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Best Cities for Job Satisfaction

By: Angelina Bader
March 12, 2019

Spring is around the corner and you know what that means: new beginnings, new opportunities, and graduation is so, so close. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in your work field, or are about to graduate and are looking to start your career, Apartment List has got you covered. Using survey data from over 16,000 of our renters across the U.S, we compiled our 2019 list of the best cities for career satisfaction. Check out the results of our survey below.

Madison, WI ranks #1 best city for job satisfaction

Career satisfaction scores the highest in three expanding economies: Madison, WI, Nashville, TN, and Raleigh, NC. Our survey respondents told us they were 77.08% satisfied, 68.47% satisfied, and 68.14% satisfied with job opportunities in these markets, respectively. In general, cities that have strong job markets and vast populations to support them ranked the highest on our list, with tech hubs taking a prominent role.

Madison, WI topped off our list with more than three-fourths of survey respondents reporting satisfaction with career opportunities in the city. The city has seen an increase of 39.5% in tech jobs over the past five years, which equates to 23,740 more jobs. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has been a big help to those efforts, as the organization is credited with helping found around 300 companies in the area, contributing to this job growth. The area also boasts well-established biotech companies, such as Epic and Exact Sciences Corp.

Scranton, PA ranks lowest overall for job satisfaction

Renters in New Haven, CT, Stockton, CA, and Scranton, PA responded less favorably about their career possibilities, with only 29.03%, 28.57%, and 27.59% reporting they are satisfied with job opportunities in each market, respectively. Cities such as Stockton, CA, which is a long-distance commuter city, are located ways away from job hubs. This means that unless you are commuting far and wide for work, there is a high chance you aren’t satisfied with how things are going in your town.

Job Satisfaction Ranking by City

CitySatisfaction %Ranking
Madison, WI77.08%1
Nashville, TN68.47%2
Raleigh, NC68.14%3
Denver, CO67.59%4
Allentown, PA67.57%5
Washington, DC67.26%6
Austin, TX67.24%7
San Jose, CA66.67%8
Greenville, SC65.85%9
Reno, NV65.63%10

Millennials are most satisfied with job opportunities in Nashville, TN

Among millennials, Nashville, TN came out on top, with 75.76% of renters satisfied with the job opportunities. Nashville falls in 12th place on our list of Locations-first Movers, meaning that people who relocate there choose the city prior to applying for jobs in that city. Moreover, 43.2% of renters plan on planting roots in the area. Either way, Nashville is satisfying lots of millennials in their career needs, be that due to the music industry or the growing tech sector in the city.

Millennials ranked Providence, RI as the city where they have the least satisfaction with the job market, with only 28.85% satisfied.

Top Cities for Job Satisfaction by Millennials

CitySatisfaction %Ranking
Nashville, TN75.76%1
Raleigh, NC75%2
San Antonio, TX74.65%3
Denver, CO74.02%4
San Jose, CA73.21%5
Madison, WI72.97%6
Columbus, OH72.28%7
Washington, DC72%8
Pittsburgh, PA70.97%9
Austin, TX70.91%10

Tech hubs dominate in the men vs women satisfaction split

Men are most satisfied with their careers in the San Jose, CA - right in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Women, on the other hand are, are most happy with job opportunities in the Austin, TX. That should come as no surprise, considering that Austin is a growing tech hub. The tech sector is also complemented by great nightlife, and Austin took first place on our Best Cities for Dating list. Overall, men are less satisfied than women. At 22%, men's highest scored city, San Jose, CA ranks lower than women's lowest rated city, Providence, RI with 25.21%. Providence, RI took last place, providing the least satisfaction for both men and women in terms of their career outlook. Yet, interestingly enough, women are still more satisfied in with this city than men.

Men are most satisfied in San Jose, CA:

Job Satisfaction Ranking by City for Men

CitySatisfaction %Ranking
San Jose, CA22%1
San Francisco, CA21.37%2
San Antonio, TX18.94%3
Phoenix, AZ18.4%4
Nashville, TN17.27%5
Seattle, WA16.61%6
Denver, CO15.96%7
Minneapolis, MN15.81%8
Pittsburgh, PA15.74%9
Washington, DC15.68%10

Women are most satisfied in Austin, TX:

Job Satisfaction Ranking by City for Women

CitySatisfaction %Ranking
Austin, TX56.07%1
Raleigh, NC53.98%2
Denver, CO51.64%3
Washington, DC51.41%4
Nashville, TN50.91%5
Jacksonville, FL50.43%6
Dallas, TX49.88%7
Columbus, OH49.45%8
Charlotte, NC48.72%9
Houston, TX48.45%10

High-income renters rank Austin, TX #1 for job satisfaction

Renters  earning over 100K a year are the most satisfied with their careers in Austin, TX. That’s hardly surprising, considering that Austin is also a major tech hub, with lots of jobs on the market. It was previously ranked as the fastest growing large city in the nation by several reports.

San Diego, CA ranked low for high-income renters as well. Only 46.81% of high-income renters are satisfied with the job market there.

Top Cities for Job Satisfaction for High-Income Renters

CitySatisfaction %Ranking
Austin, TX80.77%1
Seattle, WA80.7%2
Washington, DC74.59%3
San Francisco, CA71.59%4
Houston, TX71.43%5
San Jose, CA71.11%6
Atlanta, GA71.11%7
Chicago, IL70%8
Minneapolis, MN70%9
Dallas, TX69.49%10

If you want to move to a city where renters are satisfied with their career opportunities, we suggest giving Madison, WI, Nashville, TN, and Raleigh, NC a chance. Whether you’ve just graduated, or a seasoned veteran in your field, we at Apartment List wish the best of luck in your career development.


Data is based on results from the Apartment List renter survey between February 15, 2018 and December 31, 2018. The results above are based on responses from over 16,000 renters. Renters were asked: “How would you rate your current city or neighborhood for career satisfaction?” Possible responses are as follows: Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Neutral, Somewhat Unsatisfied, Very Unsatisfied.

Rankings are based on the share of renters who report being very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with opportunities to date. The minimum sample size for each city was 25. Gender satisfaction breakdowns are included for cities with a minimum of 20 responses for both men and women.

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Angelina is a Marketing Specialist at Apartment List where she writes content on rental lifestyle. Angelina previously worked as a Russian and German language specialist at Facebook and Google, and has a BA in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. Read More
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