I hate to break it to you but there is more to college than going to class and studying.
You are going to spend the next four years of your life, or about 35,040 hours, in a new place and I promise you, you will not be spending all of those hours studying.
So, what will you do in your free time? Is there anything fun to do in town? Are there any sports teams? Are you in it for the most beautiful and best university campuses? Most importantly, where are the best places to eat?
Luckily, we are here to answer some of your most pressing questions about the best college towns in the US.
Here are our ranking categories:
- Party Scene
- Where to Eat
- Can You Live Here Forever?
A few notes before we begin:
We thought about including public transportation as a category but it’s 2017 and #uber.
This is not a ranking but a list based on regions.
Let’s get started!
The West Coast
Claremont, California: City of Trees and PhDs
1. Colleges: Claremont features 8 colleges. Most notable: Pomona College and Claremont McKenna
2. Weather: Although Claremont is in California and it is warm almost the entire year- the Santa Ana Winds cause wildfires in the fall.
3. Party Scene: What Claremont lacks in giant dance clubs, it makes up for in outdoor lounges and plenty of live music. Since there are so many colleges nearby, you can always find a dorm party too.
4. Where to Eat: There are over 80 restaurants you can walk to within the downtown area and you can expect plenty of healthy options to satisfy all of your dietary restrictions, believe me Californians are no strangers to your gluten-free lifestyle. If you are in need of a great sandwich and a cup of coffee on your way to class check out Last Drop Cafe.
5. Fun Factor: Ever wanted to ski and surf in the same day? Claremont’s got you covered! Make sure to also use the zipline on Mt. Baldy as well.
6. Sports: If I were you, I’d brush up on my L.A. sports before moving to Claremont. Root for the Lakers, Dodgers, or Kings!
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Claremont will keep you entertained long after your college years are over. You will never get tired of the beautiful weather, cultural activities and outdoor activities. As you get older, Claremont boasts a senior program that plans trips and activities but you won't need to think about that for many years to come.
Claremont additional stats:
- Population: 35,000
- Median Home Price: $653,200 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Claremont Colleges, Claremont School District, HiRel Connectors
Berkeley, California: Activism at its Finest
1. Colleges: Berkeley has 5 colleges around town. Most notable: University of California, Berkeley (Cal)
P.S. Check out what life at Cal is actually like below!
2. Weather: Berkeley is in Northern California so tends to be a bit cooler and wetter than Southern California. However, your chances of snow are still slim to none.
3. Party Scene: There are tons of bars for you to explore around the city, game day parties and nightly frat parties. Not to mention, you’re a short ride away from the bustling nightlife in San Francisco.
4. Where to Eat: If you hate fast food, you’ll love Berkeley. The city basically started the slow food movement. However, there are a lot of typical college town eats around the city as well, they just happen to be made with excellent ingredients. If you’re in the mood for one of the best pizza’s in the country, run over to the Cheese Board Pizzeria.
5. Fun Factor: Berkeley is full of old hippie culture. In fact, there used to be people who lived in trees! Nowadays, the tree people are long gone but there are still tons of funky street vendors around the city.
6. Sports: You could take the trip to San Francisco and cheer on the Giants and the 49ers… or you could stay in Berkeley and cheer on Cal’s fantastic football team. Don’t miss out on the biggest game of the year versus Stanford. Things get wild.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: If you are looking for an active community who is very passionate about the world's problems, you will love living in Berkeley for your entire life. The average home is really expensive compared to the rest of the country but if you are willing to stick it out in an apartment and save for many years, affording a house is possible.
Berkeley additional stats:
- Population: 112,500
- Median Home Price: $1,100,100 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.
Santa Barbara, California: The American Riviera
1. Colleges: There are 13 colleges around Santa Barbara. Most notable: University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
2. Weather: Santa Barbara’s weather is picture perfect pretty much all of the time. Sunny with the occasional ocean breeze. Talk about perfection.
3. Party Scene: When your school owns a beach and the weather is always great parties are inevitable. You can find a party at UCSB all day, every day and the day parties are insane.
4. Where to Eat: Santa Barbara is loaded with fresh seafood, avocado and lots of local produce. For the best tacos in the city check out Los Agaves.
