I've recently been talking to people looking for DBAs and one of the questions that always gets asked early on in the conversation is "Are you willing to relocate?". It's an easy question to ask but not always easy to answer. I suspect most people would easily give a yes or no if asked in a casual conversation, but if you put more thought into it the answer becomes more of a maybe (or "it depends" for the DBAs reading this).
My current situation has afforded me time to figure out my own answer. I listed out all of things I thought I should consider and found that I was able to group them into two general "cost based" categories: financial and emotional.
The financial considerations included the obvious, e.g. salary and opportunity for career growth, and the not so obvious, such as: cost of living compared to where I live now, what it costs to move, and even the potential commute (my friend Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter) recently wrote an editorial on SQLServerCentral.com about this that I recommend reading).
I think the emotional considerations are even more important, though, because money alone doesn't lead to happiness. For example, I have friends who moved from Toronto to Orlando for a fantastic job and a very comfortable life but after a few years moved back because that was their home where they felt most happy. I can relate; my wife and I are both Florida natives, and with three kids plus siblings and parents within driving distance I realize how emotionally difficult it would be for my family to move far away from that.
So all things being equal, my preference would be first to stay local, then relocate elsewhere in the state, and finally move "somewhere else" (admittedly I'm not entirely sure where that somewhere else would be). That's not to say I would turn down an opportunity that requires relocating over something local, but it would have to be something special. Special is something life altering - maybe even historic - like launching rockets into space or solving world problems. Special is something unique, meaning you're the only place doing what you're doing. Special is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can't be passed up. In other words, if I can find a job close to home doing roughly the same things you're doing halfway across the country, I'm probably not going to be motivated to move. That's not a knock against you - it's just what I've decided is best for me right now.
More recently, especially in the technology industry, companies are starting to open up to telecommuting. Steve Jones (Blog |Twitter) and Robert Pearl (Blog | Twitter) recently shared their thoughts about it in You Can Telecommute and Telecommuting - Hype or Happening?. With what I've heard about how hard it is these days to find quality DBAs I don't think it's unreasonable to consider telecommuting if you think you've found the right person for your team. However, I also understand there's no replacement for in person meetings, so maybe a good middle ground is to be onsite for one work week each month. It seems reasonable to me, at least.
Are You Willing To Relocate?
I think it's a good idea to ask yourself this question from time to time because things can - and do - change. Maybe it's the unexpected downsizing that lies ahead, or more optimistically it's the next great job offer that you get after meeting someone at a SQLSaturday or the PASS Summit (or whatever conference you happen to be at).
I encourage you to take some time to think about what it would take for you to relocate for a job. It's a good exercise to go through, and you'll find yourself in a much better position to give an answer you're confortable with the next time someone asks.