Best College Towns to Live

College towns are great for more than just the time while you are in school. Many of them have a thriving economy and culture that make them perfect for a long-term commitment to the area. After you are done with your time on campus what factors become more important? Things like community, neighbourhoods, schools, these important aspects become pivotal when choosing a place to reside. There are many cities and towns across the country that strive to retain their alumni, here is our list.

50.Troy, Alabama

Troy is a small city in south Alabama and is the home of Troy University. The area has a great mix of opportunity for college graduates with great options for employment such as Lockheed Martin military contractors, Sikorsky helicopter manufacturers, and the Walmart distribution center only ten miles away. Troy is also conveniently located about halfway between Dothan and Montgomery. The city is also located near the Fort Rucker army post. Troy has a great small town atmosphere with plenty of suburban charm. Southern hospitality is a main fixture in this community with great local restaurants and museum attractions. Troy University is well known for its education and nursing programs. The school also has great athletic and arts departments. It is also ranked as a top university in the south.

49. Wellesley, Massachusetts

Wellesley is a charming New England town where the famous Wellesley College. Wellesley College is a privately funded women’s college that was part of the former seven sisters association of colleges. The school was featured in the movie Mona Lisa Smile, which starred Julia Roberts. The college is known for programs in the liberal arts. The city itself has a beautiful historic district with homes that date back to the 1860s. There are a couple of large businesses in the area that welcome new college graduates including Sun Life Financial and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Wellesley is also host to the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra and the Massachusetts Horticulture Society. The streets of Wellesley are that of a quintessential New England town. Wellesley is also just short 30-minute commute from Boston.

48. Columbus, Mississippi

Columbus is the location of Mississippi University for Women and is the epitome of southern living. Columbus is a medium-sized city with a thriving cultural base. The city is home to the Columbus Arts council which provides the town with the Columbus Community Theater, arts and crafts classes, and an art gallery. Major employers in Columbus that welcome college graduates include the Columbus Air Force base and the Baptist Memorial Hospital. Mississippi University for Women, more commonly known as the “W”, was historically a women’s college, but it began admitting men in the 1970s. The university is famous for being the college of renowned southern author Eudora Welty. The school is known for programs in nursing, culinary arts, education, and theatre.

47. Berkeley, California

Berkeley, California is nestled along the eastern shore of the San Francisco bay. Berkeley may in fact be the most liberal city in the United States. The city was the first in the nation to recognize bisexuality with a city-wide recognition of Celebrate Bisexuality Day. The city is also one of the most racially diverse with more than half of the population being a minority race. Major employers in the city include the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, and the Bayer pharmaceuticals company laboratory. UC Berkeley was the first college in the University of California system. It is also ranked as the top public school in the nation and the third best engineering school by the US News and World Report. UC Berkeley also has top ranked programs in business, education, law, and the sciences.

46. Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton is located just 30 minutes from the Texas state line and is the home of Cameron University. The city of Lawton plays host to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge where visitors can see wild buffalo, prairie dogs, and deer. Lawton has plethora of Native American influence which is evident in the layout of the city and several museums in the area. There is plenty of shopping in Lawton as well as a large variety of restaurants. The town in only about an hour and a half from Oklahoma City and two hours from Tulsa. The city is also located right next to Fort Sill Army base, home of the field artillery. Employers in the area that recruit college graduates are Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Assurant, Inc. insurance products. Cameron University is the only college in Oklahoma that offers associate, bachelor, and master degrees at the same campus. CU began as an agricultural college and still offers a superior program in agricultural sciences. In addition Cameron is known for programs in technology, liberal arts, and education.

45. Vermillion, South Dakota

Vermillion is located in the southeastern corner of South Dakota, and is the location of the University of South Dakota. As the tenth largest city in the state, Vermillion offers a great small town atmosphere with a metropolitan feel. The city is rich in historical treasures including the National Music Museum on the USD campus. Vermillion houses a gorgeous 34-acre park on the banks of the Missouri River where visitors can walk the three mile trail and go camping. USD is a division 1 athletics school that is part of the NCAA. In fact, the men’s track and field team secured the 2014 Summit League Championship. USD is known for programs in psychology, political science, biology, and art.

