The 20 Best Places to Live After College in the U.S.

San Jose, California

Your stage of life has a huge impact on how you prioritize the different factors you consider when choosing a place in which to live. For example, the quality of the schools in the area are not a concern for graduates and young professionals, but employment opportunities are probably high on their list of priorities. Other than finding somewhere to work, graduates also consider the overall lifestyle a location can offer them. They want a place that has leisure activities for them to enjoy and opportunities to socialize. A further factor they may consider is affordability, as most graduates are paying off student loans and trying to save for their future. If you are a graduate trying to decide where to live, here are the 20 best places for college graduates to live in the United States.

Gainesville

20. Gainesville, Florida

In the last position on this list of the best places to live after college in the United States is Gainesville, Florida. Home to the University of Florida, many of the university’s students remain living in this city after graduation. Therefore, the city has a larger than average population of young adults, with just under 30 percent of the residents in this category. More than 28 percent of the young adults living in Gainesville have at least a bachelor’s degree. The cost of living in this city is almost six percent below the national average.

Lincoln

19. Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska, and it is the state capital. Almost a quarter of the residents in this city are young adults, and just under a third of these have a bachelor’s degree. Young adults can make a decent living while living in Lincoln, as the median earnings for this demographic are around $28,000. It is also worth noting that the cost of living in Lincoln is 8.5 percent lower than the national average.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

18. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

The twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota are excellent places for young adults to live after college. Just over a fifth of the population of this business hub consists of young people, and more than a third of these have at least a bachelor’s degree. At just 4.1 percent, the unemployment rate amongst young people is low. The downside to choosing this location is that the cost of living is slightly above the national average. However, it is counteracted by the median earnings of young people, which is an impressive $32,000.

Midland, Texas

17. Midland, Texas

Located at the heart of the Permian Basin oil fields, the young people in this city have the highest median earnings at $45,000. Just under a quarter of the population is young people, and 22.4 percent of these have a bachelor’s degree. The cost of living in this city is on par with the national average.

Burlington, Vermont

16. Burlington, Vermont

Home to the University of Vermont, many students stay in the city after graduation. It explains why a 24 percent share of the city’s population is young adults and why a third of this group has obtained a bachelor’s degree. Unemployment rates in young people are low. However, it is worth noting that the cost of living is higher than the national average.

Raleigh, North Carolina

15. Raleigh, North Carolina

USA Today lists Raleigh in North Carolina as one of the best places to live after college in the United States. One reason for this is that the city boasts many leisure activities and opportunities for building a great social life. Just over a fifth of the population of Raleigh is young people, and more than 38 percent of these have a bachelor’s degree. It is also almost four percent below the national average for affordability. Therefore, it is unsurprising that 29.8 percent of the population are young adults. Columbia is home to the University of Missouri, and many of its former students have made the city their permanent home.

Columbia, Missouri

14. Columbia, Missouri

One appealing feature of living in Columbia for people who have graduated from college is the low cost of living. It is an affordable place to live as the cost of living is almost ten percent below the national average. However, the earnings potential is not as high as many of the locations on this list, with median earnings for young adults at $22,100.

Washington D.C.

13. Washington D.C.

Starting with the downside of living in the nation’s capital, the cost of living is significantly higher than the national average. However, there are many factors that counteract this negative point and make it a great place to live for graduates. The most notable of these is the higher than average median earnings for young adults, which is around $39,000. There are employment opportunities in many sectors for graduates, and residents of the capital city enjoy a good standard of living.

Des Moines, Iowa

12. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines is a major city in Iowa with a population of more than 217 thousand residents. Of these, a fifth are young adults, and just over a third of this demographic has a bachelor’s degree. There are excellent employment opportunities for young adults, and there is an unemployment rate of only 3.2 percent in this age group. The median earnings potential for young adults is high at $35,000, while the cost of living is around 6.5 percent below the national average.

Seattle, Washington

11. Seattle, Washington

The main reason that Seattle appeals to so many young adults after college is the employment opportunities with major companies. For example, Seattle is home to major tech companies, including Microsoft and Amazon. Almost 30 percent of the population of this city is young adults, and of these, 36.4 percent have a minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree. The major downside of choosing to make Seattle your home is the high cost of living, which is around 11.8 percent higher than the national average. On the plus side, the median earnings of young adults living in Seattle are approximately $38,000.

