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Top 20 College Towns in U.S.A. – 2017

1. Cambridge, Massachusetts — home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


Population: 106,844

Cost of living: D

Median rent: $1,656

Nightlife: A+

“The Cambridge area is one of the best places to live for the up-and-coming millennial,” one resident said. “Harvard Square offers great transportation, food options, and nightlife. There is always something to do.”


2. Ann Arbor, Michigan — home to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Population: 115,985

Cost of living: C-

Median rent: $1,042

Nightlife: A+

“Ann Arbor is a great town, specifically a great college town!” one resident reported. “The food, nightlife, and overall atmosphere is great, and I love the fact that campus integrates into the city and vice versa.”


3. Ames, Iowa — home to Iowa State University

Population: 61,276

Cost of living: C+

Median rent: $774

Nightlife: A+

“Iowa State University campus is beautiful, and Ames is opening new restaurants, apartments, and stores all the time,” one resident said. “The community is relatively friendly, and the atmosphere isn’t rushed like a big city. Drive for about 20 minutes and you will find cornfields. Drive half an hour and you can go to another large city, Des Moines.”


4. Boulder, Colorado — home to the University of Colorado at Boulder


Population: 102,002

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,203

Nightlife: A+

“I love everything about Boulder,” one resident shared. “It is the perfect college town, but also perfect for young families to start out and grow. There is so much to do here, including hiking, biking, and just taking in the fresh mountain air.”


5. Berkeley, California — home to the University of California at Berkeley


Population: 115,688

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,338

Nightlife: A+

“This is a bustling college town, with lots of college students always engaging in various activities,” one resident said. “Even for those who are not college students, there is a large variety of activities and tons of food options all within close proximity.”


6. Davis, California — home to the University of California at Davis


Population: 66,093

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,247

Nightlife: A+

“There are several great restaurants in the area,” one resident said. “Davis provides a lot of great Thai food, Mexican food, and Indian dining options that are great for the whole family.

“Besides restaurants and bars, there are also many parks that are great for a weekend walk or bike ride. The UC Davis Arboretum provides plenty of shade and lovely flowers to look at.”


7. Irvine, California — home to the University of California at Irvine



Population: 229,850

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,863

Nightlife: A

“It’s true that Irvine might not be the most exciting place, but it’s an amazing place to live,” one resident reported. “The air quality is amazing — fresh air everywhere — and it’s so peaceful but still close to everything you’d ever need.

“There’s food from almost any ethnicity you can think of within a 15 minute drive, and if you ever want to drive further, there’s some pretty famous places only around 45 minutes away in LA.”


8. Princeton, New Jersey — home to Princeton University



Population: 28,940

Cost of living: D

Median rent: $1,344

Nightlife: A+

“It’s a college town, so there’s a wide variety of stores and independent businesses,” one resident reported. “My favorite local businesses include a coffee shop and roaster, brewery, and a nonprofit movie theater.”


9. Lawrence, Kansas — home to the University of Kansas

Population: 90,194

Cost of living: C+

Median rent: $852

Nightlife: A+

“Lawrence has an indescribable buzz around it at all times,” one resident said. “Whether it be getting ready to go camp out for a basketball game at the always packed Allen Fieldhouse or walking down Massachusetts Street to a little shop to get something unique or eat somewhere that you’ve never heard of half the items on the menu. There are many things to do with many components of a big city with the small town feel.”


10. Decorah, Iowa — home to Luther College


Population: 8,058

Cost of living: B

Median rent: $584

Nightlife: A

“When I get out of college, I plan on eventually moving back to this area,” one resident said. “The amount of activities are not an abundance, but it always a safe area.”

Despite the small-town vibe, residents still find plenty to do in Decorah.

“There are lots of fun mom and pop shops in Northeast Iowa that are worth checking out,” another resident said. “There are also a ton of great outdoor opportunities in the region!”