5. Fun Factor: Go surfing before class. Walk over to the awesome zoo at lunch and visit the boardwalk after dinner.
6. Sports: Beach volleyball.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Santa Barbara is a very expensive city to live in but it’s worth it if you can afford it. The town is super walkable, loaded with stunning Spanish architecture and revolves around the beach, what more could you want?
Santa Barbara additional stats:
- Population: 88,400
- Median Home Price: $1,050,600 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: University of California, Santa Barbara, County of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Boulder, Colorado: Hip and Healthy
1. Colleges: Boulder has 3 colleges nearby. Most notable: University of Colorado, Boulder
2. Weather: Boulder has warm, beautiful weather for a good portion of the year; however, the cold winter months are just as nice because you can go skiing all the time.
3. Party Scene: Most of the party scene outside of the colleges is pretty casual. Think dive bars, pool tables and darts.
4. Where to Eat: If you love farm to table meals, craft beers and a big wine and spirits industry, you’ll love Boulder. Check out Oak at Fourteenth for local burgers and fried pickles.
5. Fun Factor: The Rocky Mountains are basically your backyard. There are also more than 36,000 acres of natural settings around the city and a ton of outdoor activities for you to enjoy.
6. Sports: University of Colorado, Boulder is a D1 school in the Pac-12 so there are a lot of big games for you to attend. If you want to root for the Denver Broncos as well, that’s okay too!
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Boulder may be one of the best cities to live in if you are looking for a whole lot of outdoor activities to indulge in. The sportier you are, the better.
Boulder additional stats:
- Population: 97,800
- Median Home Price: $693,300 USD
- Cool fact: Boulder wins multiple awards for health, well-being, quality of life, education and art every year!
Tempe, Arizona: The Desert Rules
1. Colleges: Tempe has 9 colleges around town, Most notable: Arizona State University (ASU)
2. Weather: Stack up on your sunscreen ‘cuz it’s really hot. All the time. (Except in the winter, when it’s kinda cold.)
3. Party Scene: Pool parties and bro tanks all day, every day.
4. Where to Eat: Do you want crepes for breakfast, burgers for lunch, sushi as a snack and Ethiopian food for dinner? You can have it all in Tempe. When it gets way too hot out and you want to cool off, stop by Paletas Betty for a Mexican popsicle that will definitely cool you down.
5. Fun Factor: There are tons of outdoor activities, water parks and weekly food/art/music festivals to entertain you all year round. If you happen to be in town for New Year’s, walk over to downtown for one of the best New Year's celebrations in the country featuring bands, dancers, two fireworks displays and much more.
6. Sports: Angels spring training, Cardinals football and the great ASU vs. University of Arizona rivalry.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: If you can stand the desert heat, Tempe is worth staying in long after you graduate. The town is very lively and there's always something going on.
Tempe additional stats:
- Population: 200,000
- Median Home Price: $257,300 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Arizona State University, Wells Fargo, State Farm.
The Mid West
Madison, Wisconsin: Cheese Please
1. Colleges: There are 9 colleges in Madison. Most notable: University of Wisconsin- Madison (UW- Madison)
2. Weather: You are going to freeze in the winter but the other three months won’t be that bad!
3. Party Scene: UW - Madison was named the top party school in the country by Princeton Review this year so you are bound to find a good party on campus almost every day of the week. Madison also throws one of the biggest Halloween parties in the country filled with thousands of people partying in their best Halloween garb. So grab your best costume and let the party begin!
4. Where to Eat: Beer, Bratwursts and cheese curds are what Madison is all about. Walk over to OSS to get the best of all three.
5. Fun Factor: There is no shortage of outdoor life in Madison. You can hike over 20 miles of trails, fish and boat around the two lakes that surround the city.
6. Sports: UW-Madison’s football and basketball teams are awesome and you can always find a tailgate to attend. If you’re more of an NFL person, the Green Bay Packers are close by, and we hear they are pretty good too.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Madison is constantly rated as one of the top cities in the US to live and retire in, for good reasons. The city has a warmth to it that entices people to to stay long after they have graduated college. Because houses are relatively cheap in town, you can probably afford a weekend lake house as well. Another great reason to live in Madison forever? Cheese.
