The Best (and Worst) Places to Live For People With Student Loan Debt

For recent college graduates with student loan debt, the city they choose to pursue a career in can make a big difference in their ability to make their monthly payments on time. The ideal city offers a balance between cost of living and well-paid career opportunities. A recent study by Credible.com examined which cities are the best, or worst, to live in. 

The study compared the attractiveness of the top 23 most populated cities to recent graduates, considering factors including average income, housing payments, and student loan payments for residents of each city. This data revealed cities where student loan payments and housing costs consume a smaller proportion of income. Here are the results:

The Cities Where People Struggle The Most With Student Loan Debt 

  1. San Jose, California

Residents of this city have an average monthly payment of $571.73 on their loans alone. Compare this to their other average expenses and income:

  • Housing payment: $1,660.84
  • Average Income: $85,128.70

Monthly payments for student loans and housing account for 31.47% of a borrower’s income in San Jose. That’s a lot, when you consider the list of other expenses that homeowners have to pay each month.

  1. Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth residents are paying $571.73 on average each month for their student loan payments. Let’s see how that stacks up against costs of living and average annual income:

  • Housing payment: $1,209.36
  • Average income: $67,041.64

Fort Worth is neck-and-neck with San Jose. The combined student loan and housing payments here account for 31.45% of the average income’ — hardly any better than San Jose for those who are trying to get their debt under control.

  1. Boston, Massachusetts

 Boston is up next. Student loan payments here average out to $688.77 per month, which is higher than both of the other cities thus far. It’s balanced by a higher average income and lower housing costs:

  • Housing payment: $1,226.45
  • Average income: $73,185.64

Student borrowers in Boston are devoting 31.40% of their income to monthly student loan and housing payments.

  1. Los Angeles, California

 Another city in California makes our list with a $690.26 monthly loan payment on average. The average housing payment is high as well, but average income in Los Angeles is also higher than many other cities:

  • Housing payment: $1,382.72
  • Average income: $79,629.52

Sudent loan and housing payments account for 31.24% of the borrower’s income in Los Angeles. As we go down the list, the differences are incremental.

  1. Denver, Colorado

Denver borrowers are paying an average of $636.02 for their monthly payments. Let’s compare this to our other parameters:

  • Housing payment: $1,230.96
  • Annual income: $71,847.46

Denver residents are setting aside 31.18% of their income for student loans and housing. These cities, while amazing places, are not affordable for many graduates with student loan debt. Let’s take a look at the best options.

The Best Cities to Live For Student Loan Borrowers

Where are the best places to live? The data has nailed these five cities as your best choices:

  • Dallas, Texas – Borrowers here are only paying 26.24% of their monthly income to cover student loans and housing.. This is due to a much higher average income.
  • Jacksonville, Florida – Residents here need only set aside 26.65% of their income for student loans and housing. A high income average and a lower than average housing cost sees to that.
  • Houston, Texas – If you’re dead set on Texas, Houston is a better choice than Fort Worth, but not quite as good as Dallas. Residents here commit 26.94% of their income to student loan payments and housing.
  • Columbus, Ohio – People here use 27.38% of their income for monthly housing and student loan payments. A low cost of living makes this possible.
  • Austin, Texas – The options in Texas keep growing! In Austin, you can expect to use about 84% of total income towards rent and loan payments. A high average income also factors into this.

Deciding Which City is Right For You

The average debt for those who borrow for student loans in college is $37,173. Grads will take a lot into account when they choose which city to call home. The data shows that while housing costs vary quite a bit from city to city, so do earnings prospects.

A well-paying job can make up for higher housing costs. This is why many students move to big cities in California, Texas, and other populated states.

Grads should consider their career prospects first. They should also look at the potential costs and their expected income. Finally, factors like the safety of the city, and the feel of daily life are important.

Are you a recent graduate? How did you choose which city to call home when you left college? Let us know in the comments!


The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author (Stephen Dash, CEO of Credible.com) alone and not the CEOWORLD magazine.

Stephen Dash

Stephen Dash Verified account

Founder and CEO at Credible
Stephen is the Founder and CEO of Credible. Stephen was formerly an investment banker at J.P. Morgan, and more recently founded QC Media and was an Investment Director at MHC & Co.
Stephen Dash

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