Where Should I Live? HotPads Maps The Most Affordable Cities For 2015 College Graduates | HotPads

Where Should I Live? HotPads Maps The Most Affordable Cities For 2015 College Graduates

San Francisco, Calif. - March 31, 2015 -- As graduation season ramps up at colleges across the U.S., new grads will begin hunting for new jobs and new apartments.

A nationwide interactive mapping tool out from HotPads shows renters graduating from college and entering into new jobs how much of their salaries they can expect to spend toward rent in various neighborhoods across 11 of the nation’s largest metropolitans. The data takes into account the graduates’ anticipated annual salary by career field.

Moving to the The Bay Area to teach elementary school? Don't plan on living in San Francisco's Nob Hill neighborhood unless you want to spend nearly three-quarters of your gross salary on rent. Renting in Berkeley, teachers will spend 35 percent of their gross salaries on rent. 

Biochemist graduates moving to Boston may want to start their apartment search in Somerville, where just 17 percent of their salary will go toward rent, as opposed to 25 percent renting in Cambridge. 

HotPads compiled the data, taking into account the median rent in select neighborhoods for studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom units to find a median per person monthly rent estimate. Census data was then used to find the gross salary of full-time workers aged 22 to 30 with college degrees. The resulting maps give new graduates an idea of how much and where they can afford to rent based on their job.

Ready to find out where you can afford to live after graduation? 

Start by choosing the city you want to live in below. Then, select your profession from the drop down menu in the top left-hand corner of the map. Explore the area to see the percentage of gross salary you can expect to spend on rent in neigbhorhoods throughout that metro. 





Los Angeles


New York


San Francisco


Washington DC


 Rent Here, Not There

About HotPads

HotPads is an easy-to-use online and mobile marketplace for renters looking for a house or apartment in urban areas. It is a top destination for both consumers and professionals, with a robust website and five mobile apps. HotPads is based in San Francisco.


The map shows, at a neighborhood level specificity, what percentage of one’s annual gross salary one can expect to spend on rent if one is entering into a particular profession. In order to calculate this percentage, we used two components: gross salary (denominator) and rent (numerator)

Median Gross Salary Calculation for Each Occupation

We used the 2012 3-year ACS data in order to calculate gross salaries of each occupation found in the data set. We limited the data used to those who have a four-year college degree, work 40 hours or more per week, and are between the ages of 22 and 30.

Each metro area has different pay levels for the same occupation. For instance, your average software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area makes more money than your average software engineer in the Greater Dallas metro area. Thus, we calculated the weighted median gross salary of each occupation for each metro area.

The geographic specificity of ACS data is at a STATE / PUMA (Public Use Microdata Area) level. We use the University of Missouri Geo-correlation engine in order to project the ACS data onto Zip Codes. We subsequently use this projected data set to calculate the weighted median gross salary of each occupation in each metro area.

Sample size of certain occupations in certain metro areas does become an issue. Where sample size is too small, certain occupations are dropped for certain metros. 

Per Person Rent for Each Neighborhood

Zillow Group Rentals Data (June 2014 through Jan 2015) was used to obtain the per person rent for each neighborhood. We limited the data used in this study to studios, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom apartments.

We conducted a study as to how many people live in a studio / 1 bedroom apartment in each of our covered Metro Areas. We found that in the Greater New York City Metro Area and in the San Francisco Bay Area, on average, studios and 1 bedrooms were shared amongst 1.12 to 1.14 people. This enabled us to conclude that the per person rent for studios and 1 bedroom apartments ought to be the stated monthly-rent itself. Per person rent for 2 bedrooms and 3 bedrooms are median rent divided by 2 and median rent divided by 3, respectively. 

Percent of Gross Salary Spent on Rent

This figure is simply the median monthly per person rent multiplied by 12 divided by annual gross salary. The annual gross salary numbers do not change across neighborhoods in the same Metro Area, as these figures are meant for everyone in the metro area. Per person rent numbers do change across neighborhoods.


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