Best College Towns For College Grads


You made it! Four years (okay, five? six?) of mediocre dorm food and cramming for exams has finally earned you that very expensive diploma. Now, while half your classmates return home to shack up with mom and dad, the rest of you who have yet to nail down a job are grappling with where to live. Let’s face it – Wall Street isn't that big on hiring, and wherever you end up, you won’t start out making a ton of money.

Where better to hold onto that fun, cheap, college life you’ve grown to love with its $1 margarita Wednesdays at Chili’s (EAT), 25 cent wing for Monday Night Football and usual Thursday night debauchery? Where can you snag affordable housing, gain access to social, cultural and athletic events and meet cool, young adults?

College, of course! Now, we’re not suggesting you continue taking courses or sleep on one of those extra-long twin beds. However, many college areas offer great living conditions for new grads.

Each locale on our fab five list offers a chance to live it up, work hard, pay down debt and maybe even sink your teeth into the housing market. Cities were judged based on job and income growth, average cost of living, house price stability, quality of life, population growth and, of course, number of colleges and proximity to fun.

Denver-Boulder, CO

The 30-mile stretch between Denver and Boulder boasts above-average job growth and a great social atmosphere thanks to more than 50 college and universities. Within 15 miles of Boulder lie 1400 restaurants, 75 bars, six museums and five ski resorts. The territory is also an ideal ground for romance with nearly half the population unwed.

Atlanta, GA

Between 2000 and 2006 the capital of Georgia ranked as the country’s top-growing metro area, expanding by 20.5%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city has numerous sports teams (go Braves!) and offers several historic, cultural, social and entertainment offerings. It’s not called “Hotlanta” for nothing. As for jobs, Atlanta is home to an impressive range of large U.S. corporations including Coca-Cola (KO), Delta Airlines (DAL), Home Depot (HD), and United Parcel Services (UPS).
Atlanta is forecast to generate 1.8 million new jobs by 2025.

The Triangle, North Carolina

Bound by Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel-Hill, this academic region commonly referred to as The Research Triangle is home to some 30 different undergraduate schools. New job seekers have access to entry-level opportunities in the tech and health care industries at companies like IBM (IBM) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Income in Raleigh has grown more than 10% since 2000.

Albuquerque, NM
This multicultural southwestern city is home to about 20 different colleges and universities, including the University of New Mexico. Big-shot employers include Intel (INTC) and Honeywell (HON). And good news for homebuyers: Albuquerque’s real estate market is in a slump. Inventory has more than tripled in the past two-and-a-half years and median home prices have fallen to less than $200,000 – a level not seen in about seven years. However, recently named Albuquerque as the likeliest city to experience home price appreciation in the country. Now might be a great time for young folks to take part in that thing called the American Dream.

Austin, TX

Austin is home to the University of Texas and some 27 other colleges and universities. Population here is up a whopping 17% since 2000. The city has generated close to 115,000 jobs over the past five years in developing industries including green energy, biotech and digital media. Austin is also a relatively great area for first-time young buyers; homes in Austin sold for an average $183,700 in 2007, versus $217,800 nationally. And don't forget that Austin has more bars per square mile than nearly any other city in America. Not exactly sure how that’s going to contribute to Mayor Will Wynn's vow to make Austin the fittest city in the country by 2010 – maybe he's a fan of twelve ounce curls.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.

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