The 6 Best Cities for Recent College Grads

Krista Diamond | Jun 20, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

The city you move to after graduating college might not be the place where you spend the rest of your life, but it will be the place where you start the rest of your life. Choosing a new home to hang your recently graduated cap is a lot like choosing the college that got you your degree in the first place. You want a city with the right balance of work and play. You want to live in a town where you can find a job and also have fun adventures to look forward to on the weekend.

If you’re stumped about where to launch your post-grad life (and you’re definitely not loving the idea of starting it in your parents’ basement), here are 6 cities to consider.

Bismarck, ND

North Dakota might not be the first state that comes to mind when the subject of moving somewhere awesome after college gets brought up, but don’t count it out. In addition to experiencing a 9% increase in jobs over the past year, Bismarck’s population is growing in the 20-24 age demographic. The North Dakota state capitol is home to excellent public transportation, miles of bike trails, boating opportunities on the Missouri River and the world record for the most snow angels made in one place. Factor in a 2.9% unemployment rate, an up and coming downtown scene and incredibly cheap rent, and it’s easy to see why Bismarck just might be one of the most promising cities to move to right now.

Atlanta, GA

Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Atlanta is booming, diverse and still affordable. For freshly minted college grads, there are ample employment opportunities including Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola, Delta and Home Depot. Major cable outlets like CNN and TNT are also headquartered in Atlanta. In fact, the median annual income for a 25 year old or older resident with a bachelor’s degree in Atlanta is $50,420. With one bedroom rent prices averaging $1,200 a month, you can make your home in a luxury high rise in Midtown and spend your day amongst young professionals who are always down to hit the bars after the office and float the Chattahoochee River on summer weekends. Reasonable cost of living, opportunities for advancement and delicious southern food? We don’t know about you, but we’ve got Georgia on our minds.

Tulsa, OK

In addition to serving as the home of Hanson (Come on, you know you love MMMBop.), Tulsa is a unique blend of western and southern vibes with a dash of midwest charm. With a rising population of 981,005, Tulsa has an unemployment rate of 4.3% and a crazy-low cost of living. Expect to pay $600 for a one bedroom apartment, which will allow you your choice of neighborhoods. We recommend the neighborhood of Brookside, which offers a nice balance of nightlife, shopping and affordable apartments. While the largest source of jobs in Tulsa is the oil industry, other ventures include tech startups, healthcare and manufacturing. For local fun, you can check out Instagram-worthy art deco buildings, catch a concert at one of the most popular arenas in the country or get active on 50 miles of biking and running trails.

Miami, FL

If you’re dreaming of a career in tourism and an office overlooking a white sand beach, pack your bags (and plenty of sunscreen) and head to Miami. Resting between the Everglades and Biscayne Bay, Miami is the cruise capital of the world (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian depart from Port Miami) and has no income tax. If you want to live close to the beach, make your home in the famed South Beach area and enjoy nightclubs, beach parties and fresh seafood. For more serious young professionals, you’ll find modern high rises and older homes in the commerce center of the city downtown. And if you took a few Spanish classes in college, you’ll have even more opportunities. A whopping 75% of the city is bilingual, making it easier for Spanish majors to land jobs and make friends. Start your networking efforts at the nearest Cuban coffee shop, where all true Miami locals take a 3:05 p.m. break (that’s the Miami area code) to drink cafecito and socialize.

Des Moines, IA

Thinking of moving to Portland or Austin? Do something even more hipster and move to Des Moines instead. The so-called Silicon Prairie is a hotbed for tech startups, jobs with insurance companies, education and media. It’s also a great place to live if you dabbled in politics in college, as the Iowa Caucus always puts the whole state on the map come election season. The population in Des Moines has climbed by 7.4% since 2010 and boasts low crime rates, good public transportation and a slew of surprisingly trendy neighborhoods, like the notable East Village area which is home to speakeasies, antique shops and gastropubs. There’s also plenty of culture, like the annual Jazz in July event, numerous festivals, art openings and theater productions, proving that despite what your hipster friends might say, coolness does exist outside of Brooklyn.

Milwaukee, WI

Two words: beer and motorcycles. What’s more awesome than living in a city where those two things are prevalent? Milwaukee’s brewing history extends far past the kegs of Milwaukee’s Best you drank in college. Move to Milwaukee and you can try some of the best craft beer in the country, or just spend your free time touring the Pabst Mansion, which was once the home of PBR’s great founder, Captain Frederick Pabst. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, this city of 600,000 is the largest in Wisconsin and is home to Fortune 500 companies like Harley-Davidson and Northwestern Mutual along with five companies that were included in a 2009 Forbes list of the world’s most admired companies. In addition to a great job market and all that great beer, Milwaukee’s cost of living is 8% below the national average. Just think of all the PBR you’ll be able to afford.