4 Reasons Why St. Louis Is a Great Place to Start Your Career

by Elizabeth Aldrich | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Jan. 27, 2020

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Forget New York and Silicon Valley -- have you thought about St. Louis?

When you're thinking of the best places to start your career, St. Louis might not be on your radar -- but that's exactly why it should be.

This hidden gem of a city is bursting with the headquarters of well-established corporations as well as rapidly growing startups. Paired with affordable housing, it's easy to see why St. Louis is ideal for young professionals. In fact, the city was recently ranked No. 5 on The Ascent's list of the 10 best cities for high salaries and low costs of living

Whether you're trying to pay off loan debt quickly or kick-start your career, here's why you should consider the Gateway City.

1. Low cost of living

If you're working in your first professional job with an entry-level salary, chances are you'll benefit greatly from living somewhere affordable. Choosing to live in an area with a low cost of living is one of the best ways to pay off debt quickly, get ahead with your savings, and even buy a house at a young age. St. Louis is one of the top 20 metro areas in the United States, yet it has one of the lowest costs of living in the country, and the second most affordable housing market.

Another important factor, of course, is the ability to make a decent income. A low cost of living means nothing if you can't find work. Luckily, St. Louis is both a very affordable and promising place to work. In fact, the city's mean annual salary of $50,250 and Cost of Living Index of 87.4, when considered together, are what made it No. 5 in the country in our survey of cities with high salary and low cost of living.

2. Ample career opportunities for young professionals

In major cities that are overflowing with talented people, it can be difficult to break into your field or climb the ladder at a young age. In a mid-sized city, it's easier to get noticed and find new opportunities, and when it comes to career opportunities, St. Louis has plenty.

Despite being a relatively small city, St. Louis ranks as one of the top in the nation for new, thriving industries. Nine of the Fortune 500 companies are located here and 14 of the Fortune 1000 companies. The city is also home to many of the country's fastest-growing companies, particularly those in promising industries such as biotech, agriculture tech, and transportation. What's more, the unemployment rate in St. Louis is 3.1% as of October 2019, even lower than the already low national average.

3. Easy commute

While it's possible to game the system in a big city by working in the center where salaries are higher, and living in the outskirts where houses are cheaper, you end up spending a huge chunk of your life in the car or on the train. The average daily commute for workers in New York, New Jersey, and California is well over an hour, with more than a quarter of New York City's workers spending over two hours commuting every day.

In St. Louis, the average commute is just 24 minutes each way, for a total daily commute of 48 minutes. When compared to New York City's average total daily commute of 81.6 minutes, that's about 33 minutes saved each day -- which is almost four extra hours each week to spend on work or with family. Aside from freeing up time, this shorter commute also saves you a lot of money on transportation.

4. A growing start-up community

Folks with a more entrepreneurial mindset will also be set up for success in St. Louis, which is home to a flourishing start-up scene. Popular data journalism website FiveThirtyEight dubbed St. Louis "the new start-up frontier" in 2016. In fact, St Louis even has its very own Silicon Valley, an entire neighborhood dedicated to innovation, business, and start-ups. It's called the Cortex Innovation District, and it was founded by Washington University, a St. Louis institution known for its tech, engineering, and medicine programs. 

You'll also find Accelerate St. Louis, an organization dedicated to the growth of the St. Louis start-up community, T-REX, a co-working space, incubator, an entrepreneur resource center, and the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), a nonprofit that provides resources to early-stage, high-growth startups. If you're in need of funding, the city also hosts Arch Grants, a $50,000 global start-up competition.

America's mid-sized cities are on fire right now, being great places to both accelerate your career and sock lots of money away in a savings account. And St. Louis is at the top of the list.

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