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Best places to move after college

  • Best places to move after college
    1/ John Walker // Flickr

    Best places to move after college

    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 hire 4% 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.

    RELATED: Click here to see the most popular college major the year you graduated college

  • #50. Oklahoma City, OK
    2/ Ipholio // Wikimedia Commons

    #50. Oklahoma City, OK

    WalletHub score: 50.32

    Professional Opportunity rank: #59

    Quality of Life rank: #42

    Millennials are heading to Oklahoma City for its good job opportunities and affordable housing. The city also has plenty of craft beer breweries.


     

  • #49. Nashville, TN
    3/ dconvertini // Wikimedia Commons

    #49. Nashville, TN

    WalletHub score: 50.38

    Professional Opportunity rank: #67

    Quality of Life rank: #30

    Recent college grads have been moving to Nashville for good jobs and low-cost living. The Music City also has a high concentration of food and entertainment options, as well as a popular hockey team.


     

  • #48. Columbus, OH
    4/ Tysto // Wikimedia Commons

    #48. Columbus, OH

    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.  

     

  • #47. Colorado Springs, CO
    5/ David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

    #47. Colorado Springs, CO

    WalletHub score: 50.52

    Professional Opportunity rank: #62

    Quality of Life rank: #33

    Colorado Springs is another beacon for millennials. The city offers views of the eastern Rockies and is only an hour and a half south of Denver. Top spots to visit are the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.


     

  • #46. Bismarck, ND
    6/ Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

    #46. Bismarck, ND

    WalletHub score: 50.64

    Professional Opportunity rank: #38

    Quality of Life rank: #76

    Bismarck boasts high median earnings for younger workers. The city is also a good place to settle for those looking to buy a home.

     

  • #45. Plano, TX
    7/ Loadmaster // Wikimedia Commons

    #45. Plano, TX

    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.


     

  • #44. San Diego, CA
    8/ Brian Roberts // Flickr

    #44. San Diego, CA

    WalletHub score: 50.96

    Professional Opportunity rank: #49

    Quality of Life rank: #50

    strong job market makes San Diego a good destination for recent college grads. This oceanside spot also offers surfing, whale watching and other fun coastal activities. 


     

  • #43. Columbia, MD
    9/ Scott Saghirian // Wikimedia Commons

    #43. Columbia, MD

    WalletHub score: 51.14

    Professional Opportunity rank: #68

    Quality of Life rank: #18

    Columbia is seated in between Baltimore and Washington D.C., with workers commuting to either city. The Baltimore-Columbia area offers a good spot for recent grads to find jobs and affordable living spaces.


     

  • #42. San Jose, CA
    10/ Kyle Flood // Wikimedia Commons

    #42. San Jose, CA

    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.


     

  • #41. Fort Worth, TX
    11/ Mark Fisher // Wikimedia Commons

    #41. Fort Worth, TX

    WalletHub score: 51.69

    Professional Opportunity rank: #21

    Quality of Life rank: #92

    Other cities may boast higher salaries, but income goes further in Fort Worth. This Texas town also offers plenty to do at Sundance Square, a 35-block shopping and entertainment district. 


     

  • #40. Miami, FL
    12/ Marc Averette // Wikimedia Commons

    #40. Miami, FL

    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.


     

  • #39. Dallas, TX
    13/ emerzon // Flickr

    #39. Dallas, TX

    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.


     

  • #38. Charlotte, NC
    14/ Riction // Wikimedia Commons

    #38. Charlotte, NC

    WalletHub score: 52.32

    Professional Opportunity rank: #54

    Quality of Life rank: #17

    Charlotte is growing at a faster rate than previously anticipated, with an overall unemployment rate lower than the national average. This tech hub has also seen noticeable income growth in past years.


     

  • #37. Sacramento, CA
    15/ Quintin Soloviev // Wikimedia Commons

    #37. Sacramento, CA

    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.


     

  • #36. Washington, DC
    16/ Nicolas Raymond // Flickr

    #36. Washington, DC

    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.


     

  • #35. Cincinnati, OH
    17/ Ynsalh // Wikimedia Commons

    #35. Cincinnati, OH

    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.


