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The Best — and Worst — Places to Live if You Want to Start a New Career

June 6, 2016
by Jamie Cattanach
Staff Writer

Whether you’ve just graduated (congratulations!) or are in search of a change, starting a new career is difficult.

You have to figure out how to learn new skills, connect with the right contacts and make a name for yourself… and that’s just for starters.

You’re more than likely up-ending your living situation in the process — even if you don’t make a big move, you might shift social circles, your daily schedule and exactly how you spend the bulk of your time and energy.

In many ways, transitioning your career means transitioning your life.

So if you add moving on top of all of that, you might as well make the most educated guess you can. As tempting as it is to spin a globe and throw a dart, some places really are better than others.

(And those darts have a tendency to land in the middle of the ocean, where there aren’t very many job openings.)

Starting a New Job? Changing Careers? Here’s Where to Live

To help class of 2016 grads and other young professionals looking to get their foot in a new door, WalletHub recently conducted a study of the 150 largest U.S. cities, using 17 criteria to rank them from best to worst place to launch a new career.

Weighted metrics included the essentials you’d expect, like the number of available entry-level positions and the affordability of housing.

But the study also factors in more esoteric, quality-of-life-based variables, like percentage of the population between ages 25-34 and the strength of social ties between friends and family.

After all, you can have a baller job and an affordable place to live, but it all means nothing if you’re not happy where you are.

Since its criteria are so diverse and inclusive, this isn’t another study directing new grads to flock to New York and San Francisco (as if anybody could afford to). In fact, those cities don’t even show up in the top 25.

Here are WalletHub’s top and bottom five cities for starting a new life:

Best Cities to Start a Career

(With #1 as the best)

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Denver, Colorado
  3. Austin, Texas
  4. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  5. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Worst Cities to Start a Career

(With #1 as the worst)

  1. Detroit, Michigan
  2. Fresno, California
  3. Moreno Valley, California
  4. Akron, Ohio
  5. Hialeah, Florida

Be sure to check out the full study here — it also includes some other fun, specific metrics.

For instance, the city with the highest job growth adjusted for population growth is Oxnard, California, while the city with the lowest is Glendale, Arizona.

However, nearby Gilbert, Arizona boasts the most affordable housing. The least affordable market is unsurprisingly Oakland, California.

Even if you’re stuck in one of the “worst” cities, take heart: There’s always a silver lining.

For instance, you can actually get paid just to live in certain parts of Detroit. And if you take on the right kind of freelancing business and become location independent, where you are becomes irrelevant.

But having grown up in a city neighboring Hialeah, I can vouch: You’ll probably be happier elsewhere, especially if you’re not into cockroaches or hurricanes.

Your Turn: Where does your city fall on this list? Would you move to any of these places to launch your new career?

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her creative writing has been featured in “DMQ Review,” “Sweet: A Literary Confection” and elsewhere.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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