Annual list identifies and ranks US college towns

A great college town is not just about statistics. It's about heart and history. Students get the education, parties and football games, but residents of college towns win too they can take advantage of the valuable economic stability that universities provide and the high creative
energy that students bring each semester. With all this in mind, has named Irvine a 10 Best College Town, 2016. Irvine provides a supportive place for students to thrive both academically and socially, endless entertainment options and cultural and economic enhancements from the area higher education.

Our experts analyze data from the Census, Esri and other vital sources to discover cities with a high concentration of schools and a highly educated population; cities that have a high population of 25 to 29 year olds as an indicator of the town's ability to retain graduates who decided it's a cool enough place to stay after graduation; and diverse towns where education
is a dominant employer. Bonus points are awarded to towns with Division I athletics because strong sports programs often influence how college towns are defined. The availability and affordability of rental housing, as well as surrounding attractions and restaurants, are also considered.

The short list is then narrowed down based on experiences crisscrossing the nation and a critical eye on town and gown relationships. Finally, our experts weighed in to give the list our own personal touch.

"The thing about college towns is that they aren't only great places for high school seniors to consider," said Livability managing editor Christopher Pilny. "They're great places for everyone to
consider, as many of the best places to live in the U.S. are those that have colleges and/or universities." 

Irvine is one of California's (and the country's) most educated cities, which comes as no surprise considering Irvine's enormous tech sector. The city is home to over a dozen higher education institutions, including University of California, Irvine. Irvine boasts a mini downtown chic energy
because of the large amount of art, leisure, and dining experiences available to residents. It's easy to catch a wave at a nearby beach, experience nightlife at a local club, or find unique dining options. Its business-friendly atmosphere, vast transportation options, strong economy, and myriad of opportunities for exploration and entertainment make it the perfect place for students.

10 Best College Town, 2016

1. Tempe, AZ 

2. Irvine, CA 

3. Columbia, SC 

4. Cambridge, MA 

5. Ann Arbor, MI 

6. Tallahassee, FL

7. Fairfax, VA 

8. Greensboro, NC 

9. Denton, TX 

10. Provo, UT


About explores what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work and visit. We examine issues related to livability such as walkability, cultural amenities, transportation, urban planning and sustainability through exclusive research and discussions on our blog. We celebrate the accomplishments of these cities through our monthly top 10 lists, our
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