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Best Cities for Young Professionals

October 31, 2019

You’ve got your degree and you’re ready to move on to the next phase of your life. But now you’re faced with a big question – where do you want to start your life after college? For many, this marks the beginning of your “real” adult life. It’s where you begin your professional journey. Some choose to go back to their hometowns, while others decide to move away and start new chapters. If you’re looking to move to a new place after college, you might want to check out some of the cities on this list from US News.

 

Minneapolis-St. Paul.

If you can bear the cold winters, The Twin Cities are a great option for young professionals. They have a metro population of about 3,488,436 people, and it’s still very affordable. According to US News, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find a job in this area – the unemployment rate is only 3.3%, and the median annual salary is about $6,000 more than the national average.

 

Honolulu.

You may think packing up to move to Hawaii will always be nothing more than a dream, but US News begs to differ. Honolulu has a great reputation as a vacation destination, but it would also be an amazing place for a young professional to call home. The tourism industry is vibrant and full of opportunities, as well as health care and defense, thanks to the military bases on Oahu. They also tout an impressive unemployment rate of just 2.4%. Can you imagine waking up to a tropical Hawaiian breeze every day? We’re right there with you.

 

Nashville.

The country music capital of the USA has grown significantly over the past few years, and so have its job opportunities. In the Nashville metro area, the unemployment rate is only 3%. If you’re looking for a career in healthcare, you’ll likely find lots of opportunities here. Not to mention, there’s plenty to do in Nashville on the weekends, from taking a night out on Broadway Street to drifting the Harpeth River.

 

San Francisco.

Young professionals are drawn to San Francisco, even though it is one of the most expensive places in the country. However, the city is home to the second-strongest job market in the United States, so many make the higher cost of living work with their salaries. Plus, the experience of living in San Francisco might be worth a little more money, right? Experiencing the City by the Bay would be a dream for many young professionals, and with a ridiculously low unemployment rate of 1.8%, they might just land their dream job there.

 

Austin.

Texas’ capital city has felt an influx of millennials over the past decade, primarily due to the conducive environment for young professionals. Austin, Texas is a major tech hub with companies such as Apple, Amazon and AT&T holding offices there, making it a great place for young professionals in the tech space. If you want to spend part of your life in a major city, you’ll want to check this one out.

 

Portland.

One of the most sought-after metro residential areas, Portland is known for those who like to embrace their “weird” side (the city has been described as “stuck in the 90s”). You’ll find some major companies like Intel Corp., Nike, and more here, so you may encounter some pretty cool employment opportunities. The unemployment rate is a low 3.8%, so a job in Portland is definitely worth looking into. Experiencing a city like Portland could be great for a young professional looking for something different.

 

Colorado Springs.

US News picked Colorado Springs as the top city for young professionals, primarily due to the ease of living there. With high desirability outside of the Rockies and low costs of living, this city has grown over the past few years. However, its growth has been slow in comparison to other parts of the country, so housing costs are more than a quarter below the median annual income. You’ll have the potential to earn a salary around the national average, but save a little bit on your housing costs, all while enjoying the beauty Colorado Springs has to offer. In other words, it will be easy to get by and get on your feet in this exciting town, making it great for young professionals gaining a foothold in their careers.

 

Places We Like

Seattle.

With 23.1% of the population between 25-34, Seattle is clearly a hub for young professionals. Now the home of Amazon, Seattle is quickly becoming a tech-hub with plenty of opportunities. With a low unemployment rate of 2.4% and a high-end median income of over $86,000, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest attracts young people from all over the country.

 

Raleigh.

While it’s usually known for it’s two major universities near the metro area (Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill), Raleigh, North Carolina ranked 13th in best places to live in 2018 due to its affordability, strong median income and low unemployment rate of 3.6%, not to mention the exciting southern culture. Plenty of recent grads from the major universities and around the country make their homes here, with plenty of jobs in education and research.

 

Atlanta.

