10 Reasons to Stay in New Orleans Post-Graduation

Tis the season for final crawfish boils, last-minute trips to F&M’s “just to remember it bye,” and pawning your old crap off on craigslist. Trust me, no one wants that couch after how many times it’s been pissed on. Thousands of students come to New Orleans for our higher education, but after 4 years (~5 for some,) the time to return home will always come too soon.

Some may leave for job opportunities, others for relationships and family ties. If I’ve learned one thing from my elders who’ve graduated before me, though, it’s that you always leave a little piece of your heart behind in New Orleans. So, I found myself asking, why leave? Plenty of people make good lives for themselves here. Yes, if your major in college was alpine climate ecology, promptly move to Canada. For everyone else, though, hop on over to WorkNOLA or New Orleans Jobs List to start looking for a reason to stay for another drink or two.

1. Food is better

K-Paul's Eggplant Pirogue. Enough said.
K-Paul’s Eggplant Pirogue. Enough said.

This should go without saying. Unless your doctor specifically said to lower your sodium intake, where else in the world is hot sauce on the table the rule and not the exception? From Cajun and Creole flavors to the hundreds of new age restaurants opening every year, you could probably try something/someplace new every night for the rest of your life here and never eat the same thing twice.

2. Low unemployment rate

New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.

Some may call BS when hearing this, but it’s true. The national unemployment rate as of March 2014 was 6.7%. New Orleans clocked in at 4.7%. That’s nothing too groundbreaking, but you can’t argue with the numbers. New Orleans has also gotten publicity nationally for being a great place for entrepreneurs, tech companies, and as Forbes said, #1 on the list of “America’s Biggest Brain Magnets.”

3. Companies Starting and Opening up

Microsoft Tech Ed Conference, New Orleans.
Microsoft Tech Ed Conference, New Orleans.

As stated before, New Orleans is proving itself to be a great place for both established companies to set up shop and for new ones to get off the ground. Just last month, national software company 4th Source announced that they’d be establishing corporate headquarters in Kenner – not just the place with the airport anymore. Incubator services such as Launch Pad and The Idea Village help out local entrepreneurs looking to get their new company up and running, and hiring.

4. Bars (happy hour)

Hangovers are easily managed when you pass out at 9pm
Hangovers are easily managed when you pass out at 9pm

Like my dad regretfully says, it wouldn’t be an article written by me if it didn’t mention alcohol. Work hard, play hard seems to be the motto of the young professionals of New Orleans. If they’re not at local happy hours or trivia nights, you’ll find them at Young Leadership Council events – most of which are held at bars. Go figure.

5. Music

The Professor, immortalized.
The Professor, immortalized.

From festivals to free summer night shows, there’s no where else in the world that offers the caliber of musical performances like New Orleans does. Tipitina’s Free Fridays Concert Series is one thing that should keep you sticking around, if not for good, at least just for the summer after you graduate.

6. Mardi Gras (New Orleans holidays)

You'd get beat up anywhere else dressing like this.
You’d get beat up anywhere else dressing like this.

You loved it in college, now let’s see how much you love it when you don’t have mid terms or late afternoon classes to worry about before you go see a parade. A lot of local companies will give you of days just for Mardi Gras because they know you’re not going to get work done when you’re that hungover, anyway. If you lived anywhere else, you’d be lucky to get President’s Day off. Hooray?

7. Saints (sports in general)

There's no better friendship than one made drunkenly rooting for the Saints.
There’s no better friendship than one made drunkenly rooting for the Saints.

This may just be the lifetime Saints fan in me talking, but I seriously think New Orleans has the best fans and the best atmosphere for local sports. Going to a Saints game isn’t just something you take rich clients to. It’s an experience. It’s the Dome. It’s home. The Pelicans, The VooDoo, and especially high school football are all the same way. It’s not that we love our sports because we’re over competitive – we just think that the HOME on the scoreboard means something more than being opposite for AWAY.

10. Friends want to visit

Your tourist friends want to go here. You don't.
Your tourist friends want to go here. You don’t.

Spring break, fall break, summer break, a random weekend – there’s always someone with friends from home in town. I’ll just put it this way: you never hear someone from New Orleans saying, “I’m spending my Spring Break at my friend’s college in St. Louis!”

About Eric

Eric is a New Orleans native and graduate of Loyola. He grew up in Kenner and is embarrassed to tell you that. He lives Uptown and frequents local watering holes to socialize with peers. His hobbies include writing, making bad jokes, and casually observing the day to day life of New Orleans.

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