11. Chapel Hill, North Carolina — home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Population: 58,379

Cost of living: C-

Median rent: $982

Nightlife: A+

“The Chapel Hill/Durham area is a fantastic place to live,” one resident said. “The people in the area are very friendly, there are plenty of excellent restaurants, and the weather in the fall and spring is second to none.”


12. Provo, Utah — home to Brigham Young University


Population: 114,804

Cost of living: C

Median rent: $734

Nightlife: A+

“I love the area,” one resident said. “I like how there are so many housing options with grocery stores nearby. I am also absolutely in love with how close the mountains are! They make it very easy to go on a day hike any time you want. The people are kind, and overall I believe it is an ideal place to go to school.”


13. Tempe, Arizona — home to Arizona State University


Population: 166,975

Cost of living: C-

Median rent: $941

Nightlife: A+

“I personally love it here and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” one resident declared. “The weather is generally perfect, except in summer. There are so many different adventures you can have.

“If you are an outdoors fanatic, hiking, biking, mountains, and hidden waterfalls will please you. For thrill seekers, there is an amazing zipline, water parks, and other fun stuff. If you are into art, food, or music, there are almost weekly festivals to appease all appetites.”


14. Fort Collins, Colorado — home to Colorado State University

Population: 149,627

Cost of living: C-

Median rent: $1,036

Nightlife: A+

“The general atmosphere is a very family friendly place, from clean parks and trails to regulating smoking in public places,” one resident shared. “I would choose Fort Collins as one of the top places to live in Colorado due to its exposed nature and friendly community. Compared to many places in the rest of the country, Fort Collins is home to a beautiful open campus for a great school. It is a college town that even those who don’t attend school say they love.”


15. Columbia, Missouri — home to the University of Missouri


Population: 113,155

Cost of living: C+

Median rent: $804

Nightlife: A+

“For a college town, there was always something going on downtown or at some park, and the overall sense of community was so overwhelming and great,” a former resident said. “I loved this city more than I ever thought I would. To add to my affection, they had amazing ice cream and pizza downtown, and the people of this city are so friendly and take care to preserve the city.”


16. Newton, Massachusetts — home to Boston College


Population: 86,945

Cost of living: D+

Median rent: $1,672

Nightlife: A-

“Despite the extreme temperatures in New England, I love it here,” one resident said. “One particular thing I like about this area is our reservoir. People are able to exercise with friends and family and enjoy the lovely view — especially during sunrise and sunset!”


17. Iowa City, Iowa — home to the University of Iowa

Population: 70,597

Cost of living: C

Median rent: $861

Nightlife: A+

“I love living in Iowa City. It is a great place to go to school, but also an awesome place to live in general,” one resident said. “There are always events associated with the university, but there are also many attractions to see in Iowa City. It is a huge literary hub, and there are many festivals, especially over the summer. Something is always happening!”


18. Coral Gables, Florida — home to the University of Miami

Population: 49,319

Cost of living: D+

Median rent: $1,319

Nightlife: A+

“Food and drink around the Miami area is amazing,” one resident said. “Every type of food you can dream of is somewhere in the city, and they all have happy hours. The nightlife, as you would expect, is out of the world.”

“Everything comes with a pretty sizable price tag though,” the person added.


19. Santa Barbara, California — home to the University of California at Santa Barbara


Population: 89,669

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,517

Nightlife: A+

“I love living in Santa Barbara,” one resident shared. “It’s a great environment with very friendly people and great weather. The education here is quite strong and people do great things with their careers. It’s a great tourist town and there are plenty of things to do and see.”


20. Hanover, New Hampshire — home to Dartmouth College

Population: 8,411

Cost of living: D-

Median rent: $1,495

Nightlife: A+

“This place is safe, almost no crime, good school system, people are friendly, no traffic problem, and close to all different activities; for example, skiing, hockey, tennis, squash, and a health club,” one resident said.




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