In ranking the best cities for young professionals, one has to keep in mind that it’s not like bright-eyed graduates are afforded the luxury of picking and choosing a job or place to live at their fancy. Most are lucky to secure an interview for an unpaid internship–which, as noted here, can really suck—let alone spreadsheet the pros and cons of nightlife in City A vs. City B.
But let’s save the total dream-crushing for another day and examine some of the elements that determine whether or not a city is ideal for a young professional. Factors like the unemployment rate, proliferation of Fortune 500 companies, population vs. job openings, cost of living, and cultural activity dictate the quality of life for a post-grad eager to gunsling their way up the corporate ladder.
Here are this year’s best cities for those young up-and-comers.
With an unemployment rate sitting nearly three points below the national average at 4.9%, and a plethora of educational institutions, Austin is an extremely educated and well employed city. The cost of living is a little higher than the national average, but the festivals, breweries, concerts, and abundance of cultural events make Austin a young professional’s dream city.
Kansas City, MO
Home to The Kauffman Foundation, the largest organization dedicated to entrepreneurship in the world, Kansas City is a place where new ideas can become profitable realities. Unemployment and cost of living are both below the national average, and twenty somethings will have plenty to do in the trendy, gentrified Westport neighborhood. Close proximity to one of the best breweries in the Midwest—Boulevard Brewing Company—doesn’t hurt either.
Atlanta is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies and dozens of universities, has an average starting salary of $43,000, and the cost of living is five points below the national average. The unemployment rate is a tad higher than average, but with the largest confluence of 18-34-year-olds in the U.S., young professionals will have plenty of networking to do. Young people will love the trendy Midtown neighborhood, and Der Biergarten, widely recognized as the best beer garden in America.
For those looking for bright lights in the big city, Boston is the place to be. Jobs for young professionals are popping up all over Bean Town, and the city is buzzing with new office and apartment construction. Yes, the cost of living is high, but you won’t need a vehicle to get around the city. Home to dozens of colleges, perennially successful professional sports teams, craft breweries and unique eateries, Boston has all the trappings of a perfect young professional town.
Des Moines, IA
Never heard of Des Moines? Well, listen up. People get hired and paid well in this Iowa city. The unemployment rate and cost of living are well below the national average, and the median household income is a healthy $58,000. Also, it’s a college town so it has a certain air of excitement, and many cultural events, museums, and art galleries have recently found a home in Des Moines.