Best Cities for Recent College Graduates to Move in

Top cities for grads - San Antonio, TX
By Ben Hartwig
04 July, 2019

Where Should You Move After Graduation?

Apart from wrapping-up toga duties and graduation ceremonies, university graduates are faced with plenty of important life decisions. Chief among these decisions is where they’ll land a job and what city they would like to live in. To help guide these latest graduates, we developed this “top cities for a new grad” list to shine some light on towns which produce great destinations for recent university graduates.

How We Chose the Top Cities for College Grads?

Our Criteria for Ranking

For this particular listing, we examined cities that had a population of more than 700,000 and used a seven-point system to rank the top cities to live in after college. Average median rent, the number of entertainment and arts facilities, and median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders were just a few of the factors utilized to compile this listing. We added two other metrics: commute time and the crime rate per 100,000 residents. The cities with the low crime rate and the highest median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders came out on top because for cash-strapped fresh grads, money matters.

Top 7 Cities for New College Graduates

Pack your bags, grab your resume, and keep reading to see which cities have made our list!

1. Dallas, Texas

Best cities for grads Dallas

Fresh graduates looking to earn more money, Dallas is the city to call home. With more than 1.34 million denizens, the city ranks highest when it comes to the median pay of bachelor’s degree holders. Dallas has a low crime rate and is the home base for Fortune 500 companies such as Texas Instruments, JC Penney, and AT&T.

This modern Texas city is home to the Dallas Art District, a 20-block combination of museums, galleries, and art venues. Sports lovers will also get their fix with the Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, and Rangers.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 27% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $944.62 – Median rent.
  • $1,208 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Dallas.
  • $62,125.99 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 6% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 227 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 9 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 8,295 – Crime rate per 100K people.

2. Houston, Texas

Best cities for grads - HoustonHouston is a world-class city for new college graduates. The city ranked second among all cities for median earnings of a person with a bachelor’s degree. The city is also home to the largest medical facility in the state, the Texas Medical Center, which attracts many healthcare graduates.

The city ranks 6th when it comes to entertainment venues, with fantastic restaurants and hip nightlife. Houston has plenty of music festivals, state fairs, kite flying, and its fair share of major sports teams. One of the best spots for first timers to explore are the conditioned tunnels located in downtown Houston. Notable establishments that call the underground home are Fuddruckers and Salata.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 16.7% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $943.53 – Median rent.
  • $1,095 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Houston.
  • $61,806.02 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 6% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 269 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 8 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 10,757 – Crime rate per 100K people.

3. Fort Worth, Texas

Best cities for graduates - Fort Worth

Texas seems to have plenty of college-friendly cities, so here’s another one: Fort Worth. ‘Cowtown” city ranks pretty high in median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders and a strong business sector. Unemployment and crime are both low, and commuting time is still fast at 27 minutes. Graduates can choose to work in healthcare, education, and the aerospace industry. Major corporations in the city include Lockheed Martin and American Airlines.

Fort Worth also has NASCAR racing to offer for speed lovers, and eight entertainment districts to choose from. College graduates who move to the city have plenty of options when it comes to fun and leisure. The Fort Worth Zoo, botanical gardens, historical landmarks, bars, clubs, and restaurants are all easy to explore. Since the city’s nickname is Cowtown, fresh grads will get to see cowboys and even attend rodeo events.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 23.5% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $928.24 – Median rent.
  • $1,082 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Fort Worth.
  • $61,405.23 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 6% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 167 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 27 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 8,239 – Crime rate per 100K people.

4. Charlotte, North Carolina

top cities for grads - Charlotte, NC

By Justin Ruckman

Charlotte is a charming, 250-year-old city rich in history that graduates will surely love to live in. The city’s median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders sit well above the national average. Commute times are respectable too, clocking in at a little over 25 minutes. The city also boasts of a large banking center for graduates seeking a career in finance.

The city center still uses a square-block grid system, highlighting Charlotte’s colonial heritage. For entertainment and leisure, Charlotte has plenty of venues such as the Belk Theater and Spectrum Center. The city also has plenty of greenery, 30 miles of it actually, and a 105-acre waterfront park. The rent is a little high, but salaries are high as well, making it a wash.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 24.9% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $1,001.29 – Median rent.
  • $1,187 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
  • $60,288.11 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 1% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 255 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 4 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 8,915 – Crime rate per 100K people.

