With the introduction of social networking sites, digital tools for collaboration and the surge of the gig economy, our work world continues to change. Technology is completely altering the way we find jobs and hire new employees, specifically by providing access. People are not confined or limited in their job search as they were before tools like LinkedIn, Vettery and Google Jobs existed. Now, employers and those looking for jobs can connect across the country and world.


Our business insights team did a deep dive into actual hiring and job acceptance data for candidates in top tech cities including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Chicago to learn more about relocation trends for 2019.

Even with new technology leading to more transparency and access, the majority of people prefer finding a job in their current city. We found that 94.6% of candidates prefer finding jobs in the city that they already live in, especially if they are located in tech hubs like San Francisco or New York City. Some researchers have found a correlation between relocation rates and the economic stability of the nation. For example, a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. states that “Relocation among job seekers, which reached a post-recession high in the second half of 2014, fell back down to Earth in 2015 as widespread economic improvements reduced the need to move for employment opportunities.” Not surprisingly, people tend to flow where there is opportunity.

Even though the majority of job seekers would prefer to stay in their current location, there are a few cities where people are more open to relocating than others. We discovered that candidates based in Chicago and Los Angeles are 27% and 20%, respectively, more open to moving for a job compared to those in other cities. We also found that geographic distance is not always a leading indicator for relocation preferences. For example, job seekers in New York are 1.25x more likely to prefer San Francisco than Washington D.C., while similarly those in San Francisco prefer New York 25% more than Los Angeles.

Salary tends to be the number one motivating factor that people choose to leave their current city for a job elsewhere. However, some job seekers move cities for jobs closer to friends or family or that may offer a better overall work-balance experience. We've found companies offering relocation packages tend to have greater success when closing candidates.

On the other hand, there are a few cities that have extremely low relocation rates, especially if those cities are specific industry hubs. Underscoring the attractiveness of the coastal hubs, only 3% of New York and San Francisco job seekers would not be open to new jobs in their current city, as opposed to Washington D.C. and Chicago in which that figure is doubled.

Relocation is interesting to examine from a generational perspective as well, especially as Millennials become more prominent in the workforce. For example, researchers have found that young people are more willing to move than their Baby Boomer predecessors. They are gravitating towards cities where they can kick off their career with more options for jobs and for growth. Plus, cities seem to offer a little bit more convenience, which some younger generations are finding a necessity. A study by the Rockefeller Foundation says that “54% of Millennials would consider moving if another city had more and better transit options.”

Besides job seekers, hiring managers often reveal geographic preferences as well. Our data has shown that less than half of New York and San Francisco hiring managers have reached out to candidates outside of their home city. In contrast, over 60% of Los Angeles and Washington D.C. hiring managers have been open to outside job seekers. An interesting outlier is Chicago, in which just 36% of hiring managers have reached out to job seekers outside of Chicago, perhaps hinting at the strong networks that exist in the Midwest.

Leaving an established life behind and a city that you’ve grown accustomed to can be very difficult. The recruiting industry will no-doubt remain influx as new generations approach the job search and decide to stay put, relocate or even decide to jump from gig to gig.