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March 3-7, 2026

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Why salary is NOT the most important factor when relocating for construction work



Construction workers will often find themselves navigating career opportunities that require relocation to a new area of the country. While salary is a significant factor, there are other important considerations when deciding to relocate for a new construction opportunity – and salary is not always the most critical factor.

Top 3 relocation factors

When contemplating relocating for work in the construction industry, it's crucial to weigh all factors to ensure the move aligns with both professional and personal goals. Here’s a look at the top five factors to consider.

1. Cost of living

Balancing the offered salary against the cost of living in a new location is essential. High wages in certain regions may be offset by elevated living costs, impacting your financial well-being and savings potential. Be sure to determine how far your salary will stretch in terms of housing, utilities, transportation, and other expenditures. For example, a construction project manager in San Francisco, CA, might secure a hefty salary, yet when examined against the city's exorbitant living costs, its actual value might quickly erode. On the other hand, a marginally smaller paycheck in a city like San Antonio, TX, could afford a relatively plush lifestyle, thanks to the lower living expenses.

The Midwest is home to some of the highest wages for construction workers after adjusting for cost of living, with Illinois leading the country with a cost-of-living adjusted median annual wage of $73,630. Minnesota ($63,390), North Dakota ($62,336), Wisconsin ($61,877), and Ohio ($61,141) all rank among the top 10 states. In the South, the opposite is true. The bottom 10 states, when ranked by adjusted wages, in the country are in the South, including Arkansas ($44,217), Florida ($44,602), and Alabama ($45,961).

2. Job security and market stability

Consider the stability and growth prospects of the construction industry in a prospective location. Research the number and scale of upcoming projects, the historical demand for construction work, and the overall economic stability of the region to help gauge job security and career growth prospects. Regions with a boom in construction projects naturally curate a fertile ground for varied opportunities, enabling workers to choose from a spectrum of jobs that align with their skills and career aspirations. In contrast, areas with limited ongoing projects or a saturated job market might present stifling circumstances, despite potentially alluring pay or favorable living costs.

Megaprojects, many funded by the infrastructure act, may offer great opportunities now. But when a megaproject is complete, and you are invested in your new location, are there other opportunities available? Be sure to research the city and state you are planning to relocate to, especially if you will be purchasing a home or have a family.

3. Employee benefits and worker’s rights

Review the standard or mandated employee benefits offered by employers in the region, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid leave. Familiarize yourself with local labor laws, safety regulations, and worker’s rights to ensure a safe and secure working environment. Certain states, with stringent labor laws, ensure that workers are protected with decent benefit packages, which could compensate for comparatively lower wages.

4. Personal and family considerations

Personal and family considerations should also be at the forefront of your decision-making process. Consider aspects like quality of life, schooling options for children, healthcare facilities, social aspects, and recreational opportunities available in the new location. Ensuring that the move accommodates not just your career but also your life and family's needs is crucial for long-term satisfaction and stability. Some states rank high in both pay and quality of life, from great weather to exciting culture or outdoor activities. Illinois was recently named the best state for construction workers – but it may not be the best for you and your family.

5. Climate and location

In the world of construction, where many workers will find themselves outside or traveling for work, the climate of an area is especially important to consider. If you are from a colder region of the country, then southern states extreme heat may not be a good fit. Likewise, if you are from a small town and are offered a job in a large metro area with long commutes due to rush-hour traffic or little outdoor space, then you may find yourself unhappy in your new location, despite your salary. This is especially important if you have a family and must consider how they will also navigate a new location.

Final thoughts

The decision to relocate for a job in the construction industry goes beyond the salary offered and into a complex mix of economic, personal, and professional factors. Remember that circumstances can change quickly, and it is crucial to consult the most recent data when making a relocation decision.


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