Graduating from college is an exciting time. You’re finally done with classes, term papers and exams. From starting a new job to moving out on your own, your life changes drastically after school.
However, those changes can be expensive. With expenses like rent and student loan payments, making ends meet can be more challenging than you expected. In the United States, the average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,021. That price can eat up the vast majority of your entry-level salary.
Where you live can make a big difference on both your income and your monthly living costs. In some cases, it might be worthwhile to move to improve your cash flow. If where you are now is too hard on your budget, check out these five cities instead:
1. Cincinnati, OH
The average rental in Cincinnati costs just $810, far less than the national average. The money you save can help give you more breathing room in your budget, so you can afford to pay off debt faster or spend more on extras like going out with friends.
In addition, Cincinnati has a lower cost of living than the nationwide average. Your money goes further there, so you’ll spend less on groceries, insurance and other expenses than you would in many other cities.
Cincinnati has a growing city, with new housing, restaurant and retail developments in the downtown area. With lower expenses and expanding nightlife and shopping districts, it can be a great place for a new graduate to call home.
2. Columbus, OH
Columbus is another city in Ohio that could be a smart option for relocation. Like Cincinnati, the average one-bedroom costs less than the national average at just $643. That frees up a lot of money for your other interests. And it has a much lower cost of living than the national average. Everything from groceries to housing is much cheaper in Columbus than the rest of the country.
The median salary for those with less than one year of experience — aka new graduates — is $48,800. That’s a good income for fresh young professionals, and combined with lower than average rent, that means you’ll have more cash than your peers in other cities.
3. Nashville, TN
Nashville is well-known for its music scene and nightlife. But beyond its reputation as Music City, it offers many employment opportunities for new workers.
The average salary for those new to the workforce is $45,557 and Nashville has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country. That means your chances of finding a well-paying job might be higher in Nashville than in other areas.
Nashville’s population also trends to the younger side. The median age is just 33, so you are more likely to meet young people your age who share your interests.
4. Pittsburgh, PA
If you want to live in a Northeastern city, but the cost of living in New York or Philadelphia is too steep, Pittsburgh can be a smart alternative.
Your money will stretch much further in Pittsburgh than in Philadelphia. On average, housing costs 30 percent less. If you made $50,000 in Philadelphia, you’d need a salary of just $41,346 to maintain the same lifestyle you’re accustomed to if you moved to Pittsburgh.
Salaries are comparable, despite the difference in cost of living. The average starting salary in Pittsburgh is $47,788, while it’s $50,128 in Philadelphia. The money you save living in Pittsburgh will more than offset the slight variation in salary.
5. San Antonio, TX
San Antonio’s cost of living is significantly less than other major cities. For example, if you made $50,000 and lived in Atlanta Georgia, you would only need to make $43,725 in San Antonio to maintain the same lifestyle. Groceries and housing cost 20 percent less, so you’d free up more money for debt repayment or building your emergency fund.
Also, the average starting salary for new graduates is $46,477, which means you could live comfortably if you relocated.
If you dream of buying a home of your own, living in San Antonio might help you achieve that goal much sooner. While the median sales price of homes in the United States is $252,800, it’s just $175,676 in San Antonio. You can purchase a house with a much smaller down payment and mortgage than if you shopped in other areas.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet on your salary in your current city, moving to a new place might be a wise move. Relocating to a town with a lower cost of living and more job opportunities can help you reduce your expenses so you can pursue your goals.
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