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Best Cities for Recent Grads

Nov 16, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Not sure where to move after graduation? Unemployment might be up to almost 10% throughout the country, but it’s important to realize that your job prospects depend in large part on where you live. Some cities have fairly low unemployment rates—and many have rates that are better than the national average.

If you can find a city like that with plenty to do—in terms of culture, outdoor activities, and nightlife—as well as fairly low rental rates, you’ve found an excellent place to start your post-grad life.

Here are seven cities that offer unemployment rates better than the national average, a large population of young people, plenty of fun and active things to do, and—for the most part—comparatively low costs for recent grads.

Charlottesville, Virginia


|This picturesque little town attracts plenty of young creative people with college degrees. And there’s a reason. The unemployment rate here is 6.1%--three full points below the national average. The average median earnings for college graduates in the area is $44,288, slightly lower than the national average of $46,000—but the cost of living is low. The monthly cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in this area is $756.

Austin, Texas


Austin is well known for its music festivals, night life, and creative scene—and young, ambitious recent grads are flocking there. The percentage of people aged 25-34 in this town is 18.9%--a large section of the population, even compared with other towns that attract recent grads.  Average income for college grads is $47,297, and the unemployment rate is 7.9%. You can also score a one-bedroom apartment in the area for an average of $901.

Honolulu, Hawaii


Most people, once they get done thinking about sand, surf and sun, think one thing when they picture Hawaii: expensive. But Honolulu is still a good place for recent grads. The unemployment rate is 6% here—with average earnings for college grads up around $46,822. About 15% of people in Honolulu are aged 25-34—so it’s a young city. The rent is expensive in the city—at around $1400 for a one-bedroom—but Honolulu is a relatively small city, and it’s possible rent something cheaper outside the city and commute in for much less.

Denver, Colorado


Unemployment in Denver is relatively high compared with the other samples so far, but it’s still lower than the national average at 8.4%. And the median earnings for college graduates are around $49,378—so when you do find a job, it’s more likely to be well-paid. Once again, it’s a big attractor of young people, with 15.8% of its population under 35. And the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in Denver is a fairly affordable $876.

Boulder, Colorado


Boulder’s unemployment rate is better than Denver’s, at 7.7%. It also has a high percentage of professional, technical, management-level and creative jobs on offer—over 50%--so it’s likely you’ll land a good job here that requires a college degree. Median earnings here for college grads are up around $46,908, and average apartment rentals are around $1,092.

Seattle, Washington


Seattle is in the middle of a tech boom—with plenty of high-tech and creative companies basing their operations here. Unemployment is at 8.4%. Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment here is $1175, but you’re more likely to be able to afford it here—the median earnings for college grads is relatively high at $53,185. About 15% of the city’s population is under 35.

Madison, Wisconsin


Situated on an isthmus between two Great Lakes, Madison is a college town that attracts young people. And it’s no wonder—its unemployment rate is 6.1%, and 45% of the jobs on offer are professional, technical, management-level, or creative. In addition, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Madison area is a fairly affordable $895.


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