Well bud, I've moved more times than I can count and a minimum of seven interstate moves.
Most of these were transfers but one was a choice of mine. After two miserable winters and a piss poor paying job, I packed everything I owned into a Uhaul truck and moved 1,100 miles to a city literaly I had only spent one night in for no other reason than I liked the climate, geography, and unemployment was low. I didn't know a soul. Ended up living there ten years and still think of it fondly.
All of my moves had some things in common. First, I lived in hotel/motel. Every free minute was spent exploring the area both in writing as well as physically via vehicle.
One of the best sources for information is the local newspapers which most are online now. This gives you the tone of the community such as large city melting pot, small city melting pot, or small city with cliques. It gives you the economics, want ads, and classifieds, what's for sale and how much. School news is very important since it lets you know if an area is growing having growing pains thus future tax burdens, limited resources, etc.
Establish a goal. Mine was close as I could to a large city for economics but still retain as much as small town America I could.
Finding what looked like a good prospect, I would then explore the area. That's hours upon hours of just driving around at different times to get the flavor of the areas. Not having a job, my days would be dedicated to finding work and evenenings finding a place to live. If it all possible its always best to find a job before a permanent location. Then you can control your commute time. Large cities I preferred if possible against the traffic flow. I couldn't always pull this off.
My disclaimer on this is I travel for a living. I have a knack of telling what an area will be like from the newspaper and a very short time in the area. I am outgoing so have no problem striking up converstations with people. Believe me its the people who make an area not the geography. I don't care if its a tropical island if its populated with assholes then you will be miserable. Things I look for are people saying thankyou in stores etc. and turnoffs are the attitude what are you bothering me for give me you money and leave me alone. This is a big indicator.
One city, I won't mention the name, I lived there 3.5 years and hated every second of it. Our first night there, my wife was insulted at a fast food window for nothing more than her accent and it was down hill from there. Trust your first impressions. They're usually right.
If you spend too long looking for the good you will find it everywhere and the same goes for the bad. You have to stay neutral and look for neither but yet both.
Hope this helps some.