What are the Best Student Friendly Cities in the United States?

If you’re considering purchasing an investment property, a great place to begin is looking for the best student-friendly cities in the US.

Let’s look at five of the hottest student-friendly cities in the United States where investment properties are in demand.

To make up this list, we looked at areas with low vacancy rates, the potential for high rate of return on investment, and areas that offered more value for students looking for opportunities outside of their studies.

TIP: Wondering whether you’re ready to take on student rentals? Baselane’s Rental Property ROI Calculator can help you better understand if a rental property is a good deal.

1. Boston, MA

  • Median home price: $799,900
  • Median price per square foot: $821
  • Rental vacancy rate: 2.88% (2019)
  • Colleges and Universities in area: 50+
  • Largest college in city: Boston University
  • Student population: 250,000
  • Median rental income: $2,550/month for 1 bdrm
  • Average rental vacancy rate: 0.69%

The home of Harvard, Boston University, and MIT, Boston offers access to some of the top schools in the US, and it’s a thriving and vibrant metropolis. While it tends to be a more expensive city to live in, the mix of culture, arts, and history make it highly desirable.

There’s never a shortage of things to do in Boston – from attending a ballgame at Fenway Park, visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, or exploring the SoWa open market, Boston offers something for everyone.

With an abundance of Universities and Colleges, you’ll never be at a loss when trying to find occupants for your investment property. And with Boston being a booming metropolitan center, when classes are out and students go home for the season, you can offer up your property as a short-term rental for out-of-town guests.

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2. Burlington, VT

  • Median home price: $429,000
  • Median price per square foot: $312
  • Rental vacancy rate: 2.18% (2019)
  • Colleges and Universities in area: 22 Colleges and universities in Vermont, 2 in Burlington proper.
  • Largest college in city: University of Vermont
  • Student population: 14,000
  • Median rental income: $1400/month for 1 bdrm
  • Average rental vacancy rate: 2.4% (2019)

Burlington, Vermont is not just a great university town; it’s simply a great town. Surrounded by lush greenery in the spring and summer and beautiful snow-covered ski hills in the winter, the city is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The Church Street Marketplace – rated the Best Public Square in the US by USA Today – offers an ideal place to take advantage of the great dining and retail spaces for people who prefer more of a city vibe.

For students, the central location means it’s a quick trip to metropolises like Boston, New York, and Montreal. And with its vibrant cultural scene, it’s no surprise that Huffington Post rated it America’s number 1 college town.

It might be surprising to see a city with a low student population crack the top five student-friendly cities, but Burlington, VT has opportunities beyond the student population that make it an attractive place for investment.

As a site for an investment property, not only is a home in Burlington, Vermont attractive to students, but it will also draw vacationers throughout the year. While the student population might not be as large as some other cities, Burlington being a popular tourist destination means there’s never a shortage of people looking for a place to stay. On top of this, the median home price is low, but with high occupancy rates, you’ll have no trouble finding people looking for a place to live.

3. Chicago, IL

  • Median home price: $339,000
  • Median price per square foot: $257
  • Rental vacancy rate: 4.81% (2019)
  • Colleges and Universities in area: 10 within city limits, 27 within 50 mile radius
  • Largest college in city: University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Student population: 214,885
  • Median rental income: $1,895/month for 1 bdrm
  • Average rental vacancy rate: 3.3%

It’s no surprise that Chicago has been voted Condé Nast’s best big city in the US five years in a row. The city offers everything you could want from a major metropolis. From champion sports teams to famous sights like The Bean, an abundance of museums, and vibrant, multicultural neighborhoods, the Windy City offers something for everyone.

For students, the city offers top education at schools like the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago, which have some of the best research and educational facilities around. And with access to both on-campus and public libraries, there’s never a shortage of places students can expand their knowledge. Plus, the city’s many neighborhoods are connected by a public transit system that offers free rides for full-time students.

As an investor, Chicago provides all the great opportunities for renters that a big city offers. It’s safe, accessible, and has access to every cultural event you can imagine. While the average vacancy rate for students is higher than in some other cities, this statistic has declined as the pandemic recedes. With the city hosting many international students, owners of investment properties can also anticipate longer leases than they might otherwise find.