Looking for everything you could ask for in a southern city? Look no further than Atlanta. Homes here are $30,000 lower than the national median, and the city offers a high median income. Atlanta is a popular city among young people, from its trendy culture, hip-hop influence and worldwide connection (home of the largest U.S. airport). Also known as the city where the “players play,” it’s a great place for young professionals to start their careers with major U.S. companies.

 

Moving out and starting life in a new place is so thrilling, but deciding where you want to go can be tough. This list just touches the surface of some of the best places the United States has to live. If you want to see the full ranking or read more about the places on this list, check out US News’s original article here.

 


 

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2020-03-23
How to Appropriately Ask for a Raise

So you’ve been taking on more responsibility at work, your boss says you’re a real asset to the company, but your salary hasn’t changed in a few years. If this describes your current work situation, it might be time to ask for a raise.    According to PayScale’s “Raise Anatomy” report, only 37% of workers have asked for a raise. Of those that did ask, 70% received some sort of increase in compensation. Those are pretty good odds so if you’re excelling at your job, you should ask! The average raise in 2019 was 3%, according to the 2020 Compensation Best Practices Report. This means that if you are earning $40,000, your raise would increase your income by $1,200 per year. The amount of a raise depends on the sector of work, location, and demand for the position. Typically, jobs in the private sector usually receive higher raises than jobs in the government. As a best practice, you should usually wait to request a raise after you have worked for the company for at least one year. Additionally, in most cases, you should not ask for a raise more than once a year.    If you feel it is time to ask for a raise, here are some tips on how to appropriately request one.  

Prepare for a Meeting 

When you are ready to ask for a raise, request a meeting with your boss and let them know you’d like to discuss your salary.   

1. Plan your request at the right time

When you want to ask for a raise, pay attention to the timing of the meeting with your boss. An appropriate time for a meeting would be:
  • After you successfully completed a big project that brought value to your company
  • During a performance review meeting when you have exceeded expectations. Performance review meetings are a typical time when companies award raises. Being prepared to ask for a raise during this time could allow you to negotiate for more than the planned raise. 
  Times to avoid a meeting:
  • During a busy season of work when your boss will not be able to focus on your request 
  • When you are behind on your work. If you are not able to perform your current workload, it will be hard to justify a raise to your boss.
 

2. Prepare talking points

Go into the meeting prepared to advocate for yourself. Although you don’t have to memorize a speech, it’s good to be prepared with the following information: 
  • Specific examples of accomplishments you have achieved at work recently. This could be anything from securing a big client to implementing an idea that brings in extra revenue for your company. 
  • How you have exceeded expectations for your position. 
  • Additional responsibilities you have undertaken. If you have taken on more responsibilities by taking initiative, be sure to highlight those. 
  • The value you will continue to bring to the company in the future and examples of how this will be accomplished. 
 

3. Do your research

It’s important to know that the salary you are requesting is realistic for your position and your location. A great resource is Glassdoor. You can compare salaries for your sector or receive a personalized salary estimate based on your market and position.  

4. Practice, practice, practice

Asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking conversation. By preparing and practicing before your meeting, you can walk in confidently and armed with data to back up your request. In addition to practicing your talking points, you will want to be ready for any questions or negotiations that may arise. While it’s good to have a specific salary in mind, you should also be open to other numbers or benefits that your boss may offer. For example, the company may offer you work from home or extra vacation time in place of a salary increase.  

In the Meeting 

You’ve requested a timely meeting, prepared extensively, and now it’s go-time. Once you’re in the meeting here’s what you should focus on:  

1. Your Demeanor

Pay attention to your tone and body language when speaking. You want to appear confident in yourself and your abilities. Show a positive attitude about the value you bring to the company, but do not appear arrogant. If you get questioned about why you deserve a raise, keep your cool and answer with the talking points you prepared.   