     

  • #34. Sioux Falls, SD
    18/ Seabear70 // Wikimedia Commons

    #34. Sioux Falls, SD

    WalletHub score: 52.85

    Professional Opportunity rank: #44

    Quality of Life rank: #24

    Young people can afford to buy a house in Sioux Falls, which also has plenty of dining and entertainment options. Residents can also visit Falls Park, a 123-acre park with a view of waterfalls from the Big Sioux River.


     

  • #33. Richmond, VA
    19/ Taber Andrew Bain // Flickr

    #33. Richmond, VA

    WalletHub score: 52.86

    Professional Opportunity rank: #36

    Quality of Life rank: #36

    Richmond has a good mix of job opportunities, affordable rent and nightlife options. For those who enjoy the great outdoors, check out the Virginia Capital Trail for walking, running or biking.


     

  • #32. Durham, NC
    20/ Rafi B. from Somewhere in Texas :) // Wikimedia Commons

    #32. Durham, NC

    WalletHub score: 52.90

    Professional Opportunity rank: #29

    Quality of Life rank: #44

    Of the 182 cities compared, Durham had the highest starting monthly salary at $3,746. Millennials also enjoy the city’s fine dining options.


     

  • #31. West Valley City, UT
    21/ Apollomelos~commonswiki // Wikimedia Commons

    #31. West Valley City, UT

    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. 


     

  • #30. Des Moines, IA
    22/ Patrick Hawks // Wikimedia Commons

    #30. Des Moines, IA

    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.


     

  • #29. Burlington, VT
    23/ Beyond My Ken // Wikimedia Commons

    #29. Burlington, VT

    WalletHub score: 53.19

    Professional Opportunity rank: #41

    Quality of Life rank: #21

    For those moving to Burlington, check out the Magic Hat Brewing Company and Church Street Marketplace, or walk along the Waterfront at Downtown Burlington.

     

  • #28. St. Paul, MN
    24/ MM // Wikimedia Commons

    #28. St. Paul, MN

    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.


     

  • #27. San Antonio, TX
    25/ Klaus Bertow // Wikimedia Commons

    #27. San Antonio, TX

    WalletHub score: 53.62

    Professional Opportunity rank: #26

    Quality of Life rank: #38

    In 2017, San Antonio was ranked the best city in Texas to find entry-level jobs. Job options and a cheaper housing market make this city attractive to young employees.


     

  • #26. Scottsdale, AZ
    26/ Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

    #26. Scottsdale, AZ

    WalletHub score: 53.67

    Professional Opportunity rank: #53

    Quality of Life rank: #7

    Scottsdale is about 20 minutes east of Phoenix, with plenty to do during off-work hours. Explore The Mission, check out FnB for dinner and walk around the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.


     

  • #25. Irving, TX
    27/ La Citta Vita // Flickr

    #25. Irving, TX

    WalletHub score: 54.09

    Professional Opportunity rank: #12

    Quality of Life rank: #81

    This suburb of Dallas has a low unemployment rate along with a high median starting salary, making it a good post-college destination. It’s also a diverse place to meet other millennials.


     

  • #24. Tacoma, WA
    28/ Scott Hingst // Wikimedia Commons

    #24. Tacoma, WA

    WalletHub score: 54.12

    Professional Opportunity rank: #15

    Quality of Life rank: #75

    Tacoma is about 30 miles south of Seattle, with Pacific Northwest charm and great places to get a cup of coffee. For those looking to buy a home, Tacoma offers options that are 62% cheaper than Seattle.


     

  • #23. Boise, ID
    29/ Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce // Flickr

    #23. Boise, ID

    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.


     

  • #22. Fargo, ND
    30/ Fargo-Moorhead CVB // Flickr

    #22. Fargo, ND

    WalletHub score: 54.21

    Professional Opportunity rank: #27

    Quality of Life rank: #27

    Employment opportunities are on the rise in Fargo. The city’s unemployment rate hovers at around 2%.


     

  • #21. Fort Lauderdale, FL
    31/ Milei.vencel // Wikimedia Commons

    #21. Fort Lauderdale, FL

    WalletHub score: 54.41

    Professional Opportunity rank: #9

    Quality of Life rank: #89

    Fort Lauderdale, sometimes called the Venice of America, offers beaches, parks and an easy-to-navigate downtown area. There’s plenty to explore at Las Olas Boulevard for entertainment in the evening hours. 