Madison additional stats:
- Population: 252,500
- Median Home Price: $231,300 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: University of Wisconsin and the state government.
Iowa City, Iowa: UNESCO’s Only City of Literature
1. Colleges: There is only one college in Iowa City: The University of Iowa (don’t worry though, the city is still awesome)
2. Weather: Iowa City is your typical 4 season mid-western town. You’ll get the best of every season here.
3. Party Scene: The University of Iowa is a large, state school with a huge football program so parties are bound to be wild. If you’re looking for some off campus fun, there are more than 30 bars in the small town to enjoy.
4. Where to Eat: If you’ve ever wanted to live in the culinary capital of Iowa now’s your chance. There are more than 40 sidewalk cafes and a number of delicious restaurants in downtown. Hammburg Inn No. 2 is the best place to grab breakfast all day, and perhaps see a presidential candidate on the campaign trail as well.
5. Fun Factor: Who said the only thing you can read while at uni are textbooks? Pick up a few new books to read for fun at the book festivals and literary walks in town.
6. Sports: Iowa is a big football school but it’s also one of the best places in the country to watch a wrestling match.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: If you reading's your thing and you love spending time near the water, Iowa City may be your perfect forever city. Houses are a bit more expensive here than in the rest of the state but with an average price in the mid $200,000 USD range buying a house here is basically a steal. Especially when you take into account all of the fun cultural activities around town.
Iowa City additional stats:
- Population: 74,300
- Median Home Price: $259,900
- Top job prospects and employers: University of Iowa, the school district and... the hospital.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: Work Hard, Play Hard
1. Colleges: Ann Arbor is home to 4 colleges. Most notable: University of Michigan: Ann Arbor (UMich)
2. Weather: Bring your winter coat and your bathing suit but don’t expect to use them in the same day… or even in the same month.
3. Party Scene: House parties are the norm, especially during the cold winter months. There is triva almost every night of the week at the local bars and most of them also have an enormous amount of beers on tap.
4. Where to Eat: Ann Arbor has a mishmash of cuisines around the city but by far your best late night bet is Fleetwood Diner.
5. Fun Factor: Alright, this is kinda silly but stay with me. There are these fairy doors all around town. And you can go on a fairy door hunt. It’s cool...I promise.
For more conventional fun, spend the day in Kerrytown- a district filled with brick streets and funky shops.
6. Sports: Michigan football is king and the fans are crazy. Not to mention, the football stadium is the second largest stadium in the world second only to a stadium in North Korea.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Winters will be tough and they will probably never get easier but the city's excitement will never wear down either. If you ask us, that is a pretty good trade. Imagine taking your kids to Michigan football games and going on fairy hunts with them. It doesn't get much better (or cuter) than that!
Ann Arbor additional stats:
- Population: 113,900
- Median Home Price: $355,000 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Economy, hospital, technology.
Minneapolis/St-Paul, Minnesota: The Twin Cities
1. Colleges: There are 15 colleges in these towns. Most notable: University of Minnesota
2. Weather: Brace yourself for cold winters and humid summers.
3. Party Scene: Live music is probably going to be a big part of your social life here. The music scene is huge and bands come from all over to play in local bars around town.
4. Where to Eat: Saveur Magazine called the twin cities America’s next great food city due to the large number of delicious restaurants. Want amazing pancakes? Go to Al’s Breakfast for some of the tastiest pancakes around.
5. Fun Factor: The Mall of America is at your disposal. Nonstop shopping, food and an amusement park all inside the mall! If you’re looking to do more than just shop, there’s also a great theatre scene. In fact, Minneapolis has the second most theatres per capita in the US (after New York City).
6. Sports: Go to Mariucci Arena to get a taste of some great American Hockey. Minneapolis is also one of the few places in the US that has professional teams in all four sports!
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Minnesota has really affordable housing while in a global economic environment. You can land a great job and live a full life, all in the beauty of this metropolis.
