Well, not instantly, but you can very quickly increase your income and job opportunities by moving to a new location. Of course, people may have friends and family ties to a certain area. They may have financial obligations such as a mortgage or other types of debt holding them down. They may have a family to raise which makes it more difficult to just pick up and move. It might also be scary for some people to move and start from scratch again. However, I recommend not eliminating the possibility of moving to a new area to enhance your economic opportunities. I recommend keeping an open mind and not limiting yourself to a certain location just because you have been there your entire life. By limiting yourself in this aspect and not even considering other locations, you are severely handicapping your financial security and economic prospects.
I've relocated several times in my life for work, before I even hit 30. I moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and finally from San Francisco to Dallas. Each move was scary since I had to start all over again. I had to get used to a new environment, new people, new roads, and new culture. I didn't really have family in most of these places so I lacked a close support network. I had to make new friends all over again and develop new relationships. I had to find new apartments and refurnish. Despite all the additional work, each move was totally worth it. I moved due to better career opportunities and better pay. I managed to adapt to my new environments every single time while discovering new places, new foods, and new hobbies. I've made great friends along the way and develop relationships that hopefully last a lifetime. In this process, I feel that I have grown tremendously in terms of wisdom, insight, and perspectives.
If you were able to find amazing friends where you live today, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to develop amazing friendships elsewhere. If you refuse to go to an area due to certain deeply held stereotypes, perhaps you should examine those stereotypes and question their veracity? If you refuse to go to an area due to conflicting political beliefs, whose to say that other people are not tolerant of you or that you won’t find people sharing similar beliefs? Forums such as City-Data are a great resources to ask locals about a certain location and to challenge your own beliefs. You’d be surprised at how diverse some areas have become.
WalletHub recently did a study to examine the economic and socio-economic environment of major US cities. In their “Job Market” rank, they considered factors such as job opportunities, employment growth, median starting salary adjusted for cost of living, and unemployment. In their “Socio-Economic” rank, they considered factors such as median annual income adjusted for cost of living, benefits, housing affordability, and safety.
Here's an interactive map of the rankings. Blue spots designate a better ranked area.
Here are the top 25 ranked cities straight from the WalletHub article.
From the data, it looks like there are a lot of cities in Texas with a few from California sprinkled throughout. I coincidentally work in Plano (a suburb of Dallas) and have worked in San Francisco before. Jobs are abundant in both these areas across most industries. San Francisco tends to have a lot of high paying tech jobs, especially in the startup area. So, if you are a young engineer or entrepreneur, SF is probably the best place to develop your skills and professional relationships. However, SF tends to rank poorly in the socio-economic area. I’m guessing that is because SF has become unaffordable for the majority of the people. Housing prices and rents are through the roof. An old house in SF can cost you well over $1M, and a one bedroom apartment can easily cost you over $3,000 per month.
Places towards the very top of that list provide ample job opportunities and affordable housing. Having these two advantages will make it much easier for you to raise a family, save for retirement, and live a comfortable life. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that the types of jobs and careers you are looking for are available. For certain types of careers, such as software development in the Bay Area and finance in New York, it might be highly advantageous to start off in those areas. However, not all careers are as geographically limited, and even if they are, it doesn’t mean opportunities don’t exist elsewhere.
I think it is important to look at the income to cost-of-living ratio as well. Here are the starting salaries adjusted for cost of living. In other words, these rankings take into account the fact that certain areas cost more than other areas to live in.
If you start your career in Houston or Tacoma, you’ll be much better off economically than in Anaheim or Irvine.
Here’s a similar calculation, but for annual income and not starting salary.
You’ll notice that places such as Scottsdale and Plano rank very high. For most people, these are the places where your dollar will go the furthest. These are places where you’ll be financially better off than most other places.
Before you write off moving to a new location, I would highly recommend thinking about it if you are currently in an economically harsh environment, lacking well paying jobs and affordable housing. Ultimately, it is up to you to save for your own retirement, to build wealth, and to support your family (if you have one). Moving to the right location may open up the right opportunities for you to do so. However, don’t forget to keep in mind other factors such as the quality of the schools, safety, cultural fit, and amenities.
Professional Development and Personal Finance Blog