Ann Arbor ranked No. 1 small metro college destination

Lansing, Kalamazoo also rank in top 20

University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ann Arbor has been ranked the No. 1 small metro college destination in the United States by the American Institute for Economic Research.

The AIER said Ann Arbor ranks high because of "its high percentage of college graduates among its residents, and its high level of diversity, affordable homes and lots of restaurant and entertainment options."

Ann Arbor was ranked the No. 1 college-educated demographic and the 10th most diverse demographic on the list.

It ranked fourth in city access, sixth in terms of bars and restaurants and 12th in terms of arts and entertainment.

Economically, Ann Arbor ranked fourth in youth unemployment, eighth in labor force, 12th in rent cost and first in innovation, according to the list.

"Dominated by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is one of the most famous college towns in the nation," the index says. "As such, it is unsurprising that it has the highest percentage of college graduates in our small metro category, along with above-average diversity, many restaurant and entertainment options, and great public transportation access.

"Ann Arbor offers lower rents than coastal cities with similar amenities. Medical and technology jobs, along with the university itself, provide the highest employment levels in the innovation sector by far for its size category."

Lansing and Kalamazoo also made the list.

Here is the full top-20 list of small metro cities on the index:

  • Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Madison, Wis.
  • Gainesville, Fla.
  • Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Bremerton, Wash.
  • Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Norwich, Conn.
  • Lexington, Ky.
  • Lincoln, Neb.
  • Eugene, Ore.
  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Lansing, Mich.
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Portland, Maine
  • Kalamazoo, Mich.
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