The 12 Best Cities in the World to Start Your Career in 2024

Congratulations, class of 2024! You‘ve studied hard, earned your degree, and now you‘re ready to take the world by storm. But where will you make your mark?

Choosing where to start your career is one of the most exciting (and daunting) decisions you‘ll make as a new college grad. The right city can open doors, expand your horizons, and set you up for personal and professional success. But with so many amazing places to choose from, it can be hard to narrow it down.

That‘s where we come in. We‘ve scoured the globe for the top cities that offer an enticing mix of abundant job opportunities, affordability, lifestyle perks, and je ne sais quoi that make them magnets for ambitious young people. Without further ado, here‘s our list of the 12 best cities in the world to launch your career in 2024:

1. Austin, Texas 🌵

Austin, Texas skyline

All hail the reigning champ of millennial meccas! Austin has been luring wide-eyed college grads for over a decade now with its unbeatable blend of professional opportunity and quirky charm.

The Job Market: The Austin metro area has the fastest growing economy in the U.S., expanding by a whopping 7.5% in the last year alone. It ranks #1 on the CompTIA Tech Town Index, with over 68,000 new tech jobs posted in 2023. Major employers include Tesla, Apple, Dell, IBM, and Oracle. The average tech salary is a cushy $113,000.

Quality of Life: Austin‘s unofficial slogan is "Keep Austin Weird," and it lives up to the hype. The city pulses with live music, dive bars, eclectic eateries, and oddball art installations. There‘s always a festival, pub crawl, or open mic night to check out. But Austin is also an oasis of outdoor beauty, bordered by Hill Country and dotted with parks, lakes, and greenbelts. You can paddleboard to work or take a dip in a swimming hole on your lunch break.

Affordability: We‘ll be real—Austin isn‘t the bargain it once was. The median home price has soared to $550,000 and the average rent for a 1BR apartment is $1700. But considering you don‘t need a car here (super bikeable and walkable) and there‘s no state income tax, the costs are manageable—especially on a tech salary.

2. Berlin, Germany 🇩🇪

Berlin, Germany skyline

The zeitgeisty capital of cool, Berlin beckons young expats with its cutting-edge career opportunities, hedonistic nightlife, and inimitable creative spirit. If you‘re looking to make your mark in Europe, Berlin is the clear Goldilocks choice—not too big, not too small, but just right.

The Job Market: Berlin is the startup capital of Europe, with over 500 new ventures launching every year. If you dream of getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing, this is the place to be. It‘s also becoming a global hub for "Silicon Allee" giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Industries like fintech, blockchain, AI, and IoT are booming. The average developer salary is €65,000.

Quality of Life: Berlin‘s lifestyle is the perfect marriage of livability and liveliness. The city is clean, green, safe, and easy to navigate by U-Bahn or bike. Berliners enjoy a healthy work-life balance, with a standard 28 vacation days per year. But they also know how to let loose, whether dancing till dawn at a Berghain rager or sipping a pilsner by the Spree.

Affordability: Berlin is one of the most affordable capitals in Western Europe. The average rent for a 1BR flat is €780 per month—practically pennies compared to London or Paris. Groceries, dining out, and entertainment are all reasonably priced. And with the €49/month public transport pass, you can zip across the city on a dime.

3. Shenzhen, China 🇨🇳

Shenzhen, China skyline

Often dubbed "the Silicon Valley of China", Shenzhen is a high-tech boomtown that‘s luring young professionals from across the globe to ride the wave of its meteoric economic rise. If you‘re hungry to make a dent in the universe, there‘s no place more future-forward than Shenzhen.

The Job Market: Shenzhen is the beating heart of China‘s tech revolution. It‘s home to industry titans like Huawei, Tencent, DJI and BYD, as well as a vibrant ecosystem of hardware startups and makerspaces. The Shenzhen government is investing heavily in emerging fields like 5G, AI, robotics, and biotech. The average tech salary is ¥300,000 per year.

Quality of Life: Shenzhen is a city of contrasts—a dizzying mashup of glitzy skyscrapers, tranquil parks, neon-lit streets, and serene beaches. The city has a youthful, cosmopolitan energy, attracting talent from all corners of China and beyond. While the pace of life is fast, Shenzhen is also highly livable, with excellent infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

Affordability: By Chinese mega-city standards, Shenzhen is quite affordable. The average rent for a 1BR apartment is ¥5000 per month—about half the cost of Shanghai or Beijing. Food is cheap and plentiful, with tasty street eats on every corner. And with the world-class Metro system, you can easily get around without a car.

4. Tel Aviv, Israel 🇮🇱

Tel Aviv, Israel skyline

The sunny seaside city of Tel Aviv has earned its rep as the "Startup Nation" capital, with the highest number of startups per capita in the world. But it‘s not all business—Tel Aviv is also a mecca for foodies, night owls, and beach bums. If you want to work hard and play hard, you‘ll feel right at home here.

The Job Market: Israel has the highest concentration of tech startups outside Silicon Valley, and most are clustered in Tel Aviv. Industries like cybersecurity, digital health, agritech, and fintech are flourishing. The Startup Nation is also becoming an R&D hotspot for multinationals like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. The average tech salary is ₪25,000 per month.