2. Communicate Your Accomplishments

Instead of just rattling off a laundry list of accomplishments, focus on a few incredible examples and, if possible, bring proof of your work. Here are a few ideas of what you can present in the meeting:
  • Two-three examples of big projects you accomplished 
  • Work you did that was beyond the scope of your job
  • Specific examples of when you took the lead and were successful
  • Examples of work brought that brought monetary value to the company
  • Ideas for your future at the company. Companies value loyal workers so be sure to point out how you have demonstrated loyalty and your desire to remain with the company.   
 

3. Explain Why You’ve Earned It

Be sure to avoid talking about why you need the extra money and instead focus on how you have earned a raise. For example, if you are in sales, instead of saying you need the money because of increased living costs, say you have earned this raise because you are the most successful sales associate, have brought in $100,000 in revenue, and receive great reviews.   

4. Bring a Specific Number

It’s best to have a specific number you are requesting, according to a study by Columbia Business School, instead of a range. For example, you want to request $55,000 as opposed to saying $52,000 to $57,000. Provide the reasoning for how you arrived at that number and, if applicable, give examples of how it is in line for the type of work you do.    

Bottom Line

If you have been in your role for over a year and are killing it at your job, you should seriously consider asking for a raise. But before you do so, preparation is absolutely critical. Follow the steps above and you’ll be in a great place to have this discussion with your boss. Good luck!  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020-03-18
How to Plan a Wedding While Paying Student Loans

By Caroline Farhat   Congratulations, you’re engaged! Planning a wedding is an exciting time! From choosing your attire to picking out a venue and decor, there are a lot of decisions to make and many that can be costly. If you’re starting to plan your big day, you might be wondering how you’ll pay all of these extra expenses while still paying your student loan debt and regular bills. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Read on for some tips on how to plan a wedding with student loans on your radar.    

1. Set Realistic Expectations

A majority of the costs for a wedding are based on the number of guests, so you can save money by keeping your guest list relatively small. For example, if you plan a wedding for 350 people you will most likely need a bigger venue than you would for 100 guests. Venue costs typically account for one-third of ceremony and reception costs so this can be a major budget buster. Food and beverage and wedding favors are also typically charged per person. Because weddings can be expensive and extravagant or budget-friendly and low-key, it’s critical to discuss your desires and budget with your partner before you start planning.  

Here are some good points to discuss:

  • Parameters for the guest list: Do you want to invite your college roommate you haven’t seen in three years and every cousin on your partner’s side? Or are you looking for a more intimate affair with just your closest family and friends? 
  • Your near-term financial goals (besides the wedding): Are you saving for a down payment for a home? Considering starting a family? Understanding your joint financial goals is a great way to guide your expectations. 
  • Location of the wedding: Agreement on location is key because it will drive all of your other planning. If you’re eyeing a destination wedding and your partner wants a backyard wedding, you will want to understand each other’s individual desires so that you can create a joint wedding that makes both of you happy!
 

2. Set a Budget and Stick to It

Before you plan a budget, it helps to know who will be contributing to the wedding costs. Will you be paying for wedding expenses equally with your partner? Do any family members want to help with costs? This information can help shape your budget.     The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $28,000 according to
The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Survey. This figure only accounts for the ceremony and reception and can vary widely depending on your location. When you add in the average costs of an engagement ring ($5,900), a honeymoon ($5,000), and other wedding events such as the rehearsal dinner, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and engagement parties, the actual wedding costs can be much higher. If these numbers are making you want to elope in Vegas, don’t panic. There are some ways you can try to lower the cost of a wedding: 
  • Going DIY - DIYing at least some elements of the wedding can save you a good chunk of money. If you’re a Pinterest aficionado, try creating your own wedding invitations or centerpieces. Better yet, homemade wedding favors would be extra special for your guests and can save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Barter - Do you have friends that are photographers, florists, musicians, or bartenders? Bartering can help keep your expenses down while still getting the services you need. 
  • Timing - Are you dead set on having a June wedding or are you more flexible? In some areas, the month you pick can have a big impact on cost! Typically, June is a higher cost since it’s considered peak season, while winter weddings tend to be less expensive. Additionally, having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday can save you some money compared to a Saturday wedding. 
  Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that most wedding vendors do not require full payment upfront. Many vendors require a downpayment to secure their services and final payment closer to the wedding date. Open a separate bank account or flag any money you set aside for final wedding payments so that it doesn’t get used for other expenses that might pop up.   

