Grads: Post-College Living on a Shoestring

Good news college grads. As you and an estimated 1.6 million of your classmates graduate, you’ll be facing the best job market for entry-level positions since 2008. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers indicate they plan to hire 19.3 percent more graduates in 2010-11 than they did in 2009-10, especially in certain technical and finance fields. Chances are, if you’re nabbing a new job, you probably need a new place to live.

According to the NACE, the average starting salary for a college graduate is $50,034. This figure depends on the field a grad enters: those with business majors will earn on average $44,000 and liberal arts majors will earn a starting average of $35,000.

To find a few  rental homes for grads, we rounded down to a $40,000 take-home salary, which ends up being about $3,300 per month. It’s recommended that people don’t pay rent that greatly exceeds 25 percent of their monthly income, so we found some post-college worthy rentals across the county for around $833 a month in just a few of the cities that have job opportunities for a new grad.

And of course if none of these options seem palatable, there’s always the option of finding a roommate, or doing what 85 percent of 2009 college grads did: move home.

Houston:


5129 Claremont St Houston TX (above)
For Rent: $550/month

This adorable 2-bedroom Houston rental is within three miles of the downtown core. The home features an updated bathroom with new tile flooring, and new carpeting in the master bedroom.

According to 2010 Census data, Houston is one of the fastest growing cities in America, growing 7.5 percent since 2000. This growth was fueled by a strong job market, with March’s unemployment rate hitting at 8.3 percent, below the U.S.’ current jobless rate of 9 percent. Houston is also one of the most affordable cities for a metro area its size. According to payscale.com, Houston’s cost of living hits about 10 percent below the national average.

Austin

6005 South Congress Austin, TX (above)
For Rent: $735/month

This updated apartment includes a front-loading washer and dryer, as well as a new pool and gym within the complex. Fan of local Tex-Mex chain Trudy’s? It’s also within walking distance of this Austin rental.

As Houston’s hipper younger brother, not only is the Texas capital the center of indie music, hosting South by Southwest (SXSW) each year, but it’s growing rapidly as tech companies move in to take advantage of the low overhead. With below-average unemployment rates, 6.8 percent as of March 2011, and a low cost of living, Austin is perfect for those renting right out of college.

Columbus


1696 Sale Rd Columbus OH
For Rent: $850/month

This charming Columbus rental is situated just outside downtown and includes 3 bedrooms, hardwood floors and a two-car garage.

Columbus’ low unemployment rate of 7.6 percent combined with a relatively low cost of living makes it a good place for recent college graduates. The home to one of the country’s largest colleges, Ohio State University, the city is a vibrant place to live, claiming to be a “big city with a small-town feel.”

Minneapolis


3329 2nd Ave S Apt 5 Minneapolis, MN
For Rent: $850/month

This Minneapolis rental was converted from an historic home to a 2-bedroom apartment. It includes an updated bathroom as well as new maple cabinets and new windows.

Listed by Forbes as one of the best places to find employment this spring, the city has a low unemployment rate of 6.8 percent. As one of the most literate cities in the U.S. and the third largest theater market, Minneapolis has turned into a cultural center and great place for college grads.

Seattle


2441 8th Ave N Apt C Seattle WA (above)
For Rent: $895/month

This 1-bedroom, 1-bath apartment is located only minutes outside the downtown core, and is walking distance to shops in Seattle’s hip Fremont neighborhood. With hardwood floors, coved ceilings and views of Lake Union, this apartment is a perfect first place.

Seattle has a higher than average living cost, yet it has continued to attract college grads; 52.5 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and, of course, Zillow, are all located in Seattle, and are hiring.

Salt Lake City


1155 Brickyard Rd Apt 903 Salt Lake City UT (above)
For Rent: $845/month

This 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath 1,700-sq ft condo is located in the hip Sugar House neighborhood, which is minutes away from downtown. The Salt Lake City apartment includes a fireplace, new appliances and free parking in a covered garage.

Utah’s historical capital is not only growing, but it boasts a low unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Salt Lake City also has a relatively young population; 31 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34.

 

San Jose


124 Rancho Dr San Jose CA (above)
For Rent/$700

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a San Jose rental under a grand, you’re going to end up in a studio. Although small, this light-filled apartment was recently remodeled and is minutes from downtown San Jose.

Even though the city has a relatively high unemployment rate of 10.6 percent and a high cost of living, San Jose continues to grow due to a strong technology-orientated economy. San Jose is the self-proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley and the home of Adobe, Cisco Systems, eBay as well as located less than 20 minutes from Google headquarters.

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