Minneapolis additional stats:
- Population: 400,000
- Median Home Price: $234,500 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Global economy, baby! Fortune 500s, like Target, U.S. Bancorp, Xcel Energy, call the Twin Cities their home!
Bloomington, Indiana: The Friendly College Town
1. Colleges: Even though there are only 2 colleges in town, Bloomington has a very large student population. Most notable: University of Indiana- Bloomington (IU)
2. Weather: Expect a lot of sun in the summer and a lot of snow in the winter.
3. Party Scene: With one of the largest Greek systems in the country, IU will fulfill all of your party needs. When you get sick of frat parties, bar hop the night away on Kirkwood Avenue.
4. Where to Eat: Bloomington has over 100 locally owned restaurants featuring many diverse cuisines. It’s like traveling the world without ever having to leave Indiana! Stop by Turkuaz Cafe for excellent Middle Eastern eats.
5. Fun Factor: The biggest event of the year is the Little 500. Here’s the deal, it's a bike race modeled after the Indianapolis 500 and people go crazy for it. Aside from this event, the city also features a multitude of wineries, lakes and theaters for you to explore. There’s also an abandoned limestone quarry for you to discover, which provided the limestone for the Empire State Building in New York City!
6. Sports: IU’s basketball team is good but their football team isn’t so great. Your best bet for football games are the Colts.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Bloomington is filled with trees, flowers and limestone buildings making the town a lovely place to make a life. Especially if you like bike racing.
Bloomington additional stats:
- Population: 85,000
- Median Home Price: $163,300 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: The university, Cook Group Inc, university hospital.
Columbia, Missouri: That’s Mizzou to You.
1. Colleges: 4 colleges call Columbia home. Most notable: University of Missouri (Mizzou)
2. Weather: Humidity will have to become your best friend. Learn to embrace your frizzy hair.
3. Party Scene: Greek life is big but there are tons of parties around campus (especially after your first two years) that don’t revolve around frats. There are also a lot of really cool underground music venues, if that’s more your style.
4. Where to Eat: The food scene in Columbia is up and coming but still evolving. If you’re looking for an awesome sandwich on a house- baked roll go to Sub Shop.
5. Fun Factor: Wander around the lakes and gardens during the day and take your date to a True/False movie screening at night!
6. Sports: Mizzou is home to many DI sports teams. You’re going to have a blast at the tailgates and getting rowdy at the games.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Columbia has tons of bike paths, trails and a public golf course to keep you engaged and active throughout your life. The city always ranks high in safety, health care, economic growth, cost of living and cultural opportunities so you are bound to enjoy you're entire life here.
Columbia additional stats:
- Population: 120,000
- Median Home Price: $155,400 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Schools, hospitals and insurers (State Farm, Shelter Insurance).
Champaign-Urbana, IL: Food Trucks and Festivals Galore
1. Colleges: Champaign-Urbana is home to only 2 colleges. Most notable: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
2. Weather: The summers are hot and the winters are cold and snowy. It gets so cold sometimes that the town has recorded a temperature of −25 °F (−31.7 °C) on four different days! Bring your hats. And gloves.
3. Party Scene: There are frat parties. There are small house parties. And there are 19 bars, just on campus. You definitely don’t have to wait until the weekend to get the party started here.
4. Where to Eat: There are a bunch of food trucks on campus but if you want a true Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, look no further than Papa Del’s. Even though it takes 45 minutes to an hour to prepare, the wait is more than worth it.
5. Fun Factor: You want festivals? Champaign-Urbana has festivals. I’m talking sweet corn festivals, county fairs, blues and bbq festivals and so many more.
6. Sports: If you want to fit in, join the “Orange Krush”. Put on your best orange outfit and sit in the student section at a university basketball game. You’re guaranteed to have a good time.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: If you want to live in a small city in the midwest with a college town vibe, Champaign-Urbana is the way to go. Especially if you went to school here.
Champaign-Urbana additional stats:
- Population: 231,000
- Median Home Price: $140,600 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Manufacturing and Distribution, Medical and Biotech, Technology – IT and Engineering, Professional Services and Back Office. Schools, including the university and health care companies make up some of the top employers in the city.
