Many of the candidates I work with are searching for new opportunities outside the city or town they currently live in.  In this recovery, as the competition for roles is increasing, openness to relocation can give a candidate a real edge in a job search.  I understand that there are big challenges when you relocate to a new community.  Maybe you own a home, have kids in school or a partner/spouse that works.  For the sake of this guide, I will assume you are planning to make a move; I want to make your move easier.

This guide will have three parts.  Part one will discuss how to find your perfect place.  Part two will help you develop a relocation strategy, and part three will address how to find, and land, a job in a new community.

Part One: Finding Your Perfect Place.

If you are like many candidates I speak with, New York, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles top your list of place you would like to live.  You may perceive these cities as having the most opportunity, the best nightlife, etc.  While this may be true, cities like this may not be best for you or for your career.  Before you send out your first resume, it is important to get an understanding of what type of community is best suited for you.  What community will meet your needs when you are off work?  What are the best schools for your children?  Can your spouse/partner find a job?  These are a few of the questions you will need to ask in order to find your perfect place.

So where do you go to find the answers to these and other questions you may have?  The best place I have found is  Much like a dating service, ask a series of questions that will help you narrow down communities from across the nation to a list of cities and towns that best match what is important to you.

After taking the quiz you will get a list of 24 communities that match what you are looking for.  You will also get handy reports on each community, including: climate, arts & culture, education and cost of living.  You can also compare your “Top Spots” easily on the site.  The quiz and first reports are free, and if you choose you can access their full list of reports for a little under $10.00 a year.

The first thing you will want to do is narrow down your list of 24 to two or three communities.  You can do this any way you choose.  Take the top three.  Maybe you only want communities on the West Coast.  Whatever your criteria are it is important to get your list to a manageable length.

Once you have narrowed down your target communities to two or three you will want to find out some in-depth information about each one.    Research as much as you can about your target cities.  The more you know about a potential community the more comfortable you will be with your final decision.

One way to learn about a new city is to read its local newspaper.  Most local papers are now online.  Simply subscribe to the on-line paper and spend time each day reading the articles, the op-eds and the classified.  This is a great way to get a feel for a place.  You will learn what is happening daily (good and bad), how much crime there is and what the community values are.

When doing your research it is important to not only think about what the community has to offer but can you afford to live in it.  The most important information, and the first you should research, is cost of living.  This statistic should be the foundation of your research; it will affect everything from your pay and housing cost to milk and gas prices.  There are many places on the web to compare cost of living and other statistics on a community.  Some of the best I have found are:

Homefair has a great cost of living comparison and salary calculator.

City Rating has an impressive occupational outlook feature that can give you a heads up about your job search.

Another way to get a good feel for a community is to visit it in person.  This can be a costly exercise but one that must be conducted prior to moving.  I will talk more about visiting a city, and how to make it part of the interview process, later in this guide.  I mention it now because you will want to start saving money for a trip or two as soon as possible.

When you visit a city on your target list make sure your trip includes weekends and weekdays.  This will give you a good idea of things like commute, nightlife and how active or quiet a community becomes after 5:00 and on the weekend.  It is also a good idea to reach out to a local realtor; a realtor can help you understand what neighborhoods are growing and what ones to avoid as well as “on the ground” feedback about day to day life.

While doing your research keep in mind what is important to you.  Do you golf?  Are you inspired by the ocean?  Do you need a professional sports team?  Personalizing your research as much as possible will give you a real understanding of a community and how happy you will be in it.

So to summarize, do your research!  Find out all you can about a new community in this step.

In Part two of this guide, I will discuss how to develop a strategy for relocation.  Solid planning on the front end, and learning what road blocks you may face, can save you a great deal of time and headache as you go through the relocation process.