Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania;-Nobody understands the value of saving a few dollars more than college students. It can frequently be difficult to pull together enough money for things like healthcare, transportation, and entertainment after paying for tuition, books, and other important college expenses. Fortunately, there are many options available to Pennsylvania students for saving money and enjoying themselves while in college, including enrolling in one of these budget-friendly college cities in Pennsylvania.
Despite having a relatively high population density and a cost of living that is right on level with the national average, Pennsylvania is a far more affordable area to live than many of its neighbors in New England and on the East Coast. For the 450 schools and universities in Pennsylvania, this is fantastic news for students. We looked at expenditures for housing, food, health, transportation, and utilities and compared them to national averages to determine which Pennsylvania college towns are most cheap. Before reducing our list to the 20 most affordable college towns in Pennsylvania, we also took into account aspects like amenities, crime rates, public transit, and general quality of life.
Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Pittsburgh University at Johnstown
Cost of living: 26.8% below the state average and 26.5% below the national average.
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is located in Johnstown, which you may know from Bruce Springsteen’s hit song “The River.” Johnstown is a well-liked option for students looking for a spot to spend their college years because the university is one of the greatest in the northern United States. Fortunately, this is a fantastic area to live on a student budget.
The average price of a one-bedroom apartment is roughly $560 per month, which is 80% less expensive than the national average for housing prices. Costs for utilities, transportation, food, and healthcare are likewise lower than the national average, while those for entertainment are somewhat in line with it.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Titusville campus of University of Pittsburgh
Cost of living: 26.8% below the state average and 26.5% below the national average.
Titusville is a small, charming town with a traditional collegiate atmosphere. Titusville, where the world’s first oil well was located, today houses a campus of the University of Pittsburgh. While hiking, hunting, and fishing are all well-liked sports in the nearby countryside, this reasonably priced Pennsylvania institution often offers cultural events and other types of entertainment. Less than an hour away lies the larger city of Erie, for those who require more.
Healthcare, transportation, utilities, and entertainment are all less expensive than they are in other American towns of similar size, and significantly less expensive than they are in other places in Pennsylvania, even if food expenditures are around 2% higher than the national average. A historic Victorian home in good shape can be yours for less than $200,000, which is even better given that housing costs are just about 28% of the national average. For individuals wishing to settle in Titusville more permanently, this information may be especially satisfying.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Kings College, Wilkes University, and Misericordia University
Cost of living: 26.3% below the state average and 26% below the national average.
Wilkes-Barre, a tiny university town in northeastern Pennsylvania, is home to King’s College, Misericordia University, and Wilkes University. All three institutions are involved in the neighborhood, and Wilkes-Barre has a lively college town atmosphere because to the high student population. It’s also reasonably priced.
The typical price of a home in the neighborhood is $52,700, while the average rent is only approximately 30% of the national average. Wilkes-Barre is a great destination to visit while still being reasonably priced thanks to costs for utilities, food, transportation, and entertainment that are all on level with or lower than the national average. Therefore, we believe it’s only fair to place Wilkes-Barre as one of the best.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
The cost of living at Allegheny College is 22.6% less than the national average and 22.9% less than the state average.
Living in Meadville, a charming historic village along the banks of French Creek in Northwestern Pennsylvania, is a treat for Allegheny College students. Meadville has held the titles of “Tool City, USA” and “Zipper Capital of the World,” and it is today a thriving hub for commerce, industry, education, the arts, recreation, and tourism. Students on a college budget can benefit from the strong local economy. Healthcare, housing, transportation, and entertainment have the lowest cost of living in Meadville—almost 23% less than the national average.
Penn State, Mercyhurst University, Gannon University Erie
Cost of living: 21.1% less than the state average and 20.7% less than the national average.
Erie, in northwest Pennsylvania on the banks of Lake Erie, is a vibrant city. The vibrant local theater scene ensures that inhabitants of Erie never lack for entertainment, and a number of institutions, including the esteemed Erie Art Museum, the Erie Zoo, and Presque Isle State Park are all well-liked and reasonably priced local attractions.
Even yet, Erie has one of the highest bar-to-citizen ratios in the nation and is renowned for its party scene. Fortunately, Erie is a safe, walkable city.The only major category that is slightly more expensive than the national average is entertainment. Health care, utilities, food, and transportation are all well below the norm, while housing costs are less than half of the national average.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Marywood University, Lackawant to College, and the University of Scranton
Cost of living: 19.6% below the state average and 19.3% below the national average.
In Scranton, northern Pennsylvania, which is close to Wilkes-Barre, you may find the University of Scranton, Johnson College, Marywood University, and Lackawant Community College, among other educational institutions. Despite being a large city, Scranton has the atmosphere of a relaxed college town.
