Beth Stebner
May 21, 2015 6:20 am

For all those out there who have already or are preparing to nab their diplomas after many hard years of work in college or graduate school – congrats all around! It was probably a fun and challenging time full of self-discovery and learning. But, the big, burning question remains – now what?

Ostensibly, that means hunkering down with your new LinkedIn profile (yes, those really do help) and finding a job that will help you make headway. Maybe you already have an idea of where you want to end up. Or maybe you’re willing to try a new place if there’s a chance that the job prospects are better.

If you’re in the latter category, we’ve got some really good news: A new report by career site Glassdoor has come out with the best U.S. cities in which to live and work. This report looks at the number of jobs relative to the population, the median base salary, and job satisfaction, among other things.

While the usual suspects like San Francisco, Boston, and Washington make the top 25, there are several unexpected places, too. For instance, Raleigh, North Carolina topped this year’s list of the best places to work, thanks to Raleigh-Durham’s deep-rooted tech industry (IBM and Cisco have offices here).

Not to mention, thanks to the “Research Triangle” of the area, this is also a hotspot for science-minded grads, and since it’s not a bustling metropolis like New York, it’s a very affordable place to get your start.

Other places you might not have thought of? Kansas City, Missouri and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which ranked second and third, respectively. Austin, Seattle, and Salt Lake City also made the top ten.

Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlain told Fast Company that for many job seekers, location is part of the whole package – getting ahead in your career, loving where you live, and feeling you can save enough to eventually own a home.

“We see this taking place in fast-growing, mid-sized tech magnets like Austin and Seattle, which have benefitted tremendously from the tech boom as an alternative to high-cost tech hubs such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York City,” he told the website, adding that cities with high costs of living mean lower overall job happiness, since your dollar doesn’t go as far.

These new mid-sized cities have advantages – you’ll likely be saving money living in a low-cost city for a few years that could help you out later on. If you look for gigs in high-cost cities like New York, Boston, or San Francisco, you have to factor in high cost of living, which often means sharing an apartment with 2-3 people instead of striking out solo right away. (But for some people, it’s totally worth it!) The point? There are a lot more places that are good for your career than you might realize. So go out there and explore your options!

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