5 Best Cities for Starting a Career

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Thousands of young Americans are hitting the bricks and looking for work after finishing college this spring, and here's a look at five cities they should focus their job searches on.

"It's important for young people to realize that there's a big, big difference between some of the best and worst cities in terms of what you can earn, the cost of living and even [dating] opportunities," says Odysseas Papadimitriou of WalletHub, which recently named 2014's Best Cities to Start a Career.

WalletHub, which tracks banking rates and provides consumer reviews of personal-finance firms, chose winners by grading America's 150 most-populous cities on a weighted scale of 18 economic and quality-of-life measures important to recent graduates. Factors ranged from local jobless rates to how many young adults and unmarried people (i.e., potential dates) call a given city home.

Papadimitriou says the winning communities all hit a "sweet spot of size. They're big enough to have lots of job opportunities and lots of things to do, but not so big that their costs of living are ridiculous."

Read on to check out the communities at the top of WalletHub's list, plus some information on each locale's housing market from Realtor.com, the National Association of Realtors' official property-listing site.

Regarding the study's methodology:

  • Rates of residents who've never been married refer to people age 15 or older, while local jobless rates denote unemployment levels as of March.
  • Entrepreneurial-opportunity rankings reflect to how well locales scored on a separate WalletHub study of best places to start a business, while "economic mobility" refers to the odds that low-income residents will eventually enjoy high incomes.
  • Entry-level job numbers denote the per-capita number of positions advertised on Indeed.com that contained the words "entry level," while median-income growth refers to how much the typical resident's paycheck rose from 2008 to 2012.
  • Housing affordability is based on median house prices relative to median local income, while rental affordability refers to average two-bedroom apartment rents.

Fifth-best city to start a career: Minneapolis
The Mini Apple is a big winner for grads when it comes to finding a job and getting a date after work.

Minnesota's most-populous community boasts the 14th-lowest unemployment rate among cities analyzed, as well as the 18th-highest median starting income for jobs.

As for dating, Minneapolis places sixth for 25- to 34-year-olds as a share of total population, 10th for residents who've never been married and 12th for those who hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

And you should have no trouble finding places to take your date, as the city ranks 11th for the number of arts-and-leisure facilities relative to population.

On the downside, Minneapolis ranks 126th in terms of having employment that's spread out among different economic sectors. The city also places 118th for entrepreneurial opportunities and 103rd for affordable home prices.

Realtor.com says the median Minnesota-area residence lists for $235,563, with some 22,500 properties for sale.

Fourth-best city to start a career: Seattle
Starbucks has its corporate headquarters in Seattle, but grads who move to the Emerald City don't have to worry they'll end up making lattes for a living.

That's because Seattle ranks eighth for median starting salary, ninth for economic mobility and 11th for technology jobs as a share of the total workforce.

Young grads will also find that Washington state's most-populous city boasts the second-highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds and third-largest share of residents with at least a bachelor's degree. Locals also enjoy the seventh-biggest number of arts-and-leisure facilities on a per-capita basis.

"Seattle has a lot of young people, a lot of arts-and-leisure establishments and a very educated workforce," Papadimitriou says.

That said, Seattle places just 145th for entrepreneurial opportunities, 131st for a diversified workforce, 134th for affordable home prices and 114th for affordable rents.

The typical Seattle-area residence carries a $380,000 asking price, according to Realtor.com. If you think you can swing that, check out some 12,000 local listings here.