15 Great Underpriced College Towns

Real estate bargain hunters should check out the houses in these great university locales.


4. Columbus, Ohio: In addition to being the capital of the state and the headquarters of big companies like Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Columbus is—of course—the home of Ohio State University, which ranks 53rd on U.S. News's Best National Universities list for 2010. "The misconception about Columbus from a national standpoint is that we are a college town, when in fact we are the largest city in Ohio [and] the 15th-largest city in America," says Paul Astleford, the president and CEO of Experience Columbus. "And the combination of having a huge city—a capital city—and having the largest university in the country all in one has created a dynamic that has been far beyond what you would experience in a normal college town." On top of its high-profile sports offerings—Ohio Stadium can accommodate more than 100,000 fans for Buckeyes football games—the university benefits the community through continuing education and other outreach programs. IHS Global Insight says the median home in Columbus, at $134,000 in the first quarter, is 21 percent undervalued.

5. South Bend, Ind.: With just over 100,000 residents, South Bend is best known as the home of the University of Notre Dame. This independent, Roman Catholic university has nearly 12,000 students and ranked 20th on U.S. News's most-recent Best National Universities list. Notre Dame is renowned for its serene campus—which includes the breathtaking Golden Dome—and of course, the proud tradition of Fighting Irish football. The median home price in South Bend was $102,000 in the first quarter, which IHS Global Insight says is 19 percent undervalued.

6. Ann Arbor, Mich.: This lovely city has been home to the University of Michigan Wolverines since 1837. The school has a total enrollment of more that 55,000 students and ranked 27th on U.S. News's 2010 Best National Universities list. "It's a very educated demographic that lives here," says Marianne Gosz Klinker of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition to football Saturdays, when more than 100,000 screaming fans pack into Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor's residents can benefit from the university's museums, theater productions, and botanical garden. Klinker also says that "we have great healthcare in the city because of the university healthcare system." The median home price in Ann Arbor was $159,000 in the first quarter, which IHS Global Insight considers 19 percent undervalued.

7. Athens, Ga.: The University of Georgia is located in the spunky Southern town where popular music groups R.E.M. and the B-52s got their starts. With more than 34,000 students, the school was the nation's first-ever state-chartered university. It ranked 58th on U.S. News's most-recent Best National Universities list. In addition to Georgia Bulldogs sporting events, which are always popular, residents can take advantage of all sorts of cultural offerings though the university. "We have a number of local theater companies, we have the state's art museum—the Georgia Museum of Art—as well as two local art galleries that people can go to, and [the State Botanical Garden of Georgia] is also here," says Hannah Smith of the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. "College towns are wonderful because they have got such a high level of culture without having to be in such a large metropolitan area." The median home price in Athens was $126,000 in the first quarter. That is 17 percent undervalued, IHS Global Insight says.

8. Tallahassee, Fla.: Tallahassee is the home of Florida State University, which has more than 40,000 students and ranked 102nd on U.S. News's most-recent Best National Universities list. The median home price in Tallahassee was $130,000 in the first quarter, which IHS Global Insight considers 17 percent undervalued.

9. Gainesville , Fla.: About 129 miles down the road from Florida State is Gainesville, where the University of Florida is located. The University of Florida, with about 50,000 students, is the oldest and largest university in the state and ranked 47th on U.S. News's Best National Universities list for 2010. Residents can take advantage of the university's top-notch athletic program. "All of the sports venues here are not only affordable and fun but they're quality is just not matched," says Roland Loog, the director of the Gainesville/Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau. Loog says the community also can benefit from the big-ticket speakers that the university attracts. "Not too long ago when Bill Clinton spoke here, we simply walked to the O'Connell Center, walked in, and listened for free," he said. "Followed by that was Michael Moore." The median home price in Gainesville was $135,000 in the first quarter, which IHS Global Insight says is 17 percent undervalued.