2016 - 6:54pm

I'll be keeping an eye on this thread since I'm looking into doing the same thing.

"There are only two opinions in this world: Mine and the wrong one." -Jeremy Clarkson
Sep 27, 2016 - 10:41am

If you are doing a lot of spec development it shouldn't matter much beyond your innate ability to get a feel for/understand market. Not sure of your experience, but from my point of view spec office dev is not the best place to be right now.

If you are doing a lot of BTS/merchant development you'll have to reestablish relationships and build trust with an entirely new set of brokers, business owners, and market influencers. If you have the ability to connect with people this is less of a question of if/how and more a matter of timing. That said, under this scenario I don't think it would have a major impact on your career as a whole, but it's possible it affects your growth timeline.

I considered moving 3 years ago and I'm glad I didn't. My relationships in the local CRE industry have opened a ton of doors for me (new deals, new jobs, etc.), more than my education or my resume alone could have (although the latter two certainly didn't hurt me.) Now, I travel quite a bit for work and my wanderlust is almost completely gone. There's something to be said for finding the right balance of patience and action.

Sep 27, 2016 - 6:59pm

I was relocated to LA from NYC for 6 months. Hardest thing was adjusting to the new culture and then back. Stereotypes were true, LA was too laid-back and passive aggressive for me, I missed the grind and brutal honesty of NY. Make sure you look before you leap culture wise. Even if you don't get set back on experience not meshing could hold you back.

Sep 28, 2016 - 8:46am

that's a great point. I'm hoping to move in the opposite direction (East to West Coast, LA). Don't you think that difference in culture is something you can capitalize on on the West Coast, ie being aggressive and working hard more than others to differentiate yourself?

Sep 30, 2016 - 3:02pm


I relocated from the Midwest to the South and it has been a great experience. Moving to a new city really helps you grow as a person by getting out of your comfort zone. We are young and have no liabilities holding us back, it is the perfect time to see other parts of the country.

If anything it can be a step forward by opening yourself to new opportunities. You can always move back after a year or two. Your old network will always be there.

Oct 4, 2016 - 4:11am
Rags to Hermes:


Moving to a new city really helps you grow as a person by getting out of your comfort zone. We are young and have no liabilities holding us back, it is the perfect time to see other parts of the country.

I'm of the same mind. For me, moving to a new place was vital to becoming who I am. You will became more braver and gain more self confidence. When you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment, you learn to depend on yourself in ways you may have never experienced. You'll be surprised to see all that you can do. Besides, if you need to analyze your life, reconsider your career achievements and goals that you have, to decide what to do with it, then you definitely need to town you live in.
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