The Very Best College Towns

San Jose, California

SAN JOSE UPSETS AUSTIN AMONG MID-SIZE METROS

Call it the coattail effect of Silicon Valley, but San Jose ranked highest among mid-size metros, edging out Austin, Texas. Its biggest draw is innovation, where nearly one-in-five residents are engaged in innovative fields like biotech and software development. The region also ranked highest for percentage of college graduates and median salaries. However, these benefits were slightly negated by its high housing costs ($1,649 a month). Surprisingly, San Jose also yielded the lowest score for arts and leisure.

While Austin earned the silver, it finished with the highest rate of new entrepreneurial ventures, nearly triple that of San Jose. Surprisingly, Buffalo, New York topped the mid-size list in two categories: lowest rent ($710 per month) and highest percentage of international students (9.5%). Other top performers among mid-size metros include: Portland (Transportation); Nashville (Arts and leisure); Salt Lake City (Lowest unemployment rate at 4.2%); and Pittsburgh (Highest R&D per student at $7,149).

On the other end, Providence, Rhode Island – home of Brown University – reported the lowest entrepreneurial activity score and highest unemployment rate (An index high 9.7%…Talk about cause-and-effect). Despite ranking fifth among mid-size metros, Buffalo delivered the lowest score on innovation. Portland and Richmond ran neck-and-neck for the lowest R&D per student, while New Orleans and Oklahoma City came out with the lowest percentage of college graduates and median income respectively.

Rank Location Student Concentration Cost of Housing Arts and Leisure College Educated
 1  San Jose, CA  87.1  $1,649  26.8  46.4%
 2  Austin, TX  94.1  $1,074  37.3  40.5%
 3  Raleigh, NC  81.6  $856  35.7  42.0%
 4  Pittsburgh,  PA  67.4  $789  40.3  30.5%
 5  Buffalo, NY  82.4  $710  38.4  29.7%
 6  Rochester, NY  86.9  $834  45.0  31.9%
 7  Nashville, TN  74.6  $851  64.9  32.6%
 8  Columbus,  OH  81.1  $806  32.1  34.1%
 9  Hartford, CT  89.8  $1,170  38.9  36.6%
 10  Salt Lake City,  UT  79.2  $876  33.6  32.4%
 11  Portland, OR  74.4  $922  39.1  35.1%
 12  Milwaukee, WI  77.8  $812  37.9  32.5%
 13  New Orleans, LA  74.2  $948  37.9  26.7%
 14  Oklahoma City,  OK  77.6  $723  29.0  28.4%
 15  Indianapolis, IN  68.3  $777  38.1  32.1%

Source: American Institute of Economic Research (AIER)