After completing your coursework, walking across the stage, smiling for the camera and taking home your diploma, your next step after graduation will probably involve finding a job and living the post-grad dream. No matter what career path you choose to pursue, living in one of the best cities for college grads will likely afford you the most opportunities for gainful employment. While behemoth cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles can be fun and exciting, they are also expensive and can be difficult to navigate. Check out our guide to the top 10 cities for college grads:

1. Atlanta

Atlanta is one of the most quickly growing cities in the country, and boasts a metro population of more than 5.2 million. “The ATL” offers plenty of urban amenities–abundant nightlife, numerous job opportunities, dreamy cityscapes and diverse neighborhoods–without the high price tag. According to AreaVibes, Atlanta’s cost of living is about one percent less expensive than the national average: Compare that to NYC, which has a cost of living index 125 percent higher than Atlanta’s!

2. Boston

Boston doesn’t have a low cost of living going for it (it costs about 37 percent more to live here than in most parts of the nation), but it has a bevy of other appeals. Boston is home to a number of reputable universities, including MIT and Boston University, and is within driving distance of Harvard University. The city is known as a cultural and academic epicenter, and young professionals will love its cultured, intellectual vibe.

3. Houston

Houston has earned a reputation as a dynamic and booming Southern city. Houston is now the fourth most populous city in the US–trailing behind NYC, LA and Chicago–but blows the aforementioned cities out of the water in terms of bang for your buck. The cost of living index here is 91, which is 9 percent less than the national average. Houston is also a particularly modern city, which has a certain appeal for many twentysomethings.

4. Denver

Denver‘s appeal is undeniable. This unique city’s bright lights and busy core sit at the feet of stunning mountains and incredible natural beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts and post-grads who lean to the left will love the city’s progressive vibe, but will also appreciate its strong business culture. With a population of about 600,000 within the city limits, Denver is a perfectly sized town in which to start your career.

5. Minneapolis/St. Paul

The Twin Cities, as most locals refer to them, are no longer hidden gems. An influx of artists, young professionals and twentysomethings have created a huge buzz around the two unique towns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minnesota has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state, making this region ideal for recent graduates.

6. Seattle

Oh, Seattle. One of the many attributes of this Pacific Northwest town is its abundance of coffee shops–a total necessity for the average young professional. Seattle is also known for its craft breweries, foodie culture and artsy vibe. Aside from its aesthetics, though, Seattle is also a smart locale in which to plant some roots. Almost 15 percent of this city’s residents are between the ages of 20 and 29, and the city boasts a cost of living index that is 20 to 30 percent less than those of other West Coast cities, like San Francisco and San Jose.

7. Dallas

Awarded a liveability score of 78 by AreaVibes for its low living costs, abundance of amenities and warm, sunny weather, Dallas is a great Southern city for recent grads. With a population of about 1.2 million just within the city proper, Dallas offers lots of career and networking opportunities. The cost of living here is about 4 percent less than the national average.

8. Raleigh

Raleigh, along with the nearby cities of Durham and Chapel Hill, comprises what has become known as the “Research Triangle,” a particularly fantastic spot for post-graduates. The Triangle is home to many prestigious universities–including North Carolina State, Duke and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill–as well as Research Triangle Park, which houses numerous tech and science companies. Talk about a great place to start your career! The town is affordable, too, with a cost of living index of just 93.

9. Washington, D.C.

Washington is a hotspot for the young and ambitious. With a metro population topping 5.5 million, Washington offers a high average starting salary and plenty of employment opportunities. The federal government employs about 300,000 people here, as do numerous large corporations, lobbying groups, think tanks and trade organizations. Washington is also well-known for its lively restaurants, numerous live music venues and hopping nightlife.

10. St. Louis

St. Louis‘s locale and historic charms make it a romantic and all-American destination. The city offers the best of urban Midwestern living at a fraction of the cost of geographically comparable Chicago–the cities’ cost of living indexes are 91 and 114, respectively.


Top 10 List Methodology developed this list in 2013. Metropolitan markets were ranked based on availability of rental inventory, cost of living, annual mean wages and unemployment rates. Based on the top 25 markets by rental availability, we ranked performance against the national average for unemployment, cost of living, and annual mean wages. Unemployment was given double weight relative to the other statistics. Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau,