The Best Cities for Kickstarting Your Career in the UK and the US

We analyzed over 80 cities in the UK and the US to determine where young people should head to launch their careers.

Deciding where exactly you want to start your career can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience. From the number of job opportunities to the cost of living, there’s so much to consider when finding the right place for you. But, which are the best cities for those looking to get on the job ladder? 

To find out, the Business Name Generator team analyzed over 80 cities across the UK and the US to determine the best places for young people to kick-start their careers. 

The study has looked at factors such as the number of entry-level jobs available, the average entry-level starting salary, and the unemployment rate in each city. We’ve also taken into account the cost of living in each location, including the price of rent, public transport, and going out. 

It’s important to note that these could also be ideal locations for those looking to start their own business. Cities that are attracting lots of recent graduates or young workers could offer a pool of quality talent, filled with people eager to get stuck into working life. 

The Best Cities to Kickstart a Career in the UK

RankCityNo. of entry-level jobs per capitaAvg. entry-level starting salaryUnemployment rateApartment costMonthly transport costGoing out cost
*Notes: No. of entry level roles per capita = number of entry level available roles per 10,000 residents. Apartment cost is the monthly apartment rent costs for a one bed in the city centre. Monthly transport costs is for one monthly public transport ticket. Going out costs includes the cost of a meal and one drink.



Taking the crown as the best city in the UK for those looking to kick-start their career is Southampton. There are lots of opportunities available for young people in the port city, with 197 entry-level jobs per 10,000 people — the second highest of all locations in the study. 

Known for its maritime economy, Southampton offers plenty of positions in the trading and logistics industries, and, as the UK’s number one cruise port, there are also lots of opportunities in its thriving tourism sector. 

The average entry-level salary in Southampton is £30,914, which is just below the national average of £32,500. Unemployment is also relatively low in the city, with rates at 3.4%. To put this into context, the highest unemployment rates are in Birmingham, where double the number of people are out of work (6.9%). 

When it comes to the cost of living in the city, rent is on the pricier side, with a one-bed apartment averaging £915 per month. However, commuting to work in Southampton won’t break the bank, with the cost of a monthly transport pass averaging £50 — the third cheapest amount in the study. All work and no play is never fun, and going out in the city is also pretty affordable, with a meal and a beer averaging £17. 

From a business perspective, many startups have had a successful start down in Southampton, including AR tech company Spectre and medical platform Lifelight. The University of Southampton also has an important partnership with non-profit Future Worlds — a startup accelerator based on the university’s campus. 



Manchester has come in second place, offering the most entry-level jobs of any city, with 285 per 10,000 people currently available. Opportunities in the city span across a wide variety of sectors, from science and manufacturing, to fashion, finance and media. 

The average entry-level salary is slightly higher here than in Southampton, at £31,666. However, this does perhaps correlate to the higher cost of living in Manchester. Rent on a one-bed apartment averages at £1,179 per month, while a monthly public transport pass is roughly £80. 

Plenty of big-name brands have chosen Manchester as their home, including Google, Amazon, Kellogg’s and Jaguar Land Rover. On the other end of the scale though, Manchester startups such as The Modern Milkman and Be.EV have also been making a name for themselves across the country. 



In third place is another northern city, Preston. The city enjoys low unemployment rates of 3.3% — the fifth lowest in the study. There are plenty of jobs available in the city, too, with 148 per 10,000 people currently advertised. 

Entry-level salaries in Preston are just slightly below Southampton and Manchester at £29,880, but again this is perhaps in correlation with the cost of living. Rents are as low as £775 per month for a one-bed flat, and going out averages £14 for a meal and drink — the second lowest amount in the study.  

The county of Lancashire as a whole is a recognised world-leader in the aerospace, advanced engineering, and manufacturing sectors. The likes of Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Toshiba Westinghouse are based in the area, which makes Preston a great city for those looking for career opportunities in this sector.

The Worst Cities to Kickstart a Career in the UK

RankCityNo. of entry-level jobs per capitaAvg. entry-level starting salaryUnemployment rateApartment costMonthly transport costGoing out cost


According to our study, the worst city to start a career in is Coventry. The city offers the lowest entry-level salary of all locations in the study, at £23,614.

A large portion of the salary could be spent on rent, as one-bed apartment in the city typically cost around £1,625 per month. Coventry also has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country, with rates at 5.7%. 

However, there are some opportunities in the city, with 102 entry-level positions per every 10,000 people available. In particular, Coventry is a major centre of advanced manufacturing, including automotive, rail, aerospace and motorsport, an industry that employs an excess of 40,000 people.


Southend-on-Sea is the second worst city to launch a career. There aren’t a whole lot of job options for graduates and young people looking to move to the city, with just 76 entry-level jobs available per 10,000 people. 

Entry-level starting salaries are relatively high in the city, at £32,400; however, the cost of living is also high here, too, with a meal and drinks out averaging £23.  


Despite offering the highest entry-level salary (£36,913), London rounds off the top three worst cities for getting on the job ladder.

This is mostly in part due to how expensive the city is. Rent is around £2,227 per month for a one-bed apartment, and a public transport pass could set you back as much as £195 per month. Going out in the capital city is also more expensive here than in any other UK city, with a meal and a beer averaging £26. 

There are currently 76,451 entry-level jobs available in London; however, thanks to its huge population, that equates to just 101 per 10,000 people — less than half the number in Manchester. So, while grads might find plenty of opportunities here, competition is also likely to be fierce. 

The Best Cities to Kickstart a Career in the US

For those looking to launch their career across the pond, we’ve also taken a look at which cities are the best for getting on the job ladder in the US. 

RankCityNo. of entry-level jobs per capitaAvg. entry-level starting salaryUnemployment rate Apartment costMonthly transport costGoing out costRank
5New OrleansLouisiana684$47,6813.6%$1,725$45$26
8WashingtonDistrict of Columbia750$56,3072.5%$2,762$129$38

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Minneapolis, Minnesota has ranked as the number one city to start a career in the US. There are a huge 757 entry level jobs per 10,000 people on offer — the most of any city in the study. 

Minneapolis also boasts one of the lowest levels of unemployment in the country, with rates at just 1.9%. Entry-level salaries are also relatively high in the city, at $56,792, on average. To compare, the lowest starting salary in the US can be found in El Paso, Texas, with wages as low as $40,419. 

However, it is quite pricey to live in Minneapolis. Rent is as much as $1,740 per month for a one-bed apartment. Commuting could also be pretty costly, as monthly transport passes are roughly $122. 

Home to huge businesses such as Target, Minneapolis also prides itself on being the perfect place to launch a business. The state government has plenty of programs to help startups get off the ground, including Launch Minnesota’s Innovation Grants

Cleveland, Ohio


Cleveland, Ohio has come in second place. There are lots of opportunities on offer here, too, with 719 entry-level jobs per 10,000 people currently available.

Entry-level salaries are a little lower than in Minneapolis, at $50,075, but monthly rent ($1,238) and transport passes ($95) are also less expensive here. Unemployment rates are also pretty low, at 2.7%.

Home to one of the world’s leading medical centres, the Cleveland Clinic, there are plenty of job opportunities across the healthcare industry in Cleveland, plus the city is also known for its advanced manufacturing and finance sectors. 

Baltimore, Maryland 


Boasting the lowest unemployment rate of all cities analysed (1.8%), Baltimore, Maryland, ranks in third. There may be slightly less entry-level vacancies on offer here than in Minneapolis or Cleveland, but there’s still a significant number, at 588 per 10,000 people. Average entry-level salaries are also a little higher than in Cleveland, at $50,868. 

Looking from a business founder perspective, there are plenty of start-ups who have found success in Baltimore, from AI medical company DELFI to social impact platform Game4Good. 

The Worst Cities to Kickstart a Career in the US

RankCityNo. of entry-level jobs per capitaAvg. entry-level starting salaryUnemployment rate Apartment costMonthly transport costGoing out cost Rank
1New York CityNew York79$59,1534.2%$4,109$130$35
2San DiegoCalifornia209$51,6934.2%$3,099$72$33
3Los AngelesCalifornia112$57,2584.7%$2,697$105$33
4San JoseCalifornia306$56,9233.9%$3,092$150$36
9San AntonioTexas207$45,5993.2%$1,709$69$23
10El PasoTexas315$40,4194.0%$968n/a$16

New York City

On the other end of the scale, New York City has ranked as the worst US city to start a career. There might be over 60,000 entry-level jobs on offer in NYC, but, similar to London, thanks to its large population, this equates to just 79 jobs for every 10,000 people. 

Rent on a one-bed is also incredibly high, at $4,109 per month, which is almost four times the rental prices in Cleveland. Going out in the city ($35) and public transport ($130 per month) are also expensive; however, you can earn as much as $59,153 at your first job in the Big Apple.

San Diego, California

In second place is San Diego, California. It’s expensive to live here, too, though costs aren’t as high as in New York City. Rent is around $3,099 per month and going out for a meal and a drink will cost you roughly $33. However, young people are set to earn significantly less in San Diego than in New York, at around $51,693 per month. 

The coastal city also has quite high levels of unemployment, matching New York with a rate of 4.2%.

Los Angeles, California 

Another Californian city, Los Angeles, rounds off the top three worst cities for getting on the job ladder.

LA is another city where the salary is relatively high ($57,258), but so, too, is the cost of living. Transport is around $105 for a monthly pass, and heading out for a meal and drink will set you back $33. Rent is a little cheaper here than in the likes of San Diego or New York, at $2,697, though this is still high compared with other cities in the study.

It’s interesting to note that California is actually home to five of the top 10 worst cities to kickstart a career. San Jose comes in fourth, while Fresno and Sacramento rank seventh and eighth, respectively. 


Nancy Alsaberi, Head of People at Business Name Generator says, “A big part of running a successful company is having a great team around you, so finding quality talent is really important. 

When choosing a location for your startup, you’ll need to think about whether a city will attract the right kind of people for your business in the long-term. That means establishing yourself in a location that’s well-suited to your industry, and in one that can bring the right skills to your business. 

But, you’ll also need to consider other factors that can impact how appealing a place is for potential employees, including the cost of living, transport links, and amenities in an area. The more attractive a city is for young people looking to start their careers, the greater chance you’ll have of finding quality talent for years to come.”

Methodology & Sources

Business Name Generator pulled together a seedlist of 30 of the UK’s most populated cities, and 50 of the top cities in the US. The cities were then ranked according to the following metrics:

A weighted index was applied to create the final ranking.


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