You’re halfway through the second semester of your senior year, and now it’s time to start thinking about what happens after graduation. It’s an exciting and nerve-racking moment. There are loads of questions you’ll need to answer to find just the right location to begin your professional career: Where should you settle? What kind of jobs are available? Is rent really high? Are there other social activities in the area?
Stop. Don’t panic. You’ve still got time and this handy list that will help get you started on the path to finding the perfect place for you to begin ‘adulting.’
- Lincoln, Nebraska*
While it may be in the Corn Belt, Lincoln boasts a booming economy for jobs in construction, state government, health care, financial services and manufacturing. Its unemployment rate is 2.1 percent. If you like the down-home feel and job security, this might be the city for you.
- Provo, Utah
You’ll find a rapidly growing tech and health care industry in Provo, and it’s also ranked one of the smartest cities in the country. It has a great downtown area full of history and character, so even if you’re a history nerd or a techy, this would be a great place to put down some roots.
- Boulder, Colorado
Boulder has an unemployment rate lower than the national average and caters to individuals in the education and tech industry. It’s also a great place to live for those who love the outdoors with 150 miles of biking and hiking trails. Plus, there is always the laid-back attitude that always comes with living in Colorado.
- Champagne-Urbana, Illinois
Home to the state’s largest university, the little city in the country is a great way to get yourself started. Not only is the median income $42,077 , but it was also rated one of the country’s best college towns in 2014. So, you won’t be short on things to do – and spend some of your hard-earned money – once you move on in.
- Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is full-up on social activities for everyone – history, breweries, music, farmer’s markets. It’s also an extremely drivable city with lower average rates of traffic per year, low insurance rates and the average price of gasoline is under $2. It has a growing hipster vibe that is completely agreeable for a recently graduate and career-hungry millennial.
- Cincinnati, Ohio
A city for the urban lover who doesn’t want to sacrifice the green, Cincinnati is home to a park system with 5,000 acres of that beautiful nature. Downside: it has a higher rate of unemployment than other cities on the list even though it’s still below the national average. Bonus: it’s full of fellow millennials ‑ 27 percent of the area and growing – so that job/apartment hunt will be easier and more enjoyable.
- Seattle, Washington
Seattle has more to offer than endless amounts of Starbucks lattes. You’ll find that 28 percent of the population is between 20-34 years-old, and it’s also labeled one of the country’s five best cities for singles – always a bonus for young professionals looking for a good time out on the town after work. It’s also a tech hub for giants like Microsoft and Amazon, so you’ll find some great entry-level positions in this bustling, young metropolis.
- Austin, Texas
If the city’s slogan – Keep Austin Weird – doesn’t already sell you, it won’t take much more for this fun, eclectic anomaly in Texas to win you over. It has a low cost of living and high quality of life, ranking fourth out of 10 in 2015 for millennial jobs. You simply can’t go wrong.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
The last couple of years have been one of economic success in this metropolitan city. One-third of the new jobs created have also been in the higher-paying fields sought after by graduates like you, and the millennial population is a whopping 31 percent. You even have the bonus of choosing the quaint suburban city of St. Paul right next door if you’re looking for a more homey feel for your residence.
- Washington, D.C.
D.C. is constantly on lists like this for a reason: It is the political center of our nation’s capital, but also has a bar/food scene that is exploding. There is no shortage of things to do, and being the national hub it is, also attracts some of the country’s brightest. If you’re ready for that fast-paced environment, D.C. is for you.
If none of these places seem to fit the bill, you can take a look at[this great resource from the American Institute for Economic Research. It’ll give you some hard numbers to look at and compare. Moving out on your own can be a scary thing, but focus on the positives and the excitement of putting to work what you’ve studied so hard to achieve.