2023’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With application season in full swing and student living expenses reaching over $30,000 per year in some regions, WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary. This report, which is a follow-up to WalletHub’s College & University Rankings, aims to determine the towns and cities that provide better living conditions even in these difficult times.

To help college-bound high school seniors determine their future home for the next several years, WalletHub compared more than 400 U.S. cities – also grouped by city size – based on 32 key indicators of academic, social and economic growth potential. The data set ranges from the cost of living to the quality of higher education to the crime rate.

Best Large College Cities* Best Midsize College Cities* Best Small College Cities*
1. Austin, TX 1. Orlando, FL 1. Ann Arbor, MI
2. Tampa, FL 2. Gainesville, FL 2. Rexburg, ID
3. Miami, FL 3. Scottsdale, AZ 3. Provo, UT
4. Raleigh, NC 4. Irvine, CA 4. Princeton, NJ
5. Atlanta, GA 5. Salt Lake City, UT 5. Orem, UT
6. Seattle, WA 6. Cary, NC 6. College Station, TX
7. Pittsburgh, PA 7. Reno, NV 7. Charlottesville, VA
8. San Diego, CA 8. Madison, WI 8. Ithaca, NY
9. Colorado Springs, CO 9. Charleston, SC 9. Santa Barbara, CA
10. St. Louis, MO 10. New Haven, CT 10. Athens, GA

*For simplicity, we used the term “Cities” to refer to both cities and towns.

Best vs. Worst

  • Richmond, Kentucky, has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, $783 per month, which is 4.2 times lower than in Santa Cruz, California, the city with the highest at $3,293 per month.
  • Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index for young people, 77.92, which is 2.9 times lower than in Stanford, California, the city with the highest at 223.41.
  • Savannah, Georgia, has the lowest cost of higher education, $17,414 per year, which is 4.7 times lower than in Evanston, Illinois, the city with the highest at $81,283 per year.
  • Stony Brook University, New York, has the most enrolled students (per 1,000 residents), 954, which is 22.7 times more than in Cape Coral, Florida, the city with the fewest at 42.