New York City was recently ranked atop the list of world’s most expensive cities — so imagine trying to navigate it as a college student on a tight budget.
Because of that very high cost of living, NYC was rated as the worst big college city in America, according to WalletHub. Out of the 66 major cities across the country that were part of the study, the five boroughs ranked dead last when it comes to being student-friendly, finishing behind cities like Detroit, Memphis and Corpus Christi, Texas.
When compared to all-sized cities, NYC fared slightly better (technically?). Out of the 415 college metropolitan areas studied, WalletHub ranked the Big Apple 387th — beating out a couple of tri-state cities along the way. It fared better than Paterson, NJ, (391st), Yonkers (395), Stony Brook (408), New Rochelle (412) and Bridgeport, Connecticut, (414th) which narrowly edged out Flint, Michigan, for last place.
Among all cities, New York was weighed down by the high cost of living for young people, coming in at just 394th, WalletHub found. In overall “wallet friendliness” — which combined elements such as housing costs, cost of living, share of rental units, student loan debt per person, cost of higher education, as well as costs of recreational activities (movies, bowling, fitness clubs) and cheap foods (pizza and burgers) — NYC was rated better than just two Boston, Massachusetts, suburban cities: Brooklyn and Newton.
Here’s how the city stacked up across a number of categories:
- 394th – Cost of Living for Young People
- 51st – Quality of Higher Education
- 258th – Cost of Higher Education
- 294th – % of Part-Time Jobs
- 190th – Brain Drain
- 172th – Crime Rate
- 35th – % of Rental Units
- 287th – Students per Capita
- 371st – Unemployment Rate
It also rated poorly in academic and economic opportunities, which factors in the quality of higher education available plus job prospects, finishing just 232nd. Unsurprisingly, it scored well in social environment, ranked 54th. That category combines nightlife and activities to do with statistics such as crime rate and COVID vaccination levels
What were the major cities that fared the best in the study? Austin, Texas, was the clear top choice, followed a pair of Florida cities in Tampa and Miami. Raleigh and Atlanta rounded out the top five. No other NY-area cities qualified to be a “major city,” according to WalletHub’s parameters, which required the population of a city proper to be greater than 300,000 people.
Among all college cities, of all sizes, Austin still came out on top, followed by Ann Arbor, Michigan, and three Florida cities: Orlando, Gainesville and Tampa. The highest-ranking tri-state city was Princeton, New Jersey, which WalletHub ranked 11th.
Other notable nearby cities include Ithaca (19th), Storrs, CT (32), New Haven (39), Buffalo (51), Troy, NY (57), Rochester (91), Philadelphia (95), New Brunswick, NJ (96), Albany (105), Syracuse (181), Jersey City (234), Stamford, CT (316) and Hartford (337).