In a new report conducted by WalletHub, Ann Arbor was voted the best college town for cities with a population under 125,000 people, and the 5th overall best college town in the United States.

 The report rated 415 cities based on three factors. The first factor, Wallet Friendliness, evaluated the cost of housing, cost of living, fitness club fees, the price of pizza, burgers, a movie and bowling, as well as the cost of higher education and the student debt per person. 

The study also used Social Environment, which, along with a variety of other factors, took into account gender balance, nightlife options, cafes per capita and students per capita.

The final factor was Academic and Economic Opportunities, which evaluated the quality of higher education, earning potential for college graduates, the amount of recent college graduates moving into the city and the median income for part-time workers. 

The study used the three factors to rate each city on a 100-point scale. From there, each factor was weighted differently, where a perfect score for Wallet Friendliness and Social Environment was weighed at 25 points each, and Academic and Economic Opportunities would add at most 50 points.

Ann Arbor’s overall score was 62.64 points, putting it at the top for cities with populations under 125,000, and 5th for all cities in the study, which ranked Austin, Texas (66.49) first.

Students at the University of Michigan had mixed reactions to the ranking. LSA senior Mara Vandegrift who grew up in Austin, Texas, said she was surprised when she heard the ranking, especially since she comes from a larger town.

“Moving to Ann Arbor, there was definitely a lack of resources,” Mara said. “It was just a lot different going to a much smaller town. I guess when I heard that it was voted so high, I thought it was kind of strange, just because coming from Austin there was way more. I do love Ann Arbor, it’s definitely good – it’s like a fun college town, it’s a good college town.”

Engineering senior Brendan Gridley from Wilmette, Illinois, agreed with WalletHub’s ranking. 

“Couldn’t agree more,” Gridley said. “All my friends that come to visit say similar things, that’s actually why I went here, a good college town, not too big, not too small.”

LSA freshman Abigail Christian, who is originally from just outside of East Lansing, was happy with the favorable ranking Ann Arbor received. 

“I think that’s really cool,” Christian said. “I mean, Ann Arbor is one of my favorite places”

Ann Arbor is frequently rated in the top 10 best cities in the country. Early in 2019, rated Ann Arbor the second-best city in the United States, and the city was ranked first for Niche’s 2017 and 2018 lists. The American Institute for Economic Research also ranked Ann Arbor as the best small metro college destination in 2017. 

Other Michigan cities that made the WalletHub list include East Lansing (270), Kalamazoo (213) and Dearborn (253), among others.


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