Young female student taking a thumbs-up selfie against the backdrop of one of the best cities for college students

These Are the 12 Best Cities for College Students in the U.S.

The city you live in during your college experience is just as important as the college you attend. Not only will an awesome college city provide you with tons of stuff to do when you’re not in class, but exciting cities usually play host to a variety of higher education institutions, so there’s something for everyone.

If you’re a recent high school grad, looking to transfer universities, or you’re traveling abroad to the United States to pursue college, check out our list of the 12 best cities for college students to help you decide where you’ll live out your unforgettable college years! 

1. New York City, New York

An aerial shot of Central Park and Manhattan in New York City – one of the best cities for college students in the United States.

More than half a million college students call New York City home—and for good reason. With over 100 colleges and universities to choose from (more than any other U.S. city), students can study anything their heart desires in The Big Apple.

Public transportation is abundant and widespread, so you’ll always have a way to get to and from campus. There are also plenty of job opportunities, some of the most Instagram-worthy restaurants in the world, sights to see, and student apartments in New York—The City That Never Sleeps. 

Take your pick of nightclubs, museums, and shopping to keep you busy in this diverse and world-famous metropolis. This is one city that can be a little intimidating at first, so be sure to check out all our tips for students moving to New York City

2. San Diego, California

 A view of the San Diego skyline and waterfront from the perspective of the Coronado Bridge

Students be warned: Once you move to San Diego you might never leave! Not only is San Diego home to over a dozen colleges and universities, like San Diego State University, but the city is known for its ultra laid-back vibe and gorgeous weather.

Have some time to kill between classes? Take a drive down to Pacific Beach for a relaxing afternoon catching some waves or park your car at historic Balboa Park to lay back and read a good book under the palm trees. You can’t go wrong with attending college in San Diego, where you’ll almost always get to enjoy sunny days, the beach, bustling nightlife, chill people, and yummy restaurants. 

Ready to take the plunge and find your student housing in San Diego? We promise you’ll have the time of your life in America’s Finest City! 

3. Austin, Texas

 A shot of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake at sunrise

Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and rightly so. Austin is experiencing an ongoing influx of students choosing to relocate to the area so they can take advantage of the lively city, the University of Texas at Austin (and almost 20 other colleges and universities), and all the great things to do around UT Austin and beyond. 

Why? For starters, Austin is the live music capital of the world, but that’s not all it’s known for. The city has a diverse culinary scene, moderate weather, tons to do outdoors, a booming real estate market, excellent universities, jobs, and some of the friendliest people in the country. Austin is a frontrunner when it comes to one of the best cities for college students!

Need more proof? Check out The Try Guys’ whirlwind trip to Austin, where they discovered all the weird, fun, and exciting things the city has to offer. 

4. Tempe, Arizona

The Tempe city skyline and Salt River photographed during blue hour.

Tempe is home to a handful of colleges and universities, but it’s probably best known for Arizona State University (ASU). In fact, ASU ranks #1 in the U.S. for hosting students living abroad, making Arizona the best state to study in the USA for international students

This city has the perfect mix of beautiful year-round weather, a tight-knit community, tons of things to do in Tempe at night, and awesome schools. You won’t regret living out your college years here. 

5. Tallahassee, Florida 

The downtown Tallahassee skyline at dusk.

Tallahassee was ranked the 6th best city for college students in the United States, thanks to all the exciting things there are for college students to do coupled with the gorgeous weather, job opportunities in the law, science, and government sectors, and ample student housing in Tallahassee.

If you’ve considered attending Florida State University (FSU), Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), or Tallahassee Community College (TCC), then you‘ll be near some of the best student housing in Tallahassee. Enjoy the great outdoors when you’re not in class at one of Tallahassee’s state parks or nature preserves—just one of the many unique things to do in this Florida city.

6. Chapel Hill, North Carolina

An aerial view of Chapel Hill and The University of North Carolina campus

Talk about the quintessential college experience! When you step into Chapel Hill, you’ll feel right at home in this quaint college town. Host to one of the top public universities in the country, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) offers students a small-town feel while keeping it lively with tons of school spirit (just attend a UNC sporting event!). 

