How to Find the Best Cities for Recent College Grads

It’s hard out there these days for a recent college graduate. In addition to apartment ratings, recent graduates are looking at everything from unemployment ratings to rent rates when evaluating where to start post-grad life. In fact, the debt of the class of 2013’s students averages about $35,000 per graduate, so there are more than a few factors to consider when figuring out where to move after you finish your higher education. To get started with the process, ask these questions before deciding on a city in which to settle after college graduation:

Will you be able to find a job? Unemployment right out of college is a prospect many graduates face. Combat that by checking the unemployment rate and job growth rate of your prospective new homes. Give cities a chance that you might not normally consider, as well. Austin, Seattle, and Boulder, for example, are all major spots for tech startups, and great alternatives to larger metropolises.

Is the city easy to get around? If you are able, consider how easily and cheaply you’ll be able to get around your new city without a car. Between gas, upkeep, and auto insurance, cars can prove to be expensive, so minimizing or eliminating car-related costs is in your favor. To start, check the city’s Walk Score, find out whether it has a decent public transportation system, read apartment ratings and reviews to see which places make for an easy commute, and find out how bike-friendly the city is.

Is the city affordable? If you’re a grad just starting out, opt for a city that is less expensive. For example, cities like Raleigh and Atlanta offer a great quality of life without the steep costs of living of cities like New York or Los Angeles. If evaluating rent prices when reading apartment ratings, be sure to check all the apartment ratings of an apartment property, not just the most recent ones. Rent rates may have gone up or down over time. Conversely, apartment ratings will tell you whether or not a high rent rate is worth it, since certain apartments may have better amenities, while others may not be worth the price.

What is it really like to live there? To find out what it has to offer outside of employability and affordability, read apartment ratings, reach out to friends in the area, and check the city’s website. Apartment reviews will tell you what it’s really like to live at a property, and what the city community might be like. Find out what the social scene is like and whether it lines up with your interests so you can save money, find a good job, and have fun in your new city.

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