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UI alumni: "Vibe" more important when choosing where to live

BY JORDYN REILAND | DECEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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Thomas Rinehart likes to "keep it weird" in Portland.

The University of Iowa alum completed an M.D. in 2008 and went to the city to begin his residency.
"Keep Portland weird," Rinehart said is a slogan many of the city's residents live by, and the mindset is one reason Rinehart chose to complete his medical residence in the nature-orientated city.

"You ask people why they move here, and most say because it has a cool vibe and a funky little city," he said.

Rinehart is among 250,000 UI alumni who have flocked to places in all 50 states and to more than 50 countries.

A study conducted by the Brookings Institute shows the top seven cities college graduates land in — Portland, Washington D.C., Austin, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and Denver — all of which play home to UI alumni.

The study shows that many young graduates are choosing "cool" places with "good vibes" over cities that are economically well-off.

Rinehart said despite the state's high unemployment rate and city taxes, he and others still flock to the Portland.

"People are willing to look past the economic bump they take for the vibe," Rinehart said.

In the United States, more than 80,000 UI graduates now reside in Iowa, followed by Illinois, California, Minnesota, and Colorado with between 7,000 and 32,000 Hawkeyes each.

Though some recent UI alumni said they chose a city's feel over its economics after graduation, some UI officials say that is not the case for upcoming graduates.

Paul Jensen, the internship and placement coordinator for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the students he works with are looking for the best career options versus location.

"I spend more time with students looking for jobs rather then destinations," he said.

That's much like Blake Friis, who said Dallas was the right mix of location with the right job opportunity. Friis, who searched for a job in advertising and media, decided it was a good place to go.

"The opportunities and the vibe played an equal part," Friis said. "There are a ton of young professionals in Dallas, and there's always something to do and people to meet."

Garry Klein, the Pomerantz Career Center director of program assessment and research, said he hears many reasons students select a particular city.

"I've heard anything from 'I wanted a job near home,' to 'I've lived in Iowa my whole life, and I wanted to live somewhere else,' " he said.

But Jensen said he often sees people who want to be close to family.

"Whether home is close to here, or Chicago, or Minneapolis," Jensen said, "people want to go home."

Jensen said students are looking for jobs back home or moving where their significant other has a job.

Nick Arvidson, a 2011 graduate living in Denver, said he didn't decide to move to Denver until senior year.

"I had friends who went to school out there," Arvidson said who said his girlfriend also had a job in the area. "And the feel of Denver is kind of exciting, fresh, cool, and fun."


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