When you’re not in class, keep busy exploring the restaurants downtown and nature all around. Consider yourself one of the lucky ones if you get to attend college in Chapel Hill—one of the best cities for college students.

7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia city skyline and Eakin’s Oval at sunset.

Philadelphia may be known as The City of Brotherly Love, but it’s also the City of Firsts. Philly was the first planned city in the U.S., the first location of the Stock Exchange, home to the nation’s first hospital, and the first capital of the U.S. just to name a few. Philadelphia is packed with history!

Students come from far and wide to attend over 100 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. From the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania to Drexel University and Temple University, this city offers incredible academic opportunities. You’ll love spending your college years here exploring this historic city (make sure you check out the most Instagrammable spots in Philadelphia with your squad). Eat your heart out at one of Philly’s many top restaurants, visit the stunning museums, and enjoy four beautiful seasons of weather—all while attending school in one of the best cities for college students

8. Seattle, Washington

A view of the Seattle skyline at dusk

Get a taste of the Pacific Northwest in Seattle! Seattle is home to over 20 universities within a 40-mile radius, with the University of Washington (UW) being one of the most well-known unis in the city.

The city of Seattle is extremely clean, has beautiful waterfront views and activities, is close to Canada (hello weekend getaways), and has some of the best food around. If you’re looking for cool weather, cool people, and cool schools, then Seattle is one of the best cities for college students

9. Boulder, Colorado

An aerial view of Boulder, Colorado, one of the best cities for college students.

If you love the great outdoors, then Boulder might be one of the best cities for college students who appreciate some good ol’ Mother Nature. Boulder has several universities, but it’s best known for the University of Colorado Boulder.

Students come to Boulder (and stay after graduation) because it has excellent year-round weather, beautiful nature, tons of jobs, interesting restaurants, and most people in Boulder take their health and wellness seriously. This city is perfect for students who want to live a well-balanced life! 

10. Chicago, Illinois

A view of downtown Chicago and the Chicago River at dusk.

Students can take their pick of the University of Chicago or almost 10 other colleges and universities in the Windy City. One of the largest cities in the U.S., Chicago is a great place for college students because it has a metropolitan feel complete with stellar public transport, restaurants galore, adoring sports fans, and lots of housing opportunities.

Once the winter snow melts away, students love spending time down at the beaches of Lake Michigan. We foresee some study sessions under the sun!

11. Columbus, Ohio

 A view of beautiful downtown Columbus, Ohio, and the Scioto River.

If you want the complete college experience, then Columbus is calling your name. Columbus is home to a handful of colleges and universities, but none as famous as Ohio State University (OSU). OSU is one of the largest universities in the nation and has one of the most famous football programs—have you ever tailgated?

Columbus is a powerhouse when it comes to providing residents with plenty to do. Combine a low cost of living with awesome schools, things to see and do (you must check out the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium), restaurants, and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, Columbus is one of the best cities for college students.

12. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

An aerial view of downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the Mississippi River

Experience the meaning of true southern hospitality in Baton Rouge. This city is jam-packed with history, cultural events, restaurants, warm weather, and beautiful people.

Baton Rouge has over a dozen colleges and universities, but it’s best-known for Louisiana State University (LSU). This university is the highest-ranked public uni in Louisiana and offers students a well-rounded mix of academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities. The best part of Baton Rouge is that the cost of living is relatively cheap in the city, and if you travel to the surrounding suburbs, you’ll save even more. Get a taste of the south in this bustling city rounding out our list of the 12 best cities for college students

Now that you have a rundown of the best cities for college students, have you taken a chance to look into accommodation in the USA for students like yourself? Book your perfect student home today with Unilodgers and you’ll receive the lowest prices around, best apartment options, and unbeatable customer service.

Here’s to finding the city that’s perfect for you and be sure to drop us a line below if you’d like to add to our list of the best cities for college students!

Unilodgers is the world’s leading platform to book student accommodations and serves over 2 million students from over 195 countries every year. We provide students exclusive offers on student housing options and make it easy to book the accommodation that’s the best fit for you.