The East Coast
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Steel City
1. Colleges: Home to 21 colleges, Pittsburgh sure is an educated city! Most notable: Carnegie Mellon University
2. Weather: In the summer you will be warm, sometimes too warm. In the winter you will be cold, sometimes too cold. What can I say? You’re in the north east now.
3. Party Scene: The party scene isn’t overruled by Greek life which is really nice if you don’t want to rush. There are also a few casinos around if you’re feeling lucky.
4. Where to Eat: Pittsburgh has a really diverse population so it's no surprise that their food scene is just as diverse. For a taste of Italy, fill up on meatballs at Emporio: A Meatball Joint.
5. Fun Factor: Ever wanted to learn about the history of Heinz Ketchup? Take a trip to the Heinz History Center to learn Heinz and the history of Pittsburgh.
6. Sports: Steelers, Pirates and Penguins oh my!
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Looking for the “simple life”? Pittsburgh’s for you.
Pittsburgh additional stats:
- Population: 1,700,000
- Median Home Price: $121,700 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Home of Kraft-Heinz! Pittsburgh, traditionally thought of as a steel city, has shifted into robotics, technology, finance, education and many other cutting-edge areas. You'll get a job no matter what you study.
State College, Pennsylvania: Happy Valley
1. Colleges: The one and only, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
2. Weather: It’s like Pittsburgh but a bit colder.
3. Party Scene: If you’re looking to party nonstop from Thursday to Saturday and sometimes on Tuesdays, look no further. I’m talking insane house parties, tailgates and frat parties. I hope you’re not claustrophobic because these parties are packed.
4. Where to Eat: The food scene matches the party scene: lots of chains, open late to fulfill all of your hangover needs. However, there are a few local gems such as Otto’s Pub and Brewery.
5. Fun Factor: Take a tour of a cave that is only accessible by boat, visit the American Philatelic Society to see stamps from around the world and walk around the annual Artfest in search of the next Picasso.
6. Sports: Football is huge on campus, so huge that you have to camp out in a tent to get a good seat for the game! It’s worth it, promise.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: State College is very walkable. It also has enough museums, theaters, concerts and sports games to keep you entertained for as long as you live.
State College additional stats:
- Population: 42,000
- Median Home Price: $286,100 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Uh, the university? You'll probably need to look elsewhere.
Boston, Massachusetts: America’s College Town
1. Colleges: There are 54 colleges in the Boston Metro area. 54. Most notable: Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University (BU) and so many more.
2. Weather: It’s super warm. And then it’s really cold and snowy. And then it’s super warm again. There is basically no spring.
3. Party Scene: There are dorm parties at BU, Final Clubs at Harvard and insane frat parties at MIT as well as a number of different parties at the other 51 schools in town. If you can’t find a party on any given day, you’re doing something wrong.
4. Where to Eat: No one has better clam chowder, Boston cream pie and Parker house rolls than Boston. There’s also incredible pizza around every corner but before you try any gourmet ‘za go to Regina’s Pizzeria to sample some authentic, greasy, Boston pizza.
5. Fun Factor: Wander around Faneuil Hall, a shopping center and meeting point that has been around since 1743 (and also has a Regina’s), run around the luscious Boston Commons and view amazing art at the Museum of Fine Arts. When you get tired, grab a beer at Cheers, but don’t be surprised if they don’t know your name.
6. Sports: Make sure you hit up the ultimate trifecta of games while you’re in Boston: a Celtics basketball game, a Red Sox baseball game and a Patriots football game. Bonus points if you score tickets to the Harvard vs. Yale football game.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: The greater Boston area is ideal. You’ve got all the sports you could wish for, a river running through the city, tons of local shops and a lot of pride for the city itself. It’s northeast paradise. P.S. you might pick up a cool Boston accent while you live here.
Boston/Cambridge additional stats:
- Population: 4,000,000 +
- Median Home Price: $632,100 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Boston has the 12th largest economy in the world. The number of blue-chip companies that have major offices in Boston are too numerous to mention, but think tech, research and biomedical organisations - including online darlings like Hubspot, Facebook and Twitter.
