The 10 Best College Towns in Texas

College towns are some of the best places to live across the country due to their growing communities and thriving downtowns. Along with educating students, institutes of higher learning impact the culture and economy of the surrounding areas. The presence of a university draws in students from all over the world, making for diverse cities and towns. 

In addition, the school will typically give back to its community in terms of service and funding to attract and retain top students. A strong university will drive the economy by providing employment, revitalizing neighborhoods through donations, and drawing in business partners for collaboration.

Along with economic benefits, college towns are great places to live for non-collegiate residents due to their affordability, diversity, and educated populations. This diverse community leads to more exciting stores, restaurants, and recreational activities. 

Youthful college towns also tend to be more supportive of arts and music, ensuring that there’s entertainment around every corner. There are endless activities from sporting events to music festivals to cultural celebrations. The nearby bars and restaurants compete for the lowest prices to stay within the college budget. 

Although Texas is best known for barbecue, rodeos, country music, and the oil industry they have more than their fair share of top schools. There are over 140 universities in Texas welcoming over 1 million students to the state. Texas college towns top national lists due to their social environment, affordability, and opportunities for academic and economic success.


10. Midland, TX

Midland or the “Tall City” is best known for the towering skyline. The city is continuing its upward trajectory as the third-fastest growing city and highest income per capita in the United States. Midland’s success in the oil industry means that they can offer world-class attractions to residents. 

Like most towns in Texas, Midland is home to many delicious restaurants ranging from barbecue to Tex-Mex. Exciting music and nightlife options can be found around every corner. For those interested in Texan history, the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, George W. Bush’s childhood home, and the Museum of the Southwest are open to the public.

The Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center is famous for its Broadway productions, musicals, and entertainment for the surrounding area. The McCormick Gallery at Midland College also helps to promote the arts and encourages community participation and support.

Schools in Midland: Midland College


9. Stephenville, TX

Stephenville, Texas
CletusDitto, Stephenville Texas, CC BY-SA 3.0

Stephenville combines the homey feeling of a small historic town with big-city entertainment options. The historic downtown has a variety of delicious food, parks, and live music. 

Stephenville is the sixth city to receive the designation as a Texas Music Friendly Community. The town is recognized for its development of the music industry through festivals and state-of-the-art venues. 

The nearby Tarleton State University also emphasizes music and performing arts, allowing students and residents to intermingle in a music-loving community. The university encourages students to work throughout Stephenville from manufacturing companies to local businesses.

Stephenville is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World, with plenty of professional rodeo competitors and a successful college team at Tarleton. The town hosts the Annual Cowboy Capital Pro Rodeo, one of the most significant events driving tourism and economic development.

Schools in Stephenville: Tarleton State University, Ranger College


8. McAllen, TX

McAllen, Texas
Anthony Acosta, Cityscape of McAllen, Texas, CC BY-SA 4.0

McAllen has grown from a farming community to a truly diverse bi-national destination. On the border of Mexico and the US, the community has become a blend of Hispanic and Texan cultures.

With today’s population nearing 800,000, McAllen is one of the fastest-growing cities and has found success in tourism, business, education, and retail industries. Residents also have their choice of nearly 700 restaurants within city limits.

The city’s rich culture is thanks to talented artists and many arts, music, and theater amenities. Residents have their choice of entertainment, from catching a show at the McAllen Performing Arts Center to visiting the International Museum of Art & Science.

McAllen is also known as a popular birding location, drawing in people from all over the globe. The World Birding Center cites over 500 bird species and 330 types of butterflies in the area.

Schools in McAllen: South Texas College


7. Richardson, TX

Richardson, Texas
Michael Barera, Richardson (plaza), CC BY-SA 4.0

In 2016, Richardson was ranked as the third best place to live in the US by USA Today and 24/7 Wall Street. As the International Business Capital of Texas, part of this desirability is due to a thriving economy. The city is home to more than 5,000 businesses, including significant telecommunication and insurance companies.

Another primary source of employment is the UT Dallas campus. The university also attracts more than 6,000 international students from over 100 countries, which adds to Richardson’s already diverse company.

Residents of the town have their choice of recreational activities, including theaters, breweries, farmers markets, parks, and more. Richardson is also home to nationally recognized festivals such as Wildflower! and the Cottonwood Arts Festival in the spring.

Schools in Richardson: University of Texas at Dallas

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