So you’ve decided the small college town life just isn’t for you. You want color, you want a nightlife — you want all the fun and entertainment a big city offers (but not a big city price tag). Bursting out of your small town bubble can be a rough transition, but living in a busy metropolis means exhilarating opportunities and new people to meet every day.
If you can’t decide where in the country to relocate, we’ve compiled a list of cities with thriving college populations, strong economies, quality dating pools and high livability. They’re cities where you’ll have a truly unique college experience, and where you just might stick around even after you graduate.
1. Ann Arbor, MI
University of Michigan, Concordia University, Cleary University
“I think it’s just a very individual, original place,” said University of Michigan senior Mackenzie Orr. “From all the varied, non-franchised restaurants and stores to the fact that the University itself draws students from different backgrounds from all over the country, you’re really encouraged to figure out what makes you individually special.”
2. Iowa City, IA
University of Iowa, La James International College
3. Boulder, CO
University of Colorado-Boulder, Naropa University
“A lot of people go to Pearl Street… There’s tons of bars and little restaurants with outdoor seating and rooftop bars. Also there’s usually street performers every night, especially on weekends,” said University of Colorado-Boulder senior Paige Martin.
4. San Jose, CA
San Jose State University, De Anza College, Evergreen Valley College
5. Washington, D.C.
Georgetown University, Howard University, American University
6. Columbus, OH
Ohio State University, Capital University, Franklin University
7. Fargo, ND
North Dakota State University, Aakers Business College, Rasmussen College
8. Provo, UH
Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University, Provo College
“There is a great music scene in Provo,” said Nicole Pavez, a junior at Brigham Young University. “Tons of bands started out in the area… I was lucky and got to see Neon Trees at the Velour for only ten bucks!.. Not to mention, the city provides free concerts the first Friday of each month in the summer.”
9. Austin, TX
University of Texas-Austin, St. Edward’s University, Huston-Tillotson University
If you’re a true lover of music, chances are you’ve visited Austin already. It hosts some of the largest, most vibrant music festivals in the country, from the 6-day-long South by Southwest jam to Austin City Limits, visited by bands like Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire and Coldplay. For those more worried more about finances than fun, know that Austin and the surrounding metro area have a robust record of entrepreneurial activity, with a high percentage of workers in innovative fields like computer technology. Local real estate remains cheap, though, and the city’s cost of living skims a few degrees below the national average.
10. Pittsburgh, PA
Duquesne University, Chatham University, Art Institute of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh
“East Carson is the main street in Southside where you will find an insane amount of bars that are so fun,” said Duquesne senior Kait O’Dell. “Each bar you go to has its own personality. You can find bars with live bands, DJs, and goblets of beer. It’s a really good time.”