Top Student-Friendly US Cities

Charming african american student smiling while sitting near laptop
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Are you looking for the best student-friendly cities in the USA? This guide looks at everything from LA to Washington, with stops in Chicago and Seattle. Discover some fascinating facts about the student experience in these cities.

For many international students studying in the USA is the ultimate goal. The chance to study state-side is very appealing. America offers an opportunity for international students to be at the forefront of learning and live in one of the most progressive countries in the world.

No matter who you are and your tastes, your options are as vast as the country itself. Limitless opportunities exist to expand your horizons from the glitzy, film-focused, media-oriented Los Angeles or political capital Washington. From co-living in Los Angeles to sharing in Seattle, this article will give you all the insight you need to make studying in America successful. 

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Let’s look at LA.

Los AngelesCity of Angels

Downtown Los Angeles
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If you’re searching for “co living Los Angeles” spaces, then this city could be the place for you. Depending on your perspective, Los Angeles is probably the most famous city in America and certainly the most creative. Home to Hollywood and the film industry, LA is a great place to live. In addition to the many state universities, you can live and study among creatives of your dream of a career in film or related industries.

Of the top 25 American universities, UCLA is probably the most famous, the weather is guaranteed, and glorious beaches and serene countryside surround the location.

LA is a melting pot of cultures for students who worry about diversity. LA neighborhoods thrive on being different but, more importantly, welcoming. If you choose to live in Los Angeles, you will surely have the time of your life.

If you love sports, you will know that LA is home to one of the best basketball teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, while LA hosted the Superbowl in 2022 at the home of the Los Angeles Rams. Students who love sports will be spoilt for choice.

Chicago Home to the Deep Dish Pizza

Downtown Chicago Waterfront, Illinois USA
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As Frank Sinatra said, “Chicago is my kinda town,” and rightly so. Chicago is in the state of Illinois, sometimes called ‘The Windy City’ but more recently known as an economic hub specializing in all things tech and finance.

Chicago is the third largest city in the US, so it stands to reason its universities, notably the University of Chicago (ranked 13th in the world uni rankings), stand out to international and residential students alike.

Famous for its hot dogs, deep dish pan pizza, and vibrant music scene (especially jass), Chicago boasts a diverse community, is LGBTQ+ friendly, and is home to the most prominent Italian, Greek, and Hispanic population outside of New York. Living in Chicago for any international student is a thrilling (if not fattening) experience.

Home to the Chicago Bears if you’re an American football fan, Chicago has never hosted the Superbowl, but its dedication to the sport is well known.

Seattle — The Emerald City

Seattle downtown at night
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Whether you are sleepless in Seattle or not, the “Emerald City” is the world’s coffee capital. Home to the University of Washington Seattle, international students can get the best of both worlds. 

Seattle offers students the chance to live in a lush green environment but within the cut and thrust of Washington state. UWS is a massive university focusing firmly on research, business education, and engineering, to name a few subjects. 

Seattle is vibrant and has a thriving economy with a culturally diverse community that welcomes newcomers to its city. Seattle is not quite as well known as LA or Washington, but it’s a great place to live as a student.

The headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft are in Seattle, this gives you an idea about the importance of the Emerald City, and as the birthplace of Starbucks, you can expect to get a decent cup of coffee too.

Students who follow baseball will know that Seattle is home to the Seattle Mariners, while professional American football, ice hockey, and women’s basketball are firm favorites.

Washington, DC

Jefferson Memorial in Spring
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Washington, DC is the political capital of America, home to Georgetown University; expect to be immersed in one of the most famous capitals in the world. There’s no better place to learn as an international student studying politics.

Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and The World Bank are based in DC (District of Columbia). Washing DC is not a state. It’s a district. International students who want to study finance can do it at the famous George Washington University.

Living and working in DC is a dream come true for many students who know that its global politics and businesses offer opportunities you can’t find anywhere else. Washing DC is not only the political capital but also a cultural hub.

Running alongside the business world is an important cultural and arts community that includes the Smithsonian Institute, a highly regarded collection of museums and galleries, and even a zoo.

If you love sports, you won’t miss out as DC hosts the Washington Nationals baseball team, Washington Wizards, men’s basketball, and the aptly named Washington Capitals (ice hockey).

Cost of Living for International Students

Students who want to live in LA, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington have chosen some of the most expensive places to stay in America. However, there’s good news Chicago ranks the most inexpensive for housing, followed by Seattle, LA, and Washington.

The cost of food and utilities is about the same, with LA coming out on top as the most expensive. Living in the US may cost a lot, but who said the cost of an excellent education and fantastic life experience would be cheap? No one!