There are many considerations to think about as you decide where to apply to jobs for your post-grad life. Below, I highlight three that I find particularly important: cost of living, unemployment rate, and happiness factor.
Low cost of living
As a recent college graduate and someone who is looking to start an entry-level job, you are going to want to pay attention to the cost of living in the areas in which you are looking. The money you’ll owe adds up: you’ll begin paying off student loans after your grace period, and you’ll have to start paying for rent and utilities for your apartment on top of that. Consider also that you’ll only be getting starting salary and that you will have other costs, such as groceries. Check out Kiplinger’s 10 U.S. cities with the lowest cost of living for some locations where you can save a few dollars in rent. Included on this list are Pueblo, Colorado; Springfield, Illinois; and Louisville, Kentucky.
Low unemployment rate
Everyone knows that the U.S. economy isn’t doing so hot and that there aren’t a lot of jobs up for grabs. That’s why now, it’s more important than ever to look into the unemployment rate in places you are considering. This is, of course, especially essential if you want to move somewhere before you actually have a job. Boston.com has a list of cities with the highest and lowest unemployment rates as of May 2012. Lincoln, Nebraska; Midland, Texas; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire are all on the list.
Don’t worry . . . Be happy
Before taking the plunge and moving to a new place, you’ll want to make sure it’s somewhere you will thrive and be happy. Think about what’s most important to you in a city or town. Do you want somewhere large or somewhere small; do you want something completely new and different or would you rather live in the same area you’ve grown up in? These preferences are different for everyone, and it’s necessary to create a list of what you do and do not want. The Daily Beast has a list of the happiest cities in America if you want some inspiration. Manchester, New Hampshire; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Bridgeport, Connecticut all make appearances.
My personal opinion is that it’s easy and natural to look at and apply to places near your hometown or near where you went to college, but it’s great to push yourself to try new things. This is such a great time in your life to do so—you’re young, (mostly) uncommitted, and eager.
Take me for example. I grew up in Connecticut, went to school down south in North Carolina, and now here I am giving the Midwest a try as I am living in Chicago. It was definitely a scary move, but it was also all worth it! Chicago may not be on the lists of cities with lowest cost of living or lowest unemployment rate, but it was on my list of places that fit the bill to make me happy. After all, your happiness is most important. After that, everything else will fall into place!