7 Best College Towns to Live in the Midwest Now

Great Midwest College Towns With Lots To Offer Residents

Today, I want to round up and review some of the best college towns to live in the Midwest. Because sometimes all it takes is a fresh start in a new location to unlock your potential.

For instance, you may want to further your education. Or, seek out a new job opportunity. Maybe you desire to retire in a college town?

Whatever your situation, we have an assortment of small college towns and big cities too for your consideration. Most importantly, they are all located in the midwestern United States.

So, let’s get moving…

Best College Towns To Live In The Midwest

From my perspective, here are some of the best Midwestern college towns to live in:

  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Madison, Wisconsin

Next, allow me to share with you, exactly what these midwest college towns have to offer…

map of the best college towns to live in the Midwest

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Bloomington, Indiana

Located in the state of Indiana about an hour from Indianapolis, we move on to the city of Bloomington. It is home to the University of Indiana.

Playing host to more than 200 undergraduate programs and nearly 45,000 students, IU is the largest university in the state.

However, Bloomington is one of the relatively small college towns with just 85,000 full-time residents.

Why Bloomington Is One Of The Best Small College Towns For Midwestern Living

Some of the benefits of living in Bloomington include:

  • A small-town feel about it
  • Lower population density
  • Welcoming downtown square
  • Easy access to Indianapolis
  • A modest cost of living
  • Reasonable real estate taxes
  • Low crime rates
  • Wonderlab Science Museum
  • Lilly Library
  • Eskenazi Museum of Art
  • Big Ten Conference athletics
  • Access to beautiful southern Indiana
  • Brown County State Park
  • Lake Monroe

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Bloomington Living

Or, get a bigger picture view of the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Indiana

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor neighborhood map

Located in the state of Michigan about an hour from Detroit, we find ourselves in Ann Arbor. It is home to the University of Michigan.

The school has tough admissions standards. Combined with some of the best educational programs. As a result, you have one of the top public universities in the United States located here.

More than 30,000 students head to the 3,200-acre campus every year to pursue their futures. Adding to the mix of roughly 125,000 full-time residents.

Why Ann Arbor Is One Of The Best College Towns To Live In the Midwest

Consider these advantages of living in Ann Arbor:

  • Globally inspired culture
  • Theater, music, and the arts
  • Well-educated community
  • Amazing downtown
  • Distinct neighborhoods to choose from
  • Big Ten Conference sports
  • Low crime rates
  • Vibrant economy
  • Growing technology center
  • Diverse, recession-resistant economy
  • Easy access to Detroit
  • The beauty of nearby pastoral lands
  • Nichols Arboretum
  • A top-notch public school system
  • A highly rated public library system
  • Access to excellent health care
  • Water sports on the Huron River
  • The 35-mile Border-to-Border trail
  • Many miles of sidewalks and bike lanes

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Ann Arbor Living

Or, get a bigger picture view of the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Michigan

Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Cincinnati football stadium
University of Cincinnati football stadium

Next, we head to Cincinnati. Perhaps an unusual selection for the best college towns in the Midwest. Because Cincinnati has so much more to offer.

However, the city is home to the University of Cincinnati. A public, urban-based research university. With its nearly 45,000 students.

The campus is located to the north of downtown. Nearby the Clifton and Corryville neighborhoods. Where you are most likely to feel the school’s presence.

Why Cincinnati Is One Of The Best College Towns To Live In

Some of the best things about living in Cincinnati are:

  • One of the largest Midwest economies
  • Diversity of businesses and industries
  • Robust job market
  • A hip city but still relatively affordable
  • One of the best library systems in the U.S.
  • The Mercantile Library
  • Great neighborhoods beyond the university
  • Vibrant downtown
  • Dozens of parks and green spaces
  • Festival and outdoor markets
  • Music, museums, and the arts
  • Pro sports franchises
  • Chili and other tasty regional foods
  • Dozens of craft breweries
  • Octoberfest Zinzinnati

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Cincinnati Living

Or, get a bigger picture view of the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Ohio

Columbus, Ohio

map of Columbus neighborhood living

Next, we stay in “The Buckey State”. Turning our sights to Columbus.

Believe it or not, based on population, it is by far the largest city in Ohio. Nearly triple the size of Cincinnati.

Furthermore, it is home to The Ohio State University. And it’s nearly 60,000 student body.

However, the city has a lot more to offer residents…

Why Columbus Is One Of The Best Big 10 College Towns

Because the pros of living in Columbus involve:

  • Reasonable big city cost for city living
  • Lots of liveable neighborhoods
  • Friendly and down-to-earth residents
  • A high degree of racial diversity
  • Robust job market
  • Home to 15 Fortune 1000 companies
  • Excellent public school districts
  • Lively arts scene
  • Theaters and city festivals
  • Unique and tasty regional foods
  • Big Ten Conference athletics
  • Pro hockey and soccer
  • Minor league baseball
  • Dozens of metro parks
  • Hundreds of miles of trails
  • Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Columbus Living

Iowa City, Iowa

7 Best College Towns To Live In The Midwest

Okay, enough about Ohio. Let’s move to another one of the best states in the Midwest. Specifically, Iowa.

