If you’re in the final stretch of your college career — first of all, congratulations! You’re one step closer to earning your degree and embarking on an exciting career path.
But if we’re being completely honest, throwing your grad cap in the air is also a little bittersweet. Graduating from college means packing your bags and leaving behind the place you’ve called home for several years. But don’t worry! Your next hometown can be just as amazing — if you know what to look for, of course. To help you determine the right fit, here are eight factors to consider when moving to a new city after college.
Landing your first job out of college can be tough, especially if you live in a city with a tough job market. Spend some time researching the economies and job markets in cities that you might want to live. What is the unemployment rate? How strong and diverse is the economy? What are the major industries in the city?
Additionally, be sure to look for potential opportunities within your industry. For instance, if you’re hoping to score a research position in a lab, you may want to search for a city with a slew of universities and medical institutions.
Size of City or Town
Do you prefer to live in a big city or a small town? (Spoiler alert: There is no wrong answer to this one.) While many young professionals enjoy living in a large metro with an active social scene, others prefer the slower pace and tightknit community of a small town. Perhaps you fall somewhere in between, in which case, a mid-sized city like Madison, Wisconsin or Asheville, North Carolina may be more to your liking. Another important thing to keep in mind is that smaller towns typically don’t have the same access to internships, co-ops, and other career opportunities compared to larger cities.
Cost of Living
The cost of living is another big factor that new college grads need to carefully consider. Large metros like New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are notoriously expensive places to live. However, these cities may be worth it if you can manage to snag a job with a high salary.
When researching cities to move to after college, use PayScale’s Cost of Living Calculator to figure out how much you’d need to make to maintain your current standard of living. Just plug in your current location, job title, and salary and the calculator will compare the cost of living between two cities.
Many college graduates often overlook demographics when choosing a city, which could be a big mistake. If you’re single and want to meet other college graduates, be sure to look at age demographics. How many other young professionals are living in the city?
BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) can also attest to the fact that demographics are important to consider in a new city. It can be incredibly awkward — not to mention, racially fatiguing — to live someplace where you are the only BIPOC person in the office.
Even the highest-paying jobs may not be worth the insane amount of traffic you might experience in some cities (looking at you, Boston). If you easily succumb to road rage, you should probably narrow your search to cities that have decent infrastructure.
Additionally, think about how you will commute to work. Do you prefer to ride your bike? Check the bike-ability score for each city or community on your shortlist. Do you plan to rely on public transportation? Look at average commute times for public transportation and the size of the transportation system. Metros with large transportation systems indicate that many commuters consider it a viable option to get around their city.
When it comes to weighing job offers and internship opportunities, don’t forget to consider the climate! If you’re about to wrap up four years of college at Arizona State University, moving to a city like Minneapolis or Detroit is probably going to be a huge adjustment for you, climate-wise.
Moving to a city that gets brutal winters can also be dangerous if you aren’t used to them. If you decide to go for it anyway, make sure that you research how to prepare your automobile for the cold, how to winterize your home, etc. Moving to a sunny locale? Pile on the sunscreen every day and be aware of heat exhaustion.
Everyone wants to feel safe where they live. While no large metro is without crime, some are better than others. Be sure to look up crime and safety statistics for any of the cities on your shortlist. Start with statistics from the most recent FBI crime reports. To get a more complete picture, you can hop on online forums like Reddit and Quora and ask long-time residents how safe they feel in their hometown.
Food and Entertainment
Although everyone’s social lives have taken a major hit since the pandemic, that won’t be the case forever. Once things pick back up again, you’ll want to hang out with other young people and have fun in your city.
Spend some time researching what residents your age do for fun by checking out local Meetup groups. What activities and hobbies are they into there? If you’re spiritual, research local churches, temples, and mosques in the city. And don’t forget to scope out the cultural scene. Look up sporting events, festivals, concerts, theater, and recreational activities that will help you strike the perfect balance between work and play.