Charleston Ranks As 2024’s 5th Best College Town in America


With application season in full swing and student living expenses reaching over $35,000 per year in some regions, WalletHub today released its report on 2024’s Best & Worst College Towns & Cities in America.

To determine the ranking, the site compared over 400 US cities based on 31 indicators of social, scholarly, and future economic opportunities for students, with a data set ranging from the cost of living and the crime rate to the quality of higher education in the city.

Several Carolina towns make the cut, with Charleston ranking as the 5th best midsize college town in America, Raleigh as the 5th best large college town and Wilmington as the 7th best small college town.

Best Large College Towns*
1. Austin, TX
2. Orlando, FL
3. Tampa, FL
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Raleigh, NC
6. Atlanta, GA
7. Miami, FL
8. Pittsburgh, PA
9. Columbus, OH
10. Seattle, WA


Best Midsize College Towns*
1. Scottsdale, AZ
2. Gainesville, FL
3. Boise, ID
4. Tempe, AZ
5. Charleston, SC
6. Salt Lake City, UT
7. St. Petersburg, FL
8. Tallahassee, FL
9. Cary, NC
10. Irvine, CA


Best Small College Towns*
1. Ann Arbor, MI
2. Charlottesville, VA
3. West Lafayette, IN
4. College Station, TX
5. Provo, UT
6. Laramie, WY
7. Wilmington, NC
8. Santa Barbara, CA
9. Oxford, OH
10. Boca Raton, FL


Best vs. Worst

  • Charleston, Illinois, has the lowest cost of a two-bedroom apartment rental, $848 per month, which is 4.8 times lower than in Santa Cruz, California, the city with the highest at $4,054 per month.
  • Brownsville, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index for young people, 77.62, which is 2.9 times lower than in Stanford, California, the city with the highest at 223.44.
  • Savannah, Georgia, has the lowest cost of higher education, $17,414 per year, which is 4.8 times lower than in Evanston, Illinois, the city with the highest at $83,838 per year.
  • Stony Brook University, New York, has the most enrolled students (per 1,000 residents), 957, which is 22.3 times more than in Cape Coral, Florida, the city with the fewest at 43.