3. Cut Expenses

In the midst of all the wedding costs, it may seem like any money you had leftover at the end of the month is now going towards the wedding. If money gets tight, think of ways to cut expenses: 
  • Refinance your student loans: Refinancing can be a great way to get extra cash now and set you and your partner up for a better financial future. Refinancing can save you on your monthly payment, as well as save you on interest costs over the life of the loan. For example, if you have a $35,000 loan with an 8% interest rate and get approved for an interest rate as low as 3.99% you could be saving up to $70 per month and over $8,000 in interest costs. Check out our student loan refinance calculator to see how much you could be saving.*   
  • Cut cable or cell phone bill: If you still have cable, it’s easier now than ever to cut the cord and still watch the shows and sports you want to see. Still paying a high cell phone bill? Compare carriers and call your existing provider to see if you can lower your bill.  
  • Reduce eating out or other entertainment expenses: It may not seem easy or fun to stop eating out or to cut back on entertainment, but reducing these expenses now could be just what you need to afford the band or DJ you really want at your wedding. 
 

4. Start a Side Hustle

A side hustle is a way you can earn money outside of your day job. The possibilities for a side hustle are endless: You could babysit, walk dogs, pick up a part-time job, etc. The extra money can help pay for your wedding expenses or you could put it towards your future financial goals. Earning extra money is not only helpful during wedding planning when you will experience extra expenses, but it can also help you after the wedding to make additional payments on your student loans, save for a new car or fund a dream trip.   

Bottom Line

Planning a wedding with student loans can be a stressful time. Don’t let your student loans be a part of the stress. With realistic expectations and a budget, you can manage to have the wedding of your dreams while still paying down your student loan debt!   
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2020-03-02
10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities to Live In for 2020

Depending on where you live, your income may not give you as much spending power as you expect. For instance, someone making $100,000 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will be far more comfortable than someone making $100,000 in Manhattan, New York.    If you’re thinking of moving to a new city, consider the cost of living before committing to relocating. The city’s cost of living can have a big impact on your cash flow and your ability to handle your expenses, including your student loan repayment if you have education debt.   

10 Cities with the Highest Cost of Living in the US

To come up with a list of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest cost of living, we looked at information compiled by Kiplinger. In each city, the cost of living is well above the national average and the median home value is over $450,000 — well above the median home value for the nation as a whole.    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average wage for all occupations is $51,960. To show you just how expensive each of these cities actually is, we used a cost of living calculator to demonstrate what that salary is worth in each location. For the sake of comparison, we used Atlanta Georgia as the resident’s original city — a city that is right at the national average in terms of cost of living.    Here are the 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in for 2020:   

10. Boston, MA

If you relocated from Atlanta to Boston and earned the national average wage of $51,960, you’d have to get a job that paid at least $75,137 to maintain the same standard of living that you’re accustomed to in Boston. That’s because Boston’s cost of living is 50% higher than the national average.    Boston does have a below-average unemployment rate, increasing your chances of finding and maintaining a job. As of December 2019, the unemployment rate was just 2.1%      

9. Queens, NY

If you want to move to the Queens section of New York, you’d have to earn at least $75,387 to have the same spending power as you would with a $51,960 salary in Atlanta. The cost of living in Queens is 52% higher than the national average. In particular, you’ll face a much more competitive housing market. According to Zillow, the median home value in Queens is $531,000 and the median rent price for an apartment is $2,250.        

