10 Best Cities to Start a Career as New Graduate

best places to live after college

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.

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