View of Charles River in Cambridge, Mass. © iStock

College towns are springing back to life this fall as students migrate back to campus. For alumni, it’s time to stock up on tailgating supplies, buy a few tickets to homecoming and, perhaps, wonder what it would be like to live year-round near their alma mater.

With that in mind, Bankrate has 2 new rankings inspired by the changing of the seasons: the 10 best college towns for retirees and the 10 best retirement cities for football fans.

College towns could make an excellent place for Americans to spend their golden years — especially those who want to stay close to the action. University campuses act like a hub for intellectual and cultural achievement, attracting high performers of all stripes. They’re an excellent resource for the community, especially anyone interested in concerts, art exhibits, political debates and sporting events.

Both of our rankings started with Bankrate’s database of nearly 200 cities. Each city was rated according to several different measurements: cost of living, health care quality, tax rate, crime rate, walkability and wellness.

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Rankings
Top 10 retirement cities for football fans

These cities are not only great places for retirees; they're great for football, too.

Football on field © Michael Drager - Fotolia.com

For our 10 best college towns, we filtered our data to include only those towns where college students make up at least 15% of the population. After we filtered the data, we added points for cities with a high density of museums and other cultural institutions per square mile.

It should be noted that some well-known campus towns, such as College Station, Texas, (home of Texas A&M,) and Lawrence, Kansas, (home of the University of Kansas,) didn’t make our list due to a technicality: Some of the information sources used in the ranking didn’t include statistics from those locations. If we didn’t have enough information for a particular city, we left it out of the overall ranking.

Top 10 college towns for retirees

1. Cambridge, MA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,859
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 42
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 4
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 171
Violent crime (per 100K people) 336
Property crime (per 100K people) 2,710
Walk score (100=best) 87
Museums per square mile 5.78
Tax burden (in %) 10.3
% of students in adult population 29.1
2. Washington, DC
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,973
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 6
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 43
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 87
Violent crime (per 100K people) 1,219
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,574
Walk score (100=best) 74
Museums per square mile 3.76
Tax burden (in %) 9.7
% of students in adult population 14.6
3. Berkeley, CA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,809
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 16
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 41
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 38
Violent crime (per 100K people) 484
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,627
Walk score (100=best) 79
Museums per square mile 3.05
Tax burden (in %) 11.4
% of students in adult population 37
4. Tucson, AZ
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $831
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 19
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 24
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 8
Violent crime (per 100K people) 641
Property crime (per 100K people) 6,582
Walk score (100=best) 39
Museums per square mile 0.37
Tax burden (in %) 8.9
% of students in adult population 15.9
5. St. Paul, MN
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,129
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 12
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 5
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 162
Violent crime (per 100K people) 747
Property crime (per 100K people) 3,724
Walk score (100=best) 56
Museums per square mile 1.27
Tax burden (in %) 10.7
% of students in adult population 15.3
6. Boston, MA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,940
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 42
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 4
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 172
Violent crime (per 100K people) 782
Property crime (per 100K people) 2,773
Walk score (100=best) 80
Museums per square mile 2
Tax burden (in %) 10.3
% of students in adult population 20.9
7. Austin, TX
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,037
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 7
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 49
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 34
Violent crime (per 100K people) 363
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,850
Walk score (100=best) 35
Museums per square mile 0.43
Tax burden (in %) 7.5
% of students in adult population 15.3
8. Minneapolis, MN
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,118
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 12
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 5
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 163
Violent crime (per 100K people) 1,019
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,886
Walk score (100=best) 65
Museums per square mile 1.09
Tax burden (in %) 10.7
% of students in adult population 17.6
9. Seattle, WA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,821
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 10
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 16
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 104
Violent crime (per 100K people) 585
Property crime (per 100K people) 5,582
Walk score (100=best) 71
Museums per square mile 1.22
Tax burden (in %) 9.4
% of students in adult population 14.6
10. Richmond, VA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $867
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 71
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 15
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 93
Violent crime (per 100K people) 624
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,090
Walk score (100=best) 49
Museums per square mile 1.43
Tax burden (in %) 9.2
% of students in adult population 16.7

*Each city’s cost of living was ranked based on a range of expenses in their metro area. This is an example of 1 of them.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Healthways; the Council for Community and Economic Research; the FBI; the Tax Foundation; Walkscore.com; the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences; U.S. Census; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Our ranking of the best retirement cities for football fans also included the core measurements: cost of living, health care quality, tax rate, crime rate, walkability and wellness. It then gave points for proximity to college and NFL teams. We decided not to give more weight to pro versus college teams since it’s debatable which one is more interesting.

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Rankings
Top 10 college towns for retirees

Think college towns are just for students? Think again. They're great for retirees, too.

College students in group study outdoors © Tyler Olson - Fotolia.com


Top 10 retirement cities for football fans

1. Houston, TX
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,427
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 60
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 49
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 75
Violent crime (per 100K people) 963
Property crime (per 100K people) 5,087
Walk score (100=best) 44.2
Tax burden (in %) 7.5
Total college and pro teams 5
2. Tampa, FL
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $843
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 77
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 33
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 36
Violent crime (per 100K people) 597
Property crime (per 100K people) 2,511
Walk score (100=best) 46.3
Tax burden (in %) 9.2
Total college and pro teams 2
3. Tucson, AZ
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $831
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 19
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 24
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 8
Violent crime (per 100K people) 641
Property crime (per 100K people) 6,582
Walk score (100=best) 38.9
Tax burden (in %) 8.9
Total college and pro teams 1
4. Minneapolis, MN
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,118
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 12
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 5
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 163
Violent crime (per 100K people) 1,019
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,886
Walk score (100=best) 65.4
Tax burden (in %) 10.7
Total college and pro teams 2
5. Nashville, TN
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $870
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 32
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 31
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 138
Violent crime (per 100K people) 1,040
Property crime (per 100K people) 3,848
Walk score (100=best) 26
Tax burden (in %) 7.6
Total college and pro teams 3
6. Denver, CO
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,158
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 38
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 13
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 56
Violent crime (per 100K people) 630
Property crime (per 100K people) 3,654
Walk score (100=best) 55.7
Tax burden (in %) 9
Total college and pro teams 1
7. Seattle, WA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,821
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 10
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 16
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 104
Violent crime (per 100K people) 585
Property crime (per 100K people) 5,582
Walk score (100=best) 70.8
Tax burden (in %) 9.4
Total college and pro teams 2
8. San Diego, CA
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,754
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 18
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 41
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 14
Violent crime (per 100K people) 393
Property crime (per 100K people) 2,351
Walk score (100=best) 48.5
Tax burden (in %) 11.4
Total college and pro teams 3
9. Austin, TX
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $1,037
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 7
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 49
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 34
Violent crime (per 100K people) 363
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,850
Walk score (100=best) 35.4
Tax burden (in %) 7.5
Total college and pro teams 1
10. Colorado Springs, CO
Cost of living example* (average apartment rent) $963
Well-being rank out of 105 metros (1=best) 26
Health care rank out of 50 states and D.C. (1=best) 13
Weather rank out of 196 cities (1=best) 70
Violent crime (per 100K people) 434
Property crime (per 100K people) 4,168
Walk score (100=best) 33
Tax burden (in %) 9
Total college and pro teams 1

*Each city’s cost of living was ranked based on a range of expenses in their metro area. This is an example of 1 of them.

If you’re interested in football or college towns, these lists are for you. Of course, if you’d like a less specific ranking of all cities, check our rankings of the best and worst cities to retire.

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