10 Best Cities to Start a Career as New Graduate

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Deciding where to live after graduating college is a decision that should be made with care and thoughtful research. You want to earn enough money to repay your student loans while establishing a solid foundation for future success.

When choosing the best places to live after college, the criteria that are on many young adults’ lists includes professional and social opportunities, affordable housing, quality of life, and pay potential as determining factors in aiding their decision of where to live. Based on this areas, here are 10 of the best cities in the United States to start a career as a new graduate.

The best places to live after college

1. Salt Lake City, Utah

It’s no surprise that Salt Lake City is number one on WalletHub’s list of the best cities for college grads to start a career, due to the fact that it has a healthy offering of entry-level jobs and economic growth opportunities for young professionals. Other key metrics include the city’s reasonable median starting salary and very affordable housing market. In addition, there are an unlimited amount of things to do outdoors and a vibrant social scene, both of which make for a high-ranking quality of life.

2. Austin, Texas

As one of the top technology hubs in the country, Austin is home to top employers like Google, Blizzard Entertainment, eBay, Apple, Facebook, and hundreds of startups. The city plays host to annual SXSW events, nightly music events, food trucks, and an endless cultural scene, helping it rank well in the quality of life and social arenas. As determined by PayScale, Austin has a relatively low cost of living compared to most other cities within the United States—and we all know how your housing options can affect your budget.

3. Denver, Colorado

Denver and the surrounding areas boast a plethora of jobs related to business services, finance, education and health industries, as well as gorgeous scenery that makes the city a great place for young adults to live after college. With a ton of outdoor and social activities available, you’ll never want for meeting new people or connecting at networking events. In addition, Denver and Boulder are home to many young tech companies and startups like Ibotta, Kapost, and Rafflecopter.

Multiple co-working spaces and hundreds of local coffee shops are the perfect fostering grounds for monthly meetups, hosted by other entrepreneurs and business owners who live in the area. The city also has annual events like spring’s Boulder Startup Week and fall’s Denver Startup Week, both of which are free for attendees.

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has been, and will continue to be, a great choice for new graduates looking to jumpstart their careers. The city offers some of the best career advancements and highest ranking salaries in the country. According to WalletHub’s study, the city has the highest percentage of young adults ranging in age from 25 to 34 years old. With over 100 colleges and universities in the greater metro area, there’s no shortage of other recent grads nearby. There are also plenty of social opportunities, from Red Sox games to volunteer opportunities with the Boston Rotaract Club, that will help increase your quality of life.

5. San Jose, California

Located at the southern end of Silicon Valley, San Jose boasts beautiful surroundings, great weather, and a variety of state parks, all of which contribute to an increased level of quality of life and social opportunities. According to CNBC, San Jose takes the top spot for job pay potential. The city also offers thousands of jobs in the management, tech, business, science, and art industries.

6. Raleigh, North Carolina

While Raleigh may not be the largest city on this list, it does have one of the best tech research and development centers in the United States. Companies like Cisco, Microsoft, GE Aviation, and the Environmental Protection Agency all have offices in the area known as the Research Triangle Park, making this one of the best cities for college graduates. The city has become the go-to choice for young professionals who are interested in finding jobs in the software, financial services, and energy fields. Better yet, a study by Wells Fargo found that over 70 percent percent of Raleigh’s homes are considered affordable to medium-income earners.

7. Dallas, Texas

Dallas and its surrounding cities continue to rank within top 10 lists in studies done by Bankrate, WalletHub, and even CNBC, excelling in areas of social opportunities and affordable housing. In fact, one of the main reasons it made this list is for having several suburbs with the most budget-friendly housing rates in the country, with the median home price coming in at $141,000. It also has some of the highest starting salaries for executive assistants, engineers, financial analysts, and office managers, positions which offer career advancement opportunities for new graduates.

8. Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2015, Minneapolis ranked number nine on Fortune’s top cities for finding a job, and its popularity continues to grow thanks to a thriving job market, landing 8th on ZipRecruiter’s list for the best job markets for 2016. Recent college grads can look for jobs related to business, agriculture, technology, and financial services. The city also boasts a healthy quality of life and social opportunities, with more than 94 percent of all residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park.

9. Seattle, Washington

The birthplace of Starbucks not only draws coffee lovers, but young adults and recent college grads alike. Seattle is making way for an up-and-coming tech scene and ranks first in the country for proximity to tech companies (just ask Microsoft and Amazon, both of which are headquartered there). The city has one of the highest rates for job growth and also offers beautiful surroundings like mountains and the ocean, as well as a highly coveted food and social scene. All of that adds up to one of the best places to live for college graduates.

10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

You may not think of Oklahoma City as one of the best places to live after college, but don’t discount it just yet. The city has a strong job market and super affordable housing, with other costs of living coming in at 10 percent cheaper than the national average. New grads will be able to find a variety of jobs within industries like aerospace, energy, biotech, transportation, healthcare, and more. The surrounding scenery and historical significance also cater to a high quality of life.

As a new graduate, you’ll need to be able to fully understand how the place you live will impact your post-college career and finances. With this list of the top cities for college grads, you can be prepared to choose a place to live based on its job market and other important factors that matter most to you.

To learn more about the best places to live for college graduates, check out the top states to live in for paying off student loans.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 5.99%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.99% – 6.84%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.91% – 5.25%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.25% – 6.53%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.17% – 4.47%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.


2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: 1. Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.53% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.12% plus 2.38% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

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