Update: Take a look at the Best Midsize Cities to Relocate to in 2017!
If 2015 hasn’t been the best year, starting over in different surroundings can help you turn things around in the New Year. Packing up and moving to a brand-new city could be a great opportunity to kick your career into high-gear or get over a failed relationship.
Once you make up your mind to move, the next step is deciding where you’re going to put down roots. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve ranked the 10 best big cities around the country to get a fresh start. Some of the cities on our list, like San Francisco, are already hot tickets for job-seekers, but some of our picks may just surprise you.
Also, new grads may want to see the best inexpensive, 18-hour cities to start their entry-level careers.
[Related: 10 States With the Worst Credit Habits]
In coming up with our list of the top 10 best cities to move to, we looked at the following factors:
- What renters are spending on housing
- How easy it is to land a job
- What people are earning in each city
The cities that rose to the top of our list are the ones that have the best outlook for jobs and income, while putting the least amount of strain on your wallet.
Tip: Remember that most landlords will check your credit score. If you’re interesting in purchasing a home, it’s even more of a reason to check your credit score. You can check your credit score for free on Credit Sesame.
10. El Paso, TX
Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.60%
Median annual rent payment: $12,863
Median household income: $42,037
Unemployment rate: 5.3%
Average commute time: 21.9 minutes
El Paso earns a spot on our list for a few reasons, starting with housing costs. Renters aren’t parting with a huge chunk of their income each month and the median monthly rent payment comes to $747.
The city is home to more than 70 Fortune 500 companies, which bodes well for job seekers and it has the second shortest average commute time in our rankings. In terms of livability, El Paso offers a warmer climate, a cost of living that’s well below the national average and plenty of ways to stay active, both indoors and out.
9. Seattle, WA
Percentage of income spent on rent: 29.10%
Median annual rent payment: $19,603
Median household income: $67,365
Unemployment rate: 4.50%
Average commute time: 26 minutes
If you don’t mind rainy days, Seattle is definitely worth a look if you’re contemplating a move in the new year. It ranks third overall on our list in terms of the percentage of income renters spend on housing and residents also earn the third highest median household income.
Unemployment is nearly two full percentage points below the national average and if you’re looking for work in the tech industry, this is the place to be. The headquarters of both Microsoft and Amazon are located here and new tech companies are moving into the area all the time. Seattle’s local culture is particularly well-suited to the younger crowd but people of all ages should have no trouble feeling right at home here.
8. Fort Worth, TX
Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.50%
Median annual rent payment: $16,010
Median household income: $52,492
Unemployment rate: 4%
Average commute time: 26.1 minutes
We head back to Texas to visit the number eight city on our list. Close to 800,000 people make their home in Fort Worth and it’s a virtual land of opportunity if you need a change of scenery. Unemployment here is a low 4% and when it comes to potential employers you’ve got top-shelf companies like American Airlines, Lockheed Martin, GM Financial and JPMorgan Chase to choose from.
Fort Worth has seen a rate of population growth three times the national average since 2010 and people are flocking here for the affordable housing and higher median incomes. Packed with restaurants, shops and art galleries, the downtown area is a hub of activity 24/7 and it’s a great spot to get out and meet new people.
7. San Francisco, CA
Percentage of income spent on rent: 28.60%
Median annual rent payment: $22,416
Median household income: $78,378
Unemployment rate: 4%
Average commute time: 31 minutes
San Francisco is in the midst of a major tech boom and it’s drawing in people from all over the country who are starting over from square one. The median monthly rent price is quite a bit higher here but renters are still spending less than 30% of their pay on housing. Workers are also earning the highest median income of any city on our list, at nearly $80,000 annually.
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Residents clock the longest average commute time in our rankings but that’s a small price to pay considering how livable the city is on the whole. You’ve got dozens of diverse neighborhoods to choose from, an unparalleled arts and cultural scene and a fairly mild climate all year-round, not to mention some truly spectacular views.
6. Washington, D.C.
Percentage of income spent on rent: 22.61%
Median annual rent payment: $15,264
Median household income: $69,235
Unemployment rate: 4.30%
Average commute time: 29.8 minutes
The nation’s capital earned a sixth-place ranking in our list and it’s easy to see why it would appeal to someone who’s starting fresh. Out of all 10 cities on our list, renters hand over the lowest percentage of their income for housing. The median household income is nearly $70,000.
