The 12 Best Cities for Working Professionals on the East Coast

The east coast has something for everyone when it comes to working professionals choosing where they’ll live. Huge metropolises? Check. Beach cities? Check. History? Check. Social scenes? You know it.

The best part of all is that the entirety of the east coast is connected along the I-95 corridor; by car or by train, working professionals can easily travel to other cities for weekends away, business trips, or a quick day of travel to see the sights.

Whatever you’re looking for in your home city, there’s a place for you on the east coast. Here are the 12 best east coast cities for working professionals.

Quick Takeaways

  • East coast cities offer a wide range of living experiences for working professionals, including big metropolitan cities, beach cities, and diverse populations and cultures.
  • The east coast is connected by the I-95 corridor, making it easy to travel from city to city on business trips or for weekends away.
  • Most east coast cities are affordable, with median rent costs landing between $1000-$2000 per month.

Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine

Population: 66,215

Median Income: $60,467

Median Monthly Rent: $1,124

Portland is both a coastal town and the largest metro area in Maine.  Outdoorsy working professionals will find Portland exceptionally attractive. Winter snowshoe and cross-country skiing are popular in the winter, and in the summer, fishing and sailing in Casco Bay are the activities of choice.

There is no shortage of food or nightlife, either. Portland is known for its fantastic seafood (find an oyster bar ASAP) and active bar scene on Old Port and Congress Street.

Portland is a smaller city, so it’s a good idea to know the job market in your industry before you relocate. But the Portland area has an active startup scene and entrepreneurial spirit, and over the past year, it has also seen an influx of working professional transplants from bigger cities as people increasingly work remotely and seek more living space.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

Population: 42,819

Median Income: $51,394

Median Monthly Rent: $1,213

If you’re looking for city living with a small-town feel, Burlington could be the place for you. Located in the mountains on the beautiful coast of Lake Champlain, Burlington offers stunning views minutes away from its city center.

The music and food scenes are rich in Burlington; restaurants, breweries, bars, and coffee shops are abundant in the city’s walkable downtown. The scenic waterfront offers walking and biking paths, and the Church Street Marketplace features unique shops and handmade products.

Despite its smaller size, Burlington’s close proximity to the University of Vermont and active manufacturing, retail, and tech scenes offer a healthy job market for working professionals.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge, MA

Population: 118,927

Median Income: $103,154

Median Monthly Rent: $2,221

Cambridge has recently ranked the #1 place to live for young professionals by Niche, and for good reason. It’s home to Harvard and MIT, thus boasting exceptional academic and tech job opportunities.

Cambridge also offers some of the richest educational and cultural experiences in the world. Museums focused on art, history, and science abound throughout the city. Outdoor parks and greenery inject a dose of nature, and the nightlife is diverse — downtown you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, jazz clubs, comedy clubs, live music venues, and more.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Population: 692, 600

Median Income: $71,115

Median Monthly Rent: $1,620

The largest city in New England, Boston — often referred to as the Cradle of Liberty — is one of the most history-rich cities in the United States. It’s also home to some of the top academic, tech, and healthcare job markets in the world.

Working professionals in Boston will have no shortage of things to do; with a wide variety of neighborhoods to choose from, residents can find the pocket of Boston that best suits their interests while enjoying the perks of the entire city.

Boston is also known for being a sports town with avid fanbases, sports bars, and professional sporting events (Boston’s home to the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins).

New York City, New York

New York City, New York

Population: 8,336,817

Median Income: $63,998

Median Monthly Rent: $1,443

The Big Apple — it’s the largest city in the United States and perhaps the most dreamed-about city by aspiring professionals who want the big-city job and the living experience that comes along with it.

New York City offers everything you think it would: diverse neighborhoods, theater, art, food, nightlife, history. It’s all there, as are jobs in just about every industry.

The thing about New York City? It’s definitely for working professionals who don’t mind being a small fish in a big pond — while NYC’s neighborhoods offer a sense of community to their residents, New York City as a whole is big, busy, and exceptionally fast-paced at all times.

For many professionals, that’s the whole point, and for those people, there’s no better place than New York City.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Population: 1,584,064

Median Income: $45,927

Median Monthly Rent: $1,042

Philadelphia is New York City’s smaller southern neighbor, but it boasts much of the same big-city feel. At the same time, it has more of a hometown environment, with residents passionate about just about everything — food, sports teams, neighborhoods, you name it. This means the best of both worlds for many working professionals looking for a city to call home.

Philadelphia is home to some of the country’s oldest historic events and landmarks like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It also offers restaurants, bars, and nightlife galore.

