After earning a college degree, deciding where to move to start a career can be a daunting task. With an unemployment rate of 4%, this year’s graduates are entering the job market at an encouraging time. What’s more, employers plan to hire4% more new graduates from the Class of 2018 than they did from the previous class.
While some may be pulled to big cities after earning their diplomas, smaller metro towns like Milwaukee, Austin, and St. Louis may be better for younger employees looking to find jobs that will pay the rent. Big cities like New York have fewer entry-level positions and lower job growth than smaller cities like Durham and Detroit. And while affordable housing is hard to come by in bustling cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, it’s not in smaller cities like Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
Stacker used data from a WalletHub study that accounted for factors like quality of life and professional opportunities to rank the top 50 cities for recent college grads. The study, which involved 182 U.S. cities, examined 27 metrics including the availability of entry-level jobs, monthly average starting salary and workforce diversity in each city. Click through to see which city offers the most career opportunities for the Class of 2018.
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WalletHub score: 50.44
Professional Opportunity rank: #81
Quality of Life rank: #14
Ohio’s capital city has plenty to offer young people, including the redesigned Scioto Riverfront, a 175-acre area with parks, as well as bikeways and pedestrian paths. Don’t have a car? Columbus offers access to a free bus to explore its downtown areas.
WalletHub score: 50.66
Professional Opportunity rank: #66
Quality of Life rank: #26
Plano is only a 45-minute commute from Dallas, which residents can get to easily on the DART Rail. For new grads looking to start a family, this suburb receives high marks for public schools.
WalletHub score: 51.67
Professional Opportunity rank: #32
Quality of Life rank: #63
This area of Silicon Valley is a great place to move for the right job. Employment options are suited to those right out of college, but the cost of living is steep. Residents need to make close to $100,000 to live comfortably.
WalletHub score: 52.22
Professional Opportunity rank: #14
Quality of Life rank: #117
Construction in downtown Miami has grown 66% since 2010, making way for young professionals who want to rent. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to visit at night, and living downtown means avoiding traffic on the way to work.
WalletHub score: 52.25
Professional Opportunity rank: #24
Quality of Life rank: #74
Dallas ranks highly for cities with the most job opportunities for recent grads. The city is also trying to attract young people by making a healthy lifestyle push, directing residents and visitors alike to outdoor spaces like River Legacy Parks and the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.
WalletHub score: 52.44
Professional Opportunity rank: #28
Quality of Life rank: #58
Millennials are flocking to Sacramento for jobs, plus housing options four times lower than those of neighboring San Francisco. This California city also has a bustling arts and culinary scene.
WalletHub score: 52.62
Professional Opportunity rank: #37
Quality of Life rank: #39
The cost of living isn’t cheap in Washington D.C., but there are a lot of jobs with a high median starting salary. If you want to meet more people between the ages of 25 and 34, head to the nation’s capital. The District of Columbia also tops the list of highly educated metropolitan areas.
WalletHub score: 52.67
Professional Opportunity rank: #45
Quality of Life rank: #25
An overall low cost of living makes Cincinnati a good option for those just starting their careers. Median rent is only $570 a month.
WalletHub score: 52.95
Professional Opportunity rank: #31
Quality of Life rank: #40
This Salt Lake City suburb, Utah’s second largest city, is experiencing employment growth, and is especially good for those who work in technology. It's nestled between two mountain ranges, and is close to Park City Mountain ski resort for winter sports enthusiasts.
WalletHub score: 53.11
Professional Opportunity rank: #34
Quality of Life rank: #35
Affordable housing, job opportunities and good starting salaries make this Midwest town a good spot for college grads. There’s also plenty to do: visit the Des Moines Art Center, the Jasper Winery or the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market between May and October.
WalletHub score: 53.24
Professional Opportunity rank: #51
Quality of Life rank: #15
Those who live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have access to jobs and affordable housing, which raising their emotional well-being. The area is also home to plenty of drinking and dining establishments.
