40 best cities for college grads

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You've packed up your dorm room, you're armed with a freshly minted college degree and now it's time to move on.

Leaving campus, getting a job and a finding place to live has never been easy. Despite the strongest job market in years, college grads this year are finding that a good job offer often lands you in a very pricey housing market. But an area with cheap housing is still unaffordable if you can't find a job.

The sweet spot, then, is a place with a wide choice of entry-level jobs, plenty of affordable housing — and lots of other college grads like you to hang out with.

Call them starter cities.

To find out where they are, researchers at Trulia and LinkedIn mashed up metro-level data on local housing affordability and current job listings to see where recent grads face the best prospects of getting started.

The list includes some often overlooked locations.

"These metros don't make your headlines everyday about being cosmopolitan cities," said Trulia's chief economist, Ralph McLaughlin. "But they can be a great place to kick-start your career after college, maybe meet someone and if you decide to move on later, there are other places with higher-paid jobs that are less affordable."

That means considering cities like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Missouri, Minneapolis, or Columbus Ohio — the top five areas on the researchers' list for best starter metros.

The rankings looked at the share of entry-level job listings on LinkedIn that require a college degree, along with the share of local housing that's affordable for young adults.

The rankings also factored in the share of the local population made up of young adults.

"If you're a recent college grad, you're probably looking to move someplace with other young people to hang out with," said McLaughlin. "We see a similar pattern with older age groups where retirees like to cluster around each other. Recent college grads like to cluster around people their own age.

But cities that have become magnets for younger arrivals don't necessarily offer the best career and housing choices. The top five locations with the biggest share of recent college grads are among the toughest places to find a good job and an affordable place to live. Those include San Francisco, Boston, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Washington and New York.

Of the 40 metros on the list, Miami comes in dead last for college grads. Only 43 percent of the rental market there is affordable for them, entry-level job opportunities are relatively scarce and they make up only 3.2 percent of the population.