To determine the best cities for recent college graduates, we analyzed factors such as the number of 25- to 34-year-olds living in each city, the availability of rental properties, unemployment rates, educational attainment levels, use of public transportation and the types of jobs these places offer. We also sought out cities that cater to a younger demographic by offering lots of recreational activities, hot nightlife and a hip vibe. What we found were places where new college graduates are likely to find jobs they’d actually want, homes they can afford and a social scene that allows them to more easily make new friends, fit in and engage with the community.
In assessing the best cities for new college grads, we took into account the top-hiring industries, which, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are: educational services; professional, scientific and technical services; health care and social assistance; and government.
While it doesn’t say how these different factors are weighted, it seems to be a mix of job and quality of life opportunities. The list isn’t just about unemployment; it also includes cultural elements the “creative class” looks for in an exciting place to live.
And here is what they said about Naperville:
Just 30 miles west of Chicago and located along the DuPage River, Naperville, Ill., provides recent college grads with a blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. It’s an ideal setting for young professionals who feel more comfortable in a suburban environment but want quick access to the offerings of a major metropolis.
An low unemployment rate of 5.5 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds, a high percentage of non-service industry jobs and excellent public transportation make Naperville an attractive area to start a job search. The city’s employment base includes technology firms, energy companies, retailers and factories. Citizens here are well-educated; more than 66 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds in Naperville hold bachelor’s degrees or higher. Finding an affordable place to rent won’t be difficult as nearly a quarter of residential properties in the city are rentals, many of which cost less than 30 percent of an average resident’s annual income.
The city’s picturesque Riverwalk and community parks see lots of activity from residents who exercise, play sports or just relax. Naperville’s quaint downtown includes the Theater District, which is home to the widely attended North Central College theater program. Residents can choose from more than 260 restaurants, including the Spanish-themed Meson Sabika and the award-winning Café Buonaro’s Italian restaurant.
This summary hits the high points that most profiles of Naperville:
1. Big city (over 140,000) but small-town feel. Perhaps it is the quaint but bustling downtown that sums this up well: it isn’t too big to be overwhelming but it does offer lots of shopping and dining options.
2. Thriving jobs center. Though Naperville has a large population, it is not just a bedroom community. There are numerous major companies with offices in town and this attracts an educated workforce.
3. The Riverwalk is a scenic and well-designed outside feature. Few communities have such pedestrian-friendly options so close to a vibrant downtown.