Should You Start Your Business In A New City?

Starting a business is a major undertaking, and one that can dictate the future of your career and financial life. You can also think of it as the start of a new chapter in your life. Either way, moving to a new city could increase your chances of success; depending on the current conditions of your current city and destination city, a move could be exactly what you need to maximize the chances of your startup’s survival. Then again, it could also diminish your chances of success.

Happy coworkers in new office location

The Possible Benefits of Moving

Let’s start by examining the possible benefits of moving. How could your business be more successful in a different city?

1. Cheaper cost-of-living

Assume for a moment that your business will make the same amount of money in either city, but in one city you’ll be paying four times as much for housing. If you move to the lower cost-of-living city, you’ll instantly improve your personal profitability. Assuming you can find a reasonable home loan in the less expensive area, the decision is practically a no-brainer.

2. A more suitable market

You may also move because the market in the new area is more attractive or beneficial for your business. For example, let’s say you’re thinking of opening a business that’s going to depend heavily on foot traffic. There’s a city nearby with more than triple your current city’s population, and it has far more walkable streets, with better-lit sidewalks and more public transportation options. In this scenario, moving makes sense for the future of the business.

3. Grants and incentives

Some cities and states offer special grants and incentives to encourage people to start businesses—or sometimes, even simply move there. If, by moving, you can get access to five or six figures of monetary support, it may be well worth the cost of moving to start your business somewhere else.

4. Access to investors

Of course, if your startup is going to need funding, you’ll also need to think about moving to a city with better access to investors. Hypothetically, you can get venture capital or angel investments from anywhere, but it often pays to be in the same location—that way, you can share the same network and meet in person regularly.

4. Better entrepreneurial support

Some cities are simply better for entrepreneurs than others. They have regular networking events, active meetups between entrepreneurs, and special programs that encourage people to start and maintain local businesses. Moving to a city with these features could be a major boon of support.

5. Psychological novelty

If you want to think of starting this business as beginning a new chapter of your life, moving to a new city can provide you with psychological novelty. This is a new place, a new business, and a new life you can create for yourself.

Overall city appeal (and your long-term goals). Most entrepreneurs want their business to last for years, if not the rest of their life. With this long-term planning, it may be a good idea to settle into a city you love before you get started; that way, you aren’t forced to move the business after a few years of ongoing development.

Moving office to a new city
photo credit: James MacAulay / Flickr

How Moving Could Hold You Back

That said, moving could also be a poor decision for you and your new business. Consider:

1. The financial burden

Moving can be expensive. If you’re trying to launch a startup on a budget, or if you’re currently struggling with personal finances, this could put you in a worse position.

2. Stress and logistics

Moving is also stressful, and managing the logistics can be tough when you’re also trying to start a business. Working long hours while also coordinating a move and dealing with a lack of friends and family in your new area can take its toll on your mental health.

3. Family considerations

A new city may be beneficial to your business, and may seem appealing to you, but if you live with a spouse and/or children, your family members may not feel the same way you do. It may be difficult to convince them the move is what’s best for everyone.

4. Uncertainty and risk

Even if it seems like a new city will be supportive of your business, there’s no guarantee it will be. There will always be uncertainty and risk associated with your move.

So should you move to another city before starting your new enterprise? There’s no single answer that works for everybody. You’ll need to think about the current resources and benefits of your current city, and exhaustively research the new city you’re considering. If the benefits offered by the new location outweigh the costs and risks of the move, do it—you may not have a second opportunity.