When Dr. Miriam Turner and her husband, Charles Turner, decided she would accept the job Primary Children's Medical Center offered her last summer, they thought the decision to move from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City meant their major dilemma was behind them.
The Turners had also been weighing offers from hospitals in Orange County, Sacramento and Cleveland, among others. "I vetoed Cleveland!" laughs Turner, a heating and air conditioning technician who went to work for Trane Co. shortly after he and Dr. Turner, a pediatric kidney disease specialist, moved to Utah in July with their two young sons.But far from having their anxieties alleviated, the Turners found they had only begun. They had lived in the L.A. area for just five years, having made one cross-country relocation from their native Maryland, but they had forgotten one fact: relocation - the "R" word - sets up a chain of decision-making that doesn't end until long after the move is over.
For most families contemplating a move to a new area, the debate on whether and where to relocate usually begins with the "big issues" of career, lifestyle, economic and cultural opportunities, and school systems. It ends with the more prosaic problems of finding a new family doctor and dentist, hairdresser/barber, grocery store and child care facility.
Utah won the debate, say the Turners, because of the good job opportunities it offered both of them, the slower pace of life they were seeking, and the ability "to be out in the middle of nowhere" in a very short time, something crowded Southern California doesn't offer.
With the decision made, the Turners had joined the 37 million other Americans who move to a new residence every year and the 14 million who annually move to a new county or state. National figures show average Americans will move 14 times in their lives.
And despite much hand-wringing in recent years over the flight of disaffected Utahns to the supposedly greener economic pastures of the West Coast and elsewhere, Utah has been getting its share of those relocating families.
According to Robin Hough, director of corporate relocation and marketing for Gump & Ayers Real Estate Inc., corporate transfers into Utah were up 60 percent last year over 1987, making relocation services a hot niche in what has been an otherwise flat local real estate market.
"You hear a lot of talk about people moving out, but our experience is that a large number of people are moving in - a lot of good, professional, successful transferees," said Hough.
She said the relocation market has been growing steadily for the past 10 years. Through its affiliation with Travelers Realty Network, Gump & Ayers is currently the exclusive corporate representative for hundreds of corpoations that have transferred employees to Salt Lake City, including Eastman Christensen Co., Hallmark Cards Inc., E.F. Hutton & Co., Philip Morris, Barclays, Brock Hotel Corp, The NutraSweet Co. and Porsche Cars of America.
"Employers now realize that if they are going to hire someone, bring them in and pay them a lot of money, the quicker they can get them settled the sooner they will be on the job doing what they are paid to do," said Hough. "The goal is to minimize loss of productivity."
For successful relocation specialists, that means more than just finding a family the right house. It means becoming the best friend, neighbor and, in the Turners' case, baby sitter, they've ever had.
Thanks to the booming Los Angeles real estate market, the Turners sold their house only two weeks after listing it and for nearly double what they had paid five years earlier.
They were then able to buy a new home in Salt Lake's Olympus Cove for the same price they had received for their Los Angeles house, but with more than twice the space, in a decidedly more prestigious neighborhood and with what Dr. Turner describes as "a million-dollar view."
Clearly, the benefits of selling a house in Los Angeles in order to buy one in Salt Lake City are enormous. But it can cut both ways, the Turners realize.
"The scary thing for me," said Dr. Turner, "is that if this doesn't work out, I don't know how we'd sell the house. It takes someone coming from a high sales area like L.A. - where buyers pay a lot for nothing - to afford as much house as we now have."
When Dr. Turner first heard of the Primary Children's staff opening, she didn't even consider it, saying the "Mormon issue" loomed too large.
Later, she talked with a physician at Primary Children's whom she had known in Maryland and he helped put her fears to rest.
Still, children can be cruel, she knew, and she worried about sons Zack, 10, and Josh, 7, being "outsiders" in Utah. Predictably the boys have had "no problems at all."
In fact, she says with a grin, "Zack's best friend is LDS."