The best cities for new grads

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When I graduated college, there were a few things I was sure I wanted from my adult life. I wanted a job, I wanted an apartment and I wanted to have fun.

So, when I got a job offer in New York City a few weeks before graduation, I didn’t hesitate to accept — this was 2008 after all, and I felt I was in no place to turn down a job offer from anyone. Since many of my friends were moving to New York City, I figured fun was a sure thing. So, all I needed to be completely satisfied with my new life was an apartment. Rent prices in New York were high, but I’d already accepted the job offer, so I signed a lease a few weeks later. I was all set.

That is, until I got my first paycheck, and it did not go nearly as far as I’d imagined. So, in order to pay the rent on the apartment, I had to get another job on the weekends. Out went the fun. After a year, I packed my bags and headed for cheaper grounds.

What I learned, and what many new graduates learn is that, despite our high hopes for ourselves, the real world can be a rude awakening, especially these days. Jobs are scarce, apartments are expensive, and groups of friends often scatter to new cities or back to their hometowns to live with their parents. So, it’s crucial, but complicated, for new graduates to make wise choices about where they lay their graduation caps. Areas that have a high number of entry-level jobs, relatively low housing costs and large populations of young people are ideal.

No need to worry if you have no idea where those place are, though. CareerRookie and Apartments.com have analyzed top cities nationwide, to come up with the best ones for recent grads, based on — what else? — average rent for a one-bedroom apartment (from Apartments.com), number of entry-level jobs available (from CareerRookie.com) and the concentration of people under the age of 24 based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

These cities might not be the nation’s biggest or most glamorous, but according to study, they’re the ones new grads should consider when choosing a new home.

Top 10 best cities for recent college graduates, plus average rent for a one bedroom apartment

1. Hartford-New Haven ($1,047)

2. Cleveland ($695)

3. Boston ($1,625)

4. Denver ($994)

5. Minneapolis ($941)

6. San Francisco ($1,560)

7. Washington D.C. ($1,679)

8. Philadelphia ($1,068)

9. Atlanta ($813)

10. St. Louis ($826)

What do you think about this list? Would you move to one of these cities for a job? Let us know in the comments section.

8 Comments
  1. Interesting that many of these cities are in the north and it seems like there has been a migration to the south and west in recent years. It’s also surprising that Austin, Texas isn’t mentioned as they have been on a lot of lists in the last year for good jobs. The good thing about this list is it takes into account not only the job market but the price of rent. As you mentioned, the cost of living is a very important factor when deciding where to live – not just the job opportunity.

    • As far as Austin is concerned, rent prices continue to climb sky-high and the job market is not all it’s cracked up to be. Austin has the highest unemployment rate in Texas from the last data I’ve seen. In addition, the job is oversaturated with recent grads from UT (one of the largest universities in the country) among other area universities. Finally, many people are moving to Austin from the West Coast due to lower taxes and the more open and liberal feel of Austin compared to other Texas cities. All of these reasons are why I don’t think it made the list here. Make sense?

  2. I find it funny that denver hits number 4???
    I have lived here for 20 years and am thinking of leaving. There are a lot of jobs, but rent starting that low will put one in areas they do not need to be. Denver my also have entry level jobs, starting at $8 an hour. Try to live off of $8 an hour in Denver, not happening. Everything and everywhere has a high price. Now you get wonderful views of the Rockies, but to get to them are a pain, to pay for anything in the mountains is EXPENSIVE…$949 id=s cheap here, and drugs are even worse. So keep looking….As much as I dislike Cali. I might be there in few years after I finish school once again! Don’t do it!!

  3. - I agree with Jeff, as a native of Texas, I continuously see Austin, Dallas and Houston (my hometown) make these type of lists. I”m surprised Texas cities didn’t make the cut but I myself am looking to move back to Houston considering SoCal’s style of living is overrated and annoyingly expensive. My goal is to find a higher-paying job, pay decent-to-low-priced rent and eventually buy a 4-5 bedroom house which is actually financially feasible in Houston.
    – The idea is to maximize income received and minimize rent paid (and save the difference!) which I know sounds rudimentary but let’s be honest, I think the answer to getting people’s feet back up in this economy is to go back to basics, even if it requires saving up for an iPad via a piggy bank.

    • As far as Austin is concerned, rent prices continue to climb sky-high and the job market is not all it’s cracked up to be. Austin has the highest unemployment rate in Texas from the last data I’ve seen. In addition, the job is oversaturated with recent grads from UT (one of the largest universities in the country) among other area universities. Finally, many people are moving to Austin from the West Coast due to lower taxes and the more open and liberal feel of Austin compared to other Texas cities. All of these reasons are why I don’t think it made the list here. Make sense?

  4. I rellocated from Tennessee to Philadelphia last September for a demographic change and to pursue graduate studies. The job market here is tough as well. I see plenty of job postings, but they are looking for experienced people. Entry level jobs are obselete these days. I am currently working as a temp, and taking a couple of assistantships from school for spending money. The average costs of rent mentioned in the article are pretty accurate, because in order to live in safe neighborhoods, rent can be higher.

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