Cincinnati Is the Best City for College Grads in 2021, Study Shows

Graduates can stretch their entry-level incomes here, thanks to Cincinnati's low cost of living.

click to enlarge College students have a shot at a real life in Cincinnati. - Photo: Vantha Thang, Pexels
Photo: Vantha Thang, Pexels
College students have a shot at a real life in Cincinnati.

College isn't a guarantee for a great job or livable wage anymore, but some cities offer graduates a better shot at surviving — especially in the Midwest.

Cincinnati is the best of those cities, a recent study from financial resources company SmartAsset finds. The Queen City comes in at No. 1 on SmartAsset's 2021 list of U.S. cities that are best for new college grads

SmartAsset says that Cincinnati's low median monthly rent and cost of living factor heavily into the city outranking all other metros in the country. Cincinnati also scores highly on fun, with the seventh-best Yelp bar scores in the nation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Columbus sits at No. 2 on SmartAsset's list, largely for similar reasons as Cincinnati. Columbus outscores Cincinnati in jobs, though, with an edge in earnings and unemployment.

More grads are learning about the Midwest's secrets. Earlier this year, financial company Self also declared that college graduates can earn the most bang for their buck in Ohio, in the Buckeye State's major cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

All of SmartAsset's top 10 cities for college grads are in the Mid-Atlantic or Midwest regions of the country, where entry-level salaries can stretch a bit further than they might on the coasts. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Nashville, Louisville, Lexington and Madison, Wisconsin all score highly.

Seattle comes in last in SmartAsset's available rankings, primarily brought down by its extremely low affordability score.

SmartAsset created its list after examining data for the 106 largest cities in the United States and scoring metros on jobs, affordability and fun. See the full list and methodology.

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