After you re-enter the outside world after incarceration, you may decide you want to move to another community. If you are trying to determine the best place to live, you should start with the latest edition of Bert Sperling's and Peter Sander's Cities Ranked and Rated and David Savageau's Places Rated Almanac. These books rank cities by various indicators and would be available at your local library.
Both Money Magazine and U.S. News & World Report publish annual surveys of the best places to live in the U.S. At http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2010/ you can see the full list, places near you, housing, financial information, quality of life. At www.usnews.com/news/best-cities, you will find a list of cities currently regarded as the most livable.
You should also ask the reference librarian (or information desk) at your local public library where you can find information on various employers in major metropolitan communities. Adams Media produces an annual CD titled The National Job Bank; ask if it is available at your library.
DirectoryEmployment.com is an online directory of employment. The website contains numerous links to information about careers and employment, training and education, job fairs, recruitment, staffing, profiles of careers, resumes, and more.
Other useful sources of information about jobs include: www.theworkbuzz.com. An example of an article of interest at the time of writing this is “Where to find a job in a stalling market.” You can track employment trends at www.theworkbuzz.com/category/employment-trends/.
The U.S. Census Bureau provides “State and County QuickFacts”: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html. Here you can learn about people, business, and geography in a region of interest to you.
After narrowing the number of communities that interest you, research them in greater depth. Start by exploring community homepages on the Internet (search by community name).
Then kick off community-based research. Ask your friends, relatives, and acquaintances for contacts in the particular community; they may know people whom you can write, call, or e-mail for information and referrals.
Once you have decided on one community, visit it in order to establish personal contacts with key reference points, such as the local Chamber of Commerce (see the paragraph below), real estate firms, schools, libraries, places of worship, government agencies, business firms and associations, and support groups that work with ex-offenders. Begin developing personal networks based upon your research.
Go to www.uschamber.com/chambers/directory/default. A map of the U.S. will appear on your computer monitor. Clicking on the state of Pennsylvania, for example, brings up a list of chambers of commerce in that state. Each listing gives a website for the chamber in that location.
To find local newspapers, go to www.newspapers.com, click on “U.S. Newspapers,” then “State,” and then type in the town or city you are researching. Libraries are a good place to find newspapers from major metropolitan areas around the U.S.; don’t overlook this free source of information. If you wish, you can subscribe to the local newspaper and to any community magazines which help profile the community you are thinking about. Follow the help-wanted, financial, and real estate sections of the paper, especially the Sunday edition.
Throughout your research, try to develop personal contacts which may assist you in both your job search and your move to the community. Also, be creative about using the Internet in your search, including search engines such as www.google.com, www.bing.com, www.about.com, and others.
SOURCE: The original version of this article was adapted from Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds, The Ex-Offender's Job Hunting Guide (Manassas Park, VA: Impact Publications). Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. This version has been modified and updated to reflect conditions in 2011.