Cities Journal
City Life

Picking Your City After Graduation

1.Settle Down in the Nation's Capitol
Photo credit: WorldIslandInfo.com / Flickr

As a new college grad, one of the best moves you can make is to a city that’s friendly to your major. And when you go, don’t forget to take a roommate along for the ride, because if it’s affordable rent you’re hoping to find in your particular city of opportunity, you could be facing a cruel reality.

Several of today’s major metropolitan areas host an abundance of job opportunities for graduates who studied everything from politics to cuisine, but be forewarned, the best ones come with hefty apartment rental fees attached.

Settle Down in the Nation’s Capitol

According to a recent study conducted jointly by Indeed and Apartment Guide, Washington, District of Columbia, factors in at the top of the list for new grads wanting a change of scenery. Bloomberg Business Week lists this locale as second only to the Big Apple in the number of entry-level jobs available, and with a median income of around $60 annually, the Nation’s Capitol holds big appeal for recent college grads.

On the flip side of the coin, rent in the District of Columbia is no small affair. A one-bedroom apartment there averages about $1400. So if you’re heading for this Federal City, bring a roomie or your life’s savings to help get you started.

Consider The Big Apple

As a land of opportunity, but also most expensive, New York City is also on the list of the most grad-friendly places to land. A single-bedroom apartment here runs $1600. Even boasting the highest cost of living on the list, New York still attracts its share of college graduates, largely because of its position in the financial world. With an abundance of employers like Wall Street, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and more, The Big Apple is ripe for the picking for anyone who majored in finance.

Add to the mix the thriving film and television, high-tech and tourist industries, and someone with a four-year degree would be hard-put not to find profitable work in New York City.

Texas as a Major Player

For recent graduates looking to live small and earn big, Texas is the place to be. Average rent here for a one-bedroom apartment runs a mere $850, almost half the cost of life up north. It’s also number three on the list for the most entry-level job opportunities. In fact, Texas, in general, finds itself on Business Week’s list of enviable places to go, if you’re looking to cash in on your college degree. Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin are also major players in the cost-of-living game. But it’s Houston that boasts half the job market with big name businesses like Conoco Phillips, Continental Airlines and Halliburton.

The Charm of Chicago

Chicago, that Windy City, still rakes in pretty steep rent, just around $1000 a month, but it ranks number nine on CNNs list of best places for college grads. Chicago is rich in job opportunities in sales, customer service and marketing – all popular skills and talents among young American college kids.

Whether your interests focus on using your degree to its best monetary advantage right away, or you’re content to settle with an unpaid internship, the cities listed above all provide ample opportunities for entry-level work for those with four-year college degrees.

Each has its own charm in the way of history, nightlife and the bustling excitement of big industry. But, according to Business Week, if cost-of-living plays a major role in your decision of where to hang your shingle, it pays to head South, where the opportunity is just as great but the cost of rent and groceries is much more affordable.

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