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The 5 Best Cities to Start Your Career in 2017

Topics: Data & Research
Austin, via Anne Worner/Flickr

Where you choose to live has an impact on your financial success after graduation, just like what you chose to study and which college you attended. Cost-of-living is only one part of the story (although it’s a significant factor, to be sure). The fact is, not every city offers the same opportunities for recent grads — or the infrastructure to support them as they embark on new careers, often without a significant financial cushion to fall back on. The best cities for newly minted workers are those that offer good jobs, easy commutes, economic opportunity — and fun.

Recently, WalletHub released its list of the best cities for those just starting out in their careers. They ranked the 150 largest cities in the U.S. according to 23 metrics, including availability of entry-level jobs, median salary, housing affordability, commute, and fun-friendliness.

These were the cities at the top of the list:

1. Salt Lake City, UT

The area boasts five national parks and numerous ski resorts, as well as museums, festivals, and other cultural attractions. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy a home game of the Utah Jazz or Real Salt Lake, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, as well as a number of minor league teams. Work-wise, the metro is home to Goldman Sachs, Huntsman Corporation, Adobe, eBay, and 3M, among other companies.

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Professional Opportunities Rank: 1

Quality of Life Rank: 1

2. Orlando, FL

The theme park capital of the world is home to Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Epcot Center … and Gatorland, where you can wrestle an alligator at “Rookie Wrestling.” (Yes, really.)  Economically, Orlando is known as a major research, manufacturing and tech center, and is home to Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Veritas/Symantec, and multiple military installations. Just don’t move to Orlando for the beach — the city is landlocked.

Professional Opportunities Rank: 5

Quality of Life Rank: 4

3. Austin, TX

A “blue dot in a red state,” Austin is famous for keeping it weird, even as the city grows. And it’s growing: Forbes notes that employment has grown over 50 percent since 2000, and that the metro is now adding jobs at three times the rate of New York and 10 times the rate of Chicago. Booming industries include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and tech.

Professional Opportunities Rank: 6

Quality of Life Rank: 6

4. Grand Rapids, MI

The second-largest city in Michigan, and former home of President Gerald Ford, Grand Rapids boasts a growing healthcare industry, as well as manufacturing companies focused on furniture, autos, and avionics. Culturally, it’s known for public art, craft breweries, and outdoor recreation.

Professional Opportunities Rank: 3

Quality of Life Rank: 19

5. Tempe, AZ

Tempe headquarters Insight Enterprises, First Solar, Lifelock, and Circle K, among other companies, and is also home to Arizona State University’s main campus. The city boasts one of the country’s largest New Year’s Eve parties, the Fiesta Bowl block party, one of the state’s largest shopping malls, and multiple performance venues and museums. And, if you’re just starting out and don’t have much in the way of furniture, you’ll be interested to know that Tempe is also home to the largest IKEA in the west.

Professional Opportunities Rank: 19

Quality of Life Rank: 3

For the full ranking, see WalletHub’s list, 2017’s Best and Worst Places to Start a Career.

Tell Us What You Think

Were you surprised to see where your city fell on the list? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Have you lived in any of these cities for more than a year? Did you start your career in these cities?

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