Which cities are the best for low living and rent costs, easy ways to get around and good university quality? We did the math—here are the best cities in the world for students.

Underneath the income, living costs & quality of life preferences you can toggle in Teleport Cities, there are around 300 different data dimensions from 70+ sources, with topics ranging from an active tech scene to pollution and travel connectivity. All of this data helps us match people with their best places in the world to live and work.

We’ve got about 30k students among our users, so this time we’re looking at the best cities specifically for them, based on both the preferences they choose themselves as well as some specific ones we add on top.

What are students looking for?

These are the five preference layers that students look for in Teleport Cities:

  • Low living costs
  • Low pollution
  • Safety
  • Tolerance towards minorities
  • Rent affordability

To make the list more student-specific, we added:

  • University quality (for obvious reasons)
  • Walkability/bikeability (for ease of getting around the cheapest way)
  • Public transport (for ease of getting around if you prefer public transport)
  • Download speed (because students need good internet)
  • Startup scene score (for a general active community, plus job opportunities)

We can also choose how much weight each preference has, so we put slightly more focus on the original five preferences, plus university quality for obvious reasons.

If some of these layers do not apply to you, feel free to go and choose your very own in Teleport Cities. For now, let’s see what happens when we throw all these things together.

The top 10 cities for students

Here’s what the top 10 looks like based on the preferences we chose:

And… Europe wins this round completely. Worry not, we have an “alternative” top 10 list later in the post, that takes away some of the mostly cost-related/getting around preferences (which are the ones that tilt this list towards Europe), as well as a breakdown of the best cities by continent.

It makes sense—students care about a lot of layers that European cities perform best with, such as pollution, walkability/bikeability, public transport, and in some cases cost of living.

Germany takes the cake in the top 3 with three cities. Also, there are two Estonian cities in there—we’re not biased, but Tartu and Tallinn are indeed very nice places. Just saying.

A zoom in on the top 5

Let’s take a look at the preferences we chose and compare them in our top 5 cities. Feel free to check out the other half—Uppsala, Tallinn, Turku, Vilnius and Vienna—on Teleport Cities if you want the specific details.

Here’s how the top 5—Berlin, Stockholm, Munich, Leipzig and Tartu—compare based on the original 5 preferences for students:

When it comes to tolerance, Stockholm is way ahead of the rest of the cities, and Tartu wins with low cost of living. On the bad side, Stockholm and Munich aren’t too affordable rent wise, and Berlin doesn’t have the highest mark in lack of pollution.

And here are the five preferences we added:

If your main plan is to find the very best, absolutely top-notch university, steer clear of Tartu and Leipzig. In fact, Tartu isn’t the greatest when it comes to any of these layers, except for the walking/biking score. It is a lovely small town that is easy to get around on foot, so it’s got that going for it, similarly to Stockholm.

Otherwise, Stockholm is for sure best with public transport, Leipzig boasts great internet speeds, and Berlin, as we know has a great startup scene.

All in all, whereas the first set of layers was quite close score wise, the second set of preferences all comes down to what is truly important to you and what isn’t.

Giving non-European cities a shot

Let’s say you have the option to stay in a dorm or on campus at a reduced cost, so we can knock off some stars off the rent cost importance. Also, if you’re on campus, public transport and walkability isn’t as important, so we can leave out that aspect. Let’s see what happens now:

And we managed to squeeze in a bunch of US cities now, as well. This little experiment proves even further that the top list of cities can change pretty drastically based on the layers and their weights used, so do go and set your own preferences in Teleport Cities to get a perfect match.

Top cities for students by continent

Europe is the same as our original top 10 list.

North America:


South America:



We do realize everyone’s different—if you’d like to change anything in the list of preferences we used, you’re more than welcome to toggle your own choices in Teleport Cities to get a truly unique match.

Interested in more rankings for different professions? Check out:

The best cities for designers

The best cities for software developers

The best cities for founders