Quality of Life: Tel Aviv is consistently ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world, and it‘s easy to see why. With 300 days of sunshine a year, gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, world-class cuisine, and a vibrant arts and culture scene, the city is a nonstop fest. Tel Avivians are known for their warm, outgoing, and straight-shooting mentality.

Affordability: We‘ll shoot straight—Tel Aviv ain‘t cheap. It ranks as the most expensive city in the Middle East and #35 in the world. The average rent for a 1BR apartment is ₪6000 per month. But on the bright side, most daily living costs like food, transit, and healthcare are reasonable. And you can‘t put a price tag on that stellar quality of life.

5. Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹

Lisbon, Portugal skyline

Lisbon is swiftly shedding its underdog status and emerging as a bona fide startup star on the European stage. Blessed with stunning architecture, a seaside locale, and oodles of Old World charm, the Portuguese capital offers an alluring mix of innovation and quality of life that‘s hard to beat.

The Job Market: Bolstered by government incentives, a skilled workforce, and a strategic location, Lisbon‘s startup scene is on fire. The city has birthed unicorns like Farfetch, Talkdesk, and OutSystems, and is now a hotbed for industries like enterprise software, fashion tech, and blue economy ventures. The average tech salary is €30,000 per year.

Quality of Life: Oh meu Deus, the quality of life! Lisbon enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, world-class beaches, fresh seafood, and acres of historic charm. The city is safe, walkable, and unpretentious. Lisboetas know the secret to a happy life—work to live, not live to work. Rooftop happy hours and weekend trips to the countryside are a must.

Affordability: Compared to other Western European capitals, Lisbon is delightfully affordable. The average rent for a 1BR apartment is €800 per month. A ride on the metro is just €1.50, and a beer on the beach will set you back €2. With a bit of savvy budgeting, you can live like royalty here on a humble salary.

6. Nairobi, Kenya 🇰🇪

Nairobi, Kenya skyline

Nairobi is the beating heart of East Africa‘s "Silicon Savannah," a flourishing tech ecosystem that‘s tackling some of the continent‘s most pressing challenges. From mobile money to agritech to renewable energy, Nairobi is a launchpad for leapfrog innovation. If you want to make a real impact, this is the place to be.

The Job Market: Nairobi is a rising star in the global tech landscape, thanks to a combination of entrepreneurial spirit, digital infrastructure, and a youthful, tech-savvy population. The city is home to hundreds of startups as well as innovation hubs for tech giants like Google, Microsoft, IBM and NVIDIA. Dominant industries include fintech, e-commerce, ed-tech, agritech, and clean energy. The average tech salary is 218,000 KES per month.

Quality of Life: Nairobi is a city of contrasts, where gleaming skyscrapers mingle with lush urban parks and open-air markets hum with energy. The city has a vibrant cultural scene, with world-class restaurants, galleries, and live music spots. And just outside the city, you‘ll find some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife on Earth, from the savannas of Nairobi National Park to the peaks of Mount Kenya.

Affordability: Nairobi has a relatively low cost of living compared to other major African cities. The average rent for a 1BR apartment is 35,000 KES per month. Food, transportation, and entertainment are all quite affordable, especially if you stick to local options. Keep in mind that imported goods can be pricey.

Methodology & Tipsheet

To identify the best cities for launching a career in 2024, we analyzed data from a variety of sources, including:

  • Job market indicators like employment growth, unemployment rate, job openings, and salary data from government labor bureaus, industry associations, job boards, and compensation benchmarking firms
  • Quality of life metrics like cost of living indices, livability scores, safety ratings, transportation access, healthcare quality, recreation options, and diversity ratings from organizations like Mercer, The Economist, and InterNations
  • Business climate factors like venture capital investment, accelerator presence, government incentives, and ease of doing business from sources like Startup Genome, World Bank, and Crunchbase
  • Anecdotal evidence and expert insights from local entrepreneurs, investors, and community leaders

Armed with this data, we looked for cities that hit the sweet spot of abundant job opportunities, reasonable affordability, and high quality of life. We included a mix of major tech hubs, up-and-coming innovation centers, and hidden gem locales to suit a variety of preferences.

Of course, there‘s no one-size-fits-all best place to start a career. But if you‘re looking for a launchpad that will set you up for personal and professional success, you can‘t go wrong with one of these world-class cities.

Tips for Starting Your Career in a New City:

  1. Do your homework. Research the job market, cost of living, neighborhoods, and cultural scene extensively before making the leap. Reach out to locals in your industry for insight.

  2. Build your network. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with alumni in your new city. Relationships are everything when you‘re starting out.

  3. Live modestly at first. Resist the urge to ball out on a sick pad before your first paycheck clears. Opt for a modest rental with good proximity to work and play.

  4. Say yes to (almost) everything. Now‘s the time to explore all your new city has to offer. Accept invitations, try new things, and step outside your comfort zone.

  5. But remember to budget. Big cities have endless temptations to spend. Make a realistic budget and stick to it, so you don‘t end up with more month than money.

  6. Take care of yourself. Starting a new job in a new city can be overwhelming. Prioritize sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and stress relief. Burnout is real.

  7. Embrace the adventure. There will be highs and lows, triumphs and fumbles. Approach it all with curiosity, humility, and a good sense of humor. You‘ve got this!