Abstract Two choice modelling experiments have been used to examine how residents of a major urban centre would consider commuting or relocation options if they were to consider taking up employment in a rapidly growing resource region. The case study area focused on the Surat Basin in southern Queensland where recent increases in mining activity involve both coal mining and coal seam gas extraction. The preferences of residents of Brisbane, the state capital and closest major centre to the Surat Basin, were assessed in the experiment. The results identified increased salary as the most important factor, but respondents were also concerned about potentially offsetting influences such as high living costs and accommodation affordability/availability. Respondents indicated that the additional salary needed to take up employment in the Surat Basin was substantially higher for relocation options than for FIFO options.