HT logo
by Heytutor Blog
I'm an experienced writer with 10+ years writing experience. Topics include; Educations, Politics, Technology & Other

The best cities for recent college graduates

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo


More people are pursuing higher education in the U.S. than ever before. Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics shows that the percentage of adults with a postsecondary degree rose from 36.5 percent to 45.7 percent over the past 15 years. Over 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees were conferred during the 2016-2017 school year, up 57 percent compared to 2000-2001.


While the overall educational attainment of people living in rural areas has improved significantly, urban areas remain the epicenters of higher education. America’s cities not only foster education among their residents, but also attract people from around the world to attend American universities and work in American companies post graduation.


Fortunately, it is a great time to be entering the workforce. Unlike members of the millennial generation—who largely finished college during the worst part of the Great Recession—the young adults of today (Generation Z) are entering the labor force following the longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history. For recent college graduates, it’s a job seeker’s market.


TRENDING ON HEYTUTOR

It can be tough finding a good tutor. HeyTutor connects families with a network of private tutors and local tutors that are subject experts. Browse through our physics tutors, math tutors, and english tutors to get started.



That said, employment opportunities, income, and cost of living vary widely across the U.S. For recent graduates, it’s important to find a city that offers the right balance between all three. To find which U.S. cities provide the best opportunities for recent graduates, tutoring firm HeyTutor analyzed data from the American Community Survey, County Business Patterns, and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Its researchers created a composite score based on the following metrics:

  • Median income for recent college graduates

  • Unemployment rate for recent college graduates (lower is better)

  • Median rent (lower is better)

  • Median home value (lower is better)

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses per 1k recent college graduates

  • Proportion of population that are recent college graduates

  • Cost of living (lower is better)

 

For the purpose of this analysis, recent college graduates are defined as residents ages 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, not currently in school. To improve geographic relevance, HeyTutor’s researchers only considered major metropolitan areas with at least 1 million residents. Here’s what they found: 

Key findings:

  • The median income for all recent college graduates in the U.S. is $37,000 per year. Among large metropolitan areas, this ranges from a high of more than $65,000 per year in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara to a low of $30,000. This statistic includes all recent graduates (working full or part-time) with income.

  • The national unemployment rate for recent college graduates is a low 3.7 percent. Similar to income, unemployment rates vary significantly by location—from less than 1 percent up to 8.2 percent among large metros.

  • Among the 53 metropolitan areas with more than 1 million residents, rent ranges from a low of $772 per month to a high of $2,213 per month. The national median monthly rent is just over $1,000. 

  • The proportion of recent college graduates in a given metropolitan area is generally low, ranging from less than 1 percent up to 3.5 percent. A few percentage points means a lot within this small range.

  • The 10 best large metropolitan areas for recent college graduates are not what one might expect. Neither New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, nor Washington D.C. made the cut. The best locations are generally not on either coast. The top 10 locations offer competitive wages, lower living costs, employment opportunities, and plenty of fun for residents outside of the office. 

The best large metropolitan areas for recent graduates


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Rochester, NY

  • Median income for recent graduates: $38,376

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 3.1%

  • Median rent: $870

  • Median home value: $144,500

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 23.8 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 1.9%

  • Cost of living: 2% below average


Located on the south bank of Lake Ontario, Rochester was one of America’s original boomtowns and also the birthplace of industrial giants like Xerox and Kodak. Today, Rochester still hosts a number of Fortune 1000 businesses and is praised for being a “highly livable” city. The Rochester metro has rent prices far below the national median. Even more appealing to recent college graduates interested in purchasing their first homes, the area has the lowest median home price of all large metros. The University of Rochester is the largest employer in the area.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

  • Median income for recent graduates: $48,056

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 1.9%

  • Median rent: $1,061

  • Median home value: $247,900

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 19.2 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.1%

  • Cost of living: 1.5% above average


The Greater Hartford metropolitan area sits in the center of Connecticut. Its primary city, Hartford, is also the state’s capital and one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Hartford is perhaps best known for its prominence in the American insurance industry for which the city derives its nickname—the “Insurance Capital of the World.” Recent graduates moving to Hartford are likely to find numerous employment opportunities in the sector. The industry’s presence might also explain why Hartford has one of the highest median incomes for recent college graduates of any large metro—more than $10,000 above the national median. A lively arts and entertainment community helps make Hartford an attractive place to live.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

  • Median income for recent graduates: $39,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 3.5%

  • Median rent: $772

  • Median home value: $148,900

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 20.4 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.1%

  • Cost of living: 5.6% below average


Located in upstate New York, the Buffalo metropolitan area features a cost of living 5.6 percent below the national average. Notably, the $772 median rent in Buffalo is also the lowest on this list. Recent college graduates interested in moving to Buffalo may consider working for major employers in the healthcare, banking, or manufacturing industries. Outside of the office, young professionals can explore the nearby Niagara Falls, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and a variety of ski resorts.


DID YOU KNOW?

Becoming a tutor is a great way to make money after college. HeyTutor has dozens of open tutoring jobs near you. One of our most popular jobs is math tutoring.




Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Oklahoma City, OK

  • Median income for recent graduates: $32,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 0.9%

  • Median rent: $851

  • Median home value: $156,800

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 19.5 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 1.6%

  • Cost of living: 8.4% below average


Oklahoma City may have the lowest median income on this list, but it also has a below average unemployment rate, a low median rent, and a low cost of living. This means that the money earned by recent college graduates stretches farther here than many other large metros. While Oklahoma City is best known for its history as a major center for livestock production, other economic sectors in the city include energy, bioscience, and aviation. Recent graduates will also be attracted to Oklahoma City’s thriving entertainment and cultural scene. The city’s Film Row district was once home to movie studios like Warner Bros., but in recent years it has been transformed into a neighborhood with bars, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Median income for recent graduates: $37,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 2.2%

  • Median rent: $794

  • Median home value: $153,300

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 19.9 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.2%

  • Cost of living: 5.7% below average


The “Steel City” is known for more than its roots as a manufacturing town. Today, young professionals in Pittsburgh work in a variety of industries like healthcare, information technology, and finance. While the median income for recent graduates in Pittsburgh is the same as the national median, the cost of living is 5.7 percent below average. Recent college grads can find plenty of fun in the downtown area at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers, which features numerous parks, museums, and art galleries.

 


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

  • Median income for recent graduates: $40,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 3.1%

  • Median rent: $790

  • Median home value: $165,500

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 19.2 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 1.8%

  • Cost of living: 10.4% below average


Located on the shores of the Ohio River, Cincinnati is one of the most affordable large metros in the U.S. with a cost of living that’s 10.4 percent below average. At the same time, the median income for recent graduates in Cincinnati is $3,000 higher than the national median. Cincinnati's diversified economy means that recent graduates can seek employment in a wide range of fields like education, healthcare, manufacturing, and professional services. Some of the major arts and recreation centers in Cincinnati include the Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Art Museum, and Cincinnati Music Hall.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Median income for recent graduates: $38,177

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 0.3%

  • Median rent: $887

  • Median home value: $148,800

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 14.9 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 1.4%

  • Cost of living: 9% below average


Among all large metros in the U.S., Memphis boasts the lowest unemployment rate for recent graduates, at 0.3 percent. A few of the city’s major employers include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, FedEx, and International Paper. With below average living costs and above average incomes, Memphis provides recent graduates with more disposable income than many other destinations. The city’s famous Beale Street area features plenty of concerts, festivals, clubs, and trendy restaurants.


TRENDING ON HEYTUTOR

Applying to college? Work with a HeyTutor SAT tutor and ACT tutor to get you ready for the test.




Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN

  • Median income for recent graduates: $36,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 1.3%

  • Median rent: $1,030

  • Median home value: $242,900

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 27.1 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.6%

  • Cost of living: 5.6% below average


Renowned for country music, Nashville has the highest number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments on this list: 27.1 per 1,000 recent graduates. The Nashville metro area has a relatively low cost of living and a median rent that is about the same as the national median. Major employers include Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nissan, and Amazon.com. Among the metros on this list, Nashville has the highest proportion of recent college graduates, at 2.6 percent. Recreation opportunities include the walking trails at Centennial Park, Titans games at Nissan Stadium, and music performances at the Grand Ole Opry.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Median income for recent graduates: $40,000

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 2.3%

  • Median rent: $789

  • Median home value: $150,400

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 23.3 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 1.6%

  • Cost of living: 9.8% below average


Cleveland’s robust job market, low cost of living, and diverse recreational options are highly attractive to recent graduates. The region’s biggest employer is the Cleveland Clinic—a hospital that is often cited as one of the best hospitals in the nation and employs more than 119,000 people in Ohio alone. Relatively low rent and home prices contribute to this metro’s affordability, and the overall cost of living is 9.8 percent below average. There are 23.3 recreation establishments for every 1,000 graduates, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Nearby Lake Erie offers recent college graduates numerous recreational opportunities including sailing, swimming, and hiking. Cleveland is also home to several major sports teams including the Browns in the NFL, the Indians in the MLB, and the Cavaliers in the NBA.



Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

  • Median income for recent graduates: $37,712

  • Unemployment rate for recent graduates: 0.8%

  • Median rent: $886

  • Median home value: $162,200

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses: 16.9 per 1k recent grads

  • Share of population that are recent graduates: 2.2%

  • Cost of living: 7.2% below average


Nicknamed “The Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis is an ideal destination for recent college graduates. This Midwest city has a low unemployment rate, a lower-than-average cost of living, and ample opportunities for career growth. A few of the major industries in Indianapolis are manufacturing, technology, sports, and agribusiness. Although Indianapolis has fewer recreation establishments per 1,000 college graduates than the national average, the Indianapolis Artsgarden and the Indianapolis Speedway host plenty of events to keep residents happy.


Methodology & full results

The statistics pertaining to recent college graduates (income, unemployment, and population) are from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Public Use Microdata Sample. For the purpose of this analysis, recent college graduates are defined as residents ages 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, not currently in school.


Median rents and median home values are not specific to recent college graduates and are from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate summary tables. Cost of living data is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities. The number of arts, entertainment, and recreational establishments in each metro is from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 County Business Patterns.

 

To create the rankings, a composite score was calculated based on the following metrics:


  • Median income for recent college graduates: 15%

  • Unemployment rate for recent college graduates: 15%

  • Median rent: 15%

  • Median home value: 15%

  • Arts, entertainment, & recreation businesses per 1k recent college graduates: 15%

  • Cost of living: 15%

  • Share of population that are recent college graduates: 10%


Only the top 10 large metros were included in the final list. For complete results across all large metropolitan areas (greater than 1 million residents). See the graph below:



Top Posts

Education: In Person Tutoring vs Group Tutoring by Heytutor Blog
Education: How To Get Into The Best Colleges by Heytutor Blog
Education: Does Going to College Matter? by Heytutor Blog
Education: The Advantages of Final Exam Tutoring by Heytutor Blog

More Articles to Read

Education

The Most Diverse Cities in the United States

Diversity is not only an important social justice issue, but overwhelming evidence shows that diversity fosters a variety of benefits for workplaces, schools, and communities.