Its location at the middle point between New York City and Washington D.C. (a quick train ride from both) also makes it one of the most convenient places to live for working professionals who travel between them or are interested in exploring all three.

Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Population: 705,749

Median Income: $86,420

Median Monthly Rent: $1,541

The political nucleus of the nation, Washington D.C. is a great option for people entering careers in politics or law. But D.C. also offers robust job markets in other industries like tech, healthcare, finance, and architecture (to name a few).

Washington D.C. is not a driver’s town, but it is walkable and also offers one of the best public transportation systems in the country. D.C. has an active social scene and tons of museums, monuments, and historic sites for residents to explore.

And while you don’t need to be working in politics to find a job in D.C., residents are still right in the center of the nation’s legislative action — pretty cool for any aspiring working professional.

Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, VA

Population: 159,428

Median Income: $100,939

Median Monthly Rent: $1,747

Alexandria has a reputation — rated the #5 Best Small City in the U.S. and one of the South’s Best Cities in 2020, Alexandria is the perfect choice for working professionals who want proximity to Washington D.C. and big-city career opportunities with a small-town living experience.

Alexandria residents have the luxury of enjoying the amenities right in their hometown — charming King Street, restaurants, art, and the Potomac waterfront — while being able to cross the river into D.C. whenever they want.

Working professionals in D.C. who are willing to have a commute will love the balance offered by Alexandria.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Population: 474,069

Median Income: $67,266

Median Monthly Rent: $1,121

Raleigh offers an up-and-coming city environment rich in beautiful outdoor spaces, restaurants and bars, museums, music and education. Raleigh is known for its southern hospitality, where residents are friendly and neighbors welcoming.

For working professionals looking for job opportunities, Raleigh is somewhat of a gold mine. It’s located at what locals call the “Triangle” (along with nearby Durham and Chapel Hill) with a business complex housing 140 companies (including the likes of Cisco and GlaxoSmithKline) and employing nearly 40,000 people.

Beyond that, nearby universities like Duke, University of North Carolina, and North Carolina state enhance the already healthy job market.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Population: 137,566

Median Income: $68,438

Median Monthly Rent: $1,257

If you’re looking for palm trees and southern charm, Charleston’s got it. In fact, it’s been consistently ranked by Travel & Leisure as the #1 city in the United States.

Even better? The job market in Charleston is growing. It’s the top mid-sized metro region for IT job growth. Other top industries include education, healthcare, government, and hospitality.

Charleston has a buzzing nightlife scene and rich art culture (there are more than 40 art galleries in the greater Charleston area) and beautiful weather year-round, with mild temperatures making it possible for outdoor festivals, a bustling downtown King Street, and time spent in the city’s outdoor green areas enjoyable at any time of year.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Population: 144,464

Median Income: $43,307

Median Monthly Rent: $1,019

Savannah is about as picturesque as it gets, meaning working professionals who move here will likely walk around feeling like tourists much of the time.

Savannah has beautiful parks and beaches and great weather all year. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy its walkable, bike- and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, green outdoor spaces, and water sports at the beach or the marsh. The city boasts a growing food and beverage scene with equal parts southern comfort food and coastal cuisine.

Savannah’s tech and creative job markets are thriving. In 2019, it was named the #1 U.S. City for Creatives, and the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) is currently reimbursing moving expenses for qualified creative technology workers moving to the city.

Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida


Population: 399,700

Median Salary: $53,833

Median Rent: $1,131

Living in Tampa, Florida is like living life on vacation. For working professionals, they can do it without sacrificing career opportunities, too. Tampa has a growing job market; top industries in the city include healthcare, finance, supply chain, and hospitality, and technology.

The cost of living in Tampa is lower than the national average despite its location in sunny Florida and proximity to beautiful beaches in St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach. Tampa enjoys more seasonal weather than some of its counterparts in more southern parts of the state, too; while the summers are hot and the weather is generally warm all year round, the temperatures do drop in the summer and fall.

Tampa is surrounded by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and offers beautiful waterfront spaces and water activities. Tampa bay has plenty to do and see, with a great mix of downtown city life in Tampa and nearby beach town nightlife in St. Pete and Clearwater. Depending on their mood, residents can take their pick.

Choosing a City


With so many options (this list doesn’t even include them all!), it can be hard to choose the best city for you and your career. As you decide, here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Your job industry and its market
  • Cost of living
  • Modes of transportation
  • Weather
  • Social scene and popular activities

If you can, visit the city you’re considering to see what it’s like. Most of all, remember to prioritize what is most important to you and choose a city that checks those boxes.

Ready to go? Happy city shopping!

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