The 10 Best College Towns In Alabama For 2020


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in Alabama.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Alabama is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Alabama are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Alabama for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In Alabama For 2020

  1. Jacksonville, AL (Photos | Homes)
  2. Birmingham, AL (Photos | Homes)
  3. Troy, AL (Photos | Homes)
  4. Montevallo, AL (Photos | Homes)
  5. Auburn, AL (Photos | Homes)
  6. Tuscaloosa, AL (Photos | Homes)
  7. Huntsville, AL (Photos | Homes)
  8. Mobile, AL (Photos | Homes)
  9. Tuskegee, AL (Photos | Homes)
  10. Montgomery, AL (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Jacksonville, Birmingham and Troy - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Jacksonville ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Read on to find out more or for more on Alabama check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Alabama For 2020

Jacksonville, AL
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 12,654
% Undergrad Pop.: 51.3% (1st best)
Median Rent: $603 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1334.1% (12th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Jacksonville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Jacksonville is a city in Calhoun County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 12,548, which is a 49% increase since 2000. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. Jacksonville State University is located here, which is a center of commerce and one of the largest employers in the area.

Colleges: Jacksonville State University

Birmingham, AL
Overall SnackAbility
3
/10

Population: 212,021
% Undergrad Pop.: 7.9% (9th best)
Median Rent: $797 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1017.1% (10th best)
Crime Rank: 6th best
More on Birmingham: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Birmingham is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Jefferson County. The city's population was 212,237 in the 2010 United States Census. In the 2010 US Census, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of about 1,128,047, which is approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population.

Colleges: University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jefferson State Community College, Samford University

Troy, AL
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 19,141
% Undergrad Pop.: 19.9% (5th best)
Median Rent: $630 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 751.8% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 14th best
More on Troy: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Troy is a city in Pike County, Alabama, United States. The city is the county seat of Pike County. It was formally incorporated on February 4, 1843.

Colleges: Troy University, Troy University-Online, Troy University-Support Locations

Montevallo, AL
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 6,654
% Undergrad Pop.: 38.4% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $714 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 1051.7% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Montevallo: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Montevallo is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. A college town, it is the home of the University of Montevallo, a public liberal arts university with approximately 3,000 students. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city of Montevallo is 6,323. Hollie Campbell Cost, a professor in the College of Education at the University of Montevallo, serves as Mayor.

Colleges: University of Montevallo

Auburn, AL
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 62,996
% Undergrad Pop.: 29.1% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $868 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 480.6% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Auburn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Auburn is a city in Lee County, Alabama, United States. It is the largest city in eastern Alabama with a 2016 population of 63,118. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 158,991, along with the Columbus, GA-AL MSA and Tuskegee, Alabama, comprises the greater Columbus-Auburn-Opelika, GA-AL CSA, a region home to 501,649 residents.

Colleges: Auburn University

Tuscaloosa, AL
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 98,881
% Undergrad Pop.: 17.0% (6th best)
Median Rent: $843 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 759.2% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 8th best
More on Tuscaloosa: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 99,543 in 2016.

Colleges: The University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College, Stillman College

Huntsville, AL
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 193,663
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.8% (12th best)
Median Rent: $804 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 619.8% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 12th best
More on Huntsville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.

Colleges: University of Alabama in Huntsville, Oakwood University, J F Drake State Community and Technical College

Mobile, AL
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 191,485
% Undergrad Pop.: 6.4% (10th best)
Median Rent: $836 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 655.0% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Mobile: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mobile is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the third most populous city in Alabama, the most populous in Mobile County, and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Colleges: University of South Alabama, Bishop State Community College, University of Mobile

Tuskegee, AL
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 8,699
% Undergrad Pop.: 28.4% (4th best)
Median Rent: $591 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1377.4% (13th best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on Tuskegee: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Tuskegee is a city in Macon County, Alabama, United States. It was founded and laid out in 1833 by General Thomas Simpson Woodward, a Creek War veteran under Andrew Jackson, and made the county seat that year. It was incorporated in 1843. It is also the largest city in Macon County. At the 2010 census the population was 9,865, down from 11,846 in 2000.

Colleges: Tuskegee University

Montgomery, AL
Overall SnackAbility
4
/10

Population: 200,156
% Undergrad Pop.: 5.0% (11th best)
Median Rent: $867 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 789.4% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Montgomery: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Montgomery is a major city and the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama and the county seat of Montgomery County. Named for Richard Montgomery, it is located on the Alabama River, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2013 Census, Montgomery has a population of 201,332. It is the second-largest city in Alabama, after Birmingham, and is the 115th largest in the United States. The Montgomery Metropolitan Statistical Area had a 2010 estimated population of 374,536. It is the fourth-largest in the state and 136th among United States metropolitan areas.

Colleges: Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, H Councill Trenholm State Community College

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Alabama?

To crunch our data on Alabama's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 12 places in Alabama with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Alabama For 2020".

And it looks like Jacksonville placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Alabama, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

12 Best College Towns In Alabama

Rank City Population
1 Jacksonville, AL 12654
2 Birmingham, AL 212021
3 Troy, AL 19141
4 Montevallo, AL 6654
5 Auburn, AL 62996
6 Tuscaloosa, AL 98881
7 Huntsville, AL 193663
8 Mobile, AL 191485
9 Tuskegee, AL 8699
10 Montgomery, AL 200156
11 Talladega, AL 15609
12 Fairfield, AL 10790

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?