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10 Best Cities for New College Grads

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With the economy improving and unemployment declining, the real world is offering new college grads more opportunities than it has in recent years. And some places are even more welcoming than others. We identified ten cities that promise members of the class of 2014 the strongest start to their careers.

Because student loans won't pay themselves, we focused on places where recent graduates are likely to land good jobs and take home above-average paychecks. Cities with high unemployment rates, both for the overall population and for people in their twenties, didn’t make the cut.

We also sought out places that are friendly to young adults' budgets, based on average monthly living costs for renters. Some expensive cities still landed on the list because their thriving job markets make up for the higher costs. After all, says Dan Restuccia, of career-research firm Burning Glass Technologies, "you're generally well served to go where the jobs are, though that may mean taking on a more expensive cost of living."

Finally, to ensure that your post-collegiate life won’t be all work and no play, we targeted cities with active social scenes and above-average concentrations of twentysomethings. Take a look at 2014’s best cities for new college grads.

Population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey. Payscale, a compensation-research firm, provided the median salaries of bachelor's-degree holders with up to three years of work experience in the nation's 200 largest metro areas. Living costs are from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Job-posting data is from Burning Glass Technologies, a job-market research firm. April 2014 unemployment rates for metropolitan areas, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are not seasonally adjusted.

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