Getting a foot in the door when you’re just starting your career (or just trying to get started in a new-to-you career or industry) can be tough in most major cities where the cost of living is high, competition is fierce and the better salaries are reserved for those with the most experience.
But you have to start somewhere, right?
To help you launch your new career, we’ve gathered a list of the best U.S. cities where starting a career is MUCH easier than in other places around the nation. We used various data sources to come up with this list including individual city job growth data and GOBankingRates‘ research of cities with highest-paying jobs and lowest cost of living.
While the location you choose for your new career is only one thing that matters in a whole list of other potentially important factors (like competition, time of year, your background, etc.), this list will at least give you some helpful food for thought if you’re considering a relocation as part of your career plans.
The overall cost of living index is just 97.2 in Charlotte (as a note, 100 is the National Average) – and the housing cost of living is even lower at 91. A studio apartment is quite affordable at $724 a month in the city and $636 in the suburbs. The median household income is $53,274 a year and the unemployment rate is low at just 4.5%. Perhaps most notable is the recent job growth in the area: an increase of 3.5% in the last year alone and project growth of 42.5% in the next ten years.
Although you can find work in nearly any industry in the Charlotte area, banking and distribution are it’s primary “breadwinners.” You can learn more about opportunities and employers in Charlotte by searching for companies here.
Dallas offers an exceptionally low median home cost at just $187,700 and a reasonable overall cost of living at 95.2. You can rent a studio apartment for just $650 a month, but it’s important to note that utilities tend to cost 20% more in Dallas than in average US cities, so you’ll want to budget for the increase. That should be a breeze considering the average household income in Dallas is $63,812: over $7,000 more than the rest of the state and over $6,000 more than the rest of the US.
Major industries in Dallas include finance, defense, IT, life sciences, transportation, and telecommunications, making it an excellent choice for young professionals. One company with good employee reviews is Conduent Incorporated; you can learn more about them here.
Tampa is a great place to start looking for that first opportunity, especially if you’re hoping for great pay and affordable living options. The cost of living index for housing is just 86, significantly below the national average, and the overall cost of living index (which includes all other cost categories) in Tampa is 94.1. An average household income of $66,687 combined with affordable living and a bustling night life making Tampa, Florida, Nirvana for new grads.
You can expect to find a wide variety of employment opportunities in Tampa, but might focus your search if you’re looking to work in one of their major industries: avionics, defense, and marine electronics, financial services, business, tourism, manufacturing, and marine sciences.
Omaha’s offerings are highly diversified, which means that no matter your major you’re likely to find a fit in Omaha, Nebraska. Home to the headquarters of five Fortune 500 companies and 30 manufacturing plants for Fortune 500 companies, Omaha is the promised land for young professionals.
Omaha offers the lowest cost of living on our list yet at just 88; housing is even lower yet at 76. In fact, you can rent a studio apartment for an average of $515 a month. That’s unheard of! The average household income is also above average at $62,247.
Explore Omaha’s top employers to make the most informed decision by searching through companies here.
While Boston was not featured as a top city according to the cost of living index we’ve been referring to throughout the above city descriptions (in fact, its cost of living index comes in at 169.9, mainly due to housing), we felt it was absolutely worthy of a shoutout due to the massive jobs growth it’s experienced in the past year alone.
And not to mention the fact that some of the biggest national brands have some sort of footprint in the Greater Boston area from Google, Facebook, GE, New Balance, Dell, Hubspot, and most recently Amazon (and we’re not including the possible bid for HQ2).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a couple of great visuals that tell the story of Boston’s recent jobs growth:
If you look at the rightmost side of this graph above, you can see the dramatic uptick of employment opportunities in the Boston metropolitan area over the last few months of this year, in contrast with what’s pretty much a steady line for the rest of the U.S.
And in this graph, you can see the growth of different specific industry sectors in Boston vs in the U.S. as a whole; not only is Boston in the positive for all but one sector (Financial activities), but it’s also seen more job growth than the U.S. in many industries (i.e., Professional and business services, Education and health services, Leisure and hospitality, Information).
Sure, Boston isn’t known for having the most affordable cost of living, but being one of the most culturally-rich cities in the nation brimming with the best of the best universities, hospitals, technology companies and more – it’s hard not to include Boston on this list for best places to start (or restart!) your career.