The best part is that it’s one of Pennsylvania’s most reasonably priced college towns, which is especially useful for individuals on a student’s budget. Housing expenses are much lower than those in comparable-sized towns in the United States, while healthcare, transportation, and food costs are also significantly lower than the national average.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Alvernia University, Penn State Berks, Baker College of Reading, and Albright College
Cost of living: 18.3% below state average and 18.0% below national average.
Albright College, Alvernia University, the PACE Institute, and the Reading Area Community College are all located in Reading, a city with less than 90,000 people. While the cost of food, utilities, and entertainment in Reading is comparable to the national average, the cost of housing is an astounding 73% lower! In fact, the average house in Reading sells for only $56,000, which is almost $120,000 less than the national average. With such high living expenses, students could decide to settle down in Reading for good.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
The cost of living in Grove City College is 15.6% less than the national average and 15.9% less than the state average.
Grove City College, a tiny liberal arts college well renowned for its emphasis on Christian education, is located in Grove City. The cost of living in Grove City is significantly lower than the national average.
Food expenditures are down 5%, healthcare is down 15.5%, entertainment is down 1.5%, transportation is down 8.5%, and housing is down a staggering 37.2%. Grove City is a rural village in northwest Pennsylvania, which contributes significantly to its reduced cost of living. Grove City is ideally situated for people who occasionally yearn for a little more action.
The cost of living at Bucknell University is 9.4% less than the national average and 9.7% less than the state average.
Lewisburg, where Bucknell University is located, is arguably the prettiest place to spend four years. Lewisburg, which is sandwiched between the Susquehanna River and the Allegheny Mountains, has a good quality of life. Due to well-preserved locations like the 1941 Art Deco movie theater, restaurants situated in vintage structures, and an amazing collection of historic homes, the entire town is included on the National Historic Register. Additionally, Bucknell is a well regarded private liberal arts university, making the college culture a significant component of this 6,000-person little town.
Franklin & Marshall College’s cost of living is 7.3% less expensive than the state average and 7.4% less expensive than the national average.
Most people associate Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with cows and Amish people, but this ancient city has a lot more to offer. Lancaster, the city that houses Franklin & Marshall Collegiate, has a booming healthcare and tourism sector as well as a thriving college environment, as well as exciting entertainment. The greatest part is that Lancaster has a cost of living that is 7% lower than the national average, making it one of Pennsylvania’s top college towns.
The Lancaster Central Market, the country’s oldest farmers’ market still in operation, offers locals a wide range of reasonably priced goods and produce created and farmed by farmers, business owners, and Amish. Lancaster is also secure.The city has more CCTV outdoor cameras per resident than the majority of other cities, which significantly contributes to the wellbeing and safety of the local populace.
Carnegie Mellon, Chatham University, Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh
Cost of living: 6.1% less than the state average and 5.8% less than the national average.
Even though a large city like Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a “college town,” we decided to include it on this list because it is home to more than 70 colleges and universities. It’s also one of the most affordable major cities in the country, with a total cost of living that is 6% lower than the national average. Indeed, students in Pittsburgh benefit from the city’s affordable housing (25.8% less expensive than the national average), healthcare (11% less expensive than the national average), and food (5% less expensive than the national average).
There are many entertaining yet affordable pastimes to choose from in the city’s various cultural districts, lively bar scene (it has the most bars per capita in the entire country), libraries, and museums, and the presence of major corporations like Apple, Google, and Intel provides plenty of reasons to stay after graduation.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
American Army War College Dickinson College
Cost of living: 5.3% below the state average and 5% below the national average.
Dickinson College and the United States Army War College are located in the small town of Carlisle, which has a distinct international flavor. With a cost of living that is lower than both the national and state averages, Carlisle features one of the best collections of Colonial and Victorian-era residences. It is also an affordable collection of historic homes.
The excellent standard of living Carlisle inhabitants enjoy is a result of a variety of factors, including art galleries, international restaurants, and a thriving theatrical scene. It was listed as one of the “most livable cities” in America by Forbes magazines. The neighboring Appalachian Trail offers miles of lovely nature trails for the numerous local nature lovers.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Cedar Crest College, Muhlenberg College
Cost of living: 4.9% below the state average and 4.6% below the national average.
The largest city in Pennsylvania’s lovely Lehigh Valley, Allentown, is a desirable neighborhood recognized for its long-standing customs, proud culture, extensive history, and world-class park system. Allentown is one of the greatest college towns in Pennsylvania and is home to Muhlenberg College and Cedar Crest College.
Students may be able to save even more money by shopping at the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market, where local farmers and merchants offer everything from produce to sweets. Although food expenses are only 10% more than the national average, they may still be able to save money by doing so. While housing costs are approximately 3% more than the national average, healthcare, utilities, entertainment, and transportation expenditures are all on average 3–17% higher.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
The cost of living at Gettysburg College is 3.2% less than the national average and 3.5% less than the state average.
