The 5 Most Popular University Cities and How Much They Cost in Rent

Finding the right city to live in can be tough, especially with soaring rent and food prices. But if you’re a student (or you plan to study in the future) and you’re looking for the perfect U.S. university city to live in, there are so many great options out there.

If you’re looking for the perfect mix of world-class education and an unforgettable experience, these cities are great choices worth your consideration. From living with roommates in Boston to studying amidst the beaches in Los Angeles, we’ve got you covered.

Using SpareRoom to Find Roommates

Living in popular University cities can mean an amazing social scene, vibrant nightlife, endless restaurants and coffee shops, and so much more. However, it can also mean a huge hike in rental prices. Luckily for you, living in the city of your dreams doesn’t have to drain your bank account. Finding the right roommates can help ease the financial burden of student life and enhance your college experience.

SpareRoom is a platform designed to connect you with compatible roommates in cities across the U.S., including the most popular university hubs. They also offer tips, tricks, and guides on rent prices.

The platform isn’t just about finding a place to live; it’s about finding people you’ll love living with. SpareRoom can help you find roommates who share your lifestyle, interests, and study schedules.

1. Boston, MA

Boston is at the forefront of educational prestige, being home to institutions like Harvard and MIT. The city’s rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and combination of cultures make it a top choice for students with growing ambitions. 

However, Boston isn’t just about academia. With historic sites to explore and famous sports teams to support, those living there will never get bored of the unique place they call home.

But living in the middle of groundbreaking research has its price, which is why median apartment rents fall around an eyewatering $2,600. Choosing to live with roommates in Boston over renting an apartment can help manage these costs while helping you enjoy all the vibrancy that this beautiful city has to offer.

2. New York City, NY

Start spreading the news! Home to Columbia University, NYU, and various other esteemed institutions, NYC showcases culture, business, and innovation. The city’s energy is unmatched, offering endless opportunities for entertainment, internships, and networking to help boost your career to new heights. 

Dreaming big comes at a cost, with median rents reaching $3,400+. But, for many, the city’s endless opportunities and iconic lifestyle are worth every penny they pay. From Broadway shows to diverse culinary experiences, NYC is a city of dreams for students worldwide. 

Check out how living in NYC compares to other popular cities across the US.

3. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles is home to world-renowned universities like UCLA and USC. Being a student here means you can soak up all that sunny weather, stroll beautiful beaches, and even have a chance to rub shoulders with the stars.

With a city that’s so high in demand, its soaring real estate shouldn’t come as a shock. If you decide against house sharing and go down the traditional route, you’ll be able to rent something for $2,800+. 

Contrary to popular belief, LA is not just about Hollywood. It’s a city brimming with artistic opportunities, innovative tech startups, and diverse communities, offering students a dynamic and creative environment that will nurture their talent and help their careers soar.

4. San Francisco Bay Area, CA

If you decide to live in San Francisco, you’ll find academic leaders like Stanford University and UC Berkeley. With pretentious colleges and universities like this, it’s no wonder that the Bay Area is synonymous with innovation, entrepreneurship, and progress. 

Rents average at an eye-watering $3,500+. Despite this, students from all around the world flock here for unparalleled opportunities in tech, research, and networking– not to mention, the breathtaking natural beauty.

5. Austin, TX – The Live Music Capital with a Tech Twist

Known for the University of Texas at Austin, its vibrant music scene, and its growing tech industry, Austin offers a unique blend of laid-back lifestyle and cultural richness. 

This city even offers a more manageable median rent than the other options on this list, at $1,700+. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that Austin is an attractive option for students. The city’s live music venues, famous festivals like SXSW, and delicious barbecue spots make it a delightful place to study and live.

Why These Cities?

These cities aren’t just about academia. They are unique in their own ways, providing enriching environments that go beyond the classroom. Life post-study looks bright, too. Students can access internships and employment opportunities in thriving industries. 

The high cost of living reflects the quality of opportunities and lifestyle these cities afford. But remember, choosing to live with roommates instead can make it much easier to live in one of these cities without breaking the bank.


Choosing the perfect university city is about finding the right balance between educational quality, career opportunities, and personal growth.

While the rent might be high, the cities on our list offer a blend of academic excellence and vibrant urban life, which lead to experiences that shape careers and futures.

Consider what each city has to offer, plan your budget, and join the many students making these cities their home.