What city should I live in after college?

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  • #3635 Reply
    Robert Schyns

    I have one more semester here at UW-Madison and am looking to apply to an entry level full-time job. I am pretty flexible with location after college, my only requirement is that I want to be based in a larger city. I realize that since I can be flexible to maybe prioritize what my best job offer is and take it if it is in a major city. But, do people have recommendations on what city or cities would be great for young professionals in Industrial Engineering? Currently, I am leaning towards Boston, but would love to hear some other suggestions!

    #3637 Reply
    Tyler Parbs

    As you mentioned, the best strategy is probably to consider the best available offer and move to that location based on your flexibility. Further, you may be more attractive to a company given that you are willing to relocate anywhere. If you plan to move before securing a full time job, Glassdoor is a good resource to find average salaries by job title in a given city.

    Given that, I would recommend looking into Chicago as a potential city to move to. You will likely have friends from UW who are moving there as well, plus Chicago is home to plenty of engineering jobs.

    Further, if high cost of living is okay with you, there are many IE jobs in California around Silicon Valley.

    #3639 Reply
    Ed Olson

    Hello Robert,

    I feel that this question varies from person to person. Some prefer the city, as you have mentioned, while others prefer to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities. As far as your preference goes, I would look into factors such as cost of living and weather conditions. Once you are working full-time you will likely be paying your own living expenses so limiting those at the beginning of your career can help you save more early in life. Also, you will most likely live in this place all year round and if you are someone that can’t handle bitter winters, as we have experienced here in Madison, you may want to consider a warmer climate.

    Here is a link that shows cities with high salaries along with lower costs of living. Most are in warmer places that Madison as well!


    Hope this can help your search! Good luck.

    #3640 Reply
    Maxsen Berken

    Reply to Tyler Parbs of #3637: While Chicago seems like a good place to live, and larger cities are great, living in a smaller city isn’t too bad. Literally anywhere outside of Chicago can offer you a fun lifestyle without having to pay a lot for living there. Furthermore, the jobs available in California around Silicon Valley don’t pay enough to make up for the cost of living. Consider somewhere larger, but with a lower cost of living like Pittsburgh or Detroit.

    #3649 Reply
    David Sweetapple

    Hi Robert.

    I also have one semester left in Madison and am looking into places to live after graduation. Similarly, I have the requirement of being based in a larger city. However, I am also trying avoid an outrageously high cost of living in so I’ve been slightly hesitant about NYC, Boston, and San Francisco. Presented with the right opportunity, I would still gladly live in either of those three places. Some other cities I have been considering are Austin, Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle. Let us know what you decide on!

    #3675 Reply
    Nate Buswell

    I agree with the previous comments that you should consider cost of living vs. your compensation.  That being said, I really love Seattle as a city to live in despite the fact that cost of living is high.  I would especially recommend the Capitol Hill neighborhood as it is a lively place for young professionals.  Another city that smaller but doesn’t cost nearly as much is Minneapolis/St. Paul.  There’s a lot of industry in the Twin Cities but you do have to live with winters that are even worse than Madison’s.

    #3686 Reply
    Zach DeGroote

    Reply to Robert Schyns of #3635:


    I am also going to be graduating at the end of the year, and I’m planning to start my full-time job search soon. As I’m open to relocating, I’m not planning to use location as my top job search criterion, especially since it will be my first full-time position.

    As Nate mentioned, in terms of opportunities for IE’s, I think the Twin Cities has a good balance of size (bigger than Madison, not as large as Chicago), reasonable cost of living, and good job prospects in both healthcare and manufacturing.

    #3774 Reply
    Jesse Parritz

    Lots of good advice here! I’d add that a lot of it will come down to who happens to offer you a job that you’re excited to take and go from there. With that said, I’d focus most on which companies and roles most excite you and, as long as they’re in a fairly desirable location, pursue those most. When you’re just getting started after graduation, having a good job that offers you good experience that will set you up for success down the road in more important than being in your #1 city over #2 or #3.

    With all that said, I’m headed to Chicago which I am beyond excited for. A really cool city with lots of amazing restaurants and always things going on. Lots of the pros of big cities like NYC and San Francisco, but nowhere near as expensive. I’d also explore Minneapolis (where I grew up and where I’ll likely end up) as an option with countless Fortune 500 companies that many roles for new grads, as well as a very fun and young vibe throughout the city. Boston is very cool too, but definitely more expensive than Midwest options. Best of luck!

    #3794 Reply

    Reply to Robert Schyns of #3635: Interestingly no one here mentioned Florida or Ohio in their response. Both states have a relatively low cost of living, many large engineering and manufacturing companies offering competitive salaries and generous benefit packages. Some of the largest engineering/manufacturing companies like Siemens Energy Inc. (OH/FL), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (FL), Parker (OH), GE Aerospace (OH/FL), SpaceX Space Exploration Technologies (FL), Honda Automotive (OH), Boeing Aerospace (OH), NASA (OH/FL) and many others. One of the distinct differences between two states is obviously the weather. If you like all four seasons with relatively mild winters then central OH is the way to go. On the other hand if you’d like to live 1 hr away from ocean and don’t mind very warm, humid summers then Orlando and central FL may be a better choice. Also OH has slightly cheaper utilities and more affordable housing however FL doesn’t have state taxes.

    #3800 Reply
    Recordo Thomas

    I also believe this answer depends on the type of individual, because if you are a lover of the tropics such as myself, I would recommend Florida because it is closest to the Caribbean seas, however, According to Nerdwallet.com, the top 3 cities for recent grads are Madison, WI, Arlinton, VA, and  Seattle, WA. Seattle’s cost of living is relatively high compared to Madison, but with Big companies like Mircosoft and Amazon there, the job prospects might be great.

    #4134 Reply
    Marisa Gonzalez

    Obviously it depends on the person and what kind of job you like. I know personally I would like to try and find a job in the twin cities area. It’s similar to Madison in many ways just on a larger scale and there are a lot of companies out there so there is plenty of opportunities. Otherwise I know of a lot of friends who have recently graduated or will graduate soon who have taken jobs in Seattle.


    #4522 Reply

    If you are looking for a larger city I think Chicago would be a great choice! However, I do think that most big engineering plants will be based slightly outside of Chicago in the suburbs, so if you don’t mind commuting then I think it would be fine. Chicago offers a variety of museums and attractions, sports, variety of food options, and more!

    #4576 Reply
    Emily Vesper

    Reply to Robert Schyns of #3635:

    I am from central Wisconsin and I am also beginning to explore the bigger city options for work. I am open to going South or staying in the Midwest, but definitely looking to start my career in a big city. I will be working in Minneapolis this summer, and I am eager to see if I enjoy the area.

    #4582 Reply
    Jake Bever

    I think the great part about studying Industrial Engineering is the flexibility we have in the type/number of jobs we can apply for. This means we are arent very limited to certain areas of the country. I personally am exploring options in the Denver area as I love the mountains. Chicago is obviously a popular spot for Madison grads if you’re looking to stick by your peers.

    #4745 Reply
    Graham Dalsing

    I spend a semester doing a co-op in Louisville, and cant recommend it enough. There is one of the best food scenes in the country, loads of sports teams, tasty bourbon distilleries (if you are into that kind of thing) and of coarse, the Derby in May.

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