Cue "Pomp and Circumstance," move the tassel on your mortarboard, and savor the moment. You've graduated. Degree in hand. Mission accomplished. An estimated 1.6 million Americans are receiving bachelor's degrees this year.
Moving home may not be the best option. Your room has been turned into a gym. You'll have to sleep on the couch and be forced to do your own laundry. Blech! Finding a job, however, ain't easy.
The national unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, but it's more than two points higher for recent college graduates. The Economic Policy Institute says 8.5 percent of recent grads don't have jobs, compared with 5.5 percent before the Great Recession. Many of those who do work are whipping up lattes or some other task not related to the degree they just spent a fortune earning.
Some cities are better magnets for millennials than others, though, cities with more jobs, better pay, and cheaper rents for young professionals. Plus they have a decent social scene.
Homes.com has combed through the data and come up with the "Top Cities for New Grads." One interesting note: There's no Silicon Valley on this list, no San Jose or San Francisco. Although those cities seem like natural places for graduates to gravitate to, it costs a fortune to live there, and that is a major factor in determining this top ten list.
#10: Washington, D.C.
The nation's capital may be 10th on the list, but it's tied for first in starting annual salaries for recent grads with bachelor's degrees, averaging $46,000. Unemployment is very low at 5.1 percent. That's government work for you! However, D.C. is not a cheap place to live, and the median price for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,600. As for the social scene, "From vivacious nightlife and world-class dining to world-renowned museums and cultural attractions, there are endless forms of entertainment options for 20-somethings."
Beantown starting salaries match those in Washington, D.C.--$46,000--with comparable rents and an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent. But Boston also "boasts one of the largest populations of 18 to 24 year olds," thanks, in part, to the 21 nearby colleges and universities. It's like you never graduated!
The Emerald City is home to some of the most successful and diverse companies in America - Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Costco, and it's a major hub for Boeing. "Seattle has endless entry-level job opportunities for young college grads." The average entry-level income is $39,000, less than Boston and D.C., but median rents for a one-bedroom apartment is also less, $1,300 a month. The city is also attractive to a new generation for its "clean and green environment." Recreational marijuana is also now legal in Seattle for adults over the age of 21.
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See above regarding marijuana. Same for Denver, too. The unemployment rate in Denver is close to the national average, 6.5 percent, but it has an attractive salary-to-rent ratio, with average entry-level income at $35,000, while median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is only $970. "The city also houses the most bars per capita, as well as an energetic and affordable social scene for recent college grads to enjoy."
Raleigh's average income matches Denver's, but the rent is cheaper ($800). "Raleigh's cost of living is one of the lowest on the list." The city is home to three universities, and here culture, jobs, and climate all come together in a place which feels more like a small town than a big city. It's hard to imagine a more desirable place to launch into the professional world." Well, apparently there are five more cities Homes.com imagined are more desirable...
#5: Minneapolis-St. Paul
This town was made for newcomers. Homes.com says 82,000 residents are between the ages of 25 and 34. Can they find jobs? Yes. The Twin Cities has the lowest unemployment rate on the list at 5 percent, as it's home to corporate giants such as PepsiCo and Target. The average entry-level income for recent grads is $32,000, and the median price of a one-bedroom apartment is $900 a month. "With more than 50 percent of homes in Minneapolis listed as rentals and roughly 5 percent of them currently unoccupied, finding 'home sweet home' is relatively easy."
#4: St. Louis
This might surprise a few people, considering the unemployment rate in St. Louis is 8.2 percent. But Homes.com put it high on the list, pointing out that Forbes named the city the happiest place for post-graduates in 2012, "based on overall career happiness among those with jobs requiring less than two years of work experience as well as the average cost of living-adjusted salary in each city." The average entry-level annual income is $38,000, the median rent for a one-bedroom is $960, and there are loads of cultural institutions that starving graduates can get into for free, like museums and zoos.
Now we're talking. With Houston, we get back up above $40,000 on this list for average entry-level income. In Houston's case, it's $41,000. Rents are very reasonable, $800 for a one-bedroom, and the Houston Business Journal reports there's a building boom of one-bedroom apartments, some as small as 600 square feet, to "court pampered millennials." The unemployment rate is low, 5.7 percent, there are 24 Fortune 500 companies based here, and CreditDonkey.com calls it the top city for young couples.
Texas strikes again! For one thing, your money goes farther here since there are no state income taxes. The average entry-level annual income is $38,000 (lower than Houston), and median rents for a one-bedroom are $900 (higher than Houston), but Homes.com puts "Big D" higher on the list than Houston because it's got more to offer outside of work. "Home to five professional sports teams, one for every major American team sport, Dallas offers an abundance of athletic events, entertainment, and professional options to residents."
Hot-lanta! The average entry-level salary is $43,000, which Homes.com says is 21 percent above the national average. And while it's still not as high as those in Boston or Washington, D.C., living in Atlanta costs only half as much. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $800. There are plenty of good, well-paying jobs in the Georgia capital, as Atlanta "holds the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies" that include Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines and UPS. And the city also provides young grads with opportunities to continue their educational endeavors, with 19 nearby colleges and universities. Peachy!