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New Study Reveals Best Cities for Recent College Grads

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See which cities offer jobs, affordable housing, and potential friends

New York or San Francisco? Kansas City or Columbus? Austin or Charlotte? The east coast, west coast, or the heartland? If you're a young person who's ever weighed these options by writing out a pros-and-cons list, chances are that you're worried about where to live post-college. Now, you can make a better-informed decision based on real data in a recently released report from Trulia, published in partnership with LinkedIn.

Should you chase after cities that offer the highest wages but not as many entry-level job openings? Or should you live in a place where your not-as-high salary will stretch a lot further and not all go to paying your rent?

The Graduate Opportunity Index aims to help you answer these questions by rating 40 of the country's strongest job markets. The final list is restricted to metropolitan areas that have at least 1,000 grad-level jobs and 10,000 total jobs and ranks them according to three key criteria: the share of jobs available for recent college graduates; how much of the rental market is considered affordable based on a graduate's median salary; and how much of the total population is made up of degree-holders aged 22 to 30 (for maximum friend-making).

Horace Greeley might have implored us to "Go West" in 1865, but 151 years later, that advice may no longer hold up. Instead, it's the East that appears to offer the best prospects for recent graduates: All of the top 10 metro areas are east of the Rockies, with nine of them either along or on the Mississippi River.

And the best city to live in, according to the study? That would be Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh ranks the highest in all three areas. It has the highest number of jobs suitable for recent grads, with 92 percent of its rental housing considered affordable, and over 5 percent of its population made up of a similar demographic.

This isn't to say that the West has little to offer. Overall, west coast metros have seen strong job growth, offer high wages, and boast a large contingent of young, educated people. But it's the lack of affordable housing available in this area—especially in California—that makes it a more challenging place to thrive when compared to the metros covered in this report. Of the 10 lowest-ranking cities in the 40-metro area study, nine are on or near the Pacific Ocean.

Take a look at the 10 best and worst metros as ranked by Trulia and LinkedIn.