Amherst, Massachusetts: Small Town with a Big Heart
1. Colleges: Amherst has 3 colleges in the city but is home to a consortium of 5 colleges overall. Most notable: Amherst College and University of Massachusetts- Amherst (UMass)
2. Weather: Summers are pleasant but winters are so cold that the temperature in the daytime tends to be below freezing. Pack your hat, gloves and coat!
3. Party Scene: UMass’s parties are so wild it’s often referred to as ZooMass. If that sounds too intense for you, all 3 colleges in town have theater shows, open mic nights and more casual dorm parties on any given night.
4. Where to Eat: Some of the more interesting places in town include a Tibetan restaurant, a Japanese restaurant and an Iranian restaurant. Don’t worry, there are still a ton of pizza joints like Antonio’s that will keep you happy and full all night long.
5. Fun Factor: Amherst has a pretty awesome pond called Puffers, a River and most importantly, a museum dedicated to Eric Carle of Very Hungry Caterpillar fame.
6. Sports: You are still in New England so you know who to root for…#Patriots.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Amherst has a small town feel and it may get a bit lackluster at times but you are only a short drive away from many great east coast cities such as Boston and Providence so weekend trips are definitely necessary.
Amherst additional stats:
- Population: 37,800
- Median Home Price: $316,700 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: You'll struggle for a job outside education and the hospital.
Burlington, Vermont: The Queen City
1. Colleges: The largest city in Vermont features two universities: University of Vermont (UVM) and Champlain College.
2. Weather: Winter here is really harsh but the summer is beautiful so stick it out.
3. Party Scene: There is a lively house party scene on campus and a big music scene. It’s hip and quirky all at the same time.
4. Where to Eat: Burlington has the most microbrews per capita in the US. If you like beer, you belong here. Burlington also has grub. Grab a greasy, cheesy, eggy breakfast sandwich from Kounty Kart Deli. Did I mention that the Ben and Jerry’s factory is here? 5. Fun Factor:Outdoorsy people unite! Lake Champlain shimmers and beckons, while Vermont’s mountains supply some of the East Coast’s best skiing and snowboarding around.
6. Sports: You’ll find plenty of New England Patriots fans, but unless you’re willing to make the long trek down to Boston, you’ll have to watch them on the TV
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Burlington is best for winter weather wanderers. If you are brave enough to brace the cold, a plethora of nature awaits you in your backyard.
Burlington additional stats:
- Population: 42,400
- Median Home Price: $337,400 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Outside of the hospital and the university, Burlington is also home to a division of General Electric which develop medical software. General Dynamics setup its Armament and Technical Product division here.
Hanover, New Hampshire: Home of the Poets
1. Colleges: Dartmouth’s all Hanover’s got, and that’s okay!
2. Weather: Hanover wins in the winter department, by a long shot. Make sure you spend at least one summer at Dartmouth so you can experience Hanover at its finest too.
3. Party Scene: Long, cold winters mean a lot of indoor house parties and crazy basement ragers. When it warms up a bit wander over to one of the three bars in the town!
4. Where to Eat: Almost all of the restaurants in town are located on three-blocks near campus called “Main Street”. Your go to breakfast spot is going to be Lou’s for all four years. Splurge for the real maple syrup, it’s delicious.
5. Fun Factor: Dartmouth has its own mountain for all of your skiing needs. When it’s not cold and snowy, walk over to the 13- acre pond to swim, fish and have a picnic.
6. Sports: Check out Dartmouth’s lacrosse and squash teams, which are usually excellent.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Take advantage of Hanover's quaint town feel, the nearby university, outdoor activities and the snow. If you get sick of the cold, you can always spend the winters in Florida! Best of both worlds.
Hanover additional stats:
- Population: 11,200
- Median Home Price: $460,500 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Ivy League college Dartmouth is nearby, but a few corporate firms are in the area - might not be the best spot for a long-term career.
Austin, Texas: Everything’s Bigger in Texas
1. Colleges: Austin has 11 universities. Most notable: University of Texas- Austin (UT)
2. Weather: If you’re looking for long, warm summers and short semi-cold winters. Austin is the place for you.
3. Party Scene: There are dorm parties but there is also a huge music scene to explore. Take your pick from the 200 music venues around town.
