If you’re trading in that cap and gown for a suit and tie, then you must be a recent college graduate. As such, it takes more than a degree and ambition to find success in the real world, it takes the right city too. In order to start your post-grad lifestyle off on the right foot, here are 4 cities of all sizes that are perfect for graduates looking to mix work with play.
Raleigh, North Carolina
If you’re ready to hit the road after graduation and have your sights set on a big city with a small-town feel, then Raleigh is a great option. When it comes down to the numbers, this beautiful North Carolina city has a 6.3% unemployment rate and an average starting salary of $35,000 for recent grads.
Don’t think just because Raleigh has work life covered that it doesn’t have any nightlife. A fifth of the city’s population is age 20 to 30, which is why there are so many great bars and trendy neighborhoods. Speaking of neighborhoods, the average rent for a one bedroom is $675, giving grads an opportunity to save and have fun.
St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway City is also a gateway to success for recent college grads. Although the city is above average in terms of cost of living, it makes up for that fact with higher paying starting salaries. The annual income for post-grads working in St. Louis is $42,000, the unemployment rate comes in at 7%, and rent averages $900 a month.
From the great music scene and shopping, to the energetic nightlife and plenty of outdoor activities, St. Louis also has tons to offer young grads once the workday is done. Whether you want to show off the Arch to visiting friends and family or enjoy a Cardinals game, St. Louis is a post-grad paradise.
For those graduates looking for a mix of outdoor adventure and a professional career, the Mile High City is definitely a relocation frontrunner. Not only is Denver one of the best places to live in terms of quality of life, it’s also affordable. The city has a low cost of living, 7.8% unemployment, and an average starting salary of $37,000.
The Rocky Mountains are right outside your backdoor, so you’ll never have to spend a dime in this adventurous city. With a fifth of the population in their 20s and an average monthly rent of $850, post-grads have an opportunity to enjoy the city’s nightlife and outdoor activities without running through their savings.
For graduates in search of a progressive, artsy metropolis that brings nature and city life together, there’s no other place like Portland. The city’s job market is solid with only 7.6% unemployment and an average starting salary of $35,000 for post-grads.
Although the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment breaks the $1,000 mark, Portland offers plenty of cheap fun from strolling the eclectic city one block to the next or hiking Forest Park, which is steps away from downtown. Likewise, the city’s nightlife and multiple microbreweries are perfect for post-grads looking to unwind.
From the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest, it’s plain to see that graduates have plenty of options when it comes to post-grad living.
Jeff Schultz is an Atlanta-based travel enthusiast and writer contributing to blogs and publications around the country.