Best Places to Live

2016 10 Best College Towns

While the term "college town" may bring to mind solo cup-littered parties and riotous football games, there's far more to these youth-filled cities than tailgating and sports. It starts with education itself. An educated workforce brings in industry and employment opportunities, which is why many college towns also made it onto our list of the 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs. Successful universities are always huge employers in communities, too. That’s why just to get on our 2016 list, towns had to have more than three colleges, and a high percentage of jobs in the education sector.

But a great town is about more than just numbers. It’s about heart. And history. It’s about being a breeding ground for culture, and a celebration of what makes our country great. There might not be a better expression of the American dream, in fact, than our next generation of youth working their way through college. That’s why our team of experts weighed in, as well—to give it our own personal touch.

The 100 Best Places to Live 2016

The universities that reside in the towns on our 2016 list range from the elite and private (Harvard University in Cambridge), to the huge and public (University of Michigan in Ann Arbor). Each of them gives as much as they get from their communities. And the real winners are the residents, who get the kind of quality of life that only comes from living in one of the Top 10 College Towns in the US. Whether you’re looking for a place with career options, high wages, great housing options and plenty of things to do, or even a place to live the solo cup lifestyle, you’ll find it in each of these 10 towns.


Ranking Criteria
Population of 25- to 29-year-olds
High percentage of jobs in education sector
Local restaurants and bars
Affordable housing
  • 10

    Provo, UT

    Population: 115,345

    Courtesy of a4gpa under a CC 4.0 license.

    Provo is best known for Brigham Young University, which is the largest employer in town (with 4,000 employees), and also cranks out a highly-educated workforce. Capitalizing on this, as well as the family-friendliness of the town, Provo has become a booming place for business. Chief among the growing industries is tech—so much so that the entire region has been called "Silicon Slopes." This is also why we named it, in partnership with Entrepreneur, one of the 50 Best Cities For Your Startup.

    Too far from Salt Lake City to be called a suburb, Provo has the feel of a college town, combined with an incredible arts scene and a lovely dose of small town charm. In short, it’s pretty unique, and one of many reasons why it's been twice named one of the 100 Best Places to Live.

    Provo: One of the 10 Most Affordable Cities in the U.S. 2016

    The area isn’t just about future growth either—it’s also about now. Community events, like the annual Gingerbread House Festival, are perfect reflections of the heart of its residents. And since SLC is such a short drive away, locals and students both have ready access to all the professional sports and entertainment found there.