The 10 Best College Towns In Virginia For 2019


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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 Virginia 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 Virginia 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 Virginia for 2019:

  1. Fairfax, VA (Photos | Homes)
  2. Harrisonburg, VA (Photos | Homes)
  3. Fredericksburg, VA (Photos | Homes)
  4. Lexington, VA (Photos | Homes)
  5. Arlington, VA (Photos | Homes)
  6. Radford, VA (Photos | Homes)
  7. Williamsburg, VA (Photos | Homes)
  8. Farmville, VA (Photos | Homes)
  9. Winchester, VA (Photos | Homes)
  10. Richmond, VA (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 Fairfax, Harrisonburg and Fredericksburg - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Fairfax ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Finally, if you live in Petersburg, VA - it's officially the worst college town in Virginia. Sorry, Petersburg!

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

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

To crunch our data on Virginia'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 22 places in Virginia 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 Virginia For 2019".

And it looks like Fairfax placed Summa Cum Laude.

Fairfax, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 23,580
% Undergrad Pop.: 67.1% (1st best)
Median Rent: $1,803 (25th best)
Unemployment Rate: 410.0% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Fairfax: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fairfax, colloquially Central Fairfax, Downtown Fairfax, Fairfax City, or the City of Fairfax, is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census the population was 22,565, which had risen to an estimated 24,013 as of 2015.

Colleges: George Mason University, Stratford University, Columbia College

Harrisonburg, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 53,064
% Undergrad Pop.: 29.0% (6th best)
Median Rent: $857 (9th best)
Unemployment Rate: 530.0% (14th best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Harrisonburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Harrisonburg is an independent city in the Shenandoah Valley region of the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 48,914, with a census-estimated 2016 population of 53,078. Harrisonburg is the county seat of the surrounding Rockingham County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Harrisonburg with Rockingham County for statistical purposes into the Harrisonburg, Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a 2011 estimated population of 126,562.

Colleges: James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University

Fredericksburg, VA
Overall SnackAbility
8
/10

Population: 28,135
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.6% (10th best)
Median Rent: $1,123 (19th best)
Unemployment Rate: 560.0% (16th best)
Crime Rank: 24th best
More on Fredericksburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fredericksburg is an independent city located in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Eastern United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 24,286, up from 19,279 at the 2000 census. The city population was estimated at 28,118 in 2015. The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the United States Department of Commerce combines the city of Fredericksburg with neighboring Spotsylvania County for statistical purposes.

Colleges: University of Mary Washington, Eastern Virginia Career College, Virginia Baptist College

Lexington, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 7,113
% Undergrad Pop.: 42.2% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $785 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 410.0% (6th best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Lexington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Lexington is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 7,042. It is the county seat of Rockbridge County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Lexington with Rockbridge County for statistical purposes. Lexington is about 57 miles east of the West Virginia border and is about 50 miles north of Roanoke, Virginia. It was first settled in 1777.

Colleges: Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute

Arlington, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7.5
/10

Population: 229,534
% Undergrad Pop.: 1.4% (20th best)
Median Rent: $1,895 (27th best)
Unemployment Rate: 320.0% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Arlington: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is coterminous with the U.S. Census Bureau-census-designated place of Arlington, which is the second-largest principal city of the Washington metropolitan area. As a result, the county is often referred to in the region simply as "Arlington" or "Arlington, Virginia". In 2016, the county's population was estimated at 230,050, making it the sixth-largest county in Virginia, or the fourth-largest city if it were incorporated as such. It is the highest-income county in the United States by median family income, and has the highest concentration of singles in the region.

Colleges: Marymount University, Strayer University-Virginia, Graham Webb International Academy of Hair

Radford, VA
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 17,380
% Undergrad Pop.: 43.9% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $779 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 750.0% (23rd best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Radford: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Radford is an independent city in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,408. For statistical purposes, the Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Radford with neighboring Montgomery County.

Colleges: Radford University

Williamsburg, VA
Overall SnackAbility
8.5
/10

Population: 14,817
% Undergrad Pop.: 37.7% (5th best)
Median Rent: $1,118 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 730.0% (20th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Williamsburg: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Williamsburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,068. In 2014, the population was estimated to be 14,691.

Colleges: College of William and Mary

Farmville, VA
Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility
6
/10

Population: 8,452
% Undergrad Pop.: 40.1% (4th best)
Median Rent: $789 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 470.0% (11th best)
Crime Rank: 21st best
More on Farmville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Farmville is a town in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties in the U.S. state of Virginia. The population was 8,216 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Prince Edward County.

Colleges: Longwood University

Winchester, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 27,516
% Undergrad Pop.: 4.9% (16th best)
Median Rent: $973 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 430.0% (8th best)
Crime Rank: 20th best
More on Winchester: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Winchester is an independent city located in the northwestern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 26,203. As of 2015, its population is an estimated 27,284. It is the county seat of Frederick County, although the two are separate jurisdictions. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Winchester with surrounding Frederick County for statistical purposes.

Colleges: Shenandoah University

Richmond, VA
Overall SnackAbility
7
/10

Population: 220,892
% Undergrad Pop.: 8.1% (14th best)
Median Rent: $942 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 880.0% (27th best)
Crime Rank: 15th best
More on Richmond: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond Region. It was incorporated in 1742, and has been an independent city since 1871.

Colleges: Virginia Commonwealth University, J Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Virginia Union University

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

If you're looking for the best college towns in Virginia, 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 Virginia, starting with the absolute worst, Petersburg:

  1. Petersburg
  2. Glen Allen
  3. Roanoke
  4. Newport News
  5. Staunton
  6. Bluefield
  7. Ashland
  8. Lynchburg
  9. Buena Vista
  10. Virginia Beach

For more reading, check out:

22 Best College Towns In Virginia

Rank City Population
1 Fairfax, VA 23580
2 Harrisonburg, VA 53064
3 Fredericksburg, VA 28135
4 Lexington, VA 7113
5 Arlington, VA 229534
6 Radford, VA 17380
7 Williamsburg, VA 14817
8 Farmville, VA 8452
9 Winchester, VA 27516
10 Richmond, VA 220892
11 Salem, VA 25521
12 Norfolk, VA 245752
13 Virginia Beach, VA 450057
14 Buena Vista, VA 6495
15 Lynchburg, VA 79237
16 Ashland, VA 7554
17 Bluefield, VA 5058
18 Staunton, VA 24273
19 Newport News, VA 180775
20 Roanoke, VA 99572
21 Glen Allen, VA 16339
22 Petersburg, VA 32037

Best College Towns By State

Enjoy The Snack?