Where we land in the college town of Iowa City. Home to the University of Iowa.

Another one of the smaller college towns with roughly a full-time population of 75,000 residents. Of course, augmented by the university’s 30,000 students.

Why Iowa City Is One Of The Best Midwest College Towns

Here are some very good reasons to move to Iowa City

  • Low cost of living
  • A vibrant intellectual and cultural scene
  • Downtown’s pedestrian mall
  • Iowa Arts Festival
  • Iowa City Jazz Festival
  • Downtown farmer’s market
  • Quiet historic neighborhoods
  • Hacher Auditorium for performing arts
  • Several live theaters
  • A mecca for literature and writers
  • Good schools and libraries
  • Coralville Lake
  • Devonian Fossil Gorge
  • Easy access to Cedar Rapids

Get a bigger picture view of living in the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Iowa

Louisville, Kentucky

map Louisville KY
Louisville placed on the Kentucky state map

Now technically, Kentucky is not considered part of the Midwest. However, since Louisville is just across the southern Indiana border, I’m giving it a pass.

Partly because by heading a little farther south, you can enjoy a bit milder winter climate. Verus what some of these other Midwest college towns have to offer.

Furthermore, the city is home to the University of Louisville. And its roughly 20,000-strong student body.

Why Lousiville Is One Of The Best College Towns To Retire In

Some of the positives about living in Louisville include:

  • Diverse economy
  • Plenty of job opportunities
  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Tax breaks on retirement income
  • Modest real estate taxes
  • A nice mix of different neighborhoods
  • Fourth Street Live entertainment complex
  • St. James Court art festival
  • The Kentucky Derby race and festival
  • Kentucky’s bourbon trail
  • Plenty of museums
  • Jefferson Memorial Forest
  • High-level college basketball
  • Minor league baseball

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Louisville Living

Or, get a bigger picture view of the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Kentucky

Madison, Wisconsin

neighborhood map for living in Madison, WI

Finally, I think I have saved the best for last. Located in the state of Wisconsin about an hour from Milwaukee, we find ourselves in Madison. It is home to the University of Wisconsin.

Another one of the top public universities in the United States. Offering some of the best educational programs in the country.

Giving rise to its more than 40,000 students. Descending upon the nearly 1,000-acre, beautiful urban campus on Lake Mendota.

Why Madison Is One Of The Best College Towns In Wisconsin

Discovering the best things about living in Madison means understanding these points:

  • A dynamic and growing economy
  • Diverse industry representation
  • An active job market for job seekers
  • Lakeside living options
  • A high-quality public school system
  • Vibrant downtown
  • Hip neighborhoods
  • The Wisconsin state capitol
  • World’s largest brat fest
  • Taste of Madison festival
  • University of Wisconsin Arboretum
  • Henry Vilas Zoo
  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens
  • Overture Center for the Arts
  • Big Ten Conference Collegiate Athletics
  • Excellent craft breweries
  • Great Taste of the Midwest Beer Festival
  • Savory cheese curds

For more, discover…

All the Pros and Cons About Madison Living

Or, get a bigger picture view of the state by…

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Moving to Wisconsin

Okay. That concludes our discussion of 7 Midwest college towns.

So, allow me to wrap up with a few parting thoughts…

7 Best College Towns To Live In The Midwest

There are certainly a lot more college towns in the Midwest. However, I just happen to think that these are some of the best.

As compared to other small towns and mid-size cities in the Midwest…

The Advantages of Living In A College Town Include:

  • Ethnic diversity
  • Entertainment
  • Dining
  • Economic opportunity
  • Access to jobs
  • Nightlife
  • Lifelong learning options

…just to name a few things that come to mind immediately.

More Resources Beyond Midwest College Town Living

Finally, if you need more information to find your perfect place to live. Then check out our growing…

List of City and State Moving Guides

…neatly itemized for your convenience.

Conclusion of best Midwest college towns
The article’s conclusion is indicated on a whiteboard

Author Bio, Disclosure, & Disclaimer: Please join me (Tom) as I try to achieve my goals, find my next place to live, and make the most of my money. But understand, I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial adviser, real estate agent, or tax professional. I’m a 50-something-year-old guy, CPA, retired finance professional, and part-time business school teacher with 40+ years of DIY investing experience. I’m just here because I enjoy sharing my findings and research on important topics. However, nothing published on this site should be considered individual investment advice, financial guidance, or tax counsel. Because this website’s only purpose is general information & entertainment. As a result, neither I nor Dividends Diversify can be held liable for any losses suffered by any party because of the information published on this blog. Finally, all written content is the property of Dividends Diversify LLC. Unauthorized publication elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

The Best College Towns To Live In The Midwest Explained