Best Places to Live

2014 10 Best Cities for New College Grads

Economists predict that new college graduates should have an easier time finding jobs in 2014 than they have in the last few years as more companies are looking to hire. Just because it's easier doesn't mean it's easy, but we're here to help. Our list of the Top 10 Best Cities for New College Grads ranks cities where jobs are available and where you'd want to live during all those non-working hours.

To determine the best cities for recent college graduates, we analyzed factors such as the number of 25- to 34-year-olds living in each city, the availability of rental properties, unemployment rates, educational attainment levels, use of public transportation and the types of jobs these places offer. We also sought out cities that cater to a younger demographic by offering lots of recreational activities, hot nightlife and a hip vibe. What we found were places where new college graduates are likely to find jobs they'd actually want, homes they can afford and a social scene that allows them to more easily make new friends, fit in and engage with the community.

In assessing the best cities for new college grads, we took into account the top-hiring industries, which, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are: educational services; professional, scientific and technical services; health care and social assistance; and government. Starting salaries for recent college grads have risen over the last two years, a trend the class of 2014 would like to see continue.

“The overall average starting salary for the class of 2013 is buoyed by the increases to two disciplines in particular – a 2.9 percent increase for humanities and social sciences graduates and a 2.3 percent bump for business majors,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Though it's too late to change your major, there's still time to examine the best cities for new college grads. Take a look at our picks before you start sending out resumes.

Ranking Criteria
Number of 25- to 34-year-olds
Unemployment rate
Rental vacancy
Rental costs
Non-service jobs (better paying)
Public transportation users
25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor's degree or higher
Bars and restaurants per capita
  • 10

    Mountain View, CA

    Population: 77,973
    Photo: Yuxuan Wang

    Mountain View, Calif., is considered a techie's dream town, even to those who don't land a coveted job at Google's corporate headquarters. This Silicon Valley city is home to technology, software and Internet companies delivering innovations that continue to change the way people communicate, work and live. Mountain View contains a high number of 25- to 34-year-olds, many of whom work in the tech industry. Aside from coworking spaces and coffee shops offering Bitcoin ATMs and free Wi-Fi, Mountain View's amenities include a network of bike trails, shoreline pathways, a sailing area, sidewalks, parks, ethnic restaurants and bars.

    Residents of Mountain View typically spend less on housing and food than the average Californian. Rental properties make up the majority of the housing market, which has a healthy vacancy rate. Most residents spend less than 30 percent of their income on housing, and the median household income is more than $30,000 above the rest of the state. Mountain View residents can get to San Jose, Calif., in under 20 minutes and San Francisco in about 45 minutes to access international airports and a big-city experience.

    The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts anchors the city's cultural scene. The City of Mountain View has installed nearly 40 works of art around the community, including sculptures and statutes, which, along with parks and restored historic buildings, create an attractive streetscape. True techies are drawn to the Computer History Museum, an attraction with exhibits that take visitors from the dawn of the computer to the present. The museum also hosts lectures from historians and authors.


    Number of 25- to 34-year-olds: 14,306

    *Number of available jobs: 45,405

    Hot jobs: technology, software, Internet, life sciences

    Top employers: Google, Symantec, LinkedIn

    *According to