Should I Stay or Should I Go? Thoughts on Moving After College

Classes are over, and you and your friends are preparing to decide what to do next. Like many graduates, you have probably started job hunting and are torn between pursuing jobs in new cities, staying put in your college town, or even moving back home with Mom and Dad.

With a freshly minted résumé, several internships under your belt, and a handful of student loans looming, where you live now might influence your long-term career path. Here are some of the pros and cons of staying put or moving on.

Job Saturation

Your college town/city is already packed with college students. Whether your college town is small or large, consider how many students graduated with your same degree. Twenty? Five hundred? On the plus side, employers in your college city are familiar with the quality of students your university turns out. If you are near the top of your class, this might bode well for you landing a job in your career field in your college city. The downside is, your other fellow students are doing the same thing, using the same professors and local employers to help connect them to opportunities.

Cost of Living

If you have huge student loans or other debt, moving to an affordable city is your best bet. Not only will you save on rent, food, gas, and nightlife, but the long-term career opportunities might be better in a growing metropolis that isn’t already a top destination such as New York City, the Bay Area, Seattle or Boston. Some good bets might include Houston, Sacramento, or Kansas City. Living in Houston, for example, might surprise you. It’s the No. 1 job creator and home to 26 Fortune 500 companies, second only to New York City. Adjusting for cost of living, Houston offers the biggest paycheck of anywhere in the country. Not a bad deal for paying off those student loans.

Easy Flights

Staying in your college town might be tempting because many of your friends will stay. For now. But eventually, jobs and families will likely lead many of your buddies to other places. Don’t let your where your friends are going be a primary factor in your decision. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch. Consider cities that are an easy, nonstop flight to either your college town or your parents’ house to keep any homesickness to a minimum.

Who You Are Now

How do you match where you live? Admit it; you’ve learned a thing or two about yourself during your college years. You’ve grown up. You probably know more definitively how you align to the political parties, religion, gender expression, etc. than you did before you started college.

You also may know whether you are a small-town person or crave the excitement and variety of a big city life. Does your college town offer what you need? The benefit of staying is comfort and familiarity. You know where all the good pubs are, who has live music on Friday nights, and the best neighborhoods in town. The downside is, your college town might not be the best one out there for you and if you don’t take the time to explore other options now, how and when will you know what might be a better fit?

Do some research on the best places to live before sending out résumés willy-nilly. Landing a great job in a place ill-suited for you could make you miserable. But finding a so-so job in a place you love might be tolerable, knowing the same city offers many future career opportunities. Explore your options; take advantage of your open summer to travel and get a feel for places beyond your college town. You might decide staying put is the right choice. Or you might find a surprising new life beyond your city limits.

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