5. Austin, Texas

Austin, TX for college grads

Austin is one of the top cities for graduates because of the city’s young population and a vibrant music scene. Several factors contributed to catapult Austin into the top three cities on this list, one of which is a low unemployment rate. Factor in an average commute time of fewer than 25 minutes and typical median earnings of $60, 000 for bachelor’s degree holders and we have a winner.

New college grads are sure to flock to some the city’s leading employers, including Apple, Dell, Cisco, 3M, and more. History and entertainment are also some of the more significant aspects of Austin life. Graduates fascinated by history will enjoy visiting the state capitol, which opened in 1888. For fun, there’s plenty of nightlife in Austin, with annual music festivals, music bars, and old school pubs.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 58.5% – Percentage of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $1,217.64 – Median rent.
  • $1,369 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Austin.
  • $59,301.93 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 6% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 304 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 9 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 8,296 – Crime rate per 100K people.

6. San Antonio, Texas

Top cities for grads - San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is another city in Texas that’s a prime landing spot for fresh college graduates. The city has one of the fastest commute times and ranks fifth for lowest median rent. Surprisingly, San Antonio has the lowest percentage of renters in the city at 45.2%, which may suggest that people buy houses here instead.

One of the city’s main attractions is the River Walk, a city park located next to the banks of the San Antonio River. The nature park is a network of walkways lined with shops, bars, restaurants, art, and historical missions. The city also boasts of the Alamo, professional sports teams and plenty of natural attractions.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 24% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $860.54 – Median rent.
  • $1,015 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.
  • $56,100.02 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 6% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 234 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 6 minutes – Average commute time to work.
  • 11,251 – Crime rate per 100K people.

7. Columbus, Ohio

Top cities for grads - Columbus, OH

With a population of just under 900,000 and the shortest commute time on this list, Columbus is one of the best cities fresh grads can call home. The unemployment rate is low thanks to all the large corporations operating in the city. Ohio’s capital city boasts of huge companies, such as Honda of America Manufacturing, Amazon, and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Columbus also has low median rent, which can help offset the somewhat low salary range for new graduates. When it comes to other interests, the city has plenty to offer. There’s the Ohio Girls Roller Derby Team, a happening craft brew scene, distilleries and one of the largest horse races in the nation.

Stats and Data (2017):

  • 29% – Percent of the population between 20 and 34.
  • $812.93 – Median rent.
  • $929 – The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Columbus.
  • $53,970.89 – Median earnings for bachelor’s degree holders.
  • 4% – Average projected job growth rate statewide among jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or above (2016-26).
  • 244 – Art and entertainment centers.
  • 6 minutes – Average commute time to work.

Honorable Mention

Here are two notable cities that failed to crack the top seven, but superb locations for fresh graduates nonetheless. Note: since these cities did not make the top seven, we did not include the Stats and Data section.

Cincinnati, Ohio

best cities for grads 2019

Source

Cincinnati is a fantastic choice for all graduates who deem themselves, nature lovers. The city maintains a parks-system constituting more than 5,000 acres, which amounts to approximately ten percent of the city’s total land area. While Cincinnati’s jobs per capita are on the lower side of the list, the unemployment rate is way beneath the national average at 4.9%. With a high concentration of millennials, new college graduates won’t have to look far for roommates in this city.

Raleigh, North Carolina

best cities to move in

By James Willamor

Raleigh is a beautiful city that’s home to several of the nation’s top universities. The town is perfect for fresh graduates who want to study for their master’s degree while working. The North Carolina Research Triangle is one of the biggest and most successful research facilities in the country, and Raleigh is a part of it. Because of Raleigh’s involvement in the Triangle, graduates can take up careers in high technology, healthcare, and biotechnology research.

Summary

Preparing to make your mark on the planet after graduating from college is no small feat. Many questions pop up at this point in life, including where to live and housing options, how to land your dream job, and what to do with your spare time. You might be the individual who likes urban commutes, museums, the arts, theatre, ball games, and much more. It could very well be that city life is made for you, but which one?

If you’re still thinking about what city aligns with your interests, make this list your go-to cheat sheet to get the best out of whatever town you choose to make your mark in. Apart from finding an excellent job, everyone knows that college graduates still love to have a good time. Remember, our list takes into account lifestyle factors like access to nightlife, sports, entertainment, and restaurants so that new graduates can work and play hard.

Now, get out there and start living!

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