As we emerge from two years of shutdowns, restrictions and a general scrambling of the status quo, many present and past clients have contacted me about relocating their practices. Some of this is due to the radical re-ordering of previously active spaces, such as urban core areas. Some of it is due to the desire to re-set the practice in a new location. A global pause button does not come around all that often, and it may make sense to consider a new chapter in your professional life. Here are some considerations if you are in this group:
- What are you moving towards, rather than away from? If you are not satisfied with conditions where you are presently, are you sure that a new location will give you what you are seeking? How would you go about finding out?
- Are your local barriers likely to be temporary or permanent? The past two years have been a long “temporary” chaos, but it certainly appears that it will fade and many of the conditions that preceded the pandemic will be re-instated in full or in part.
- What is the estimated cost of moving and starting over (or buying an existing practice)? Costs would include not just your professional costs to establish a new office, but also personal costs as well. Getting your home sold (if applicable), packing and moving your personal possessions, establishing a new residence in a different area should all be considered.
- What is the opportunity cost of moving? Opportunity cost is the simple idea that if you are doing pathway A, you cannot also do pathway B. In winding down your involvement in and selling your practice in order to relocate, there are significant costs and burdens no matter which exact pathway your practice sale takes.
- What is the social cost (or benefit) of being in a different area? This involves new schools for doctors with young children, new social groups, minimizing or erasing your past relationships over time.
A complex set of questions certainly. There is not a single answer that fits all, but this does require a deep inquiry to feel assured that you are taking the best pathway by moving to a new area. There are lots of parables in our culture that argue strongly for staying home: The Wizard of Oz, and Acres of Diamonds to name a couple. These are emotional appeals, and should be considered along with more objective data.
There is a wealth of web based comparisons of different areas in the US. Comparing zip codes is useful, as that is the closest thing to an apples-to-apples comparison. You can easily compare your current zip code to a target zip with information like age distribution, median household income, mean education, school ratings, employers, nearly any variable you can think of.
These types of life pathway decisions are rarely simple, because of the built in ambiguity and uncertainty. Last idea in this blog is to “date before you marry”. If you can visit your target area for an extended period of time, that goes a long way to becoming a reality check.