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If you’re like me, you occasionally have itchy feet. Since graduating from high school in Oklahoma, I’ve lived in New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, and Tennessee.

When you start to think of moving, you probably rack your brain with ideas. Should you move to Boston? Maybe Los Angeles? Possibly Washington, D.C.?

These big cities are all amazing. If you’ve never lived in one, you should definitely try it once if it’s of interest to you. But, there are a few things you should remember:

  1. Relocation: There’s a good chance companies in a big city won’t pay to relocate you. It sounds strange on the surface, but think about it. They already have enough local talent to fill their jobs. They don’t need to relocate you.
  2. Cost of Living: The cost of living in big cities is often much, much higher. And worse yet, there seems to be a rumor going around that companies will give you a cost of living increase to move to a bigger city. This is very unlikely, unless you’re relocating for your current company. If you go to a big city, prepare to downsize. Your new place probably won’t have room for a car. Chances are good you won’t have luxuries like a dishwasher and air conditioning. To compare your current city to your dream city, check out this calculator on
  3. Pay: Here’s another shocker — you may actually make less money working in a larger city. Yes, I know it’s more expensive. And, I understand you have a standard of living you’d like to maintain. The thing is – big cities have more talent; in other words, more people. That means for every job, there are more qualified people to fill it. When there’s more talent available, the price companies must pay goes down.
  4. Degrees of Separation. If you live in a small or mid-sized city, you are probably used to the idea that it’s not very hard to get a meeting with an important person you don’t yet know. Whether it’s a company’s CEO, a hiring manager, or the head of a non-profit, you are just a few calls and e-mails away from a meeting. This isn’t so in a large city. Degrees of separation are further and the social walls are built much, much higher. Prepare for a long networking period.

It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a fan of smaller cities, like Memphis. When there are good jobs available, the list of talented, qualified candidates is shorter. It’s relatively easy to get meetings with important decision makers. And, at the end of the day, you may just be able to negotiate a bit more money.

Aside from Memphis, what other cities are viable options? I’m a big fan of cities that are around 1 M people in size, with downtown areas that are going through revitalization. Those cities are working harder than average to attract and retain talented workers. Most likely, their cost of living is less – and they may even pay you more.

Here are a few mid-sized cities to consider. These were ranked by Forbes as “The Best Small Cities for Jobs in 2014.” These were ranked based on employment data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They take into account recent growth trends, long-term growth, and the city’s momentum.

  1. Bismarck, ND
  2. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
  3. Columbia, MO
  4. St. George, UT
  5. Greely, CO
  6. Midland, TX
  7. Auburn-Ophelika, AL
  8. Naples-Marco Island, FL
  9. College Station-Bryan, TX
  10. El Centro, CA

This is a great list, but don’t just take my word for it. Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Browse the US Census Data. Look at sites like and to see what sorts of activities are going on. Read the local news. And whatever you do, go and visit! Seeing a place in person is nothing like reading about it online.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search.

Also, be sure to  subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts. Thanks.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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