A CHALLENGE TO MAKE THE RIGHT MOVE
MANY FACING RELOCATION MULL IMPACT ON FAMILY, COST OF
By Dolores Kong
The Boston Globe
When Paul Cellucci gave up his $135,000 a year job as
governor of Massachusetts to become the US ambassador
to Canada two months ago at a slight cut in pay, he
also left behind the opportunity to gain an extra
$20,000 a year in state pension for his retirement.
But he's getting free residence at "Lornado," the
32-room limestone ambassador's mansion with a grand
view of the Ottawa and Gatineau rivers, as well as the
prestige and power associated with heading the
diplomatic mission to the United States' largest
The $1,300 pay cut and the loss of the extra pension
money "were not factors for me at all," said Cellucci
in a telephone interview recounting his decision to
take the position. What did matter, he said, was "the
opportunity to serve the president in a job that I
know is important for the country."
Cellucci's move from Boston's Beacon Hill to Ottawa's
Parliament Hill is not your typical job relocation.
However, it illustrates the complexities facing all
candidates considering a new job, whether or not it
involves such a high-level position and a move to
another country, according to job relocation and
management consultants. Salary, pension, and job
security are part of the equation but there are other
factors to consider, they add.
"If there's a better opportunity, is there a
long-lasting opportunity? Is the industry they're
moving to an up-and-coming one?" said Dennis Taylor,
senior consultant with Runzheimer International, a
Wisconsin firm that puts together relocation packages
for corporations around the world.
"If it's a big salary and a good opportunity, they're
gone," Taylor said.
A job offer with a sky-high salary is always a
temptation. But salary alone shouldn't be the only
factor a candidate considers if it means moving - be
it a new job with a new firm or a relocation and
promotion within the same company, the specialists
In fact, a 1998 Runzheimer International survey of
corporate relocation managers who dealt with about
8,000 relocations of existing employees found that
salary isn't at the top of the list of major reasons
for refusing an offer.
The number one reason offers were rejected was concern
about the impact on children, cited by 75 percent of
survey respondents. Tied for second were lack of
interest in the proposed new location, concerns about
a spouse or partner getting a job, and quality of life
issues, each cited by 63 percent of respondents.
Salary and compensation package was cited as a reason
for rejection by only 25 percent, tying for third with
lack of interest in relocating and concerns about the
impact on elderly parents and extended family.
"It's not all about the money," said Steve Levine, a
Massachusetts realtor and RE/MAX agent who is also
president of JobRelocation.com, a company that helps
recruiters and candidates with moving. "It's about all
these other familial factors that get taken into
Levine has found that by addressing job candidates'
concerns about schools for their children, employment
for their spouses, and such intangibles as quality of
life, "there's a much better chance of them accepting
But even for those who focus mainly on the money in
weighing whether to take a new job in a new city, the
decision can be complex. Why? Differences in taxes and
cost of living between the old and new cities may not
be readily apparent, say relocation and management
"It's very easy to be confused by the dollar figures
[in a salary offer]," said Yowann Byghan, spokesman
for the Economic Research Institute (ERI) and
SalariesReview.com, which helps companies and job
candidates assess relocation issues.
"Sometimes what looks like a very, very tempting job
offer can turn out to be a money-losing one," Byghan
said, after differences in taxes and cost of living
from one place to another are factored in.
A number of Web sites and companies recognize that
difference and offer salary and cost-of-living
analyses for workers considering relocation and for
companies wanting to make a job offer as attractive as
For instance, www.homefair.com provides salary and
moving-expense calculators, while a comparison of
general cost of living differences between US cities
is available through one of Yahoo's real estate pages
But you'll get a different answer depending on which
calculator you use because of different assumptions
and formulas, potentially complicating a job
relocation decision even further.
According to Homefair.com's salary calculator, one
would need $100,000 in Boston to match the buying
power of a $60,905 salary in Anchorage. However,
Yahoo's cost-of-living comparison says $100,000 in
Boston buys what $45,417 in Anchorage will.
Companies like Runzheimer and ERI also provide more
comprehensive cost-of-living reports for a charge but,
again, their results differ because of some preset
assumptions in the formulas.
At the Globe's request, Runzheimer compared what a
family of four living on a $135,000 annual income in
the Boston area, among other assumptions, would have
to earn to have a similar lifestyle in Ottawa,
Atlanta, Dallas, and San Francisco.
That $135,000 in Boston would require only $120,619 in
Ottawa, $112,740 in Atlanta, and $109,961 in Dallas.
But to live in San Francisco, according to Runzheimer,
it would require $164,458.
But when ERI did a similar comparison of Boston and
Ottawa at the Globe's request, it found that Ottawa
was more expensive to live in than Boston, requiring
the Canadian equivalent of $145,382 in US dollars to
equal the $135,000 in Boston.
Although there are a number of factors favoring a
lower cost of living in Ottawa - such as the favorable
US-Canada exchange rate and lower rents and health
costs than Boston - what boosts it are the higher cost
of gasoline, food, and payroll taxes in Canada, said
What this shows is how complicated and highly
individual any decision to take a job offer that
includes a move can be.
Byghan said anyone contemplating a job relocation must
also think about the weather, the culture, and the
lifestyle in the new city.
If the new job is in a northern climate, "Can you
stand the winters?" asked Byghan, a native of Britain
who lived in Vermont and didn't mind the snow and ice
"Different things will be important to different
people. For me, it doesn't matter at all whether an
airport is close or 100 miles away. For a regional
sales representative who travels three or four times a
week, where the nearest airport is is a very
significant factor," Byghan said.
For Cellucci, the importance of playing a role in
US-Canada relations mattered more than the $20,000 a
year in state pension and the higher salary that he
Just the other day, Cellucci said, he had top-level
discussions with Bush administration and other
officials about global warming, energy, security and
"I have no regrets. I loved every minute of being
governor. I got some good results for the state of
Massachusetts," Cellucci said. But in his new job,
"I'm excited about serving the president and serving
the country, and am very much enjoying my new