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With statistics showing that more than one million bachelor’s degrees are conferred each year,* eager grads of the class of 2012 emerging from colleges across the country this spring are being faced by some real life changing decisions—where to work and where to live. While more than half of employers (54 percent) surveyed by CareerBuilder reported they plan to hire recent college grads in 2012, up from 46 percent last year, the competition for jobs is still stiff in this recovering economy. The current job situation combined with the lowest apartment vacancy rates in recent history and increasing rents nationwide make it more important for recent grads to evaluate their prospective career and living opportunities on a holistic level. For the fifth year, and CareerBuilder have compiled the “Top 15 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list to identify those cities that offer the best overall opportunity.

Recent grads, and in fact many people today, are willing to relocate for work as evidenced in a recent survey where respondents said relocating for employment opportunities was the number one reason they were planning to move in 2012. However, in today’s tight rental market the cost of living needs to be an integral part of the decision equation.

“When starting out, it can be tempting to focus on only one aspect of a city,” says Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager for “However, it’s important to carefully evaluate a variety of options before choosing where to settle down. The first step should be identifying cities that offer the most professional opportunities while affording you a lifestyle you can enjoy. If you relocate to an area of the country with high apartment occupancy, you may find yourself paying more in rent in response to a competitive market.”

Even after graduation, savvy grads find they still have some homework to do to identify the cities that afford them the best opportunity for employment, the best place to live and the best quality of life as a young professional.

“While the competition remains tough, job prospects for recent college graduates have improved this year,” says Michael Erwin, director of Corporate Communications for CareerBuilder. “The key is pinpointing those markets that not only have the greatest demand for your skill sets, but match areas of interest.”

Below, and CareerBuilder present the 2012 “Top 15 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates” list along with average rent for a one bedroom apartment:

For more information, visit and