It's the classic collegiate circle of life. You prep, you study, and then you just flat-out pray you'll get into the school of your choice. Then once you're there, you reach an inflection point, somewhere between your first game of beer pong and your final midterms, when you start counting the days until you can escape—to the place where you'll start that whole adulting thing for real.
But these days more and more grads are skipping that final step and opting to stay put. And it turns out they've got plenty of company. Because you don't need to be a student or recent graduate to appreciate all that the best college towns typically offer: walkable enclaves of innovative restaurants, lively music scenes, and tons of fun, unique businesses. And most importantly, many of 'em are becoming employment hubs as companies searching for top talent open offices nearby. Home prices are usually still reasonable. And homeownership is often a smart investment as there's strong demand from both young and old buyers.
So where are the best college towns that offer the best of everything? The realtor.com data team set out to find them.
4. Blacksburg, VA
- Number of college students: 46,722
- Median home list price: $231,400
- Median household income: $52,900
After receiving their diplomas, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) graduates often head to cities such as Washington, DC, or Charlotte, NC. But those who prefer the great outdoors over big-city life are choosing to stick around.
For starters, the Appalachian Trail is just a short drive out of town. Claytor Lake State Park is the go-to for fishing and boating, and New River Trail State Park is a fantastic place for horseback riding.
Blacksburg has a great quality of life. The mountains are beautiful, and the area has all the benefits of being a large university town.
Like many college centers, the biggest employers in the region are the universities themselves. But there are lots of other options, too. Dish Network employs around 1,000 here, and Moog, an aerospace and defense company, also has a large presence.