Cool Neighborhoods New Grads Can Actually Afford To Live in


“I need to give my hamster a bath.” “I have a Skype call with a friend in Dubai.” “I’m avoiding going out on any day that ends in the letters d-a-y.” Yep, your reasons for staying home have gone from weird to far-fetched to straight-up nonsensical. But you’d rather give one of those flimsy excuses than admit the simple truth—you just can’t afford to go out.

One of the not so fun (but oh so necessary) aspects of life after college is figuring out how to actually afford to support yourself. And chances are, rent will be one of your biggest expenses. Finding an affordable place to live can be a challenge, especially if you’re based in a major metropolis like New York or San Francisco.

Luckily, guest author Kristy Hessman is here to help. She’s run the numbers and determined a handful of happening hoods that won’t break the bank.


Tick, tick, tick. Hear that? That’s the sound of the minutes ticking down until college graduation. Soon it will be time to put on your cap and gown, smile for family photos, and at long last, accept your diploma.

But then what? Have you thought about what comes next? Most graduates will be heading on to new jobs in their chosen career fields. If you’ve landed a new job in a new city, you’ll likely also be on the hunt for a new apartment.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most affordable areas in three of the most popular US cities.

New York

Everyone knows New York is the city that never sleeps, but for newcomers, what is really eye-opening is how expensive it can be to rent a place to live there.

For new college graduates heading to the Big Apple who want to find affordable rent, the key is to avoid some of the more popular neighborhoods in Manhattan (read: Greenwich Village, Upper West Side, and Gramercy), where you could end up spending more than three-quarters of your salary on rent.

Instead, head to the beer-garden filled neighborhood of Astoria in Queens, the hipster haven of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, or enjoy the restaurant scene and affordability of Park Slope in Brooklyn.

A middle school teacher living in Astoria can expect to spend 34 percent of their gross salary on rent, as opposed to 80 percent of their salary if they rent in Midtown Manhattan.

San Francisco

Speaking of expensive rent, San Francisco often gets pegged as one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. For graduates who may be paying back school loans, that can be difficult. One of the best ways to save on rent is to live outside of San Francisco proper.

Oakland, located just a hop, skip, and a jump across the Bay used to be the go to for cheaper rent, but now it, too, is getting up there in price thanks to its burgeoning nightlife and food scene. Alameda, however, located next to Oakland is still relatively affordable, as are pockets of Berkeley.

If you don’t want to have to cross the Bay, but still have access to mass transit like BART, recent grads can head to areas south of San Francisco like Daly City or South San Francisco.

Within San Francisco, neighborhoods further from the center, like Excelsior, are also more affordable options.

Los Angeles

Heading to sunny LA? Lucky you. In addition to sunshine, you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to finding your new neighborhood.

If it’s affordability you are looking for, though, our advice is to head inland. Areas like Culver City have the benefit of not only being central to both downtown and the beach towns, but also filled with trendy restaurants and wine bars. Rent here is also far less expensive than beach towns like Santa Monica.

If you just can’t be away from the sand and surf, try getting a pad in El Segundo. Graduates will pay far less of their salaries renting here than the bordering Manhattan Beach, but they are still just a quick bike ride away from the sand.

Click on the infographic below to see a larger version.


Want a little more info? HotPads has created an interactive map of 11 cities across the US showing new college graduates some of the best neighborhoods where they can actually afford to live, based on their expected salaries by profession.

The maps include the expected salaries for full-time workers ages 22 to 30 with college degrees, along with rental data from each city.

College grads can search interactive maps in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC to find the most affordable neighborhoods in those cities.

Click to explore all of HotPads interactive maps and see which cool neighborhoods you can afford to live in.

, a rental search website that makes it easy for you to find your next place in the city.


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