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Tech Industry

Techies: Have job, will travel

A new survey shows that the tight job market has spurred many tech workers to pack their bags and relocate.

    The waning economy has scraped the moss from information technology workers who say they're more willing to relocate for a new job than they were when the job market was hot.

    According to a survey released Monday by Techies.com, 56 percent of tech workers said they would "definitely" or "probably" relocate for their next job, and 47 percent said they were more willing to move today than they were a year ago.

    The sour economy and tighter job market seem to be the catalysts for many relocations. Demand for once-hot jobs in computer programming and engineering is tapering off--a humbling experience for tech workers who were once kings of the job market but are now facing layoffs, pay cuts or forced relocations.

    "In this job market, you cannot be too picky," one application developer from the South said in the survey. "If the job itself is a good career move, and you have no serious obligations that would prevent you from moving, take the new job and relocate. Your career will benefit, and you can always move again."

    When asked whether they'd move if they lost their job and the "only equivalent job" was hundreds of miles away, 52 percent said they would pack their bags. Only about one in four workers said they were so attached to their current location that they would keep job hunting in their current city before accepting a job in another state.

    Bloomington, Minn.-based Techies.com surveyed 3,401 tech professionals throughout the United States, from system administrators to chief executive officers. The survey respondents included full-time, part-time, self-employed and unemployed tech professionals, and 49 percent had moved at least 500 miles in a previous job-related relocation.

    Although most respondents said they were willing to move, few said they would do so if they had a choice. Those who said they would move wanted to move as close as possible to their current city. In fact, a disproportionate number of New England respondents wrote to Techies.com that they would rather take a pay cut at their current job or another job in the same area rather than relocate to another part of the United States, said Techies.com researcher Nick Doty.

    When asked to pick their least-preferred relocation area, most survey respondents picked the area most geographically distant from their own: Seattle residents didn't want to move to North Carolina, and Silicon Valley residents didn't want to move to Boston.

    Part of the distaste for moving comes from tech workers' bad experiences in previous relocations. More than two out of five tech workers had to pay for their moving expenses the last time they relocated, and 8 percent said their employer reneged on agreements to reimburse them for moving-related expenses.

    Nearly one in five tech workers said they had trouble finding a new place to live after they relocated. That may be because the influx of tech workers has driven up housing prices in tech hubs such as Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area and New England.

    Tech workers said the most important thing in considering a relocation is the quality of the job itself. Other than that, they put a premium on cost of living.

    Housing prices received an average ranking of 4.1 on a scale of importance from one to five, while overall cost of living ranked 4.0. The availability of high-speed Internet connections ranked a close third, with an average rating of 3.6.

    CNET Networks, the publisher of News.com, is an investor in Techies.com.