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Ann Arbor Is Named the 2021 Best College Town in America

Michigan Theater marque sign

What those who live, work, and study in Ann Arbor already know has been confirmed: The University of Michigan’s hometown recently ranked as this year’s best U.S. college city by WalletHub. 

Ann Arbor came out on top of the personal finance outlet’s 2021 Best College Towns and Cities in the U.S. list for factors including reasonable cost of living, good academic and work opportunities, and a fun social environment. In addition, WalletHub also ranked A2 as the Most Educated City last year. 

For those who are working (or studying) from home, also named Ann Arbor one of the 10 Best Places to Live if You Work From Home based on its analysis of 157,000 data points across nearly 2,000 cities and towns in the U.S. highlighted that 90% of Ann Arbor residents live within a 10-minute walk from a park and that the city has a high ratio of restaurants to residents.

“If ‘University of Michigan’ is all that comes to mind when you think of Ann Arbor, you’re in for a treat. It’s a quirky, laid-back town that prides itself on being self-sufficient, safe, and small, but with a big-city personality.” -

With its vibrant downtown lined with eclectic boutiques and restaurants serving up cuisine from around the world, an unmatched sports scene, and plentiful natural areas, the designation of best college town and best places to WFH are only the latest accolades Ann Arbor has earned recently. The city has been named:

Why Michigan Ross students love Ann Arbor

Rankings are great, but why do Michigan Ross students say they enjoy going to business school in Ann Arbor? Here’s what they had to say: 

Variety of Ann Arbor

“What I love about Ann Arbor is the variety it offers; every corner of the city has a different personality and a unique experience. On the one hand you have the quirkiness of Kerrytown and the local business like Literati and Blank Slate, but just a few streets over you have the hustle and bustle of South State street with students walking to class and visitors shopping at the MDen. You have the excitement of the Big House on game day, but you also have access to the peaceful feeling of being millions of miles away from everyone in the rolling hills of the Arboretum. On campus, you experience the juxtaposition of the Harry Potter-like Law Quad across the street from the futuristic-looking Ross School of Business building. Above all, though, Ann Arbor is special because of the energy that flows through the city. The spirit and diversity of the people here is what helps bring these unique personalities and sectors of the city together. Ann Arbor is truly special and I feel incredibly lucky to call it my home.” - Mia Doerr, BBA ’22

I love Ann Arbor because it is a great place to study and explore with countless activities to do, restaurants to visit, and sights to see.

Jake Kuredjian, BBA ’24

“Of all the places I’ve lived around the world, I found it the easiest to be able to call Ann Arbor home because of the people, the culture, and the community. One of the things I was pleasantly surprised about was the diversity of Ann Arbor. From the food to the industries to the ethnicities, Ann Arbor is truly a melting pot of cultures from around the world, but it found a way to integrate them so well that it’s possible to experience and enjoy each one.” - Ash Easwar, MBA ’21

Big-city vibes

“In my mind Ann Arbor was this super rural, super isolated township that was far removed from any semblance of my accustomed big city social experience. But within just a few weeks of being here, these concerns were completely flipped on their head. I discovered there was an actual downtown in the city, with a vast range of options for dining, for cafes, for nightlife, shopping, you name it.” - Sean Drimmel, MBA ’21

Growing up in big cities, I was pretty nervous about moving to a smaller college town, but I am so happy with my decision to come to Michigan and spend two amazing years in Ann Arbor.

Erin Ford, MBA ’20

Connection between city and its residents

“What I love most about Ann Arbor is how the college campus is very well integrated with the city and its residents. Ann Arbor encompasses everything from a traditional suburban feel with neighborhoods and grocery stores to a very vibrant downtown filled with diverse cuisines to the beautiful natural scenes of the Nichols Arboretum and the Huron River. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered our college life, one positive takeaway is that I have been able to appreciate Ann Arbor going on more walks and always passing by the landmarks of the Michigan Theater sign or trying out the delicious local ice cream of Washtenaw Dairy.” - Adarsh Nanda, BBA ’21

Good for families

“Some things we do with our children are going to the farmers market; checking out the hands-on museum, which they love; and going to the many parks or trails to get a day out in the sun. In addition to all of those offerings, the schools in Ann Arbor, along with the early childhood education and daycare available, is pretty remarkable and amazing.” - Kristen Mixon, MBA ’21

Learn more about Ann Arbor