Think the only way to experience big city living with great career opportunities is to pay an arm and a leg? Think again. While large, expensive cities like New York and San Francisco have earned reputations as career destinations, there are tons of cities out there that are just as exciting — and WAY more affordable.
From the Midwest to the south to the mid-Atlantic, these cities offer all the jobs you could ever want, plus food, music, culture and more. And most importantly, buying a home there isn’t just a pipe dream. Looking to make your next big move?
Often called the birthplace of rock and roll, Memphis is the perfect blend of old-world charm and modern living, all at an affordable price. While the economy is heavily focused on transportation and shipping, a variety of companies call Memphis home, such as FedEx, AutoZone and Baptist Memorial Healthcare. Once you’re there, make sure to check out great barbecue joints like Neely’s, Elvis’s Graceland estate and the world-renowned National Civil Rights Museum.
As a native Michigander, Detroit will always hold a special place in my heart. While the Motor City has historically suffered from deindustrialization and suburbanization, anyone who’s been there within the past ten years can tell you it’s an up-and-coming city to watch out for. Detroit is still an automotive stronghold, home to companies like General Motors and Ford Motor Company, but the tech scene is blossoming as well — Quicken Loans has been headquartered there since 1985, and smaller startups appear on an almost daily basis.
Traditionally known as an industrial hub, Pittsburgh has seen a revitalization in recent years, with booming healthcare, education and tourism sectors. Build your career with Pittsburgh-based organizations like the University of Pittsburgh, Allegheny Health Network and PNC Financial Services Group. After work, get your fill of culture at one of the city’s many art museums, or your sports fix from a Steelers or Penguins game.
While I can’t say I’m crazy about their basketball teams (#DubNation), there’s a lot to like about Cleveland: the culture, the proximity to Lake Erie and of course, the plentiful career opportunities. With a notably diverse economy, Cleveland houses everything from manufacturing companies like Sherwin-Williams to legal firms like Squire Patton Boggs and even to greeting card giant American Greetings. Don’t miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream or (sigh) watching the Cavaliers in action.
It may be known as the Gateway to the West, but St. Louis is also a destination in its own right. With a number of major corporations like Nestlé Purina, Panera and Anheuser-Busch, stunning tourist destinations like the Gateway Arch and a unique food scene comprised of quirky local dishes like St. Louis-style pizza, ribs and toasted ravioli, St. Louis has all of the benefits of a big city without the hefty price tag to match.
The second Ohio city to crack this list, Cincinnati proves that you don’t need to live in an expensive, coastal city in order to advance your career. In 2015, Cincinnati was named the fastest-growing economy in the Midwest, with major companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger and Fifth Third all headquartered there. But Cincy, as it’s affectionately known, isn’t all work and no play — some of its notable attractions include the zoo, the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Great American Ball Park, home to the Cincinnati Reds.
A city steeped in history, Birmingham is in the middle of an economic and cultural revival. The city was once known for its steel industry, and while companies like McWane are still prominent players in Birmingham’s local economy, it has also become one of the nation’s largest banking hubs, with Regions Financial and BBVA Compass both based there. Tourists and locals alike rave about the down home cooking, Civil Rights District and Ruffner Mountain Nature Center.
The largest city in the Show Me State, Kansas City is a hub for great barbecue, live music and, of course, plenty of open jobs. The federal government is one of the largest employers in KC, with a significant presence from the IRS, as well as healthcare organizations like Cerner and Saint Luke’s Health System. Kansas City boasts an impressive number of museums, from the National World War I Museum to the Arabia Steamboat Museum, and a burgeoning craft brewery scene.
Houston was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in late August, but a month and change in, the road to recovery has begun. And there is reason to be optimistic for Magnolia City’s future: “hiring has remained strong throughout the recent tragedy. Online job postings on Glassdoor today showed a slight dip following Hurricane Harvey, but have since recovered to above pre-storm levels,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain. Although restoration will be a long and gradual process, job opportunities abound at companies like Phillips 66, Memorial Hermann Health System and S & B Engineers and Constructors.
Photo credit: Getty
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Methodology:Affordability is determined by the ratio of median annual base salary to median metro home value. (Median annual base salary per metro based on at least 2,500 salary reports shared by local employees on Glassdoor over the past year [8/16/16-8/15/17]). Median home value is according to the Zillow Home Value Index for All Homes, as of June 2017). Number of job openings listed as of 10/1/17.