Getting to work will take you a little longer but the odds of finding a job are pretty good. The largest employer in the area is of course the federal government but there are plenty of private companies that are hiring, including Capital One, AT&T and Booz Allen Hamilton. Once the working day is done, you can enjoy D.C.’s bustling nightlife scene which features some of the best bars and clubs on the East Coast.
5. Austin, TX
Percentage of income spent on rent: 31%
Median annual rent payment: $17,117
Median household income: $55,216
Unemployment rate: 3.30%
Average commute time: 23.2 minutes
Austin is well-known for its live music scene and if you decide to move here in the New Year, you won’t be singing the blues. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest on our list and workers aren’t doing too shabby in the income department. Dell, IBM and Apple are just a few of the companies that have set up shop here but the healthcare and financial services sectors are also big business.
Workers aren’t wasting away too much of their day in traffic and rental housing isn’t a huge budget-buster. Demographically speaking, Austin tends to attract a younger crowd, which makes it especially appealing to millennials who want to connect with other 20- and 30-somethings.
4. Dallas, TX
Percentage of income spent on rent: 29.20%
Median annual rent payment: $12,690
Median household income: $43,459
Unemployment rate: 3.80%
Average commute time: 25.6 minutes
Dallas is the second largest city in our rankings population-wise, with nearly 1.3 million residents and new people are moving here all the time. The median household income is a little lower compared to some of the other cities in our study but it’s balanced out by a lower unemployment rate and rental prices that aren’t through the roof.
Bank of America, UPS and Texas Instruments are just a few of the largest companies that have home bases here but there’s no shortage of job opportunities with smaller employers. Between the museums, parks and the local nightlife, boredom is the last thing you’ll have to worry about.
3. San Antonio, TX
Percentage of income spent on rent: 29.90%
Median annual rent payment: $13,849
Median household income: $46,317
Unemployment rate: 3.80%
Average commute time: 23.3 minutes
San Antonio is the fifth Texas city to make our list and it’s also the largest city overall, with more than 1.4 million residents. Between 2010 and 2014, the population increased by more than 8%, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.
So why would you want to start over here? For one thing, as of 2014, the median gross rent payment was $840. You’ve also got a great shot at finding a job with companies like Toyota and USAA located in the area. The scenery is pretty amazing and so is the food but best of all, the people here have a reputation for being some of the friendliest in the nation.
2. Denver, CO
Percentage of income spent on rent: 29.80%
Median annual rent payment: $15,436
Median household income: $51,800
Unemployment rate: 3.10%
Average commute time: 24.5 minutes
If you prefer cool mountain peaks to a desert climate, you’ll love Denver. The Mile High City’s population has grown by more than 10% since 2010 and it shows no signs of slowing down. The excellent job market paired with a low crime rate make it an ideal choice when you need a clean slate.
Unemployment is lower in Denver than any other city in our rankings and it’s less than half the national average. The economy is varied and the healthcare, financial, education and government sectors are where you’ll find some of the largest employers. One of the best reasons to consider starting over here is the natural landscape, which is perfect for skiing in winter and hiking in summer.
1. Columbus, OH
Percentage of income spent on rent: 30.30%
Median annual rent payment: $13,567
Median household income: $44,774
Unemployment rate: 3.60%
Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
The number one city in our rankings is probably not one you’d expect but Columbus is a worthy contender if you need something new. For one thing, unemployment is low and you’ve got major companies like Honda and Nationwide Insurance looking for new employees. The median household income is respectable and you’re not going to have to spend a lot of it on rent.
Workers here have the shortest average commute time, which is surprising considering just how big Columbus is. The cost of living here is lower than some of the other cities we’ve profiled and there are lots of places to explore during your downtime. Just make sure you pack a snow shovel because the winter weather can be a bit unpredictable.
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To determine which big cities are the best places to start over in the New Year, we collected data for the 25 largest cities in the U.S. by population.
First, we calculated the annual monthly rent payment for each city using data provided by the Census Bureau. We then compared that figure to the median household income for each city, which was also provided by the Census Bureau, to determine what percentage of income renters spend on housing in each city.
The unemployment rate for each city was drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We turned to the Census Bureau once again to determine the average commute time for each city.
We ranked each city from 1 to 25 in each category, with 1 being the best rating and 25 being the worst. We then averaged the rankings across all five data metrics to determine each city’s final score. Our final list reflects the cities that had the highest overall ranking, in order from the lowest score to the highest.
|City||Median Rent Payment (% of income)||Median Annual Rent Payment||Median Household Income||Unemployment Rate||Average Commute Time|
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