The Recent Graduate Dilemma

A few weeks ago we wrote an article entitled ‘Graduating into the Worst Economy in Twenty Years,’ which basically asked college and high school seniors the question, “now that the real world is upon you, what are you going to do about it?”

And then we linked over to’s list of top cities for young people. Admittedly, we were excited about the nifty interactive graphics installed on their web page than the actual results and methodology.

The reality is that I don’t think that anyone would or should make decisions based on these figures or rankings. I can’t imagine a situation where someone evaluates two metropolitan areas based on job statistics and apartment rents and then based on that analysis, packs up their stuff and moves.

It is not as if people are hunched over a desk with a calculator and ledger and decide to move to Phoenix apartment instead of San Diego apartment because the average rent is $54 cheaper and the unemployment rate for people 18-34 is .3 percent lower; this decision is much more personal.

Therefore it follows that anecdotes provide much more insight than do statistics for recent graduates, so I asked some friends, coworkers and strangers how they came to their decisions. The common thread between all of the stories was how each person overcame the Recent Graduate Dilemma (RGD).

The RGD is the fact that you need a job to afford an apartment, but you need an apartment to find a job. So how do you get around this Catch-22?

I’ll tell you my personal methodology when I first graduated college and it was rather unscientific. A friend of mine had a walk-in closet in a 3 bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C. that I was allowed to live in for a very reasonable rate. I had a degree in Politics. Done. When I asked a few friends how they first moved to DC, a few answered, “before you got there, I lived in B*****’s walk-in closet when we first relocated and then found jobs and then legitimate apartments.”

It was a popular half way house, this walk-in closet in an apartment in Columbia Heights and it allowed a bunch of us to get around the RGD.

We are not done with the RGD, tomorrow we’ll take a look at some other solutions, since not everyone has such wonderfully understanding, generous and most of all patient friends who are even in a position to offer such a service.

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