With another school year drawing to a close, many high-school seniors are preparing for their upcoming debut into college life. Soon students will be pouring out across the nation to thousands of colleges and universities. From small private colleges to major state universities, the new collegiate year promises to bring renters to many otherwise unknown cities and towns. Some colleges, though, are taking the bulk of the new and returning undergraduate population.
ith another school year drawing to a close, many high-school seniors are preparing for their upcoming debut into college life. Soon students will be pouring out across the nation to thousands of colleges and universities. From small private colleges to major state universities, the new collegiate year promises to bring renters to many otherwise unknown cities and towns. Some colleges, though, are taking the bulk of the new and returning undergraduate population.
This week, we compiled a list of the top five picks out of the 100 largest colleges in the US. To make our list, each town had to offer affordable housing options, easy access to downtown, and an array of amenities. From the big city bustle to the small-town life, if you’re considering any of these colleges, you’re sure to be in for an exhilarating experience.
Check out why these towns made our top five list and learn more about the town that won TurboTenant’s award for America’s Most Affordable Town With A Major University.
Counting down to number one….
#5: Columbus, Ohio
Average 2 Bedroom Monthly Rental Prices: $1,575
Ohio State University: Undergrad enrollment 52,349
Columbus, Ohio, is one of the larger cities that made our list. With rent prices still affordable, and a huge array of big-city amenities, this town is a must-visit for any college-bound student. In 2016, Columbus won the prestigious award, Highest in Visitor Satisfaction in the Midwest, by J.D. Power. Take one trip to Columbus and it’s easy to see why this bustling city is winning awards and why the town is on the rise.
In the past few decades, Columbus has been building a thriving community featuring amenities every college student is sure to love. With walkable neighborhoods, an outstanding nightlife scene, and a focus on quality, local products, Columbus is more than just the home to one of the largest colleges in America. For music fans, check out one of the local clubs featuring live tunes, such as Notes or Little Rock. If craft brews are your passion, enjoy the more than 30 microbreweries located in this metropolis.
Tips: Ohio State University is only located two miles north of downtown, which means the city is easily accessible for students. Take advantage of the CoGo Bike Share program and COTA buses to get around town.
#4: Tempe, Arizona
Average 2 Bedroom Monthly Rental Prices: $1,266
Arizona State University: Undergrad enrollment 42,477
If Arizona conjures up images of desolate deserts and cacti, you might want to take a trip to Tempe to readjust your mindset. Try your hand at paddle boarding on Tempe Town Lake or head for a hike on the countless trails spanning the area. College students will benefit from the 175 miles of bikeways, which make this city easy to navigate even on a budget. In fact, Tempe is a designated Bicycle Friendly Community with bike paths that span both desert paths and city streets. With rental prices still attainable and an array of affordable things to do, this thriving desert community found its way on our list.
Arizona State University boasts more than just a massive undergrad population. It is also located within walking distance of Downtown Tempe, which means there is never a shortage of activity and nightlife to take in for students. The Tempe campus offers a plethora of degree programs and is the location of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and the School of Sustainability.
Tips: If you plan to visit Tempe to check out ASU, be sure to stop by the “Air Apparent” public art space by James Turrell. This uniquely fashioned space guides viewers to experience a new perception of light and color in an oasis of calm.
#3: State College, Pennsylvania
Average 2 Bedroom Monthly Rental Prices: $1,130
Penn State – University Park: Undergrad enrollment 46,000
With a large undergrad population, Penn State’s University Park campus dominates the borough of State College. In 2013, CQ Press ranked State College as the third-safest metropolitan area. For students, the University’s location directly across from downtown means live music, restaurants, and more are all just a simple walk away. Neighborhoods offer affordable rent options, and due to the borough’s centralized structure, everything is within an easy bike ride away.
For those who enjoy arts and festivals, State College is the perfect place to live. From the Happy Valley Music Fest to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, there are plenty of events to mark on your calendar. State College also offers a focus on local, sustainable food options with farmers markets and restaurants showcasing locally grown goods. The downtown area is also known as the hub for entertainment with dancing, live music, independent films, and more.
Tips: If you are planning a trip to State College, try to visit during a First Friday event. This monthly occasion gives attendees the chance to enjoy live entertainment, free bites, beverages, restaurant specials, and more.
#2: Champaign, Illinois
Average 2 Bedroom Monthly Rental Prices: $1,061
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Undergrad enrollment 33,467
As average rent prices on our list fall, the quality of life and academics does not. The University of Illinois is well known for their outstanding programs and life-saving research. Their campus, in Champaign, is the perfect fit for this tech-driven town. Champaign is the home of the Blue Waters supercomputer, as well as being the birth location of the world’s first web browser. With gigabit fiber optic connected neighborhoods, Champaign is truly a modern, urban city wrapped up in a small-town package.
There is no shortage of festivals and events to attend, and for those who enjoy the arts, Champaign’s culture is sure to be a good fit. Want to spend some time outdoors? There are a variety of parks and trails located throughout this charming town, as well as easy day trips to gorgeous recreation areas, such as Turkey Run State Park and Kickapoo State Park. Champaign rolls in as second on our list due to the low cost of living paired with the high-quality of life. Champaign is an excellent fit for students who want to retain a small-town feel paired with all the amenities and modern luxuries of the big city.
Tips: Want to check out the city? Plan a trip during the Friday Night LIVE series. Running from June 2-August 25, this Friday evening event is a free street-side performance. Ranging from bluegrass to rock to live painting exhibits, Friday Night LIVE is a great chance to see the town’s talent showcased against the backdrop of downtown.
#1: East Lansing, Michigan
TurboTenant’s Top Pick For “America’s Most Affordable Town With A Major University”
Average 2 Bedroom Monthly Rental Prices: $844
Michigan State University: Undergrad enrollment 39,090
East Lansing, Michigan, tops the list as the number one pick for America’s Most Affordable Town With A Major University. With an undergrad enrollment nearing 40,000, this college town has no shortage of fun activities to enjoy and, like all of our top picks, accessing the city from campus is an easy walk or bike ride away. With average rent prices for a two-bedroom under $900, you can enjoy comfortable living with all the amenities of a large college town. In fact, the vibrant lifestyle of East Lansing might make it hard to leave even post-graduation.
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, the riparian campus boasts a peaceful river walk along the Red Cedar River. Students enjoy close proximity to coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and more, all located across the street from campus. If you are visiting, stop by Ricks American Cafe, a local college favorite.
For sports fanatics, it is hard to beat the culture surrounding the Michigan State Spartans. Head over to the Spartan Stadium for a spirited football game or the Breslin Center to take in the swish of hoops. Game days are one of the highlights of undergraduate life. From boisterous tailgating, rain or shine, to cheering on the team with classmates, MSU offers a unique camaraderie surrounding athletics.
Tips: East Lansing is host to an array of outstanding festivals. Plan a trip to visit East Lansing around one of these renowned events, such as the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival or the East Lansing Art Festival.