Three Ways Relocation Is Like Looking For Love

February 13, 2024
Young couple kissing on a rooftop after a relocation to New York City.

At DCI, we spend a lot of time thinking about what inspires people to move across city, county, state and even country lines – and what the most important factors are in those decisions. In fact, we release data about this very topic every year with our “Talent Wars” report, a national study on what people look for in jobs and locations. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a look at three ways in which the relocation process is a lot like looking for love…and what that means for communities looking to attract talent. 

1. Love at first sight is the exception, not the rule. 

We’ve all heard of the fairytale stories about how locking eyes across a room was all it took to fall head over heels in love. But in reality, that’s rarely the case. It takes time to really get to know someone and to determine if they have qualities that will make for a stable, healthy relationship. 

Similarly, we hear stories of people who pick up and moving across the country with no job simply because they love the idea of a city. This, too, is the exception and not the rule. It is very unlikely that someone will relocate without a job offer – or an existing remote job – and they will certainly evaluate practical factors like cost of living and housing options before they up and move. For communities, this means that marketing your job opportunities is absolutely crucial – and a key goal of any good talent initiative should be to fill the employer pipeline. Don’t feel the need to have something flashy to attract people. Focus on what matters. That brings us to #2. 

2. Practical factors are what matter most. 

Whether it’s choosing a life partner or a new location to call home, the practical factors are what matter most, at the end of the day. In early romance, it might be easy to get swept away by looks or grand romantic gestures. However, when it comes to building a long-lasting relationship, it’s foundational factors like communication, trust and security, and shared values that make it last.  

The same is true for selecting a new place to call home. Cost of living, housing cost and availability, and quality healthcare are consistently the top-rated factors people consider when evaluating a move, according to our “Talent Wars” report, while things like “cool factor” rate much lower. In fact, quality of life is becoming increasingly tied to safety, security and stability. This underscores that, while we might think people are looking for the hottest new destination, public safety and a stable economy with plenty of job opportunities are much more important. For communities, that means investing in the basics – housing, public safety, healthcare, schools, infrastructure – and marketing the ways in which you can address talent pain points. 

3. Courtship shouldn’t end after you seal the deal. 

Good relationships need stability and security, sure, but they also need a bit of romance to really last. They say you should never stop dating your partner, even after you’re married.  

The same can be said about communities courting potential residents. Don’t throw all of your resources into bringing in new people and forget about your existing residents. Think about what quality of life improvements you can invest in that will not only elevate the lives of your current residents but attract new ones? What programs or marketing initiatives can you spearhead to connect your existing residents with in-demand jobs or upskilling opportunities? How can you involve your stakeholders in your talent initiative in ways that make them feel heard and passionate about where they live and work? Our research underscores the importance of word of mouth when it comes to relocation decisions, so your current residents are top marketing tools. Don’t forget to make sure they are happy. 

Looking for more insights to inform your talent attraction and retention strategy? Reach out to DCI’s VP of Talent Attraction Patience Fairbrother at [email protected]. 

Written by

Patience Fairbrother

Vice President, Talent Attraction