With a full calendar of local events, lively atmospheres, and usually a lower cost of living, college towns make for great places to live. Located 15 miles from Seattle, Redmond is best known as the headquarters for Microsoft, which attracts many highly educated employees to the area. But costs for food, utilities, and healthcare all average below or on par with the national average. Located near fellow liberal college town Berkeley, Oakland is home to myriad colleges including Mills College, Holy Names University, and California College of the Arts. Come summer, there’s mountain biking and hiking for all levels, boating and water sports at the nearby Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes and ATV off-road thrills. With few exceptions, these are places in which at least half of the voting population is registered Democrat. Home to Michigan’s Big Blue, Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town. Small cities allow you to escape the crowds and traffic of large metro areas but still retain the stores, services and health care options that make life in retirement easier. In fact, Sperling’s Best Places lists cost of living as one of the pros to living in Amherst, along with the many local museums and the easy access to nearby mountains. Located between San Antonio and Austin, this Texas Hill Country town provides convenient access to both larger cities. A bonus: There's no state income tax in Florida. Such affordability should leave plenty of pocket money to enjoy the local arts scene, the shops and restaurants of the picturesque downtown, and the nearby natural surroundings. Students at the Santa Cruz campus of University of California have access to large sandy beaches, great surfing spots, and of course, the town’s famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. College students living here can expect to pay approximately $830 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Even its higher cost of living — approximately 67% higher than the national average — doesn’t dull Boulder’s shine. That’s great news for budget-minded students determined to live near the Bay. The biggest cost difference is housing, which is 24% higher than the rest of the country. Massachusetts is hardly the most affordable state in the Union, but thankfully, Northampton is a town with cost of living much more appealing to the college crowd. Georgetown's population has increased 7% over the past year to 79,604 people in 2019. Originally settled by Mormon pioneers, Lehi is now a rapidly growing city about 30 miles from Salt Lake City. In terms of politics, Oakland remains one of the most Progressive areas in an already liberal area. The good news for those of us lacking a few extra zeroes in our bank accounts? Every other category averages equal to or lower than the norm. Retirement is Italy is surprisingly affordable outside of Rome and Florence. Swannanoa boasts an overall cost of living that is only 3.1% higher than the national average. In town, Historic Old Town offers shopping and restaurants, and there’s no shortage of events taking place year-round, including the July 4 Jamboree Days, fishing derbies at Lake Gregory, the Mountain Fun Runners Car Show, a paragliding competition, the Redlands Bicycle Classic and more. University of North Carolina, Asheville This Austin suburb is the fastest-growing small city in the U.S., according to Census Bureau data. Vassar College Surrounding the sprawling University of Michigan campus are typical college town amenities: book shops, coffee houses, boutiques, bars and restaurants, and just about anything else a Michigan student might need. You don’t have to own a home overseas to enjoy the retirement of your dreams in another country. Located in the Southeast corner of New York state, at the mouth of the Hudson River, is the small town of Bronxville. Greenville meets all residents with outstretched arms and opportunities. These cities provide health care amenities for seniors. As the second largest city in Massachusetts, Worcester is home to a handful of colleges and universities and their student populations. Of course, college towns also tend to be small, and the types of places where everyone knows everyone. With a cost of living that averages about 70% higher than the national average, Claremont remains slightly more affordable than other towns in the greater Los Angeles area. This popular retirement destination topped the U.S. News list of Best Places to Retire in 2020. Swarthmore’s charming quaintness is part of the reason cost of living is 13% higher than the national average. Seventy percent of Burlington’s population vote Democrat. Bentonville is best known as the headquarters for Walmart, which is the largest employer in the area. There is plenty to do in a place like Worcester. Harvard University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge College Much of the town is made up of upscale neighborhoods, though a small downtown provides local Swarthmore College students with the basics: a food market, a pizza parlor, and of course, a Target. A local one-bedroom apartment can be rented for about $1,400 per month. The biggest difference in cost is housing. But more and more businesses, tourists and residents are putting down roots in still-affordable Leadville. Though Bronxville’s cost of living remains lower than that of nearby New York City, it still averages about 88% higher than the rest of the country. Located about 15 miles outside of Raleigh, Apex is part of the Research Triangle area that is anchored by three major research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. That isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, considering the Massachusetts average is a whopping 76.4% higher than the national average. Here's your first-year bucket list. Oberlin College Home to Oberlin College since 1833, Oberlin is an energetic and politically active place well known for its Progressive student population. The biggest cost difference here is healthcare, which is 15.2% higher. The monthly cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland averages just over $1,700. Those interested in the local political scene will be happy to know that Democrats make up 70% of the local population. The summer months allow for hiking, fishing and mountain biking, while skiing is popular in the winter. Consider a relaxing Mediterranean retirement near Spain’s dynamic cities. Healthcare, utilities, transportation, and entertainment costs all hover slightly above the national average, but Oberlin students hoping to live off campus will be happy to know that housing costs are a whopping 42% less than the rest of the country! The gateway to Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Nordic Valley, this hidden gem, just 35 minutes north of Salt Lake City, sits at 4,280 feet and is adjacent to 170,000 acres of national forest.With a population of 84,000, Ogden is on the smaller side, but when it comes to outdoor adventures, the opportunities are massive. Located a stone’s throw from Asheville (also on our list), Swannanoa enjoys the same stunning natural scenery and lively local arts scene as its bigger neighbor. Santa Cruz’s media home price is about $909,500, while a one-bedroom apartment can be had for about $2,070 per month. Livability explores what makes small-to-medium sized cities great places to live. The biggest difference in cost of living is housing. If you’re willing to look beyond the Aspens, Park Cities and Jacksons of the country, there are a number of mountain towns with a cost of living you can actually afford. Paul area. The Philippines offers an exotic retirement lifestyle at an exceptionally low price. Part college town and part beach town, Santa Cruz has long attracted hippies and other Progressive folk. Nearly 67% of Providence voters vote Democrat, making this charming Rhode Island town a solidly liberal one. Also interesting is the fact that South Hadley is the first college town on our list in which housing is not the greatest difference in cost of living. Indeed, 62% of Bronxville’s approximately 6,400 residents vote Democrat. Just about 60% of Norton residents vote Democrat. Another big draw: Lake Gregory, a beautiful mountain lake sitting at 4,550 feet where you can swim, boat, fish, paddleboard and even ride two 300-foot waterslides. This college town is the home of Southwestern University, the oldest higher education institution in Texas. The population was 90,209 in 2019, up 6.8% from 2018. 7 on the U.S. News list of Best Affordable Places to Live, requiring just 20.72% of the area median annual household income to cover the cost of living. Popular pastimes include less partying and more hiking and wine tasting around the local area. With a population of 54,334, Idaho Falls is the state’s fifth-largest city that sits along the Snake River at the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, has been named one of the best places to raise kids, is home to College of Eastern Idaho, and offers all sorts of outdoor fun, from camping and hiking to fishing and snowmobiling. A one-bedroom apartment in Claremont costs an average of $1,560 per month.