4. Where to Eat: Gourmet street eats, Texas BBQ and mezcal rule the town. Check out Franklin BBQ for some serious BBQ eats, but get there early there is always a line.
5. Fun Factor: Austin has no shortage of museums, parks and hiking trails. The city also hosts South by Southwest every year. The festival isn’t cheap but if you can afford it you may meet some of the most influential people in the world and learn about new films, technology and music.
6. Sports: UT football games are always a blast. Go Longhorns!
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Want to live in a fun, up and coming southern town with a huge love for music? Austin is the place for you. Who knows, maybe you'll start a band one day.
Austin additional stats:
- Population: 930,000
- Median Home Price: $321,100 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Many consider the city a centre for high tech, with UT's Computer Science and Engineering students fuelling the industry.
Tallahassee, Florida: Capital of the Sunshine State
1. Colleges: Tallahassee is home to 8 universities. Most notable:Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M
2. Weather: It’s like summer almost all the time.
3. Party Scene: Tallahassee doesn’t make you pick between house parties, huge sporting events, frats, and bars, they have it all.
4. Where to Eat: There are fancy restaurants in Tallahassee and there are places that serve hot dogs more than 10,230 ways. Both are great but if you want real, homey Florida food Shell Oyster Bar is your place. It’s a hole in the wall and it only accepts cash but the oysters are incredible.
5. Fun Factor: Take a dip in a nearby river to get your mind off of finals or stop by the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge to take a peek at local wildlife in their natural habitats.
6. Sports: FSU’s football stadium is one of the liveliest in the country. Try not to miss a game.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Stellar healthcare, cheap gas, and almost 365 days of summer. Could you ask for anything else?
Tallahassee additional stats:
- Population: 189,000
- Median Home Price: $166,900 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: This is a state government and education city.
Gainesville, Florida: Gatorade Was Invented Here.
1. Colleges: Gainesville is home to 3 universities. Most notable: University of Florida
2. Weather: The weather here is usually pretty mild year round but there can be the occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
3. Party Scene: Frat parties are popular but so are the local bars. If you feel like dancing there are plenty of clubs with live music to boogie the night away. It is also the birthplace of America's number one party animal and stand-up comedian, Bert Kreischer.
4. Where to Eat: You have to try fried gator, at least once. Yes, that’s gator as in, alligator. It’s a local speciality that’s delicious and nutritious. Check out Ballyhoo Grill for some tasty gator tail bites.
5. Fun Factor: There are tons of water sports near by including scuba diving so grab a bathing suit and get ready to have fun! The downtown area also features a prominent art scene with plenty of museums for rain day visits.
6. Sports: University of Florida’s football team is a national championship contender almost every year. Get ready for a long and super awesome football season. Believe me, you won’t want it to ever end.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: Unless you’re opposed to large bugs, Gainesville is pretty much the ideal place to live due to its location, weather and local activities. Unless you need a job (look below).
Gainesville additional stats:
- Population: 130,000
- Median Home Price: $160,000 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Fair warning. The local job market is traditionally weak because of an oversupply of college students.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Roll Tide
1. Colleges: Tuscaloosa is home to 3 colleges. Most notable: University of Alabama (Bama)
2. Weather: There is plenty of sunshine to go around sprinkled with a good amount of rain, especially in the winter so don’t forget your umbrella.
3. Party Scene: As with all good SEC schools, there are a lot of parties on campus, especially during football season. There’s also a great bar scene, in fact The Houndstooth, a local bar, was recently voted the best sports bar in America.
4. Where to Eat: Biscuits, gravy and BBQ. Run over to Dreamland Bar-B-Que for a great taste of good ‘ol ‘bama BBQ.
5. Fun Factor: Enjoy the great outdoors at Lake Tuscaloosa and at the Black Warrior River. Pro trip: bring your BBQ with you
6. Sports: Alabama dominates the college sports world. I’m talking football, gymnastics, baseball, basketball and more. Sports are life at Bama.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: If you’re looking for a college town with a low cost of living, transportation and many events year round, look no further than Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You'll feel young forever here, just remember the older you get, the less acceptable it is to go to frat parties...no matter how fun they are.