Gettysburg College is located in Gettysburg, one of the most well-known historical college towns in the country. The entire social life of a student can take place on the campus of Gettysburg College thanks to the college’s on-site nightclub, miniature golf course, and eateries.
Gettysburg proper, meanwhile, isn’t a bad hangout among college towns (when it’s not flooded with tourists). The vicinity of the battlefield is a wonderful spot to hang out or grab a bite to eat, and the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg make it simple to shop for bargains. Additionally, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Harrisburg, and other large cities offer a glimpse of metropolitan life.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
University of Lehigh, Moravian College
Cost of living is 1.9% lower in comparison to the national average and 2.2% lower in comparison to the state average.
Bethlehem, an upscale rural hamlet in eastern Pennsylvania, is home to Lehigh University. Although the nearby college scene frequently holds festivals and other recreational attractions for both the student and local populations, life is tranquil in the lovely Lehigh Valley.
While adjacent Allentown is a terrific choice for an evening out in the “big city,” the downtown historic neighborhood is a great spot to walk, shop, or enjoy any of the locally owned restaurants and cafés. Bethlehem’s cost of living is roughly equal to the national average, with expenditures for food, healthcare, housing, and entertainment all measuring only little higher.
Cost of living at Pennsylvania State University is 13.3% more than the state average and 13% higher than the national average.
The prominent Pennsylvania State University is located in State College, one of the most well-known college towns in Pennsylvania. Both locals and Penn State University students enjoy a high standard of living in this community, which is situated in “Happy Valley.”
Food, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and entertainment expenses are all significantly less than the national average, despite the fact that housing expenditures are about 63% higher than the average. Residents and Penn State University students should not be concerned about participating in the town’s numerous festivals and events or the vibrant club and restaurant scene due to the area’s excellent safety rating. Additionally, a healthy local economy has created excellent career possibilities for Pennsylvania State University students and graduates, making this town one of the greatest and most reasonably priced college towns in Pennsylvania.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Cost of living at Swarthmore College: 23.4% more than the national average and 23.7% more than the state average
Another calm tiny town with a relaxed atmosphere is Swarthmore, also referred to as “The Ville.” Although the majority of the town is made up of affluent areas, a tiny center offers students the necessities, including a grocery store, pizzeria, a few restaurants, and a Target.
Hiking and exploring Crum Woods, a wooded natural area close to the Swarthmore College campus, is one of the most well-liked local activities. Swarthmore’s quaintness contributes to the city’s cost of living being 23% more than the national average. Although Philadelphia is only a short drive away, it offers larger retailers and a livelier atmosphere for students.
West Chester University, Pennsylvania’s West Chester University
Cost of living is 40.3% more expensive than the national average and 40.6% more expensive than the state average.
West Chester is 1.8 square miles of picture-perfect land and the location of West Chester University. This small town has an old-world charm that is difficult to obtain in other college towns because over 90% of it is designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
While students make up a large portion of West Chester’s population, the community is also well-liked by young professionals, families, and seniors. There are more than 50 restaurants and eateries for locals to pick from in West Chester’s downtown area, which has brick pathways. There are also lots of stores, shops, art galleries, and entertainment options. Although the cost of living in West Chester is higher than in most other parts of Pennsylvania, individuals who can afford to do so will gladly pay 40% more than the typical American to live here.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Eastern University and Cabrini University
Cost of living: 99.4% more than the average for the country and 99.7% higher than the average for the state.
More mansions, more mansions, etc. That comprises the majority of Radnor’s attractions. Radnor, which is a suburb of Philadelphia and home to Cabrini University and Eastern University, gives its residents—many of whom are students—an upmarket and tranquil way of life. The town has a thriving economy, thanks in large part to the presence of businesses like J.G. Wentworth, TV Guide, Airgas, and Lincoln Financial Group.
Although the cost of living in Radnor is almost twice as high as the national average, the individual cost categories differ greatly, with housing being the most expensive at 292% above the national average and food being the least expensive at only.1% more expensive. As lovely as Radnor is, students may easily go to Philadelphia because to the town’s location on the Main Line.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023
Cost of living at Villanova University is 123.3% higher than the state average and 122.7% higher than the national average.
Another affluent Philadelphia suburb situated on the Main Line is Villanova, which is home to Villanova University. It’s a charming little town with a lot to offer. There are many stores and eateries lining the busy downtown area, some of which are more affordable than others.
When students want to experience a little big-city fun, a train departs from the Villanova campus and travels quickly to Philadelphia and other nearby towns. The cost of food, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and other expenses in Villanova are all comparable to the national average, despite the fact that housing is more expensive than in any other town on this list. Think of Villanova as your top choice for a PA college town.Top 20 Affordable College Towns in Pennsylvania 2023