WalletHub score: 54.19
Professional Opportunity rank: #43
Quality of Life rank: #9
The capital of Idaho is ranked as one of the best places to live in the country. Its tech industry is growing and it's home to Boise State University. There are also plenty of dining, music and outdoor options to enjoy after work or school.
WalletHub score: 55.23
Professional Opportunity rank: #46
Quality of Life rank: #3
Wisconsin’s capital, home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is not only a beautiful place to live with great job opportunities, it’s also a cool place to hang out thanks to its college-town vibe. Grab some local beer while exploring Willy Street, get some cheese curds or check out the Dane County Farmers Market.
WalletHub score: 55.51
Professional Opportunity rank: #13
Quality of Life rank: #52
While San Francisco’s housing costs are extremely high, the city is also experiencing job growth and offers plenty of grad-friendly jobs. San Francisco, home to Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Twitter, also showed increases in annual wage growth and average pay.
WalletHub score: 55.65
Professional Opportunity rank: #25
Quality of Life rank: #13
Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks and the Boeing Company are top employers in Seattle. Much like San Francisco, it’s a great place to live for those with good jobs, but it’s not cheap. The median rent is more than $2,109, which is 80% above the national average.
WalletHub score: 56.09
Professional Opportunity rank: #20
Quality of Life rank: #29
Even though it’s not as affordable as some cities, Boston is still a good spot for recent college grads to work and enjoy life. The city is walkable, offers access to world-class health care and features plenty of parks, shopping and entertainment.
WalletHub score: 56.81
Professional Opportunity rank: #18
Quality of Life rank: #20
Portland is a beautiful place to live, and home to a growing tech scene. This New England city has a great local food scene and a buzzing arts community. Make sure to take a walk along Congress Street, the center of the arts district.
WalletHub score: 57.05
Professional Opportunity rank: #7
Quality of Life rank: #41
This central Florida town is only a short drive to Clearwater Beach, one of the best beaches in the country. For afterwork activities, go dancing in Ybor City, grab a beer in Seminole Heights or ride roller coasters at Busch Gardens.
WalletHub score: 57.13
Professional Opportunity rank: #8
Quality of Life rank: #37
The availability of jobs and low cost of living make Grand Rapids a good place to start a career. There’s no a shortage of places to explore for fun and food. Try Madcap Coffee for a cup of joe, try a croissant from Field and Fire or grab a beer at the renowned Founders Brewing Co.
WalletHub score: 57.85
Professional Opportunity rank: #16
Quality of Life rank: #12
People all over the U.S. are flocking to Denver, which has low unemployment and a booming tech sector. The number of people moving to Denver has made housing a bit tricky, but the job opportunities mixed with the mountain view make it worth it. There’s also plenty of beer.
WalletHub score: 57.98
Professional Opportunity rank: #5
Quality of Life rank: #34
Columbia, home of the University of South Carolina, has low unemployment and a cost of living below the national average. The student population and residents keep a wide selection of bars and restaurants full every night.
WalletHub score: 60.24
Professional Opportunity rank: #6
Quality of Life rank: #5
Austin, famous for hosting the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals, is a popular destination for young workers. It’s also one of the fasting-growing cities in the country, probably because they offer doughnuts 24 hours a day and have tons of food trucks.
WalletHub score: 60.70
Professional Opportunity rank: #4
Quality of Life rank: #19
The economy is doing well in Charleston, with growth in jobs and salaries. This area saw a 198% increase in computer and science degrees over the past five years, which is six times faster than the national average. This expansion has led to a lack of affordable housing in the city, so prepare for traffic.
WalletHub score: 65.04
Professional Opportunity rank: #2
Quality of Life rank: #11
The Home Depot, Ernst & Young and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are top employers in Atlanta. While housing costs are increasing, this southern city is significantly more affordable than metro areas like Chicago, New York and San Francisco. It also has no shortage of food and entertainment options in hip neighborhoods.
WalletHub score: 67.83
Professional Opportunity rank: #3
Quality of Life rank: #1
Both quality of life and job options rank high in Salt Lake City. Housing is relatively affordable, the tech market is booming and there is plenty to do in this mountain town. Salt Lake City is close to five national parks and numerous world-class ski resorts.