Recent college grad searching for a new city to call home? Discover which cities are booming for young job seekers– and keeping the cost of living low.
California dreaming? You may want to think twice about heading west (or east) after graduation. A high cost of living combined with lower than average work-life balance and job satisfaction rankings mean major metropolitan cities may not be the best places for young job seekers. Increasingly, mid-sized metropolitan areas like Austin, Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham are outranking their big city competitors.
The “best cities for Millennials” is a hot topic, with reports from Wallethub, CBS Money Watch, and NerdWallet all offering their take on where young job seekers should move. It’s also a topic that I take a personal interest in, and not just because I work as an executive recruiter. I know first-hand how challenging it can be to try to “make it” in a big city right after college.
Like many college grads, I headed to New York City for my first job, working 60+ hours a week. My initial excitement over the job faded as the reality of long commutes and tiny apartments took over. In order to afford an apartment, I commuted 1.5 hours one way each day to work. I quickly realized that I was working to pay rent for an apartment I never saw, and living in a city I rarely had time to actually get out and enjoy. I knew something needed to change.
There’s nothing unusual about my story. It’s often considered a “rite of passage” for young job seekers to work the long hours and live in the tiny apartments as they work their way up the job ladder. But for many job seekers, this temporary “rite of passage” becomes a permanent way of life.
For me, I was lucky. I landed an incredible position with Lucas Group and, when offered the opportunity to relocate to Denver, I didn’t think twice. In Denver, I enjoy an incredible work-balance while still being able to grow my career. Also, I can ride my bike to work without worrying about being run off the road by a crazed cabbie – certainly a bonus over Manhattan!
Today, when young job seekers ask me if it is worth living in a large city like New York, I tell them to think twice. New York is an incredible city, but if a high quality of life and reasonable cost of living matter most, other cities may be a better fit.
Recently, I took a look at some of the lists for the best cities for young job seekers. Three trends immediately stood out:
1. Beware the coasts. California and New York may be perennially popular spots for college grads, but they’re also some of the hardest places for these grads to get ahead, due to relatively high unemployment rates coupled with a higher cost of living. When adjusted for cost of living, for example, New York has one of the lowest starting salaries.
2. Texas is the top state for job seekers. No matter which survey or analysis I consulted, many of the top cities for young job seekers are in Texas, reports NerdWallet, including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Houston also ranks first for highest starting salaries.
3. Don’t abandon your college town just yet. Many of the best cities for young job seekers are also home to major universities, like the University of Texas (Austin), Duke (Durham), and Ohio State University (Columbus).
College grads seeking great job opportunities and work-life balance should take a look at our list, “Best 10 Cities for Young Job Seekers.”