Austin, Texas

10. Austin, Texas

Home to the University of Texas, just under a quarter of Austin’s residents are young adults, and 34.5 percent of these have a bachelor’s degree. The living cost is on par with the national average, but the earning potential is relatively high, with the median earnings for young adults at $31,800. The unemployment rate amongst young people living in Austin is just 4.2 percent. Bankrate lists Austin as the best place to live in Texas overall, and they ranked the city particularly high in the culture category.

Denver, Colorado

9. Denver, Colorado

The popularity of Denver amongst millennials is continuing to increase, and one explanation for this is affordability. Many young people are moving from the East Coast and California due to the rocketing costs of housing. However, the cost of living in Denver is still above the national average. 22.4 percent of Denver’s population is young adults, and 37.1 percent of them have a bachelor’s degree.

Boston, Massachusetts

8. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is known as a city with high educational attainment, as it is home to several higher education institutions, including colleges and universities. Many of those who study at these educational establishments remain in Boston to take advantage of the employment opportunities, and the young adult unemployment rate is just 5.4 percent. It is estimated that 22.1 percent of Boston’s population is young adults, and a staggering 43.1 percent of these have obtained a bachelor’s degree. The downside to living in Boston is that the cost of living is more than 11 percent above the national average. However, the earnings potential is high as the median earnings of young adults is $38,000.

Lawrence, Kansas

7. Lawrence, Kansas

Home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence has one of the highest proportions of young adults of any city in the United States at 3.2 percent. Of these, 28.7 percent have a minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree. One reason that the city attracts young adults is the low cost of living, as Lawrence is 8.5 percent less expensive than the national average. The affordability is appealing to college graduates trying to pay off student loans and save for their future.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

6. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is a metro area in Michigan with a population of almost 114 thousand residents. Of these, 27 percent are young adults, and 38 percent of the young adults have a bachelor’s degree. Not only is Ann Arbor home to the University of Michigan, but it also boasts multiple attractions and leisure activities that make it an appealing place to live. Although the cost of living is a little over the national average, it is not significantly high enough to act as a deterrent for young people who want to live in this location.

San Francisco, California

5. San Francisco, California

The cost of living in San Francisco is high at more than 28 percent higher than the national average. However, this does not seem to deter young adults from living in the city. The cost of living is somewhat balanced by the median earnings of $40,000 of young adults. Yet, it is the diversity of the employment opportunities that draw many people to the city, as San Francisco is at the heart of Silicon Valley and the tech industry. Another appealing feature is the lifestyle San Francisco offers young people. Young adults have a 22 percent share of the city’s population, and a whopping 44.7 percent of this group have bachelor’s degrees.

Iowa City, Iowa

4. Iowa City, Iowa

The fourth best place to live after college in the United States is Iowa City, Iowa, which is home to the University of Iowa. It is a relatively affordable place to live, as the cost of living is 5.7 percent below the national average. The city’s population is just over 76 thousand, and just under 30 percent of the residents are young adults. Iowa City also offers young adults an excellent lifestyle with lots of leisure activities and opportunities to socialize.

Bismarck, North Dakota

3. Bismarck, North Dakota

The high median earnings of $38,000 for young adults is one of the biggest attractions for people looking for a place to live after college. Bismarck in North Dakota is also an affordable option, as the cost of living is seven percent lower than the national average. The city also has exceptionally low unemployment rates in young adults of just 2.6 percent. Overall, 21 percent of Bismarck’s residents are young adults, and 33.6 percent of the young adults have achieved a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

Ithaca, New York

2. Ithaca, New York

Many features of the lifestyle on offer in Ithaca, New York, are appealing to young people. It is known for its waterfalls, gorges, fantastic food scene, and its many attractions and leisure activities. Therefore, there are plenty of things for young adults to enjoy in the city. It is also home to Cornell University, and many people remain in the area after graduating from college. Young adults have a 30 percent share of the population, and 37.9 percent have a bachelor’s degree. The only negative aspect for young people moving to this area is the high cost of living, which is seven percent above the national average.

San Jose, California

1. San Jose, California

According to Business Insider, the best place to live after college in the United States is San Jose in California. The cost of living in this city is exceptionally high at 30.9 higher than the national average. However, the potential salaries are also significantly higher than the national average, as the median earnings for young adults is a pleasing $43,700. Therefore, the cost of living to income ratio is reasonable. It is the diverse range of employment opportunities that college graduates find appealing, especially for those looking for a career in the tech industry as San Jose is within Silicon Valley. The population share of young adults in San Jose is 22.2 percent, and 46.6 percent of the young adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.



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