     

  • #20. Knoxville, TN
    32/ Nathan C. Fortner // Wikimedia Commons

    #20. Knoxville, TN

    WalletHub score: 55.22

    Professional Opportunity rank: #19

    Quality of Life rank: #46

    Knoxville, located near the Great Smoky Mountains, is both affordable and a good place to find a job. Home to The University of Tennessee, expect to find plenty of bars and restaurants in this city.  

     

  • #19. Madison, WI
    33/ Archbob // Wikimedia Commons

    #19. Madison, WI

    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.

     

  • #18. St. Louis, MO
    34/ Daniel Schwen // Wikimedia Commons

    #18. St. Louis, MO

    WalletHub score: 55.42

    Professional Opportunity rank: #11

    Quality of Life rank: #59

    The unemployment rate for college graduates in St. Louis is only 2.2%, and the average rent is only $600. Take a ride up the Gateway Arch, then grab a craft beer at one of the many diverse bars St. Louis has to offer.

     

  • #17. San Francisco, CA
    35/ besopha // Wikimedia Commons

    #17. San Francisco, CA

    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.


     

  • #16. Seattle, WA
    36/ Wonderlane // Flickr

    #16. Seattle, WA

    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.

     

  • #15. Boston, MA
    37/ Trenten Kelley // Flickr

    #15. Boston, MA

    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.

     

  • #14. Portland, ME
    38/ John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

    #14. Portland, ME

    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.

     

  • #13. Pittsburgh, PA
    39/ Ronald C. Yochum Jr. // Wikimedia Commons

    #13. Pittsburgh, PA

    WalletHub score: 56.97

    Professional Opportunity rank: #22

    Quality of Life rank: #8

    The Steel City is both affordable and a cool place to live. It has a low cost of living, a high number of residents in their 20s and the unemployment rate for residents with a bachelor’s degree is 2.4%.


     

  • #12. Tampa, FL
    40/ Robert Neff // Wikimedia Commons

    #12. Tampa, FL

    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.


     

  • #11. Minneapolis, MN
    41/ Dustin Gaffke // Flickr

    #11. Minneapolis, MN

    WalletHub score: 57.13

    Professional Opportunity rank: #23

    Quality of Life rank: #4

    Minneapolis offers young workers job opportunities and a low cost of living in a community bustling with arts, culture and plenty of outdoor activities. It’s also a great place for entrepreneurs and coffee connoisseurs.  


     

  • #10. Grand Rapids, MI
    42/ Blue Diamond Photography // Flickr

    #10. Grand Rapids, MI

    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.  


     

  • #9. Raleigh, NC
    43/ Bz3rk // Wikimedia Commons

    #9. Raleigh, NC

    WalletHub score: 57.82

    Professional Opportunity rank: #17

    Quality of Life rank: #10

    This North Carolina city regularly ranks highly for best places to live in the U.S. Housing is still affordable, which makes appealing for those in their 20s and 30s.


     

  • #8. Denver, CO
    44/ Larry Johnson // Flickr

    #8. Denver, 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.

     

  • #7. Columbia, SC
    45/ Akhenaton06 // Wikimedia Commons

    #7. Columbia, SC

    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. 


     

  • #6. Austin, TX
    46/ Michael // Flickr

    #6. Austin, TX

    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.


     

  • #5. Tempe, AZ
    47/ Nick Bastian // Flickr

    #5. Tempe, AZ

    WalletHub score: 60.41

    Professional Opportunity rank: #10

    Quality of Life rank: #2

    Tempe is home to Arizona State University, the city’s largest employer. The university also offers free events to the public. For those who want to get out of town, Phoenix is only a 20-minute drive.


     

  • #4. Charleston, SC
    48/ Khanrak // Wikimedia Commons

    #4. Charleston, SC

    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.


     

  • #3. Atlanta, GA
    49/ Reinhard Kraasch // Wikimedia Commons

    #3. Atlanta, GA

    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.


     

  • #2. Orlando, FL
    50/ Gervacio Rosales // Wikimedia Commons

    #2. Orlando, FL

    WalletHub score: 66.33

    Professional Opportunity rank: #1

    Quality of Life rank: #6

    Job growth, affordable housing and an expanding downtown are attracting young employees to Orlando. The Thornton Park district is a popular spot for young renters who want to live in a neighborhood with character.


     

  • #1. Salt Lake City, UT
    51/ Padraic // Wikimedia Commons

    #1. Salt Lake City, UT

    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.

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