2024’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With application season in full swing and student living expenses reaching over $35,000 per year in some regions, WalletHub today released its report on 2024’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America, as well as expert commentary. This report is a follow-up to WalletHub’s College & University Rankings.

Best Large College Towns*
1. Austin, TX
2. Orlando, FL
3. Tampa, FL
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Raleigh, NC
6. Atlanta, GA
7. Miami, FL
8. Pittsburgh, PA
9. Columbus, OH
10. Seattle, WA


Best Midsize College Towns*
1. Scottsdale, AZ
2. Gainesville, FL
3. Boise, ID
4. Tempe, AZ
5. Charleston, SC
6. Salt Lake City, UT
7. St. Petersburg, FL
8. Tallahassee, FL
9. Cary, NC
10. Irvine, CA


Best Small College Towns*
1. Ann Arbor, MI
2. Charlottesville, VA
3. West Lafayette, IN
4. College Station, TX
5. Provo, UT
6. Laramie, WY
7. Wilmington, NC
8. Santa Barbara, CA
9. Oxford, OH
10. Boca Raton, FL

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

Best vs. Worst

  • Charleston, Illinois, has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, $848 per month, which is 4.8 times lower than in Santa Cruz, California, the city with the highest at $4,054 per month.
  • Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index for young people, 77.62, which is 2.9 times lower than in Stanford, California, the city with the highest at 223.44.
  • Savannah, Georgia, has the lowest cost of higher education, $17,414 per year, which is 4.8 times lower than in Evanston, Illinois, the city with the highest at $83,838 per year.
  • Stony Brook University, New York, has the most enrolled students (per 1,000 residents), 957, which is 22.3 times more than in Cape Coral, Florida, the city with the fewest at 43.