Choosing a college is no small feat. There are a ton of factors that come into play, from academic programs to athletics. One factor that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is location. The town or city a school is located in can play a big part in both your college experience not to mention your life and work after graduation.
When making our choices, we considered several factors, including student life and culture, available recreational activities, nearby attractions, and availability of high-speed internet and other college necessities. Here are our picks:
1. Gainesville, FL
Gainesville houses the University of Florida, known for its research programs, athletics, and parties. Gainesville was, at one time, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, thanks in part to its excellent climate, beautiful landscape, and large number of entertainment options.
When it comes to living in Gainesville, there’s plenty to do, including several state parks and museums to check out, and the Gainesville Raceway is a popular spot. The town also has a growing startup culture, so if building businesses is your thing, you’ll be in good company once you graduate.
2. Berkeley, CA
Located across the Bay from San Francisco, Berkeley has a long reputation as a great place to live. The weather is beautiful, the atmosphere is electric, and creativity and activism are everywhere. The University of California is regularly ranked as one of the best in the country, and the area has a rich history dating back to the late ‘60s and the hippy movement. What more could you want in a college town?
Berkeley also has another major advantage: it’s situated only an hour or so away from Silicon Valley. This makes it an ideal candidate for folks in the tech space, as well as potential founders looking to fund startups.
3. Boulder, CO
Boulder has a reputation as one of the best places to live in the US, with gorgeous surroundings, excellent art and food cultures, and the popular University of Colorado providing a backdrop. Like Berkeley, Boulder has a bit of a hippy past, and between that and the beautiful natural landscape make it an ideal spot for adventurous students and adults alike.
There’s a ton to do in Boulder, especially if you like outdoor activities. The entire area is surrounded by nature preserves, recreational land, and climbable mountains. The city also regularly makes lists of the best places to live in the US, including “Happiest City,” “Brainiest City,” and “Best City to Raise an Outdoor Kid.”
4. Athens, GA
Home of the University of Georgia, Athens rounds out the list of best college towns. Unlike some of the other towns on the list, rent in Athens actually falls below the national average, making it an affordable town both during school and after graduation. Music is a big part of the culture, with several national acts, including R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, coming out of Athens. The University of Georgia is home to the Georgia Bulldogs, and their games are a big part of life in Athens.
One downside to living in Athens is that you may have a harder time finding reliably fast internet here, especially if you’re living in the more outlying areas. If that’s the case for you, there are rural internet options available that might help.
These four college towns have something for almost everyone, whether you’re a football fan itching to get on down to Georgia or a budding software engineer looking to make it big in Silicon Valley. Just don’t forget to squeeze in some studying and secure your college renters insurance upon move in!