For some, it’s the roar of the crowd as the home team scores a touchdown on Saturdays. For others, it’s the quiet, tree-lined sidewalks on the quad or the ability to meet new people at different events at any hour of the day.
Even if it’s not home to your own alma mater, college towns and cities throughout the U.S. offer a high concentration of opportunities packed into a small area. Whether it’s the academics, food options, theater or business opportunities, life in a college town is not just great for the students, it's beneficial for full-time residents as well.
The attention college town areas receive, combined with the regular influx of new students and faculty from other parts of the country, contribute to the appeal to potential residents who may or may not be associated with the school itself.
There is a global perspective, and this intellectual base and diversity that the average small town wouldn’t get otherwise.
But some of the most loved college towns for residents and students alike have factors outside the academic institution that contribute to the economy and cultural variety of the area.
The metro area usually hosts large companies which serve as major local employers and also attract related businesses to the region.
The college hasn’t brought in the restaurants and all the activities, but the college has helped support all the new restaurants and activities.
When college towns flourish outside campus grounds, the community gets even stronger, as students find work after graduating and become locals themselves.
A lot of times, students graduate and end up staying. Their families come and visit them for the four years while they’re in school, and a lot of parents of students who end up packing up their lives and relocating later because college towns are great towns for so many other reasons.
Whether you’re moving to a new town or city for the proximity to its school or other reasons, here are a few tips to help you navigate real estate in a college town.
Expect a tight real estate market. Because a portion of residential real estate in college towns is often taken up by off-campus student housing, there will likely be a lower inventory of homes than it may seem at first. Real estate markets across the country are experiencing low inventory for single-family home sales, and this is even more likely near a college.
Off-campus student housing absorbs some of the stuff that would be sold to young families.
Inquire about the atmosphere during all seasons. Many college towns based exclusively around the local college or university will see a big drop in population once summer hits, leaving what may seem like a ghost town until fall classes begin.
But not all college towns are the same. Boulder’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains and other outdoor attractions bring a whole new group of people to the city during the summer months while the majority of students are gone.
What happens in the summertime is the students go home but the tourists come in.
Before you relocate to a college town, ask locals how the city is influenced by the academic calendar.
Prepare for Welcome Week. Even if the town doesn’t experience a significant decrease in activity during the summer, be ready for the influx of students, parents and siblings for those few weeks when students are moving in at the start of the fall classes.
Whether it means avoiding your local Target or Bed Bath & Beyond for a couple weeks in the early fall or taking your summer vacation to coincide with the nearby college's start date, preparation is key to avoiding any potential downsides to the newly refreshed student population. It's also worth keeping graduation weekend and homecoming in mind as busier times in the community.
Learn to love the school. To make life in a college town easier, it might help to let yourself become a fan – though that may be easier said than done if you’re a diehard University of Michigan fan living in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Ohio State University Buckeyes.
Even if you’re not supporting the sports teams, accepting the student population itself can make you dread three-quarters of the year a little less.
Local residents should follow the school's events calendar to take advantage of activities open to the public, from student theater productions to cultural food expositions.
US News – Real Estate