Ask any American citizen about the best areas to find a job and you might hear some big names: New York City, San Francisco or Boston, just to name a few. Those are certainly cities that deserve their notoriety, but they aren't necessarily the employment hotbeds many people make them out to be. There are many job opportunities in the big cities because there are many jobs - but there are also a lot of people with great credentials competing for those positions.
It also depends on the specific market - technology is trending right now, which is why a city like San Francisco has such a high reputation. But what are actually the best cities to go to for work? According to a survey from SmartAsset, the answers are metropolitan regions you may not have expected.
Utah cities prove to be valuable job markets
The survey, which examined the 355 largest metropolitan areas across the U.S. on a variety of metrics, scored three of Utah's metro regions in the top four best cities for career opportunities: Salt Lake City at No. 4, Logan at No. 2, and Provo at No. 1.
"The best cities for career growth are the ones that offer lucrative jobs in affordable markets."
Provo, in particular, offers a bounty of opportunity. It's a leader in the tech field as home to software company Novell, founded in 1979. Additionally, three privately-owned startups in Provo each have an estimated valuation of over $1 billion. But there are also two universities - Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University - and the highest job growth rate from 2014 to 2015 at 6.9 percent.
Ogden, UT rounded out the state's representation in the top 25, falling at No. 13. New York was the only other state with four cities in the top 25 - Buffalo (10), Rochester (17), Albany (19) and Ithaca (20).
The other side of a career opportunity
It's important to note that finding a job in the city is one thing, but being able to afford living there is another thing entirely. Those three big-name cities listed at the beginning of this article are also among most expensive real estate markets in the U.S. The best cities for career growth are the ones that offer lucrative jobs in affordable markets.
Real estate company Trulia studied the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and ranked each in terms of its affordability. Those numbers revealed Ohio to be the most cost-friendly state, with Akron and Dayton ranking at Nos. 1 and 2, while Cleveland and Toledo came in at Nos. 7 and 8. Notably, Dayton ranked No. 5 on SmartAsset's list of the best cities to find a job. Ohio's affordability was driven by its low real estate market. For comparison, Akron's middle-class residents spend an average of 28.9 percent of their income on housing, commuting and utilities, while San Francisco middle-class residents - who live in the nation's least affordable city - spend 85.5 percent of their income on those same items.
It's difficult to say that one job market is more valuable than another. Even in San Francisco, there are unique opportunities and amenities that in many ways justify the cost of living. However, these lists do suggest that job seekers might find what they're looking for in some of the less-trendy metros across the country.
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