Photo Credit: Vermillion Area Chamber & Development

44. Brunswick, Georgia

Brunswick is a beautiful coastal city, and the home of the College of Coastal Georgia. Brunswick is a larger city, but thanks to its coastal location has a very resort-like feel. The city is located just minutes from St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island, both part of the Georgia barrier islands. In Brunswick, there is plenty to do including a great arts alliance and community theater program. First Fridays are a tradition in downtown Brunswick where shops and restaurants have open houses with food samples and live entertainment. The city is located halfway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florid, about an hour from each. Major employers in the area are the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the Southeast Georgia Health System. The College of Coastal Georgia only recently became a four-year college, having been converted from a two-year community college. Due to the local geography of saltmarshes and pristine beaches, CCGA offers a fantastic Coastal Ecology baccalaureate program. Other great programs at CCGA include biology, nursing, education, and business.

43. Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg is a great place to live no matter what kind of lifestyle you prefer, and is the home to the College of William and Mary. Williamsburg served as the capitol of Virginia in the 1700s and is rich in colonial history. The Revolutionary City is a historical attraction built as a working colonial town. Also located in Williamsburg is one of the Busch Gardens theme parks. Major employers in Williamsburg include the Colonial Williamsburg foundation as well as several major hotels and private resorts. The College of William and Mary is the second oldest college in the nation, and it is one of only eight public Ivy League colleges in the United States. Not surprisingly, the college offers one of the very best history programs in the country.

42. Boulder, Colorado

Not only is Boulder celebrated for its beautiful mountain views, it’s also the site of the University of Colorado. Boulder is one of the most liberal cities in the west, being a popular hippie destination in the 1960s. The city is also a favorite among nature enthusiasts and outdoors activists who enjoy the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains areas.

The Pearl Street Mall is the social center of Boulder with several restaurants and specialty shops as well as major department stores. Major employers in Boulder include the IBM Corporation and Lockheed Martin. The University of Colorado is home to the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Hill District, with various shops and entertainment attractions. The school is best known for its programs in business and engineering.

41. Monroe, Louisiana

Monroe is located in the central northern part of Louisiana and is the location of the University of Louisiana in Monroe. It is located about halfway between Meridian and Shreveport, Louisiana. Monroe contains the beautiful Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, which is the home of over 500 animals. It also has several museums, including the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum. Monroe’s major employers include Chase financial systems and CenturyLink communication’s company. The University of Louisiana in Monroe has an exceptional athletic department with championship teams in the Sunbelt Conference. Student life organizations include the Greek system and spirit clubs. Notable programs at the university include pharmacy school and business.

40. Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville is a gorgeous town with picturesque vineyards and rolling hills, and it is the site of the University of Virginia. On the outskirts of the city lies the plantation of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. In fact, it was Thomas Jefferson who designed the city of Charlottesville. The city supports several art galleries and an open-air pavilion that attracts plenty of star entertainers. Major employers in the area are the University of Virginia Medical Center and the Pharmaceutical Research Association. The University of Virginia is ranked as the second best public university in the nation by the US News and World Report. Every year the theater program hosts a Heritage Theater Festival. The university is known for programs in business, law, and medicine.

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39.Gainesville, Florida

Disney World is not the only thing in the state of Florida. Gainesville Florida is the place that hold the 8th largest campus in the country, based off of enrollment. It is also the home to Sante Fe college. Gainesville has even more to offer besides its strong educational value. This Florida college town is where the popular sports drink Gatorade was originally invented. It was made for the sports players of the University. since 1982 Gainesville has been named as a Tree city, USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. In 2007, this beautiful college town was ranked the number one place to live, in all of North America.

38. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is home to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and the University of Vermont. Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, and it houses a number of famous landmarks, such as the Emily Post Institute. The band Phish also originated in Burlington. The city is located on the beautiful Lake Champlain and much of the city is a resort area. Potential employer for college graduates include General Electric and Fletcher Allen Healthcare. The University of Vermont boasts one of the highest job placement rates in the country with 85% of graduates finding jobs in their field of study. In addition, as one of the oldest colleges in New England, UVM offers a historical experience unlike any other. The university is well known for programs in education, psychology, and physical therapy.

37. Long Beach, California

Long Beach is one of the most beautiful cities on the west coast, and it is the location of the California State University in Long Beach. The city is one of the most culturally diverse in the country with a large Asian and Hispanic demographic. Long Beach plays host to several music and theater festivals throughout the year. Potential employers for college grads are Boeing airplane manufacturers and the United States Postal Service. California State University in Long Beach is the second largest university in the CSU system. It is also the 5th most ethnically diverse university in the country. The best academic programs at Long Beach State are business, engineering, and nursing.

36. Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is not only one of the most family friendly communities in the country, it is also the site of Northern Arizona University. The city was voted the number 5 best spot for family vacations by Travel and Leisure Magazine thanks to its kid-friendly atmosphere. Activities for kids involve everything from foreign language classes to drama camp. In addition, Flagstaff is known for having the most incredible view of the night sky, and there’s no better place for stargazing than the Lowell Observatory. Among the largest employers in the area are the Flagstaff Medical Center and the Walgreens Distribution Center. Northern Arizona University has one of the fastest growing student populations in the state. It is also currently expanding its online program into one of the best in the country. The university is best known for programs in the health sciences and education.

35. Ithaca, New York

Ithaca has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country and well as its very own Ivy League college, Cornell University. More than a hundred gorges and waterfalls lie in the outskirts of Ithaca, and the town is also known for amazing wineries. The wine trail includes fifteen different wineries, a few distilleries, and a mead plant. If you like a laid back area, then it doesn’t get any better than Ithaca. Notable employers in the area are Borg-Warner Automotive and the Ithaca City School District. Cornell University is ranked in the top 20 colleges in the country. The school is the most educationally varied of the Ivy League colleges with over 93 different academic programs. The most prestigious programs at Cornell include business, engineering, law, computer science, medicine, and English.

34. Durham, North Carolina

Durham is the perfect mix of city and history and also the home of Duke University. Civil Rights have a big meaning in Durham, with its rich history of sit-ins and protests during the 1950s and 1960s, even warranting a visit from Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, the city has a thriving economy and a definitive support for the arts. Durham holds several music, dance, art, and film festivals at different times during the year. Careers can be launched in Durham with IBM and the United States Environmental Protection Agency Research Center. Duke University is something of an amalgam in the Ivy League system. Not only does it rank among the top ten universities in the country, its sports teams also rank in the top of division one athletics. The best programs at Duke include environmental law, medicine, and clinical psychology.

Photo Credit: Ninthstreet03 Courtesy Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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33. Auburn, Alabama

Auburn is truly a college town with the largest university in the state, Auburn University. The city thrives on student interaction, with art museums, theater venues, and film festivals all housed on the Auburn campus. Downtown there used to be some beautiful live oak trees on a corner known nationally as Toomer’s Corner. Auburn fans would gather after games to roll the trees in toilet paper. Auburn is also host to national companies like the Walmart Distribution Center and the East Alabama Medical Center. Auburn University’s football team has been in the national championships twice in recent years, with one national title. The school also ranks among the top 100 schools in the country. The best programs at Auburn are in engineering, pharmacy, and counseling.

32. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is one of the most famous and beautiful cities in the South as well as the home of several colleges, most notably the Savannah College of Art and Design. The city of Savannah lies on the central east coast of Georgia, very near Tybee Island. Savannah is known for the beautiful historic district and the Forsyth Park area. Savannah also has wonderful boutique shopping and local restaurants. Employers in Savannah that employ college graduates include Hunter Army Airfield and the Georgia Ports Authority. The Savannah College of Art and Design is one of the premier schools in the country for the arts. The campus is sprawled throughout downtown Savannah. A degree from SCAD is highly respected in the arts community.

31. Panama City, Florida

Panama City is located right on the Florida panhandle and overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The city is also the site of Gulf Coast State College. Panama City is a popular destination for Spring Break thanks to gorgeous beaches and a thriving nightlife. In addition, PC has amazing shopping and restaurant locations such as the Pier Park complex, which houses Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, several specialty shops, and even a small theme park. Employment in the area includes Tyndall Air Force Base and the travel agency. Gulf Coast State College has just recently expanded its programs to include bachelor degrees. The college also boasts a high job placement rate in premier programs like nursing and organizational management.

30. East Lansing, Michigan

East Lansing, MI is the location of Michigan State University just east of the capital city. The city has a population of around 48,000 people, making it a fairly small college town. Grand River Avenue in downtown East Lansing runs right down the middle of the city and is beautifully lined with trees. This main downtown street is where all the town goes to have a good time, visiting the bookstores, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. East Lansing is a nice little town for college students or families who enjoy the college life. The town hosts several arts and music festivals throughout the year and enjoys cheering on their favorite sports’ teams, of course, the MSU Spartans. Its proximity to larger towns including the capital city make it a really great place to live and enjoy small-town community life while still having access to larger cities.
Photo Credit: City of East Lansing, Michgian

29. Eugene, Oregon

Eugene is nestled in the heart of the wine country as well as being the home of the University of Oregon. The city has gorgeous wine trails to bike through as well a great history in track and field. In fact, Eugene is where the Nike Company originated. Another reason that Oregon makes a popular choice is the fact that there is no state sales tax. Major employers in the area are the PeaceHealth Medical Group and the United States Government. The University of Oregon hosts the Oregon Bach festival every year, which celebrates classical music. The school also hosts several research institutes. Major programs at the school are education and psychology.

