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Alternatives to NYC

By Katie McWilliams
On May 3, 2012

The classic Hollywood ending to a college graduation movie usually involves the graduate packing up his or her beat up Subaru and moving to New York City. While this fantasy is realistic and achievable for many people, there are many US cities that are more budget friendly, boast a better quality of life and offer just as many opportunities. These cities are often overlooked because of the pomp and circumstance surrounding New York City, but it's an expensive place to start for young graduates. These cities have the same characteristics, if not more, to offer.
According to Forbes' Move Livable American Cities Index, Denver, Co. ranks eleventh. With a population of about two million people and a low cost of living, the city is ideal for outdoor sports enthusiasts, as well as music lovers and culture vultures. With a small unemployment rate, Denver is an attractive place for graduates to start a stable and exciting life. The city is home to a lively theater district and is renowned for its growing musical scene, not to mention a Tex-Mex palate. For outdoor sportsmen, Denver is only two hours away from Breckenridge and four hours from Aspen. If skiing is not what you're looking for, Denver is a two-hour drive from Rocky Mountain National Park. Denver is a clean, safe city for those with lots of options and/or an adventurous streak.
Baltimore, Md. gets the eighth ranking and with the vibrant culture that surrounds the city, it's hard to imagine what's not appealing. Baltimore is the home of a beautiful harbor, which provides the city with bountiful delicious seafood. Downtown Baltimore is safe and clean and is home of many historical monuments and museums. Baltimore also hosts the world's largest free art festival, ArtScape, and the world renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Like Denver, Baltimore has low unemployment and is relatively safe in the right neighborhoods. The downtown areas are gorgeous and have an enchanting Southern charm.
 Cleveland, Ohio is one of the top recommended cities for recent college graduates due to the plethora of jobs in the growing health care, biotechnology and fuel cell research economies. Home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Playhouse Square Center, the second largest performing arts center in America after the Lincoln Center, Cleveland is growing in its culture offerings. Sporting events also dominate the Cleveland culture scene with the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. The city's proximity to Lake Erie attracts sailors from around the country and amusement park Cedar Point brings adrenaline junkies from all corners of the world. Although virtually ignored on the metropolitan city scene, Cleveland has something for everyone as well as a growing economy and good quality of life.
 Another city that often gets overlooked by graduating seniors in search of a place to live is Portland, Oregon. Ranked as the United States' cleanest city, Portland is home of green lifestyles and organic living. The quality of air, water and the surrounding land are the highest in the United States. The city has become famous for its unique cultural scene and safe and friendly neighborhoods. Like Denver, Portland is close to many places to hike and explore, but is also a city that is completely pedestrian oriented. Bikes are the most common mode of transportation after the Toyota Prius, and the city is completely accessible by foot or by Portland's efficient and acclaimed public transportation system. Portland also sits on the shores of the Columbia River, a perfect river for boating and kayaking. The local music scene is superb with many excellent bands and performance venues, as well as a myriad of careers in the industry, and the restaurant sector is constantly on the rise. Unemployment in low in Portland and salaries are reasonable, as are rent rates. If a healthy lifestyle and entertainment are important to you, Portland is the place to go.

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