The 15 best cities for new grads

The best cities for new grads tend to be home to colleges and universities, according to research by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

To make the ranking, researchers considered quality of life, including metrics such as the number of cultural destinations in the area, and the economic climate, including metrics such as the unemployment rate, labor force participation, and how many people worked in certain emerging industries. The AIER also measured the racial and ethnic diversity of each city. Finally, AIER researchers divided the rankings into large cities (population of 2.5 million people or more), midsize cities (1 million to 2.5 million) and small cities (250,000 to 1 million).

The top-ranked large cities are:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Boston
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Minneapolis
  5. Seattle

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The AIER notes that most of the top-ranked cities have a vibrant technology sector, especially San Francisco and Boston. These cities also tend to contain a high number of research universities that contribute to the local economies, the AIER writes.

The top-ranked midsize cities are:

  1. Denver, Colorado
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. Portland, Oregon
  4. San José, California
  5. Raleigh, North Carolina

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These cities have many of the qualities offered by the large cities, but according to the AIER, they tend to be more affordable because of lower rental prices and other lifestyle expenses. People living in these cities are well-educated and enjoy the cities' strong labor markets and lively music scenes, writes the AIER.

The top small cities are:

  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  2. Tallahassee, Florida
  3. Durham, North Carolina
  4. Madison, Wisconsin
  5. Gainesville, Florida

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Much of the quality of life for these cities is reliant on its universities. For example, the AIER suggests that Ann Arbor's racial diversity and economic climate is largely due to the University of Michigan. Higher education also plays a big role in the technology boom and the pharmaceutical industry in Durham, which is home to several large universities and associated medical schools, writes the AIER. But high-ranked small cities are also "quintessential college towns," which can be appealing to a person who's fresh out of college, the AIER writes (AIER research brief, accessed 7/11).


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