For many, going away to college provides the chance to live a life without parental restrictions like curfews and allowances. But after those four years are up, an even bigger change lies ahead for new college grads. Unless you move back in with your parents, a life of buying your own groceries and paying rent and utility bills awaits you. For the third consecutive year, SmartAsset took a look at the best cities for new college grads.
We looked at the 108 largest cities in the U.S. and considered how each would suit a recent college grad. Using a number of metrics found below, we ranked each city according to how affordable, fun and job-friendly it is.
The Queen City keeps the crown – Cincinnati tops the list for the second year in a row. New college grads in Cincinnati are seeing solid job growth and opportunities. They may also benefit from the lowest rent out of our top 25 cities, leaving space in their wallets to spend on all the fun places Cincy has to offer.
Not-so-lonely in the Lone Star State – Texas has more cities (four) in our top 25 than any other state. College grads can head to San Antonio, Austin, Dallas or Lubbock to find a high percentage of other 20-somethings already living comfortable and fun lives.
Best not to go West? – Only two cities, Seattle and San Francisco, represent the West Coast in our top 25. West Coast cities tend to be more expensive. Even San Francisco and Seattle carry some of the highest cost of living and rent numbers, despite the higher earnings college grads see.
This is the most recent study of best cities for new college grads. Check out our 2016 study:
Data & Methodology
In order to find the best cities for new college grads, we looked at the 108 largest cities for which we had data. We calculated scores for these cities based on different metrics, found below. We grouped these metrics under three crucial categories in a new college graduate's life: jobs, affordability and fun.
Jobs. Finding a job after college is an important part of where a new college grad might move. For the jobs metric, we took a look at the unemployment rate among those with bachelor's degrees, the overall unemployment rate, earnings for college grads and the number of Indeed job listings. The bachelor's degree unemployment rate and the earnings for college grads numbers come from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 1 year American Community Survey (ACS). The overall unemployment rate comes from the Department of Labor's Local Area Unemployment Statistics. The number of Indeed job postings comes from Indeed.com Job Search API.
Affordability. The affordability of a city also plays a crucial part in a new college grad's life. For this category, we looked at the median rent in each city and the cost of living as a percentage of the national average. The cost of living numbers come from the MIT living wage calculator. The median rent numbers come from the Census 2015 ACS.
Fun. Fresh out of college life, new college grads are going to want to have fun in their new cities! For each city, we looked at the concentration of entertainment and dining, the percentage of the population ages 20-29 and the Yelp scores of restaurants and bars. The concentration of entertainment and dining businesses comes from the Census Zip Code Business Patterns and represents a percentage of all businesses. The population numbers come from the Census 2015 ACS. The Yelp scores come from Yelp.com API.
We calculated the data for all the above metrics for each city. Then we ranked each city according to the metrics included in each category. We averaged the rankings of those metric scores across each of the three categories. For example, the most fun city would earn a score of 100, while the least fun would score 0.
To find the overall index, we averaged the jobs, affordability and fun scores for each city.
Nick Wallace completed the data analysis for this study.
Questions about our study? Contact us at email@example.com.
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