IT’S NOT REALLY SURPRISING that new graduates are looking for a better life outside of typical economic and technological epicenters such as San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and New York City. Who really wants to pay $2,500 in rent for a stuffy apartment, and face fierce competition with people from around the world for menial-pay jobs? If you’re smart — or just interested in working for a STEM company — but too broke to “make it” in the big cities, here’s a short list of US locations where the job opportunities are hot, the salaries are plentiful, and the cost of living is well within your means:

1. Omaha, Nebraska

Industry leaders: ConAgra, Berkshire Hathaway
Startups: SkyVu, BuyNow
Median salary for an Associate IT Analyst at ConAgra: $55,950
Average price of a 1-bedroom apartment: $663

2. Greenville, South Carolina

Industry leaders: GE, BMW
Startups: The Iron Yard
Median salary for an Engineer at BMW: $89,370
Average price of a 1-bedroom apartment: $530

3. Detroit, Michigan

Industry leaders: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Computer Consultants of America
Startups: Detroit Labs, Locqus
Median salary for a Web Software Developer at Computer Consultants of America: $78,749
Average price of a 1-bedroom apartment: $602

4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Industry leaders: Google, IBM, Apple, Intel
Startups: NoWait
Median salary for a Software Engingeer at Google: $114,292
Average price of a 1-bedroom apartment: $610

5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Photo: cr artist

Industry leaders: Toyota, Alliant Energy
Startups: 512Creative, Bandwidth Pool
Median salary for an Engineer I at Alliant Energy: $64,144
Average price of a 1-bedroom apartment: $500

H/T: Uncubed
Salary information source: GlassDoor
Rent comparison source: RentJungle