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4. Atlanta, GA

  • Median home price: $400,000
  • Median price per square foot: $258
  • Rental vacancy rate: 6.0% (2020)
  • Colleges and Universities in area: 57
  • Largest college in city: Georgia Tech
  • Student population: 136,367
  • Median rental income: $1,700/month for 1 bdrm
  • Average rental vacancy rate: 1.6%

Atlanta offers great cultural diversity, a friendly environment, mild winters, and affordable housing. With three top-ranked universities and Georgia Tech being recognized as one of the top research universities in the US, the city is very appealing to students. Add to it a great music scene and a growing population of millennials, and the attraction of Atlanta as a place to study makes sense.

Atlanta is a bustling hub of culture and activity, but some neighborhoods are rather isolated from the rest of the city. While there are sharable bikes and scooters available, the public transit system could use improvement. Luckily, the city is currently building the Atlanta Beltline which will add 22 miles of rail transit.

Because Atlanta is a growing city, it has an employment rate above the national average and, therefore, more opportunities for students while studying and post-graduation. It’s a great time to take advantage of the affordable home prices to acquire an investment property as demand and prices will surely rise.

5. Philadelphia, PA

  • Median home price: $270,000
  • Median price per square foot: $208
  • Rental vacancy rate: 6.3% (2019)
  • Colleges and Universities in area: 55
  • Largest college in city: Temple University
  • Student population: 342,994
  • Median rental income: $1425/month for 1 bdrm
  • Average rental vacancy rate: 1.6% (2019)

Home of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and Temple University, Philadelphia offers students access to some of the best education in the US. Philadelphia boasts a rich history and quick access to both New York and Washington D.C., and with a lively arts and culture scene, you’ll never be at a loss for something to do.

A student-friendly city, Philadelphia offers the opportunity to study various disciplines, and its central East Coast location makes it easier to find work post-graduation.

With the median home price having risen by 48% in the last decade, the value of purchasing an investment property in Philadelphia makes sense. With approximately 45% of Philadelphia’s housing being occupied by renters, you can rest assured that even if students aren’t living on the property, you’ll be able to find a renter.

If you’re searching for an investment property, looking in a student-friendly city ensures that there will be steady rental demand. Baselane’s analytics can help you find the right property and simplify the property management process.


Is it safe to rent to University students?

While you might believe it’s a riskier choice to rent to university students, the truth is that they present the same risks and opportunities as any renter. Students may present a better opportunity than most individuals. With students sometimes only renting for the 9 month school year o, the shorter lease means that even if you have a problematic renter, it will only be for a little while. Additionally, many students have their parents’ assistance with paying rent for their student residences, so you have less concern that you will suffer missed or late rent payments.

Can I ask for a higher damage deposit from University students?

While each state has its laws regarding security deposits, typically, the security or damage deposit can not exceed one month’s rent - regardless of whether the renter is a student or not. Learn more here.

What platforms are best for finding a University or College student for a tenant?

Sites like Places4Students offer students access to search for rental apartments at various partner universities, while CollegePads is a great place to hunt for both off-campus housing and apartments. If you’re looking for furnished accommodations, you might want to try out Nestpick, which offers selections from every major city. You might also want to try consulting your university or college’s website, as many schools offer services to help find housing.

How do other cities in the State compare to New York City?

It depends on the city. Places like Westbury, Geneva, and Schenectady are smaller towns with quaint appeals and tight-knit community vibes. Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, and Buffalo are more like New York City in that they have larger populations, job opportunities, and access to more amenities and experiences.

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Financial Technology, Real Estate Investing, and Property Management, Accounting and Tax, Finance
Saad started his career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) working for a top-tier accounting firm. He was responsible for helping audit alternative investment funds. He later worked at a hedge fund where he was responsible for preparing financial statements and implementing new technology. He also ran a successful private tax practice for five years.

After completing his MBA at Duke, Saad joined The Boston Consulting Group to do management consulting. At BCG his experience spanned several industries and growth projects across Pharma, Retail, and Technology companies. His passion for democratizing finances led him to Plaid, a fintech, where he worked with large Banks and Financial Institutions to make finances and money easier for all.
What are the Best Student Friendly Cities in the United States?