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Best Cities for College Grads

Best Cities for College Grads

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It’s a little more quiet than usual on the Internet this time of year because college students are studying for finals. That means a new crop of graduates is about to flood not just the job market, but the rental market. So where will the new grads move? Rent.com compiled this list of the best cities for college graduates based on unemployment rates, mean annual income, cost of living and rental inventory for the metropolitan areas. The unemployment data was taken from the March 2012 rankings, a
Lawrence Sawyer | Getty Images

It’s a little more quiet than usual on the Internet this time of year because college students are studying for finals. That means a new crop of graduates is about to flood not just the job market, but the rental market.

So where will the new grads move? Rent.com compiled this list of the best cities for college graduates based on unemployment rates, mean annual income, cost of living and rental inventory for the metropolitan areas. The unemployment data was taken from March 2012, and it was assigned a double weight for this list since securing a job would be a top priority for graduates.

Here are the top 10 cities, in alphabetical order, including three cities from one state. As for the sample apartment photos that appear in each slide, the team at Rent.com selected apartments from trendy neighborhoods in each of the cities and searched for rentals that ranged from $600 to $1,600, in order to represent a wide variety of post-grads.

By Colleen KanePosted 15 May 2012

Austin, Texas

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Unemployment rate: 6%Cost of living index: 95.5Mean annual income: $47,340Top industries: technology, pharmaceutical, biotechnologyAustin is the state capital, the location of the University of Texas, and prides itself on weirdness.  “A quickly growing city, Austin boasts a low cost of living and neighborhoods with character ranging from funky to serene,” says Aragon. “A thriving music scene will inspire recent grads to partake in the arts.”
Stuart Seeger | Flickr | Creative CommonsInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 6%
Cost of living index: 95.5
Mean annual income: $47,340
Top industries: technology, pharmaceutical, biotechnology

Austin, the state capital and home of the University of Texas, prides itself on weirdness. “A quickly growing city, Austin boasts a low cost of living and neighborhoods with character ranging from funky to serene,” says Christina Aragon, director of strategy and customer insights at Rent.com. “A thriving music scene will inspire recent grads to partake in the arts.”

Baltimore

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Unemployment rate: 7.1%Cost of living index: 119.4 Mean annual income: $50,750Top industries: manufacturing, financial service, business service, and health careThe port city of Baltimore is not as driven by industries such as steel and auto manufacturing as in its past but a more service-oriented economy has developed. “The Charm City is a friendly place to live and play, with a diverse cultural scene and more than 200 unique neighborhoods to call home,” said Aragon.
Baltimore, MD Keith Pheanix | Flickr | Creative CommonsInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7.1%
Cost of living index: 119.4
Mean annual income: $50,750
Top industries: manufacturing, financial service, business service, and health care

The port city of Baltimore is not as driven by industries such as steel and auto manufacturing as it once was. A service-oriented economy has developed. “Charm City is a friendly place to live and play, with a diverse cultural scene and more than 200 unique neighborhoods to call home,” says Aragon.

Boston

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Unemployment rate: 5.7%Cost of living index: 132.5Mean annual income: $57,520Top industries: Education, tourism, financial services “A low unemployment rate and high mean income attracts career-minded young professionals,” said Christina Aragon, Director of Strategy and Customer Insights at Rent.com. Boston shouldn’t feel like a shocking transition to the “real world” as it is already a college-dominated city—it’s the location for Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Boston University, to name just
Emmanuel Huybrechts | Flickr | Creative CommonsInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 5.7%
Cost of living index: 132.5
Mean annual income: $57,520
Top industries: education, tourism, financial services

“A low unemployment rate and high mean income attracts career-minded young professionals,” says Aragon. Boston shouldn’t feel like a shocking transition to the “real world,” since it is already a college-dominated city. The area is home to Harvard, MIT, Boston College and Boston University, to name just some of the major institutions of higher education. As such, Aragon, notes, “nightlife options abound.”

Dallas

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Unemployment rate: 7%Cost of living index: 91.1Mean annual income: $46,160Top industries: banking, commerce, telecommunications, computer technologyOnce a hub for trains and the cotton trade, contemporary Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in the South and is home to numerous corporate headquarters.  Says Aragon,“With the hospitality of Texas and the modernity of a sophisticated city, Dallas offers all of the benefits of big city living without the big city price tag – the cost o
Marco Becerra | Flickr | Creative CommonsInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7%
Cost of living index: 91.1
Mean annual income: $46,160
Top industries: banking, commerce, telecommunications, computer technology

Once a hub for trains and the cotton trade, contemporary Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in the South and is home to numerous corporate headquarters. Says Aragon,“With the hospitality of Texas and the modernity of a sophisticated city, Dallas offers all of the benefits of big city living without the big city price tag — the cost of living is well below the national average.”

