Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Gown then Town: Harrisburg ranked among best cities for recent college grads.

Erin Templeton, Tyler Eaglowski, Liz Barrentes and Dove Reinford gather inside Capital Joe, one of Harrisburg’s many meeting places for young people.

Seth Robbins’ bags were packed before he even hit his Lock Haven University graduation stage in 2015. Afterwards, he drove himself out to Indianapolis, Ind.

In the fall of 2017, he finally landed a job in the field he spent four years studying, right in his hometown of Harrisburg.

According to, a popular real estate website run by the National Association of Realtors, more college grads like Robbins should be flocking to Harrisburg.

Recently, ran a story titled, “Give It a College Try: 10 Best Cities for New Grads to Live, Work Play,” and Harrisburg ranked an impressive fourth in the nation. Their team examined job opportunities, wage growth, housing affordability, social clubs and more in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country to help determine the best places for college grads.

The Capitol complex is a rich source of jobs for recent college graduates.

Though Harrisburg might not be your typical college town, it features many aspects that attract young people upon graduation, according to The article specifically mentions running groups and Wildwood Park, and there is no shortage of activities–from 2nd Street’s bars and clubs to the State Museum and City Island.

In fact, only large college towns, like Madison, Wisc., and Austin, Texas, outranked Harrisburg on the list, while Pennsylvania’s capital city beat out other popular post-college cities, such as Nashville, Pittsburgh and Denver, which ranked sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively.

Pricey destinations, like Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and Seattle, which attract many graduates, didn’t make the top-10 list.

But there’s more to Harrisburg than just its nightlife. There’s also a growing job market, which contributed significantly to its high ranking. According to, with a 3.5-percent unemployment rate, students can find many types of jobs here, especially in government, politics and lobbying.

“I think Harrisburg in general is a great place to live, work and play,” said Derek Whitesel, executive director of Harrisburg Young Professionals (HYP). “There are a lot of jobs for those that are coming out of college. You can make a decent starting salary and have a decent cost of living.”

The job market might pull students in and nightlife will keep them entertained, but Harrisburg’s biggest draw, according to the site, is affordability.

Katherine Bosak, an undergraduate at Temple University, said that she plans to move to Harrisburg once she graduates because of its affordable housing. Currently, she pays $945 a month for her off-campus studio apartment in Philadelphia.

According to, the median home price in Harrisburg is $129,500. The average rent price is $900, $500 less than the state average, according to Zillow, another real estate-focused website.

“Compared to Philadelphia, [Harrisburg] is way more affordable,” Bosak said. “There is still nightlife and there are still things to do here, but it’s on a smaller and more affordable scale.”

After two years, Robbins is still in love with Harrisburg. When he’s not working as an associate residential mortgage loan officer at Fulton Bank, he works with Whitesel and other members of HYP to help highlight and improve the city.

“There is no other place better on the East Coast, and I’m not just saying that because I live here,” Robbins said. “You can go to a bigger city where there is more stuff to do, but you can’t make as big of an impact.”

To read the full story, visit

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