Choose a good first state for your first job

Many recent college graduates return to their home state or hometown upon graduation. And the social ties to a hometown can be strong. But going home again is not necessarily the best strategy for accelerating your career.

First JobIn fact, relocating to a state where job prospects are strong and cost of living is reasonable to low may be the best move. You may find that you are promoted more quickly. And you may be able to more quickly bank the savings to buy a house—still the American dream.

Not convinced? An online tool, managed by CNN, can help you see how far your salary will go in your home state as opposed to another state where you may have a job offer. To use this tool, go to: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/. Here’s how it works: a quick comparison of costs of living in Louisville, Kentucky with Statesboro, Georgia show that groceries in Statesboro cost nine percent more. Utilities cost six percent more. However, housing is five percent less. Transportation and healthcare are also less in Georgia.

For students with technology degrees, there is currently a clear forerunner amongst the states: Texas. In the next seven years, Texas expects to hire seven thousand new employees in the technology sector. Pair that with the unexpectedly low cost of owning your own house—the average home buy is an amazingly low $149,600—and you have a recipe for a great quality of life.

Here are some other states that offer a good configuration of low cost of living in combination with good job opportunities and affordable real estate:

Virginia—Through 2022, Virginia is expected to hire 7400 people in the computer programming and software development fields. At the same time, Virginia’s wide open spaces offer a bucolic lifestyle and picturesque scenery. The median house value is $262,000 which is a decent value considering that the median annual salary in Virginia is $70,305.

Georgia—Georgia is a good state in which to launch a career in accounting, entrepreneurship, or retail. Through 2022, the state expects major employment gains in those fields. Meanwhile, the median cost of a home is only $152,400 because of the foreclosure crisis.

North Carolina—If you are launching a career in business, healthcare, or dental hygiene, North Carolina is the state for you because it promises good prospects in those sectors. Median home values are low at $165,500 and median annual salaries are at $65,980.

Washington—Washington is the go-to place for young people with software development and computer programming skills. Through 2022, the state will hire 6660 or more people in that sector. Meanwhile, the average salary in Washington state is an amazing $72,443, the fourth highest in the country.

Colorado—Several Colorado cities—Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver—are pulling ahead in the technology race. Colorado is also undergoing rapid growth in business, accounting and entrepreneurship. The median salary is $69,530, and the median cost of a home is $246,500.

Alabama—Alabama’s business sector is projected to take off and keep flying through 2022. The state’s best assets might be its low housing costs—an average house costs $141,400—combined with a low overall cost of living.

Michigan—Michigan is a growth state for networking technology, software development, and computer systems analysis. The average salary in Michigan is $60,720 and housing prices are extremely low, largely because of the housing market collapse in Detroit. The average home sale in Michigan brings only $130,200 to its seller.

Minnesota—Both the business sector and the technology sector are growing in Minnesota and expected to continue to grow. Meanwhile, housing continues to be cheaper than in a lot of other states. The median house sale price recently is $188,700. Pair that with a relatively high median salary of $65,413, and you can have a great life in Minnesota.

Ohio—Through 2022, Ohio will see serious growth in the information technology, entrepreneurship, and retail sectors. Though the median salary—at $59,560—is less stellar than some of the states listed above, the low cost of real estate more than makes Ohio a good state for cost of living. The recent median cost of a home in Ohio was a mere $135,900.

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