Careers

The 10 best cities to live in when you’re starting your career

If you're a recent college grad ready to launch your career, moving to New York or Los Angeles might sound like the perfect plan. After all, who wouldn't want to start out in the concrete jungle or the city of dreamers?

But before you buy your one-way ticket, consider a report personal finance website Bankrate recently published on the best cities for young professionals.

The report ranked the top 50 biggest metro areas based on several factors young people would find important, including employment rate for people ages 22 to 26, cost of living, median salary, number of entry-level jobs and number of parks and bars.

As it turns out, New York wasn't in the top three cities for young professionals. Instead, it ranked No. 8. Los Angeles, meanwhile, landed at No. 20 on the list. Both cities, among other factors, ranked low in affordability.

For a cash-strapped, young professional who's looking for a city with job potential as well as places to go out, here are 10 metro areas to consider.

1. Houston, TX

Houston topped the list for its job potential and affordability. In this Texan city of 6.7 million people, the median full-time pay for recent college grads (ages 22 to 26) is $43,500 a year, according to the report. At the same time, rent is affordable, costing the average person only 22.7 percent of his or her income, one of the lowest among the nation's 50 largest metro areas.

Houston, Texas
Howard Kingsnorth | Getty Images
Houston, Texas

It's also a place where you're likely to find a lot of other young people to hang out with and befriend. For example, Houston's population of those ages 22 to 26 is 7.2 percent, which is higher than average.

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul

If you're looking for a job, the Twin Cities is one of the best places to go. An incredible 88 percent of people ages 22 to 26 are employed. Plus, as Bankrate notes, the number of bars per 100,000 is high, so if you like to party, the city has a place for you.

3. Washington, D.C.

The median income for recent college grads is $45,000 in D.C. The multiple colleges near the city make it a great place for a young person, as you'll find plenty of free and low-cost art and entertainment events in the area.

Washington D.C.
Danita Dellmont | Getty Images
Washington D.C.


4. Milwaukee, WI

This small Wisconsin city ranks high for its employment rate for young people. It's also a place with plenty of beautiful outdoor areas, artsy cafes and bars.

5. Dallas, TX

The bustling Dallas metro area is home to 7.1 million, including many young people. It touts a 81.9 percent employment rate for those between the ages of 22 to 26, sunny weather and lots of different food options.

6. Columbus, OH

Columbus was number 10 for its strong job market for recent grads and number 12 for affordability, making it a good place for young professionals. Columbus also skews younger than most cities, with the median age at around 31, so you're likely to meet friends in the city.

7. San Jose, CA

San Jose ranked No.1 for career potential, based on local job growth and GDP per capita. In addition, it came in third for its employment rate among those ages 22 to 26.

8. New York, NY

New York, one of the most exciting cities in the world, was dragged down to number eight on the list by its high cost of living. Though, it should be mentioned that cheaper housing is available in parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

Queens New York subway
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9. Pittsburgh, PA

This rust-belt city ranked high in affordability and has many options to eat and drink well, Bankrate says. It came in fifth for lifestyle, with a high numbers of bars, arts, entertainment and recreational establishments per 1,000 residents.

10. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is known to be one of the most unaffordable cities in the country. If you move in with roommates and find a good place to rent, however, it's worth it. The city was among the top five for employment rate young professionals as well as salary. And when you're not working, you'll be surrounded by awesome places to visit, like the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Lonely Planet | Getty Images

To compile the ranking, Bankrate used data from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, The Council for Community and Economic Research, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 2015 American Community Survey and Gallup-Healthways.

Check out the advice Marcus Lemonis says every college grad should follow.