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Here are the best cities to start a marriage, career, or both

It’s wedding season, and time to consider where the happy couple should settle after the honeymoon.

But what about finding jobs? Hiring runs slower in summer, with so many managers off at the beach.

In the interest of efficiency, we looked at two recent reports, one examining the best cities for newlyweds, the other tabulating the best cities to launch a career.

The cities-for-newlyweds list comes from StorageCafe, an online marketplace that feeds our national obsession with storage space. The tally of best cities to start a career comes from Bankrate, the personal finance site.

What makes a city good for newlyweds? The StorageCafe analysis considered marriage and divorce statistics, housing availability and costs, employment rates, restaurant options and a host of other variables.

Here are five of their picks:

Arlington, Virginia

The Washington Monument is seen in the background behind a new apartment building in Crystal City, Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

This inner D.C. suburb boasts high incomes, a robust job market, lots of housing options and a plethora of recreational choices. Nearly half of the local population is married, and the divorced population is low (9 percent). Two-fifths of the citizenry falls in the 25-44 age group, ideal for young couples. And the jobless rate is only 2 percent.

Arlington ranks as one of the top cities for active lifestyles, with 2.5 “improved trails” per 10,000 people, and 2.3 restaurants per 1,000 population.

Irvine, California

The urban sprawl that has filled most of Orange County spreads out in front of a ridge in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, part of a nearly 40,000-acre swath of Orange County open space, south of Irvine, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This Orange County college town is pricey, with some of the highest housing costs in the nation, but it is otherwise ideal for young marrieds, according to the StorageCafe analysis. Half of the population is married, and Irvine has the second-lowest divorced population of any city in the study, 8.6 percent.

Dining options run the gamut from Brazilian to Vietnamese, with 2.4 restaurants per 1,000 residents. And Irvine offers 14.6 miles of improved trails per 10,000 people.

Plano, Texas

This Dallas suburb offers “the charm of a small town along with big-city amenities,” the report states. Nearly 60 percent of the population is married. Gas is cheap, and the city offers 2.7 restaurants per 1,000 residents.

Plano offers a range of outdoor options, from trails and tennis courts to basketball hoops and swimming pools.

With the high temperature projected to top 100 degrees in Plano for the next week, those pools might come in handy.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Talk about hot. Scottsdale is part of greater Phoenix, which just logged the hottest month on record for any U.S. city. (But it’s dry heat, our Phoenix friends remind us, so it’s not so bad.)

More than half of all locals are married, and Scottsdale divorcees are relatively few. The city hosts a large housing inventory. Homes “are not cheap,” the report states, “but they’re still more affordable than in other hyped-up places,” particularly on the West Coast.

Scottsdale’s unemployment rate is an enviable 2.5 percent, and both gas and utilities run cheap. The city offers a wealth of amusement and recreational opportunities: 0.6 opportunities per 1,000 people, to be exact, from classical concerts to standup comedy.

Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska’s capital is the only Midwestern city to make the Top 10 on the best-for-newlyweds list. A large share of the population is either married (45 percent) or in the “highly marriageable” age range of 25-44, good company for young couples. The city has a low jobless rate, 2 percent, and very affordable homes, with an average price of $207,000.

And what makes a city good for starting a career? A lot of the same stuff, according to the Bankrate analysis, which considered rent prices, employment rates and overall quality of life.

The resulting Top 10 list overlaps pleasingly with the newlyweds list: Both reports suggest young adults consider settling in or around Dallas, Seattle or Silicon Valley.

The Bankrate analysis notes that newly minted college graduates have traditionally flocked to New York, D.C. or Los Angeles, hardly the nation’s most affordable options.

But that trend may be changing. The pandemic, and the attendant remote-work boom, prompted many Americans to search for smaller cities with more affordable housing and better work-life balance.

“The narrative before was that you graduate and you go to one of the major cities, and you make it work with roommates,” said Raquel Cid, a career coach quoted in the report. “It was normalized not to be able to afford where you live. But the pandemic, and the restrictions that it came with, changed what young people find normal.”

Here are Bankrate’s Top Five:

Austin, Texas

The Texas capital offers the University of Texas, lots of nature and a top-shelf music scene. In the Bankrate analysis, Austin ranked No. 1 in quality of life, third in employment opportunities and 12th in affordability.

Austin has been a tech hub for decades, a reputation burnished with the recent arrivals or expansions of Samsung, Tesla and Meta.

“The talent here is young, so there are a lot of opportunities to accelerate your career,” said Ansley Bird, 24, a recent Austin arrival who spoke in the Bankrate report. “And because everyone is young, it’s one of the most social places ever. The city makes it easy to make all new friends in a single night.”

Seattle, Washington

Bankrate analyzed the top 50 metro areas for rent, employment and quality and life. Seattle ranked first for employment opportunities, fourth for quality of life and 20th for affordability, and second overall.

That affordability rating might be a red flag. Seattle popped up in a recent Hill story about cities with high household income thresholds to qualify for the local middle class: $74,000, in this case.

Salt Lake City, Utah

In the Bankrate analysis, Salt Lake City ranked second in employment opportunities, ninth in quality of life and 29th in affordability.

Here, again, affordability is a potential downside. Salt Lake City appeared in a recent Hill report on unaffordable cities, with housing priced at $345 per square foot.

Raleigh, N.C.

The North Carolina capital ranked second in quality of life, fourth in affordability and sixth in employment opportunities.

If Raleigh has a downside, it may be seasonal allergies.

Nashville, Tennessee

The country-music capital ranked sixth in quality of life, eighth in employment opportunities and 17th in affordability.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Taylor Swift. . . .


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