The 10 Best College Towns In Michigan For 2020


Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in Michigan.
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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 Michigan 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 Michigan 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 Michigan for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In Michigan For 2020

  1. Ann Arbor, MI (Photos | Homes)
  2. Big Rapids, MI (Photos | Homes)
  3. Mount Pleasant, MI (Photos | Homes)
  4. Ypsilanti, MI (Photos | Homes)
  5. East Lansing, MI (Photos | Homes)
  6. Rochester Hills, MI (Photos | Homes)
  7. Houghton, MI (Photos | Homes)
  8. Howell, MI (Photos | Homes)
  9. Livonia, MI (Photos | Homes)
  10. Dearborn, MI (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 Ann Arbor, Big Rapids and Mount Pleasant - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Ann Arbor ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Southfield, MI - it's officially the worst college town in Michigan. Sorry, Southfield!

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

The 10 Best College Towns In Michigan For 2020

Ann Arbor, MI
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 120,641
% Undergrad Pop.: 20.7% (9th best)
Median Rent: $1,213 (26th best)
Unemployment Rate: 459.6% (7th best)
Crime Rank: 12th best
More on Ann Arbor: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census recorded its population to be 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan.

Colleges: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Washtenaw Community College, Concordia University-Ann Arbor

Big Rapids, MI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 10,392
% Undergrad Pop.: 88.9% (1st best)
Median Rent: $585 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 912.5% (22nd best)
Crime Rank: 8th best
More on Big Rapids: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Big Rapids is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 10,601 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Mecosta County. The city is located within Big Rapids Township, but is politically independent. Big Rapids is home of the main campus of Ferris State University, a four-year public university, well known for its College of Pharmacy and the Michigan College of Optometry, as well as its NCAA Division I hockey team, the Bulldogs.

Colleges: Ferris State University

Mount Pleasant, MI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 25,691
% Undergrad Pop.: 72.5% (4th best)
Median Rent: $760 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 913.8% (24th best)
Crime Rank: 9th best
More on Mount Pleasant: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Mount Pleasant is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Isabella County, located in Central Michigan. The population was 26,016 at the 2010 census.

Colleges: Central Michigan University, M J Murphy Beauty College of Mount Pleasant, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College

Ypsilanti, MI
Overall SnackAbility
5
/10

Population: 20,939
% Undergrad Pop.: 86.9% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $817 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 883.1% (19th best)
Crime Rank: 22nd best
More on Ypsilanti: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ypsilanti, commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, perhaps best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University. As of the 2017 census, the city's population was 21,018. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township. Ypsilanti is located 6 miles east of Ann Arbor and about 18 miles west of the Detroit city limits.

Colleges: Eastern Michigan University

East Lansing, MI
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 48,374
% Undergrad Pop.: 71.0% (6th best)
Median Rent: $944 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 913.8% (23rd best)
Crime Rank: 11th best
More on East Lansing: Real Estate | Data | Photos

East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan directly east of Lansing, the state capital. Most of the city is within Ingham County, with the rest in Clinton County. The population was 48,579 at the 2010 census, an increase from 46,420 in 2000. It is best known as the home of Michigan State University.

Colleges: Michigan State University, Douglas J Aveda Institute, Michigan State University-College of Law

Rochester Hills, MI
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
10
/10

Population: 74,011
% Undergrad Pop.: 17.3% (11th best)
Median Rent: $1,251 (27th best)
Unemployment Rate: 327.6% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Rochester Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Rochester Hills is a city in northeast Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan, in the northern outskirts of Metropolitan Detroit area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 70,995.

Colleges: Oakland University, Rochester College

Houghton, MI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 7,934
% Undergrad Pop.: 71.4% (5th best)
Median Rent: $684 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 666.9% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 13th best
More on Houghton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Houghton is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 7,708. It is the county seat of Houghton County. It has been listed as one of the "100 Best Small Towns in America."

Colleges: Michigan Technological University

Howell, MI
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 9,597
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.5% (20th best)
Median Rent: $905 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 442.2% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Howell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Howell is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 9,489. It is the county seat of Livingston County and is located mostly within Howell Township, but is politically independent from Howell Township. The city is part of the South Lyon-Howell-Brighton Urban Area.

Colleges: Cleary University, Cleary University

Livonia, MI
Overall SnackAbility
9
/10

Population: 94,567
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.3% (21st best)
Median Rent: $1,043 (21st best)
Unemployment Rate: 447.8% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 10th best
More on Livonia: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Livonia is a city in the northwest part of Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. Livonia is a large suburb with an array of traditional neighborhoods connected to the metropolitan area by freeways. The population was 96,942 at the 2010 census, making it Michigan's ninth largest municipality. The municipality is a part of Metro Detroit, and is located approximately 15 miles northwest of downtown Detroit, and less than two miles from the western city limits of Detroit.

Colleges: Schoolcraft College, Madonna University, L'esprit Academy

Dearborn, MI
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 95,089
% Undergrad Pop.: 7.0% (16th best)
Median Rent: $1,019 (20th best)
Unemployment Rate: 780.7% (17th best)
Crime Rank: 19th best
More on Dearborn: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Dearborn is a city in the State of Michigan. It is located in Wayne County and is part of the Detroit metropolitan area. Dearborn is the eighth largest city in the State of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 98,153. First settled in the late 18th century by French farmers in a series of ribbon farms along the Rouge River and the Sauk Trail, the community grew with the establishment of the Detroit Arsenal on the Chicago Road linking Detroit and Chicago. It later grew into a manufacturing hub for the automotive industry.

Colleges: Henry Ford College, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Everest Institute-Dearborn

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

To crunch our data on Michigan'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 25 places in Michigan 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 Michigan For 2020".

And it looks like Ann Arbor placed Summa Cum Laude.

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

If you're looking for the best college towns in Michigan, 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.

If you're curious, these are the worst college towns in Michigan, starting with the absolute worst, Southfield:

  1. Southfield
  2. Alma
  3. Novi
  4. Albion
  5. Holland
  6. Oak Park
  7. Lansing
  8. Wyoming
  9. Grand Rapids
  10. Detroit

For more reading, check out:

25 Best College Towns In Michigan

Rank City Population
1 Ann Arbor, MI 120641
2 Big Rapids, MI 10392
3 Mount Pleasant, MI 25691
4 Ypsilanti, MI 20939
5 East Lansing, MI 48374
6 Rochester Hills, MI 74011
7 Houghton, MI 7934
8 Howell, MI 9597
9 Livonia, MI 94567
10 Dearborn, MI 95089
11 Marquette, MI 20932
12 Adrian, MI 20640
13 Kalamazoo, MI 76040
14 Allendale, MI 20776
15 Flint, MI 97161
16 Detroit, MI 677155
17 Grand Rapids, MI 197081
18 Wyoming, MI 75532
19 Lansing, MI 116699
20 Oak Park, MI 29849
21 Holland, MI 33503
22 Albion, MI 8324
23 Novi, MI 59625
24 Alma, MI 9051
25 Southfield, MI 73392

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?