After You Graduate, Where Will You Live?
With college commencement ceremonies now underway, experts are serving up suggestions for the best places new grads should live with an eye toward gaining employment, of course. Both Forbes and Kiplinger’s have recently released their respective lists of best cities with only Dallas and Houston showing up on each one.
Whether you choose to abide by the Forbes list or Kiplinger’s findings — or perhaps a combination of the two — you may find that no city offers anything close to the familiar or what you can get by returning back home or staying near your campus. In any case, you have some good choices available including a few you may not have considered previously.
With a degree in hand, the last thing you may want to do is return home. After all, college is a stepping stone to bigger and better things, not a step back to the familiar.
Clearly, living under your parent’s roof has advantages, especially if you get along well with your family and your financial footing is precarious at best. By living at home, you can find work locally and begin to save money for a place of your own. If you met your future spouse while at college, living at home can help you save money for your wedding and perhaps assemble enough cash to put money down on a new home.
Choosing a City
The reason why lists from Kiplinger’s, Forbes and others are so popular is that they give you a good idea where the jobs are. Unemployment for recent college grads is a problem, magnified when student loans are part of the equation.
Consider cities with lower unemployment, a rising and diversified population base and affordable housing. You may find that a community of people in their 20s and 30s is most appealing especially if the services, entertainment options and cultural amenities are desirable. For some grads, the community trumps nearly everything else except perhaps the job.
What to Avoid
Big cities are still job magnets, but the downside here is huge: finding affordable places to live. Indeed, new grads that have their eyes set on New York City will soon learn that an affordable apartment means sharing a place with three other adults and carving out an area that may be too small except for sleeping purposes. Living in the outer boroughs or in New Jersey can help control these costs, but then you’re no longer close to the action and you’ll still have to factor in your commuting costs.
Other large cities may have other problems such as poor job growth, high unemployment, a high cost of living and a deteriorating housing base. Some large cities such as Houston and Dallas avoid these problems due to rapid job growth and a lower cost of living.
Making a Decision
Ultimately, the place you choose to live may have nothing to do with its location or cost, but one important matter: a job with your name on it is there. College grads likely understand that they won’t be staying with one company throughout their careers and even while they are with one company they may find themselves transferred. And even if a metropolitan area is not on your list or anyone else’s list for that matter, consider that your new place of residence may provide personal growth opportunities you might have missed if you settled for the comfortable or the familiar.