Top 10 Cities for College Graduates


Graduating from college is both an exciting and scary time. Usually, you've spent the first 18 years of your life with your family, and spent the next four building out an even bigger "family" within the safe confines of your college campus. But now it's time to see what else is out there in the world.

But where exactly should you be looking?, a job opportunity site, recently joined forces with, which lists apartments for rent in major metropolitan areas. By looking at the 100 biggest cities in America, and combining the total number of entry-level jobs available, the average starting salary for these jobs, and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment, they hope to offer some guidance.

Using these criteria, below are the top 10 cities for recent college graduates. Let's see what makes them so appealing.

10. Baltimore

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Baltimore is chock-a-block full of health care options. The city is home to the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the University of Maryland's Medical System, as well as private sector employers like MedStar and Mercy Health. CareerBuilder also notes that the IT and Professional Service sectors have a number of openings as well. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,235 -- just below the average for this list. With entry-level positions for registered nurses and occupational and physical therapists all starting above $55,000, that should fit within a healthy budget.

9. Philadelphia

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The City of Brotherly Love has many opportunities in both IT and the pharmaceutical industry. Among major employers in the area is cable giant Comcast, and Merck's New Jersey headquarters is relatively nearby. Philly's geographic location puts recent grads fewer than 150 miles away from other hubs like Baltimore, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The average starting salary in Philadelphia is $35,500, and average rent is $1,070 -- well below average for these 10 hot spots.

8. Houston

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It's no secret that the energy industry is huge in the city. With a wave of retirements taking place in the industry, employers are stepping up their game for engineers and energy-related professionals. National Oilwell Varco, for instance, has instituted the "Next Generation Program" to attract and hire young professionals to provide leadership and gain management skills for the company's future. CareerBuilder's survey also indicated that the health care industry would be looking for college grads here, as well. Entry-level positions in engineering are some of the highest paying -- usually starting over $60,000. With average rent coming in at $910 -- the second lowest on this list -- the city is definitely affordable.

7. Chicago

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Chicago is the hub of industry for the entire Midwest, with many well-established business operations going back a century or more. But the city has also been host to a number of start-ups in recent years. That might help explain why sales and marketing positions are also in high demand. The average rent for Chicago is right in the middle of the pack, clocking in at $1,224 per month. The average salary for entry-level positions in Chicago is $36,000.

6. Atlanta

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Atlanta easily has the lowest rent among these top 10 cities: just $855 per month. That alone might entice some college grads to move south. The average entry-level position in Atlanta pays $36,250. Like all the other cities on the list, health care positions will be easier to find. But CareerBuilder notes that both sales and IT positions are going to be looking for college grads to fill spots here in the coming years. The city is also home to both Coca-Cola and Home Depot.

5. Dallas

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If you've got an engineering or IT degree, it's easy to see why Dallas would be enticing: AT&T, Lockheed Martin, and Texas Instruments combined employ almost 41,000 people in the greater Dallas area. Not surprisingly, CareerBuilder says that health care workers will be in high demand as well. Average salaries for Dallas start at $36,000 -- though engineers can expect more. The average rent for a one-bedroom is just $912.

4. Minneapolis

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The reason CareerBuilder had to qualify the retail opportunities here as "corporate" is because the Twin Cities are headquarters for some of the largest retail outfits in the country: Target, 3M, and Best Buy.The average rent in the city is more than affordable in comparison to its peers, at about $975. And the average starting salary is higher in than most of the other cities as well: $38,500.

3. Boston

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Boston clocks in with the highest rent in the group at $1,814, so you'd better be sure to have a job lined up before signing your lease. Luckily, all three fields that are looking for recent college grads -- health care, high-tech jobs, and those in the financial services industry -- pay well. Software engineers average over $70,000 per year, while financial analysts start off at $60,000.

2. New York City

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Manhattan has no shortage of financial service professionals. The big banks lead the pack, employing well over 50,000 people. CareerBuilder notes that both IT and health care sectors are looking for new employees as well. Average starting salaries are the highest of this group: $40,000. As in Boston, rent isn't cheap in the Big Apple: $1,789 per month. That's one reason so many recent grads live outside Manhattan in one of the other four boroughs, or across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

1. Washington, D.C.

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The home of The Motley Fool, the D.C. metro area is definitely a hot spot for college grads. The government accounts for a large swath of the jobs, but several defense contractors are just across the Potomac in Virginia. Both the Professional Services and IT sectors are looking to hire new college grads as well. D.C. comes in with the third-highest rent on the list at $1,696, but for good reason: There's a lot of money floating around the city. Six of America's 10 richest counties surround our nation's capital! When starting out, employees earn an average of $39,000.

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Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Coca-Cola and National Oilwell Varco. The Motley Fool recommends 3M, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and National Oilwell Varco. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin and National Oilwell Varco. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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