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10 Best Cities for Young Professionals

In a world full of opportunity, how do you decide where to live as a young professional? Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or employee at a traditional company, when you’re just starting your career, you’ll want to consider the following factors:

  • Starting salary: What is the average starting salary of the city? If you’ve been in your field for a few years, you’ll likely earn above this figure, but it’s good to have a baseline so you know generally what to expect in terms of compensation. You can search for starting salary by city here.

  • Job opportunities: Which cities have the most entry-level or associate-level opportunities in your field? If you don’t have any professional connections in the city you want to move to, conduct a quick search on LinkedIn to get a general idea of a city’s opportunities. If job prospects look sparse, consider another location.

  • Affordable housing: What is the average rent or home price in the area? How does this compare to the salary you’re expecting? As a general rule of thumb, 30% of your pre-tax salary should go to rent. If rent is higher than this, you may need to prepare to make budget cuts in other areas or look at other more affordable cities.

  • Networking opportunities: Sometimes the most valuable business lessons are learned outside of the office. Happy hours are a great way to network with other professionals in your industry or get to know your coworkers better. Does your city have a good bar and restaurant scene? To find out, conduct a quick Yelp search for happy hours in your city.

While many recent college graduates flock to cities like Los Angeles and New York City, the high cost of living makes these cities unrealistic for those just starting their careers who may be financially independent. Instead, turn to nearby smaller cities for the best of both worlds: access to jobs and networking associated with a big city, but with more affordable housing.

Once you’ve moved to a city where you can thrive as a young professional, you’ll want to excel in your field and hit the ground running. Here are some early career tips:

  • Find a mentor. 70% of Fortune 500 companies offer employee mentoring programs. Mentors help develop your leadership skills and increase your confidence and motivation, which is crucial early on in your career.

  • Keep up with industry news. Ask coworkers what publications and websites they keep up with or what podcasts they listen to. Being educated about what’s going on in your industry will show your supervisors that you care about your field.

  • Be solution-oriented. Always look for solutions to problems to show that you’re invested in project outcomes. If you need to report an issue, your boss will be more receptive to your asks if you’ve already formulated a solution.

  • Stay engaged. Your supervisor will notice. Engaged workers are 27% more likely to report “excellent” performance. Companies with highly engaged employees see lower turnover rates and increased productivity.

  • Take risks. Even though you’re just starting out your career, be confident and don’t be afraid of failure. There are valuable lessons in mistakes! Just make sure the risks you take aren’t big enough to cost you your job or the trust of your colleagues.

  • Balance work and life. You’ll avoid early-career burnout, and employees with a good work-life balance are less likely to develop anxiety and depression. Establish boundaries and avoid checking your email early in the morning or late at night.

  • Go for a walk. Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative output by 60%. Getting out of the office is a great way to feel refreshed and get a change of scenery, which is especially valuable if you’re stuck in a creative rut.

Esurance analyzed the top 100 most populous U.S. cities and ranked them based on starting salary, job opportunities, home prices, networking opportunities and median city age to find the best cities for young professionals. You can check out the winners in the visual below.

Courtesy of Esurance.

By guest

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