Top Cities for Recent College Graduates

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citiesAccording to CareerBuilder, things are looking up for recent college graduates. More than half of employers (53 percent) in the U.S. plan to hire recent grads in 2013, a number that is notably higher than the 44 percent in 2010.

However, the economic status of recent graduates can be affected by their decision to reside in one area over another.  The key is to identify cities that have low unemployment rates, high projected job growth, and affordable housing to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. A bustling, vibrant city life and plenty of extracurricular activities is also conducive to the professional and personal networking circles that graduates need.

Based on this criteria, here are four cities in the United States that attract many college graduates. Some of them may surprise you:

Salt Lake City

One of the best starting-out cities in the United States, the median salary is high ($41, 300), while the cost of living for renters is actually 1. 5 percent below the national average. In addition, the unemployment rate is only 5 percent with The University of Utah and Delta Airlines as the city’s top employers. Adobe, the software company, is projected to add 1,100 new jobs to its new facility south of the city.

Salt Lake is ripe with outdoor activities for the nature lover, named by National Geographic as one of the best U.S. cities for hiking. Having hosted the 2002 Olympic Games, the city is also a popular ski destination. But the region also hosts some of the nation’s favorite literary festivals: Utah Art Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Sundance Festival in Park City.


Everything is bigger in Texas. That’s because the state is expected to add 250,000 jobs in 2013, with a large portion going to Houston. ExxonMobil is moving employees from Ohio and Virginia to its new campus for 10,000 employees. Other top employers include University of Houston, BP America and Memorial Hermann Health System.

With an average apartment rent of $1,275, they’re only 8.2 percent above the national average. Plus this cosmopolitan city has something for everyone, with a rich culture and vibrant nightlife. Even regulars can enjoy a concert, ballet, or film at the Miller Outdoor Theatre or the 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston.


The reason Boulder is great for college grads (despite its quiet location in the Rocky Mountains) is due to its extremely low unemployment rate for 20-somethings at 7.9 percent, coupled with a low cost of living. Large-scale employers include University of Colorado Boulder, IBM, and Ball Aerospace.

Graduates who embrace a green lifestyle will appreciate the city’s focus on sustainable living, efforts to reduce pollution, and resolve to protect its beautiful mountain backdrop from development. In addition to endless opportunities for climbers, hikers, and bikers, the city offers free tours for beverage-lovers at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory and Boulder Beer Company.


America’s sixth-largest city now sports a higher population of 20-somethings, contrary to the golf-and-retirees reputation the city often gets. The cost of living for renters here is only 1 percent above the national average.  With affordable housing and an expected job growth of 2.1 percent for the coming year, the city is more attractive than ever.   State Farm Insurance and USAA are expected to add thousands of jobs to their new facilities, and others gravitate toward major employers Banner Health, Raytheon, and Arizona State University.

Not short on desert charms, downtown Phoenix has Chase Field and the U.S. Airways Arena for sports fans. The Phoenix Art Museum, Herberger Theatre, and Symphony Hall showcase the city’s passion for the arts. Offering 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, Phoenix South Mountain Park and Preserve is the largest municipal park in the United States.


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