Tuscaloosa additional stats:
- Population: 98,000
- Median Home Price: $88,300 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: This is a blue-collar city with manufacturing making up a fair chunk of the job opportunities.
Charlottesville, Virginia: Wa-Hoo-Wa!
1. Colleges: There are 5 colleges in Charlottesville. Most notable: University of Virginia (UVA)
2. Weather: Spring and fall are the longest months in Charlottesville, which is great because winter is wet and summer is humid.
3. Party Scene: Rugby Road (Frat row) is where you want to be if you’re looking for the biggest parties on campus. However, there are distinct bars and clubs all over the town to fit whatever vibe you’re feeling that night.
4. Where to Eat: Expect lots of typical college town eats like late night pizza and bagels. If you want a great brunch go to Bluegrass Grill and Bakery
5. Fun Factor: Just a short drive from UVA sits Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, now a UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely worth a visit or two because it’s beautiful.
6. Sports: Root for UVA’s lacrosse and baseball team. They’re great.
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: UVA, the homes of 3 presidents, the Blue Ridge Mountains, a lot of vineyards, four distinct seasons and a giant mall... you name it, Charlottesville got it. Spend your life here and you're bound to be happy.
Charlottesville additional stats:
- Population: 229,000
- Median Home Price: $292,875 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Mmm, breweries. But the top employers are medicine, state government and schools.
Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh, North Carolina: The Research Triangle
1. Colleges: The Research Triangle boasts 25 colleges. Most notable: Duke University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC)
2. Weather: If you are looking for a comfortable climate year-round while still experiencing all four seasons, this is the place to be.
3. Party Scene: Most house and frat parties here are just pregames for the bars. The bars are where it’s really at but you won’t figure that out until after Freshman year.
4. Where to Eat:There are a number of cute cafes, food trucks, ethnic restaurants and gourmet grocery stores around these three towns. If you’re looking for a taste of the South go to Beasley’s Chicken & Honey to devour all of the chicken and waffles your heart desires.
5. Fun Factor: Take advantage of the few museums who have free admission on the third Friday of every month and don’t miss out on the converted tobacco factories around town.
6. Sports: You have UNC and Duke. Need I say more?
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: The research triangle is home to three of the most picturesque cities in the country. Brush up on your southern charm and you'll be a great addition to any one of these bustling cities for the rest of your life.
Raleigh additional stats:
- Population: 450,000 +
- Median Home Price: $351,000 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Home of the Research Triangle, focusing on high-tech, biotech and textile research. Along with this, the city is a hub for a wide range of industries and job prospects.
Athens, Georgia: The Birthplace of Higher Education
1. Colleges: Athens has three universities. Most notable: University of Georgia.
2. Weather: The struggle is real during the summer. It’s hot, long and sticky but the rest of the year more than makes up for it with cool, breezy weather.
3. Party Scene: Athens is famous for having the most bars per capita in the country. I’m talking 80 bars per square mile. You will definitely find a bar (or 30) that you love.
4. Where to Eat: It’s the South, so you gotta get some barbeque! A must is White Tiger Gourmet, they have everything for everyone. They even have BBQ tofu!
5. Fun Factor: If you’re looking to do something other than attend a football game, the Athens zoo and the botanical gardens are a great way to spend the day.
6. Sports: SEC football. Does it get any better than this?
7. Can I Live Here Forever?: An unusually liberal town for the southern US, Athens has a flourishing arts community and plenty of delicious restaurants. Plus, if you want to visit all the bars in the area, you'll have to live here your entire life.
Athens additional stats:
- Population: 115,000
- Median Home Price: $148,900 USD
- Top job prospects and employers: Up-and-coming technology area with companies, such as Docebo, Roundsphere, and Cogent Education. The city also is home to a bunch of pharmaceutical and biotechnology businesses.
Your college experience is more than just your academics.
Whether you’re looking for a quaint, small town vibe or big city thrills, you should pick a university in a city you will be really happy spending the majority of your time in. After all, you will be there for the next four years and who knows, you may even spend the rest of your life in your college town so pick wisely!