Austin, Texas

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Austin is a cheaper San José -- high on tech opportunities, with a better music scene and a fledgling light-rail system. UT Austin, the University of Texas flagship campus, plays a major role in shaping the city’s economy and its character. UT Austin is second to MIT among universities without a medical center to attract federal research money, and UT Austin researchers have received over 700 patents in the past 10 years. This expertise and talent has both spawned and attracted tech companies from Dell to Apple. Austin ranks fifth (after San José, San Francisco, Boston, and San Diego) in per capita venture capital funding. All these factors contribute to its No. 1 rank in economic climate among midsize metros. Add the symbiotic relationship between the local arts and music scene with the SXSW Festival and Conferences, great demographics, and unbeatable weather, and you have the perfect college destination.

#2 Austin, Texas

POPULATION: 1,943,474
STUDENTS: 168,140
RANKING DETAIL:
#3 COLLEGE EDUCATED
#3 DIVERSITY

Quality of life

#14 CITY ACCESS
#12 ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
#6 BARS AND RESTAURANTS

Economics

#1 YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
#3 LABOR FORCE
#3 INNOVATION
#17 RENT

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