Published on April 23, 2019

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photography by cody guilfoyle

Once you’ve collected your diploma and tossed your graduation cap, you’ll find yourself faced with a very big, very intimidating question: What’s next? Whether you’re embarking on a job hunt or eager to put down roots in a totally new place, you’ll want to know where to start this next chapter. Luckily, a new report from SmartAsset has narrowed down the top 10 American cities where recent grads can get their adult lives off to a great start.

Here’s something that may come as a surprise: Of all the cities listed—which are ranked using factors like the unemployment rate of those with a bachelor’s degree, cost of living, and age of population—none are on the east or west coasts. When it comes to recent grads, it seems, midwest is best. The top three cities are Cincinnati, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; and Columbus, Ohio. So what can you expect to find there?

Well, in Cincinnati, not only can recent grads easily find an apartment with monthly median rents at $585, but they can also explore a bustling food scene. Yes, you don’t need to be in Seattle or Brooklyn to get a good cup of coffee. Plus, 21c Museum and Hotel, the American Sign Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center will help you get your culture fix.

Nashville may be a vacation hot spot for young people across the country (it is one of the most popular bachelorette destinations), but there’s plenty of fun to be had year-round. The city has the seventh-highest concentration of entertainment and dining establishments in the country. In Germantown, you’ll find plenty of home stores, boutiques, and New American restaurants.

Lastly, Columbus may seem like any ordinary state capital, but that’s far from the truth: There’s a reason the spot was named one of the 52 places in the world to visit in 2019 by The New York Times. Otherworld stands out as one of the most innovative art installations in the country, and a large percentage of available jobs in tech make for plenty of employment opportunities.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and San Antonio, Texas, round out the top five cities for recent grads. Time to plan your big move.

See more on moving:
Here’s Where Everyone Will Be Moving in 2019

Your First Apartment Checklist Is Here
Living at Home With Your Parents Isn’t Just Acceptable in These Cities—It’s the Norm

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