The fear of relocating

Thanks in advance to Chris, Tory and Adam (and countless others) who I know are here answering the same questions time and time again, I truly appreciate you all, this site and all the information that you openly share with us, I value and trust your opinions.

Being a pilot always seemed like an unobtainable dream until I started doing some research and realized that it wasn’t necessarily, it surprisingly seems possible for me but the logistics of how my life and a new career would mesh is overwhelming.

I’ve been self-employed for about 15 years, business is still running but I have quite a bit of spare time on my hands. Cultivating an essential skill that I love to do is the safest (and most fun) way to guarantee mine and my families future. I’ve got two kiddos, 6 and 8, a wife, mortgage, car payments, the works. I live near Salt Lake City, UT

My concern is, I really really don’t want to move! I just moved back to my home state of UT from China a few years ago, it feels like we are just getting settled here. I’ve already discussed with my family the possibility of being away for a year or 2 while working as a CFI and we all agree that it sounds pretty bad, it is likely the only hurdle that could possibly hold me back from going all in

I don’t really care what the pay or workload is getting to my 1500+ hours, but I can’t seem to find any jobs near me currently that would hire a low hours pilot or CFI, may be because of the timing but I fear that this is how it might look in the next year as well.

Has anybody else been in the same boat? If so, how did you make it work while away from your family? Did you commute? Did you find a good CFI or low hours job near your home? What about having to relocate when finding your first regional job? I’m just trying to prepare myself whether or not I should plan on being elsewhere while building hours as well as with my first airline job. I know there are so many variables, luck being a large part of that as well. Just trying to get some advice from those that may have gone through that and can hopefully give me a reason to go one way or another.

FYI I have my intro flight (ATP) on Monday.

Thanks to all -


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Not sure how long you’ve been looking but you may have heard there’s currently this silly little GLOBAL PANDEMIC going on? There are currently very few flying jobs (low or high time) anywhere in the WORLD. Once things quiet down a bit I’m confident you should be able to find something. Might not be the best but something.

That all said you do realize that as pilots our jobs fundamentally take us away from home. If you don’t get hired at an airline with a base near your home or can’t hold the base that’ll mean even more time away commuting. Until you build some seniority you can also count on missing holidays and other family events. Your children’s ball games, recitals etc.

This job has many benefits but it also requires a considerable amount of sacrifice and you should be aware of that fact going in.


Thanks for the quick response, Adam!

I just started researching this weeks ago, its been on my mind for awhile but now I can’t break focus, I first searched for jobs in the last couple days. I just bought a bunch of airline shares too so yes I’m aware of the effect that covid is wreaking on the industry! I guess peace of mind is what I’m after and if you’re fairly confident that something around me could come up that does make me feel a lot better.

Me and the fam are used to a varying schedule, not unappealing at all, a regular 9-5 could only work temporarily for myself. She and I have both been gone for weeks and even months at a time before. But a year or two away from my family, or the thought of relocating them so I can do my CFI hours could be a deal breaker. I’m 34 so its time to go or get off the pot, as they say.


If you lived in a place like NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, etc, I would say there is a good chance that you might not have to relocate. But Salt Lake is not a huge area and beyond just finding a CFI job, you might have difficulties finding an airline job in SLC, thus forcing you to commute. SLC is a small base for Delta and I believe Skywest has a base there, but that is about it. So unless you are willing to commute, you might very well have to look at relocating.


I attended to the ATP location in Ogden and chose to instruct at another local flight school in SLC because I didn’t care to relocate. At the time (March 2019) coming across CFI jobs wasn’t a great challenge. Now, things are very different. No schools are hiring CFIs because no CFIs are moving along to the regionals or Part 135 jobs. Things will change when the industry picks back up but you may just need to be patient. One advantage of graduating ATPs program is that you leave with not just your CFI but your CFII and MEI as well. This will make you more attractive as a candidate if you decide to instruct at a local school. There are plenty of options up and down the Wasatch front…even places like UVU and USU hire CFIs from the outside. You will just need to give it some time until after the log jam clears out

I’m in a similar boat as you. I have a couple of small businesses that are still up, but had to shut down due to the pandemic. Not sure when we will be allowed to reopen. I used to be very much hands on, but have cultivated a few managers that I feel comfortable with in knowing they will be able to handle operations without me being there. I also have a family and three school aged kids. While it is very hard being away from them for most of the week (and most Saturdays), we’ve been able to FaceTime each day and do things like play online games together to stay in touch. I feel almost like we are communicating more now that I’m away and the precious days that we get to spend together are very rewarding. The airport is about 2-2.5 hours from my house, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make this commute daily. You know yourself, and may feel differently, but I wanted to set myself up for success. I decided to look for a small apartment or a room for rent and found a place that’s about 20 minutes away from the airport. I go home immediately after my flight on Saturdays and get to spend most of Saturdays and all of Sunday’s with the family before heading back down on Sunday night. While it’s tough, I feel this is the best path for me but realize that it might not be for others.

Also, there might be closer airports that might hire you to instruct once this pandemic blows over and you have your CFi. I know that the route that some of my fellow students are taking. I’m hoping to get set up with ATP as I really like the structure of the program and would like to give back the same way the current instructors are, but keeping my options open.

Thanks Chris.

I will have to decide if I can live with the worst case scenario, which would be relocating or commuting. This is a long term plan for my family, 25+ years, it serves us no purpose to be short-sighted. My wife enjoys bigger cities anyways so I might get her on board. Isn’t it you that now lives in Hawaii? That’s a great selling point anyways so I think I’ll use it

That gives me a lot of confidence about the situation here in the valley, thanks Trey! I can be patient, I have 9+ months before I have to cross that bridge anyways and I personally expect the recovery to happen fairly quickly, I am seeing evidence to support that already.

So good to hear from a local though, every city is different and the fact that you made it work makes me believe I can too.


I’m very fortunate to have an ATP school within 20 minutes of my home so I’ll at least be able to stay with my family during training. Sounds like you’re doing a great job setting your family up for success, wish you the best of luck in your endeavors


That is Adam that lives in Hawaii. I call South Bend, Indiana home. Adam has no idea what he is missing :slight_smile:


Ummm, pretty sure I do and I’m good thank you :slight_smile:


Hello Mike,

I was going to ask this relocation question. Would you include Tucson in the list of major cities where there are plenty of CFI jobs that wouldn’t require relocation? I know Phoenix would be on the list but I’m not so sure about Tucson.


I would say that Phoenix has more CFI jobs available than Tucson, but that is based on nothing more than my own suspicions.


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