8. Arlington, VA

Arlington’s proximity to the Pentagon and the nation’s capital makes it a hotspot for government workers and lawyers, and the cost of living reflects that. Its cost of living is 53% above the national average, and the median home value in Arlington is $737,932 — nearly $500.000 more than the national median home value.    If you moved from Atlanta to Arlington, you’d have to earn at least $76,588 to maintain your standard of living.       

7. Oakland, CA

In Oakland, be prepared for sticker shock when it comes to housing. The median home value in Oakland is $765,350. The median rent for apartments is a whopping $3,000. That’s more than three times the national median rent for a one-bedroom apartment.    To have the same spending power in Oakland as you did in Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $80,193 per year.       

6. Seattle, WA

Seattle’s cost of living is 54.8% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living after relocating from Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $79,792. If you want to be a homeowner, be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. The median home value in Seattle is $752,187. If you prefer to rent, the median rent price is $2,600.    The unemployment rate in the area is relatively low. As of December 2019, it was just 2.2%. The median household income was $85,562      

5. Washington, D.C.

The cost of living in the nation’s capital is 62.6% above the national average. If you relocated from Atlanta to Washington D.C., you’d have to earn at least $82,095 to have the same spending power as you did before.    The median household income is a high $82,604. The median home value in the area is $636,372, and the median rent price is $2,700. However, unemployment in Washington D.C. is quite high. As of December 2019, it was at 5.3%. Unless you already have a job lined up, it may be difficult to find a position since it’s a very competitive market.       

4. Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn has become a more desirable area for New Yorkers to live, and it’s become more expensive as a result. Its cost of living is 81.7% above the national average, and you’d have to earn $92,206 to maintain your standard of living.    While the housing market is expensive, incomes tend to be relatively low. The median household income for Brooklyn residents is just $56,015. And, the unemployment rate is quite high. As of 2018 — the last available data — the unemployment rate reached 4.6%.        

3. Honolulu, HI

Moving to an island paradise may sound like a dream come true, but that dream comes with a hefty price tag. Honolulu's cost of living is 89.7% above the national average, largely because so much of your everyday essentials need to be imported. To maintain the standard of living you enjoyed in Atlanta, you’d have to earn $100,766 working in Honolulu.    The median home value in Honolulu is $705,505, and the median rent price is $2,200. Unemployment is Honolulu is low; as of December 2019, unemployment was at 2.1%      

2. San Francisco, CA

Many major employers call San Francisco home, including Salesforce, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Genentech. With such big companies in the area, employees can often command high salaries. The median household income for San Francisco is $110,601, well above the national median income.    However, San Francisco’s cost of living is quite high; it’s 96.3% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living, you’d have to find a job that paid at least $100,166 per year.    The median home value in San Francisco is $1,392,859. If you want to rent an apartment, be prepared to pay a high price; the median rent price is a staggering $4,500 per month.       

1. Manhattan, NY

Manhattan is notorious for its sky-high cost of living. In fact, its cost of living is 148.5% higher than the national average. If you were to move to Manhattan from Atlanta, you’d have to increase your salary to $127,497 to maintain your standard of living — a $75,537 increase over your current income. Everything in Manhattan is more expensive, especially housing, food, and transportation.    The median home value in Manhattan is $1,013,116, and the median rent price is $3,450. Unfortunately, finding and keeping a job to pay for those housing costs can be difficult since Manhattan does have a relatively high unemployment rate. As of 2018 — the last available data — it was at 4.1%  

Living in an Expensive City

If you’re moving to a new city, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of cost of living and how far your income will go in your new location. Before moving, create a budget and streamline your expenses to free up as much money as you can.    If you need to improve your cash flow, consider student loan refinancing. You could lower your interest rate or extend your repayment term to reduce your monthly payment, giving you more breathing room in your monthly budget so you can afford your new home. Use ELFI’s Find My Rate tool to get a quote without affecting your credit score.*  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.    Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.