Abstract This paper analyses the employment and migration expectations and the perceived costs and returns to migration of a group of workers who have recently lost their employment due to the closure of the major employer in a small rural community. A model of migration decision-making is developed and data relating to this are presented. The contingent valuation approach is used to estimate the losses associated with a move away from the area. The results of an attempt to estimate the complete migration model are described. Finally, the likely approach to the issue of migration under these particular circumtances is discussed.