28. State College, Pennsylvania

State College is a popular college town that encompasses Pennsylvania State University. The whole area around Penn State, including State college, is sometimes referred to as “Happy Valley”. This small family friendly town has multiple notches on its belt, such as the fact that in 2010, State college was rated as the 3rd safest metropolitan area in the entire United States and in 2013, It was also rated the best college town town in the U.S. State college, Pennsylvania has plenty of opportunities of employment for undergraduate and graduate students alike.

27. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Deep amid the Ozarks lies the third largest city in all of Arkansas; Fayetteville. Since the year of 1871, Fayetteville has claimed the University of Arkansas. In the year of 2010, Fayetteville was rated as one of the best places to retire in. Fayetteville is also the home to the Walmart corporation, which holds the Walmart Shareholders meeting every year in its Bud Walton Arena. After the recession, it was recorded that Fayetteville was the second best area to be able to recover. This was mainly due to the presence of the Walmart Corporation. Also, in comparison to the average across the nation, Fayetteville has an extremely low unemployment rate of only 5 percent.

26. Manhattan, Kansas

Manhattan is a serious college town and the site of Kansas State University. The city is known locally as “The Little Apple” thanks to its name association with Manhattan, New York. Manhattan is full of bars and restaurants that are popular among residents and college students. It is also located adjacent to Fort Riley army post which employees over 3500 civilian personnel.Kansas State is the one of the largest college campuses in Kansas with a wealth of student life activities. The campus employees over 6,000 Manhattanites on its own. KSU is also one of the largest research universities in the country. The best degree programs at K-State include engineering and business.

Photo Credit: City of Manhattan, Kansas

25. Logan, Utah

Logan is a picturesque city located in Utah at the foot of an expanse of the magnificent Rocky Mountain Range. Beside the glorious view, the town boasts 40 miles of community parks and the 18 mile long Bear Lake. You can fish, hike, bike, ski, golfing or visit one of Utah’s wonderful zoos any day of the week. Logan is also home to Utah State University. USU offers excellent curriculars and extracurriculars for their students. Accredited undergraduate research, division one athletics, and more than 200 clubs and organizations are just brushing the surface of what USU can offer anyone venturing to make this city their beautiful home for the rest of their lives.

24. Morgantown, West Virginia

Morgantown is a unsuspected gem of a city in West Virginia located along the glorious Monongahela River. Only a short drive from the Pennsylvania border, Morgantown continues to grow with businesses of retail, research, and manufacturing popping up every day. There is no telling what great things are in the future for this industrious city. Morgantown is also the home of West Virginia University. WVU is the largest university in the state and offers excellent opportunity for success with its extensive research department which is available for both undergraduate and graduate programs alike. With division one athletics and other extracurriculars offered, this college town is sure to keep you busy when the work day ends.

23. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is the largest city in western North Carolina with a populations estimated to be 83,000+, making this a city that is always moving! Weather is always bearable, ranging on average 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and high 30’s in the winter. Surrounding this beautiful town in all directions are numerous lakes, mountain ranges, and opportunity for fun! Asheville is also home to University of North Carolina at Asheville. UNCA is well known for its comprehensive liberal arts program, offering for you a choice of 30 different majors. Athletic events are always a buzz on campus; from baseball to swimming, it is never a dull moment here in Asheville.

22. Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth is a charming city in Minnesota, located alongside one the largest lakes in the country, Lake Superior. Miles and miles of trails offer outdoor activities in all weather including hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobiling. Duluth is home to the University of Minnesota Duluth. While this branch campus is not as large as the main one, UMD still offers intensive curricular activities ranging from Psychology to Philosophy and extracurriculars in Greek life, clubs, organizations, and intramural athletics. There is an excellent opportunity of undergraduate research here on this campus. With grants being handed out daily and extensive collaborations with research facilities in the area, there is no telling where this city can take you!

Photo Credit: Steve Forslund

21. Santa Cruz, California


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