• Norma Davila, Ph.D., CPRW, CPCC, SHRM-SC

Reactions to Family Relocation

...and why they are important.


2nd in a Series | The Voice of Experts


In this blog series, we are talking about the effects of relocations on families. In our first blog, we

described the different types of families that exist today and some of the internal and external factors that influence how each family member responds. We also debunked some myths about relocations. The first step to understanding the effects of relocation on families is to identify how family members are reacting to the relocation. By doing so, coaches can provide practical solutions that meet those unique needs because, in relocation, “one size does not fit most”.



Let’s go deeper into our topic with the input of REA coaches who are supporting families in this process. They are the experts who can share specific examples of what they see today as families of all types embark on these journeys. Even though at first, these insights may seem specific to the regions they serve, their observations are also valuable for families moving to other regions. Elyse Pipitone, LCSW has seen positive and negative reactions to relocation. In her experience, families are attracted to Massachusetts, her region, because of its healthy economy and job market, particularly in the high-tech, Biomed, and education sectors. They are also drawn to industries that are recovering from COVID such as restaurants and hotels.


Confronting Realities

However, these families are also confronting the reality of a housing market that keeps getting tighter and even more expensive. They are finding limited options, high prices, and bidding wars. Consequently, they get frustrated and some are postponing or canceling their relocations especially when they are moving from more affordable regions of the country.


Lives 'on Hold'

Coach Peggy Killian has observed that spouses and partners put their lives “on hold” while families get grounded and organized at the new location. They tend to be unmotivated to move forward with their own careers until, for example, the children are in school, they get settled in their new home, and they have found community resources. Since these logistical components of their relocation are very time and energy-consuming, many spouses and partners are tired by the time everything is in place and they can focus on their own careers and job searches. Some may even experience low self-esteem and frustration after taking care of everyone’s needs before their own for an extended period of time. The“what do I do now?” sensation that many individuals experience after completing a major project, and suddenly, having more time available for other pursuits, can be very disconcerting at first.


Gaining Confidence

According to Peggy, spouses, and partners often “begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel" after, with the assistance of a coach, they realize the importance of their role in the family’s successful relocation. They begin to see that their primary focus during that time became their “temporary job”. Gradually, they start feeling more confident and getting ready to focus on their careers and explore what they would like to do. They realize the value of a skilled career coach who accompanies them and makes those critical steps easier and, often, express their gratitude with phrases such as “I am so grateful to have your assistance; I wouldn’t know where to start!”


Embracing the Adventure

Other families approach the relocation experience as if it were an adventure. Everyone is excited about moving and doing something entirely different in a new place. They are eager to go out and meet new people, especially now that many communities have lifted health-related restrictions. They want to learn everything that they can about their new communities before they begin to look for housing. They can’t wait to get to their new communities! In their excitement, they often rush to make decisions.


We have seen how the families’ reactions to relocations span a broad range of emotions.


Is this your family’s first relocation? How are all of you reacting?


Let’s pause.


You don’t have to handle the relocation by yourself! A professional career coach can help you in several ways, including:

  • Accepting that relocating takes significant amounts of time and energy.

  • Clarifying your and your family’s expectations about the relocation.

  • Acknowledging that each relocation is different even if you relocated previously.

  • Gauging the right time to start the job exploration and search process.

  • Narrowing your job search focus to increase your likelihood of success.

  • Celebrating your successes during the transition.

REA’s coaches specialize in assisting professionals and their families to address these issues and many others. You don’t need to navigate your family’s relocation alone -- we’re here to help! Check out REA Flex Coaching services to help you get a jumpstart on your path to a successful relocation!


Coming up next in this series, in the second The Voice of Experts, several professional career coaches who work with families in their relocation journeys will share elements of the relocation that help families succeed at managing its impact.

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