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Posted on Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Ann Arbor ranks No. 2 on best college towns list

By Cindy Heflin

Ann Arbor can add another ranking to its already-impressive list of best places for this or that. This time, it's the list of 75 best college towns and cities compiled by the American Institute for Economic Research.

Ann Arbor comes in at No. 2 on the 20-city list of best small cities. The institute said that was up from No. 3 last year. Boulder, Colo., was No. 1 on this year's list. Bridgeport, Conn.; Trenton-Ewing, N.J., and Gainesville, Fla., rounded out the top five.

The institute calls its list the College Destinations Index and said the index analyzes factors such as cost of living, student concentration, income per capita, arts and leisure activities available and professional opportunities.

For more information about the rankings, visit the institute's website to get instructions for downloading a pdf.

Ann Arbor regularly makes lists of bests cities in various categories. CNN/Money recently named it to its "100 Best Small Cities" list, and Parenting magazine name it fourth-best city in the United States for families.



Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

Ann Arbor is, by far, the best place I have ever lived. And one of the reasons is the University of Michigan and all that it has to offer.

Dale R. Leslie

Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 8:18 p.m.

"Figures lie and liars figure" is a stiff admonishment of statistics for a young college freshman to hear from his Persuasive Speech professor. But until the media watchdogs put all these polls and surveys in perspective based on the methodology of the polling, techniques of surveying and accurate compilation, my professor's declaration is the danger that is out there.


Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 6:12 p.m.

Oops! Should be "Don't you KNOW who we think we are". Better bring lots of money to retire here, Sparky! The Mayor and Council might "need" to pick our pockets for more ugly art projects, while our infrastructure goes to hell in a hand-basket.


Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

Good point, Lemmy... this town is a legend in its' own mind. Don't you who we think we are?!?!... Well, I never...!


Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

Add another one to the list... Money Magazine ranks Ann Arbor the #11 best place to... retire?? Yep!

Lemmy Caution

Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Wow, reality is another world when something thinks that the Gandy Dancer (nice space, ok soft food) and Madras Masala (good location, ok food) are competitive with the great restaurants of Paris and New York City! That's a joke right (above)? C'mon, people! The Originsl Seafood Company as the Tour d'Argent of the USA? C'mon, Snap out of it!

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 7:13 a.m.

Headline is misleading. Ann Arbor ranks #2 in SMALL COLLEGE TOWNS LIST - not all college towns.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 8:19 p.m.

Lemmy: Your point about the mediocre media (you must include both Detroit newspapers and WJR, etc.) is well taken, but what town's restaurants are you comparing our restaurants to? We have excellent restaurants here in A-2, from Seafood Company to Madras Masala to Gandy Dancer. We have experienced great restaurants in NYC, Paris, Georgetown, etc., and many of Ann Arbor's restaurants are on par with the best. You want mediocre restaurants? Try anyplace in Ohio or Indiana (or any college town in Ontario outside of Toronto). You'll appreciate more what we've got here.

Lemmy Caution

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

Nice to hear. My favorite way to experience A2 is as a college town for easy walking. Nothing better than taking baby and dog for a long walk on a seasonable night from the North Side through Kerrytown and downtown and then to campus and then up South University and then through medical campus and then back to North Side. Being a college town explains perhaps why our food choices and local media are so plainly mediocre. That batch of Main St Ventures restos on Main St are okay for a single visit from students on a date or college parents, but for locals who also cook at home, blech. We fall all over ourselves for Zing sandwiches at $15 pop because there are so few yummy competitors for us townies. And the local media is just boosterism, for the most part. That said, a great college town is a great thing, but it's not a great city.

Audion Man

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 7 p.m.

God, I miss


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

Most of these surveys don't do a very good job of measuring much of anything, and end-up being popularity/familiarity contests based on vague statistical "measures" of one characteristic or another. It would be more revealing to compile a survey of FORMER residents of all these different places - that would present a more objective, warts-and-all view of things. Ann Arbor will be what it has been since the eighties - the perfect place for the bohemian bourgeois boomers to obsess over brie and beaujolais, and schlep around Border's in Birkenstocks with their brats in tow. Arrrrrgggghhhh!


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 3:47 p.m.

Nice to know the folks in Ann arbor can use Ypsi for their liking when it behooves them.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 3:45 p.m.

Obviously, these ratings don't take into account the condition of the streets and bridges!

Brent Lofgren

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 2:31 p.m.

The link to the list gives just a list, and anything about how it was constructed is a mystery. People mentioned how A2 ended up in the over 250,000 population category, and I wonder the same about Boulder. New Jersey's Governor's Mansion is not in the not-so-nice capital city of Trenton, but in the college town of Princeton, which I guess is part of the same metro area, and is likely the reason that Trenton-Ewing is on this list. As for townie's remarks, apparently they were tongue in cheek, but when one thinks of San Francisco or NYC, which top the list in their population category, they don't usually think "college town."

Kilgore Trout

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Say what you will, but as the owner of a local staffing company, this does not go unnoticed by people who are looking to live and work in this part of Michigan.

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

Boulder, Colo is an adorable town, so I can see how it would take #1. Hey, #2 is still pretty good!


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

What?! Ann Arbor is a college town?! But...but...but...I thought we were the new shining metropolis of Southeastern Michigan, with trains, skyscrapers, parking structures and conference centers. I thought we were the shining city on the hill for all of those other Michigan cities to envy; a Mecca for high-tech jobs, young professionals, and real estate speculators; a table stacked high with plates of delicious density! But a humble little college town? Ick. When did that happen?


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

Yes, they are using "metro area" populations. As I said above, when you add in the townships and Ypsi, the A2 metro area is around 270,000. More expansive definitions put the metro population up around 350,000. It always makes more sense to use metro population definitions when comparing cities, because different states have different laws regarding city growth. For example, South Carolina has very strict (and limiting) annexation laws. The city of Charleston, SC has a city population of about 120,000. But no one would seriously consider that the "city" in functional terms. The metro area of Charleston is over 640,000 people. Obviously, it makes more sense to look at a consistent statistic across states when comparing cities.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 10:59 a.m.

"Interesting how we were included in the 250K to 1M category, when our population is about 115K." I believe the population numbers are for metro areas, not just the core cities. Notice that the first two categories are 'major metros' (over 2.5 million) and 'midize metros' (1 to 2.5 million).


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

I am not surprised by this. I love Ann Arbor. After moving over a dozen times, this is my favorite place to live.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 9:57 a.m.

It's sort of ridiculous to say #2 when it's broken up into 4 categories and 75 cities.... any one of which can't be ranked lower than 20th. Having said that, A2's a pretty decent place to live. I just wish it weren't so pretentious and self-important. @EyeHeartA2 It appears they're using "metro area" populations. When you add in the townships and Ypsi, the A2 metro area is around 270,000. More expansive definitions put the metro population up around 350,000.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

Obviously they did not ask the posters on what they think. But congratulations to us all anyway.