The class of 2015 is leaving college as the most indebted group of new grads ever, thanks to an average student debt load of $35,000.
With that much debt to pay off, the first few years out of school can prove to be a make-or-break time for new graduates. Many will plan on moving to big cities in search of job opportunities in metropolises such as New York or San Francisco. But the high cost of housing there will likely reduce their ability to pay down student debt quickly.
While jobs are often plentiful in those major cities, young grads may not be able to earn enough to afford their own apartment, and even with roommates, rent can still be expensive. While some young Americans may have their sights set on the bright lights, considering a smaller, up-and-coming city where rents are affordable and jobs are proliferating could prove to pay dividends.
And some big corporations are opening satellite offices in these smaller towns for the same reason: finding more space at a lower cost.
"On average it takes 10 to 15 years for a grad to pay off their student loans," said Allan Jones, chief marketing officer of recruitment site ZipRecruiter. Moving to a smaller city with a lower cost of living can free cash and help "reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off the loans by as much as half the time," he noted.
Many such cities are located in a region that's not known as a byword for jobs growth: the Midwest. According to ZipRecruiter's analysis of data, the area is currently showing strong growth for hiring, as well as relatively affordable housing costs.
The point, Jones noted, is that young grads shouldn't feel compelled to search for jobs only in major cities. He added: "You don't have to follow the cookie-cutter step of moving to a big city."
Read on to learn about the top 9 up-and-coming cities for young graduates.