Houston

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Unemployment rate: 7%Cost of living index: 92.2Mean annual income: $47,490Top industries: Energy, biomedical research, aeronautics, transportationHouston’s economy is strongly tied to petroleum and natural gas but more recently renewable energy is on the rise as well.  Because of the city’s cost-competitive housing and a favorable cost of living, it’s a mainstay on “best cities” lists.  “Add to that a diverse mix of jobs and commuter-friendly transportation, and Houston has a lot to offer for ne
Lauree Feldman | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7%
Cost of living index: 92.2
Mean annual income: $47,490
Top industries: energy, biomedical research, aeronautics, transportation

Houston’s economy is strongly tied to oil and gas, and more recently renewable energy. Because of the city’s cost-competitive housing and a favorable cost of living, it’s a mainstay on “best cities” lists. “Add to that a diverse mix of jobs and commuter-friendly transportation, and Houston has a lot to offer for new grads,” says Aragon.

Kansas City, Mo.

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Unemployment rate: 7.6%Cost of living index: 97.8Mean annual income: $45,050Top industries: business, agricultureThe Midwestern city also known as KC is well known for its contributions in the categories of barbecue, jazz, and blues, but it continues to evolve. “Healthy living and an eco-friendly lifestyle are just one part of the booming downtown of Kansas City,” said Aragon.
Jeremy Woodhouse | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7.6%
Cost of living index: 97.8
Mean annual income: $45,050
Top industries: business, agriculture

K.C. is well known for its contributions in the categories of barbecue, jazz, and blues, but it continues to evolve. “Healthy living and an eco-friendly lifestyle are just one part of the booming downtown of Kansas City,” says Aragon.

Minneapolis

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Unemployment rate: 6.1%Cost of living index: 111Mean annual income: $49,760Top industries: commerce, finance, rail and trucking, health care, manufacturingThe state Capital of Minnesota holds great appeal for outdoors types with the area’s wealth of lakes, streams and waterfalls, and the Minneapolis-St.Paul metropolitan area also has the most parkland () compared to other cities of its density. It also doesn’t hurt that the city has an unemployment rate well below the national average.
Ryan/Beyer | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 6.1%
Cost of living index: 111
Mean annual income: $49,760
Top industries: commerce, finance, rail and trucking, health care, manufacturing

Minneapolis holds great appeal for outdoors types, given the area’s wealth of lakes, streams and waterfalls. The metropolitan area also has the most parkland (over 16 percent) compared to other places with similar densities. It also doesn’t hurt that the region has an unemployment rate well below the national average.

Raleigh, N.C.

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Unemployment rate: 7.8%Cost of living index: 98.2Mean annual income: $45,220Top industries: banking and financial services, high tech and biotech research, manufacturing, shipping, grocery distributionRaleigh is one third of the triple-city Research Triangle metropolitan region along with Durham and Chapel Hill, and there are several research universities in the area: NC State, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill. “People of all ages move to Raleigh for affordable housing and temperate weather, Aragon say
Don Klumpp | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7.8%
Cost of living index: 98.2
Mean annual income: $45,220
Top industries: banking and financial services, high tech and biotech research, manufacturing, shipping, grocery distribution

Raleigh is one third of the Research Triangle metropolitan region, along with Durham and Chapel Hill. There are several research universities in the area: North Carolina State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. “People of all ages move to Raleigh for affordable housing and temperate weather, Aragon says. “ With an economy based on three local universities, post-grads looking for jobs in industries like biotech or computers will thrive in these North Carolina cities.”

Seattle

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Unemployment rate: 7.9%Cost of living index: 121.4 Mean annual income: $54,750Top industries: manufacturing, Internet/technology, service, design, clean technologySeattle is a city by the sea, the sound, and the bay which has many lakes and hills as well as the nearby Olympic Mountains, making it another nature-lovers’ place to settle down. Aragon classifies it as “the perfect city for a new class of intellectuals, Seattle offers a well-educated workforce as well as plenty of foodie cuisine.”
Danita Delimont | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 7.9%
Cost of living index: 121.4
Mean annual income: $54,750
Top industries: manufacturing, Internet/technology, service, design, clean technology

Seattle is a city by the sea, the sound, and the bay, and has many lakes and hills as well as the nearby Olympic Mountains, making it another nature-lovers’ place to settle down. Aragon classifies it as “the perfect city for a new class of intellectuals." "Seattle offers a well-educated workforce as well as plenty of foodie cuisine,” she says.

Washington, D.C.

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Unemployment rate: 5.5%Cost of living index: 140.1Mean annual income: $62,890Top industries: government, professional and business servicesThe nation’s capital offers a favorably low unemployment rate (the lowest on this list) and high mean annual income as an attractionfor new young professionals. “The federal city also offers entertainment for everyone, from nightlife and world-class dining to cultural institutions,” says Aragon.
Cameron Davidson | Getty ImagesInset: rent.com

Unemployment rate: 5.5%
Cost of living index: 140.1
Mean annual income: $62,890
Top industries: government, professional and business services

The nation’s capital offers a favorably low unemployment rate (the lowest on this list) and high mean annual income as an attraction for new young professionals. “The federal city also offers entertainment for everyone, from nightlife and world-class dining to cultural institutions,” says Aragon.