Personal Finance

The Best Cities for Young Professionals

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Sorry to say this, but young people could be facing a rough road ahead. The unemployment rate for recent grads could easily double the rate that the country faces overall. But your chances of landing a good job and thriving after college can be greater if you look in the right places.

We’ve sifted through employment data, personal income information (per capita) and cities with the most Fortune 500 companies (after all, the companies there often define the job market in an area) and here are the best metro areas for young professionals.

They may not be the most obvious cities a recent grad might think of working in, but check out the average incomes, low unemployment rates and median spending on rent, gas and dining out, according to Bundle data for 18- to 25-year-olds.

New York

The New York metro area is without a doubt a great place for young professionals. The cost of living may be much higher than small towns (note that what we list below is average and what you actually spend could easily be half that), but there are many more employment opportunities and chances to work at companies on Fortune magazine’s list of top U.S. corporations called the Fortune 500.

The New York metro area, which includes northern New Jersey and Long Island, is home to 59 of the 500 companies on the Fortune 500.

Unemployment rate: 9.0%
Average income: $54,914
Number of Fortune 500 companies: 59
Metro area median rent: $2,500
Gas: $169
Dining out: $319

Washington, DC

The Washington DC metro area, including parts of Virginia and Maryland, is home to top companies in several business sectors, which could make it a good city for young, hopeful professionals to look for a job. And it isn’t just good for those who’ve studied politics.

DC is home to aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics as well as Capital One Financial, Marriott International and Coventry Health Care, so even those who are still undecided about their career paths have opportunities here, and they’re comparatively well-paid too.

Unemployment rate: 6.1%
Average income: $56,824
Number of Fortune 500 companies: 17
Metro area median rent: $2,200
Gas: $119
Dining out: $539

Dallas, Texas

You may not be the next oil tycoon if you move to Dallas seeking job opportunities. Actually, Exxon Mobil, headquartered in Dallas, probably has that sector covered.

But for a city as big as it is, the unemployment rate is relatively low, due in part to the presence of consumer products company Kimberly-Clark, calculator-maker Texas Instruments and video game retailer GameStop.

Unemployment rate: 8.5%
Average income: $41,667
Number of Fortune 500 companies: 22
Metro area median rent: $1,020
Gas: $161
Dining out: $288

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is considered one of the insurance capitals of the United States. It’s home to 70 insurance companies, according to City Data.

Fortune 500 retailers including Limited Brands and Big Lots are headquartered here, but the federal government is actually the third largest employer in the area, where it operates the military’s Defense Supply Center. Plus, rent is relatively cheap here.

Unemployment rate: 8.5%
Average income: $38,741
Number of Fortune 500 companies: 4
Metro area median rent: $710
Gas: $135
Dining out: $311

Houston, Texas

Houston is home to a long list of Fortune 500 companies including ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and several other energy companies. Plus the cost of living in Houston is 38 percent lower than the average among large metro areas, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Unemployment rate: 8.8%
Average income: $45,835
Number of Fortune 500 companies: 24
Metro area median rent: $970
Gas: $209
Dining out: $302

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