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The Commonwealth Blog

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mid-Sized Cities Appeal to Recent College Grads

College graduates are often told to go where the jobs are, and for many, that means moving to a big city. However, the cost of living in a major metropolitan area can sometimes outpace the income that recent college grads are making at their entry-level jobs. When affordability is a concern, many young college-educated adults look to mid-sized cities as an alternative.

Tech startup GoodCall recently ranked 589 U.S. towns and cities based on their appeal to new college graduates. They looked at factors including affordability, amenities, entry-level job availability, and average salaries for adults with a bachelor’s degree. While their top 10 cities were scattered around the country, there was one trend that cut across geographic lines: the majority of the cities were mid-sized.

Seven of the top ten cities on the GoodCall list have populations of 115,000 or fewer. Many of these cities offer some of the same opportunities as big cities, in terms of amenities and job openings, but come with shorter commutes and lower monthly rent checks. That can be especially appealing to young adults who are paying down their student loans or trying to save up to buy their first home.

Of course, smaller cities aren’t the right fit for everyone. While there are nearby dining and entertainment options, there aren’t as many choices as there would be in a bigger city, and nightlife may be somewhat limited. Many residents of smaller cities are more car-dependent than they might be in a bigger city since there are fewer public transportation options. And in some cases, college graduates may need to look to larger cities for jobs and continuing education in their field. However, when mid-sized cities do provide the job opportunities and lifestyle that recent college grads are looking for, they can be an excellent choice.

While there were no Massachusetts towns or cities in GoodCall’s top 10 list, there are several cities in the Bay State that fit into the mid-sized category (with populations between 65,000 and 115,000), including:

  • Cambridge (3 miles from Boston)
  • Somerville (4 miles from Boston)
  • Quincy (10 miles from Boston)
  • Lynn (11 miles from Boston)
  • Newton (13 miles from Boston)
  • Framingham (23 miles from Boston)

Because these mid-sized cities are all relatively close to Boston, they offer the best of both worlds: a lower cost of living and the job opportunities and amenities of a big city.

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