Best Places to Live

2018 10 Best College Towns

We scoured the nation to find the best college towns in America. Can you guess which 10 came out on top?

Durham NC
Photo Courtesy of Duke University

The Top 10 College Towns 2018 list came to life through a collaboration between Livability.com and ABODO Apartments, the leading off-campus and young professional apartment search engine in the U.S.

Across the country, small to mid-sized cities are thriving thanks to an annual infusion of enthusiastic students, top-notch faculty, pioneering research projects and entertaining athletic events — proof of the power of a local college or university. 

But you don’t have to be a college student to fall in love with the 10 Best College Towns in America in 2018 — from innovative arts and cultural events to delicious restaurants to incredible historical significance, these well-rounded places offer a little something for everyone.

To determine the 10 best college towns in the country, we first identified all U.S. cities with a population between 20,000 and 350,000 and at least one college campus. This gave us a list of 203 cities, which we ranked by considering four weighted factors:

  • 30% – The ratio of the city’s median salary (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) to its July 2018 median one-bedroom rent (from ABODO listings)

  • 30% – The percentage of the population age 20 to 29

  • 20% – The number of jobs in the education sector per 1,000 jobs in the city

  • 20% – The ratio of the median salary in the city to the nation for education jobs

In the end, we honed in on 10 fantastic college towns that aren't just full of charm and school spirit, but opportunity. 

Read on to find out which towns made the Top 10, and what makes each college town on our list unique — from dream jobs to dive bars and everything in between. 

Start the List

Ranking Criteria

30% – The ratio of the city’s median salary (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) to its July 2018 median one-bedroom rent (from ABODO listings)
30% – The percentage of the population that is ages 20 to 29
20% – The number of jobs in the education sector per 1,000 jobs in the city
20% – The ratio of the median salary in the city to the nation for education jobs