Regions Central Virginia

Charlottesville, Blacksburg listed among best U.S. college towns

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The hometowns of the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech rank among the top five college towns in the nation, according to a real estate website.

Charlottesville was No. 3,  and Blacksburg ranked No. 5 and on the list of “Best College Towns in America to Live In” compiled by San Mateo, Calif.-based Movoto Real Estate.

To create the ranking, Movoto looked at the 167 hometowns of 100 top-ranked liberal arts colleges and universities, determined by U.S. News & World Report. (Colleges and universities are ranked separatedly U.S. News.)

The company evaluated 167 college towns using seven criteria.

They included: total amenities, quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income and student-to-teacher ratio), total crimes, tax rates (sales and income), unemployment rates, commute time, and weather in terms of temperature and air quality.

Blacksburg ranked ahead of No. 6 Princeton, N.J., the hometown of Princeton University, and behind Ann Arbor, Mich., the University of Michigan’s home, at No. 4.

“What makes Blacksburg one of the best college towns in America? The location had above average scores in most of our criteria, but no top 10 finishes,” the website says.

“Blacksburg’s best rank came from its commute time. It takes area residents just 16 minutes to get to work, the 16th shortest time on our list. For comparison, it takes New Yorkers an average of 44 minutes to make it to work.

“In addition to a low commute time, Blacksburg’s was among the safest places on our list. Our data indicate there were 1,426 crimes per 100,000 people, good enough to make the locale the 19th safest place on our list.”

Charlottesville came in ahead of Ann Arbor and ranked behind No. 2 Bryn Mawr, Pa., the home of the Bryn Mawr College, a highly regarded women’s liberal-arts school near Philadelphia .


“This Virginian city had no top 10 finishes across our criteria, though it did have respectable finishes across the majority of our metrics. This means that while Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, isn’t a top achiever in any one area, it is a solid location,” the website says.

“The criterion the city fared the best in was unemployment rate. According to our data, 5.2 percent of people in this independent city are unemployed, low enough to earn the No. 18 spot.

“What kept Charlottesville from climbing higher? The area’s crime rate isn’t stellar. There were 3,751 crimes per 100,000 people at last count. In other words, Charlottesville is the 92nd least-safe place on our list.”

Hanover, N.H., the home of Dartmouth College, was the No. 1 town on the list, beating out Bryn Mawr by 12 points. The town got high marks for unemployment, taxes and commute time.

Others on the list were: No. 10, Burlington, Vt. (University of Vermont); No. 9, Waltham, Mass. (Brandeis University); No. 8, Iowa City, Iowa (University of Iowa); and No. 7, Swarthmore, Pa. (Swarthmore College).


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