Because everyone should dig their job

Life is a moving experience

By Richard Bolles

The average person in the U.S. moves eleven times between birth and death. 120 million people, representing about half the U.S. population, moved between 1995 and the year 2000. That's a lot of people. And a lot of moving.

Of course, for you, moving may never be an issue. You like where you're living, and you're going to stay there forever.

But maybe you'll want to move, someday, or maybe you have to move, because all the jobs have dried up where you are. Or maybe you're retiring, and you want to identify a place to retire to.

At such a time, you have two ways to go.

a) You can choose a place you think you would love. "Nice climate," or "near the beach or mountains." Or "low crime rate." You're pretty confident that if you move there, you'll be able to find a job there, some way, somehow.

b) Or, you can choose a place where it is easy to find a job—preferably doing the kind of work you do, or want to do. You're pretty sure that you'll get used to living there, eventually.

Let's look at these two scenarios, taking this second one first:

Choosing a place by whether or not it has jobs

If jobs are the first thing on your moving mind, you have two ways to go. One is to move where the unemployment rate is low for all jobs. In the U.S., your local Federal/State employment office can usually give you the current statistics for all 50 States. You look for the States with the lowest overall unemployment rate.

Pick one of these states, then study a map of that State and pick one or more metropolitan areas, or rural areas, in that State, and write to their Chambers of Commerce (pick up your phone and ask Information for their phone numbers, in each city). Alternatively, you can go on the Internet at either or at and browse there.

You ask those Chambers for all the information they have in writing about businesses which deal with your trade or specialty—if you know your trade or specialty—and you ask that these lists be sent to you. If you contact a Chamber, and ask them to send you some stuff, do send them a thank-you note the day the stuff arrives, please.

Your other strategy for choosing a place by whether or not it has jobs, is to search for places which have a particular need for your kind of skills, irrespective of what the overall unemployment rate is, there. This is hard to research in the case of some jobs—like that of a writer, say— but easier to do if you are a craftsperson or practice a particular trade. In the latter case, go to your local library, and ask the librarian to help you find a trade association directory, or directories. On the Internet, this search can be done at:

You then look up the association that deals with your occupation, and jot down the address of their national headquarters. Then write or phone them and ask if they know where the demand is greatest, in that industry, nationwide. If their answer turns out to include several places, then you can do your research on those places, on the Internet at such sites as are listed in the next paragraphs, to find which of the several you would be happiest in.

Choosing a place by whether or not you love it

Now to the other possibility: choosing to move to a place you could love. "Nice climate," or "near the beach or mountains." Or "low crime rate." And you want some help in figuring out what places offer such. Jobs are secondary in this case: either you're retiring, or you're pretty confident that you'll be able to find a job there, some way, somehow.

You can start by interviewing all your friends and acquaintances, to ask them what places they have loved the most, in the U.S. or in whatever country you live. And why. This task can be a lot of fun, and a great conversation-starter with all your friends. But write their choices down—don't just listen! And then, when you have a lengthy list, you can choose the two or three places that intrigue you the most, and do further investigation.

Too shy to interview your friends and family? Well, then, you can turn to books or to the Internet. The best of the books, by a long shot, is Cities Ranked and Rated: More than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. and Canada, 1st Edition, by Bert Sperling and Peter Sander, published March 30, 2004. Bert is the creator of Money magazine's original "Best Places to Live" list. He's been at this, for seventeen years or more. He is on the Internet, at:

If you don't get enough clues or ideas from him, two alternative sites for exploring places where you might love to live, are:

FindYourSpot, at It has help in figuring out places, plus an interesting article called "The Best Place to Live—and Other Fairy Tales."

And, CNN/Money's site:

In the end, you want to try to come up with three places, because if your first choice doesn't pan out for some reason, you will have a backup, and also a backup to that backup.

When you don't want to "settle down"

If you don't want to settle down, but have—or are thinking of having—an RV (‘recreational vehicle) where you can roam the West or wherever, you will be interested in Workamper News (for "work camper") at which, since 1987, has helped over 70,000 people find jobs while roaming.

The champion work camper is Chuck Woodbury who started his quarterly tabloid Out West as a hobby in 1987. His idea was to roam the West in a motorhome equipped as a newsroom, and to write about what he found along the way. "I figured if I earned enough in subscriptions to cover my gasoline I'd be happy," he said. But the media soon got wind of his unusual "on-the-road" newspaper, and subscriptions shot to 10,000. In his years on the road, Woodbury has logged more than 200,000 miles, written a million or so words, and snapped about 15,000 pictures. Out West is on the Internet at:

No RV? Then you might be interested in caretaking jobs. These are house-sitting or ranch-sitting opportunities. Says Gary Dunn: "for those who are connected with the earth, but don't own land, caretaking is an ideal career." Opportunities are listed in Gary Dunn's Caretaker Gazette, which he emails to subscribers (there are 12,000 of them) every other month, for $29 a year. Details can be found on the Internet at or from Gary directly, at The Caretaker Gazette, PO Box 4005-M, Bergheim, TX 78004. (830) 336-3939. Approximately 150 caretaker/housesitting opportunities are in each issue. Over 1,000 new assignments are available each year—and these opportunities are worldwide!

Well, there you have it! There can be great joy in moving to a new place, particularly if it is to a place that you love. One job-hunter described this joy to me, in words which many other job-hunters could echo:

"One year, my wife and I took a trip out to the Southwest from our home in Annapolis, Maryland, to see the Grand Canyon and sights like that. I am an engineer. We both fell in love with the Southwest, and said, ‘Wouldn't it be great if I could get a job out here as a highway engineer, and maybe we could work with the Native Americans.' Back in Annapolis, I purchased your book, What Color Is Your Parachute? and read it with extreme interest. So I started some network planning, and scheduled another trip to Arizona in a year or so, planning to visit various engineering offices and check out living conditions.

Meanwhile, back home, I visited the U.S.G.S. Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. On the way out, I noticed an ad on the bulletin board for ‘Highway Engineer—Bureau of Indian Affairs, Gallup, New Mexico.' Naturally, I applied for the job but received notice that the position had been cancelled. Disappointed, my wife and I decided to each spend a day in prayer. On the following day I received a call from that office in Gallup informing me there was another position for Highway Planner now open; was I still interested? Still interested?!

Using your advice, I called the Bureau in Gallup and got the names of the bosses of the various divisions or sections that would impinge upon my application. I sent in the application to the person by name who was the chief decision-maker. In February, we carried out the trip I had been planning, now including a visit to Gallup. We visited headquarters there, though they weren't yet ready to formally interview, since not all applicants had yet been screened. However, it was a useful visit, and on returning, I wrote Thank You notes to all the people I had met, and hoped for the best.

In March I received another phone call, asking for further information; I used this to invite myself out for an actual interview, at my expense. My offer was accepted, I was out there in two days, the interview went well, and I received official notice to report for work in May. We were ecstatic! And we found a house in Gallup, through a friend in Annapolis who had a friend in Gallup, who knew of a co-worker who was moving out.

In short, ours is a wonderful story. Who would think a 66 year old man could leave one job and move into another full-time job, at a salary almost equal to his present one, in a place 2600 miles away, that he and his wife truly love! What a blessing! And what you said has stuck with me all this time: I've remembered to write my Thank You notes."