Money Talks, So Should You

10 good cities for college grads to settle (or stay) in

Life is cheaper for college graduates down South and in the Southwest. What do you say to Phoenix, young grad?

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — College graduates are hitting the streets this summer looking for a good job in their chosen field and a good place to call home when the workday is done.

The job part of that equation is tough enough. According to The Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate for Americans 25 and under is 22 percent, adjusted for the decline in the labor force since the start of the Great Recession.

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The “place to live” part of the equation is easier, but only marginally.

The National Association of Realtors looks at multi-family housing and finds plenty of cities where vacancy rates sticking below 5 percent in coming quarters and considered by landlords as “justifying higher rents.”

“Average apartment rentals are likely to increase 4.6 percent this year and another 4.6 percent in 2014,” the association says.

Grads may see some help in the form of’s recent Top 10 Cities for Recent College Graduates list.

“We have been compiling this list of best cities for recent college graduates annually for the past six years," says Dick Burke, senior vice president at "Each year, we adjust our methodology to ensure we are reflecting ever-evolving economic and social trends on a regular basis. This year's efforts have resulted in a list that represents affordability in tandem with professional opportunity, while taking into consideration the all-important-youthful culture and demographics that appeal to recent grads."

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Here’s how rates the rental picture among U.S. cities on a “quality of life” basis, along with the average price for a one-bedroom apartment rental:

1. Phoenix, Ariz. $708
2. Orlando, Fla. $857
3. San Antonio, Texas $794
4. Columbus, Ohio $ 634
5. Austin, Texas $1,006
6. Raleigh, N.C. $788
7. Oklahoma City, Okla. $722
8. Fort Worth, Texas $795
9. Dallas, Texas $983
10. Minneapolis $1,177

In a word, life is cheaper for college graduates down South and Southwest, with eight of the 10 top cities in that geographic demographic and four alone in Texas.

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Of course, the standard of living is less expensive in Austin than in New York City, and that has to be taken into account by college graduates in their hunt for a good salary package, in addition to the hunt for a good place to live.

Another hint from the list: Most of those “top 10” locales are college towns, meaning graduates from schools such as the University of Texas in Austin and Ohio State in Columbus should stay right where they are — if they can land a job there.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.