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Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent


Setting the Geographic Parameters of Your Search

Setting geographic parameters for your search is part of creating your marketing plan. It's important to specify those geographic parameters precisely so you can use databases and directories to translate the plan into a target list. The most useful criteria include:

  • County
  • Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) -- roughly 'greater metro area'
  • Area codes
  • Zip codes
  • Radius around a zip code

If your marketing plan requires broad geographic coverage, you are usually better off specifying a number of metropolitan areas - even if that's a dozen - than searching the entire United States. You will then prioritize those locations based on your personal preferences.

If your marketing plan includes any location beyond the one where you currently live, you should use some of the relocation resources below as part of completing your marketing plan. Some of the factors to consider are:

  • The cost of living
  • Your spouse or partner's employment prospects in the destination city
  • The cost and availability of housing
  • The housing market in your home city and the prospects for selling
  • Healthcare facilities & services
  • Cultural opportunities
  • Educational opportunities for your children
  • The crime rate
  • The growth rate

General relocation information

  • Moving.com is a "one-stop-shopping" relocation information and services site, providing original content, compiled statistics, relocation calculators and links to many other useful sites. The link for "international moving" offers good general info about visas, culture shock, families and medical coverage.
  • Realtor.com is a site that provides a wide range of online moving tools, moving guides, lists of resources & links to other relocation services. It includes city reports, salary and community calculators.
  • Wall Street Journal Real Estate is a well-organized, free site that contains a number of tools of specific interest to folks considering relocation: Best Places to Live, Home Price Checker, Demographic Maps and The School Report--a service that offers free, in-depth reports on school districts around the U.S.

"Best" places to live

In considering lists like these, check to see if your criteria "best" align with the criteria of the authors and editors. They may not have considered things you consider important.

  • The Forbes List of Best Places for Business and Careers ranks the top best places in the United States for businesses and careers, lists top cities for job growth and includes many other business/career lists.
  • Money Magazine's Best Places to Live Ranking is another excellent site for job seekers contemplating relocation. The site’s analysis of best (and worst!) places to live is original research. It also includes city ranking look-ups, best suburbs & neighborhoods of major metro area and cost of living comparisons.

Cost of living

  • Another vendor in this arena is the Economic Research Institute (ERI). They also offer an annual print directory with highlights of their data. Their Geographic Reference Report may be used for manual calculations and comparisons of area wage and cost-of-living differentials. They offer the content of this one-page-per-city directory to the public on a per page basis. So, you could purchase the data you need without acquiring the book.
  • There is also a way to get at some of this cost of living data at no charge. The Cost of Living Index (COLI) is the most-frequently used way that people compare cost of living from one city to another. COLI are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tracks data on differences in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services. The CPI is researched and provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it is accessible for free.
  • In addition, there are a number of free cost-of-living calculators available on the web. Most are based on the COLI and you can use them to get a rough estimate of the difference in Cost of Living between two cities. An example is the one provided by BankRate.


  • GreatSchools and School Match - When family is involved, schools are an important consideration. These are two good resources for evaluating schools.
  • American School Directory is a comprehensive listing of K-12 schools in the U.S. Search by school name, zip code, city or county. There is a small monthly fee for access.

Planning a relocation

  • ApartmentSearch.com is a relocation resources gateway with good U.S. listings for apartments, condos, townhomes, and duplexes. A great resource once you've made the decision to go.
  • Insider's Guide to Relocation - This older book (published in 2004) by Beverly Roman and John Howells is a gem and packed full of practical information to make one's move to anywhere less stressful. Roman has written extensively on relocating. Having moved 16 times, she has built her knowledge from her own experiences, both domestic and international.
  • GoingGlobal, is a site that produces both free, and very reasonably priced fee-based content (in the form of printed guides) specifically aimed at folks considering employment outside the US. Their "country career guides" are the best available. If you're conducting a multinational search, this is must-reading.
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