The Best U.S. Cities for Doctors to Learn and Study Medicine

The Best U.S. Cities for Doctors to Learn and Study Medicine

The United States is a big country, which means there are lots of choices when it comes to finding a place to study medicine. Whether you’re lucky enough to have multiple medical school acceptances or you are just looking for some cool places to visit on the residency interview trail, the best places to learn and study medicine are likely on your mind.


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Brennan Kruszewski


January 10, 2023

You’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together a list of the top 10 best cities for doctors to learn and study medicine. For the purposes of this list, and to benefit those looking at medical school options and those considering where to go for residency, we’ve selected only cities above 100,000 inhabitants and those that have both medical school and post-graduate opportunities. We compared cultural activities, cost of living, and even the weather to bring you our personal top ten. While your coursework is important, where you live can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and career – after all, who says learning medicine needs to be boring? 

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Medical Schools: Boston University, Tufts Medical School, Harvard Medical School
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women’s, Beth Israel Deaconess, St. Elizabeth’s, Tufts Medical Center, and many more 
  • Cost of Living: Very High (1 BR apartment: $1819/mo

Boston is a city whose name is synonymous with medicine in the United States. Home to some of the country’s most famous hospitals, Boston is a sought-out destination for training for many in the healthcare field. Couple that with a desirable, vibrant city, and many consider Boston one of the best possible places to train. That training comes at a high price, however; Boston is one of the most expensive places in the country to go to medical school, and residents might find themselves stretched for cash with the high cost of living. For some, the tradeoff is worth it – especially if you’re after world-class training in a highly specialized area of medicine. 

Atlanta, Georgia

  • Medical Schools: Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Emory University Hospital, Grady Memorial Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Kennestone Hospital
  • Cost of Living: Medium (1 BR apartment: $1077/mo)

If big-city amenities at a discount price are what you’re after, Georgia’s capital delivers in a big way. Atlanta is the 9th largest metropolitan area in the United States, boasting a vibrant international community, a world-class culinary scene, and a top-notch educational institution in Emory University, just steps away from the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control. Housing in Atlanta is plentiful and affordable, though because of the city’s explosion of growth in the 2000s, public transit isn’t quite up to the level of larger cities like Boston or New York. What Atlanta lacks in that infrastructure, however, it makes up for in price. You’ll pay a fraction to live here of what you might pay in a larger coastal city (not to mention avoiding blizzards and the need to de-ice your car in the morning). The combination of opportunity and affordability earns Atlanta a spot on our list. 

Chicago, Illinois 

  • Medical Schools: Chicago Medical School (Rosalind Franklin), Midwestern, Loyola, Rush, University of Illinois, Northwestern (Feinberg), University of Chicago (Pritzker)
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Cook County, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, University of Illinois Hospital, Northwestern University Hospital, and many more
  • Cost of Living: Medium-High (1BR apartment: $1115/mo

In terms of the sheer number of opportunities for prospective medical students, Chicago comes in near the top of the list, with 7 medical schools for students to choose from. It also boasts an impressive number of hospitals and residency programs, spanning the entire range of community hospitals, trauma centers, tertiary care academic centers, and even one of the country’s few remaining public hospitals, Cook County Medical Center. For many, Chicago is a city that needs no introduction. It’s a perennial contender for the best large city in the US, yet it still manages to be relatively affordable on a resident’s budget. Any amenity you can name, Chicago’s got it, from some of the best restaurants in the country to nightlife to art and music. Chicago’s winters, however, are another story – you may want to think about investing in a newer, thicker winter coat if you’re hoping to make the Windy City your home. 

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Medical Schools: Case Western University, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Cleveland Clinic (various), University Hospitals (various), MetroHealth
  • Cost of Living: Low (1BR apartment: $589/mo)

Home to the world-famous Cleveland Clinic, the 2nd ranked hospital in the United States, Cleveland, Ohio has far more to offer than the jokes might suggest. The cost of living in Cleveland is among the lowest of any of the entries on this list, meaning a resident living here might be able to afford a home for the cost of a studio apartment in a more expensive city. Cleveland also boasts the country’s second-largest theater district, with vibrant arts offerings including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, and Playhouse Square (not to mention the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). The biggest negative? Cleveland’s winters are among the toughest in the country, so you may want to put those savings toward vacationing somewhere warm!

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

  • Medical Schools: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (various), Allegheny Health Network (various)
  • Cost of Living: Low (1 BR apartment: $774/mo

As the second Rust Belt entry on our list, Pittsburgh shares many characteristics with nearby Cleveland, Ohio: a bustling medical scene, professional sports, and big-city amenities at a small-city price. Don’t let the similarities fool you, though: Pittsburgh is a city with a culture all its own. Beyond opportunities for healthcare professionals, Pittsburgh’s hilly landscape has drawn comparisons to Silicon Valley, with companies like Google, Uber, and Facebook contributing to the city’s economic revival. Pittsburgh’s more inland location also makes for milder winters than many of its Rust Belt neighbors. 

New York City, New York

  • Medical Schools: Albert Einstein, Columbia, CUNY, Icahn (Mount Sinai), NYU, SUNY Downstate, Cornell
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: New York-Presbyterian (various), NYU Langone, Mount Sinai (various), and many others
  • Cost of Living: Very High (1BR apartment: $1748/mo)

It’s no surprise that New York City makes our list. With multiple options for medical school and beyond, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn medicine to your heart’s content. When it comes to culture, whether it’s cultural events, food, art, music, comedy, nightlife, fashion, or pretty much anything else, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in New York City, it probably doesn’t exist. Of course, you’re going to have to pay for all those opportunities. The cost of living in NYC is one of the highest of any of our entries, meaning your meager salary as a resident will be even further stretched. Many, however, find that the higher cost is worth the price, reflected by the fact that NYC is the largest city in the US. 

San Diego, California

  • Medical Schools: UC San Diego
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: UC San Diego Medical Centers (various), Scripps Health (various), Rady Children’s Hospital
  • Cost of Living: High (1 BR apartment: $1487/mo)

Where better to live and study medicine than sunny California? The biggest danger in moving to America’s Finest City is that the weather might ruin living anywhere else for you. If year-round pleasant temperatures and close proximity to the beach weren’t convincing enough, perhaps the affordability of San Diego compared to other Californian cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles will be. If you know the west coast is the place for you, San Diego might be the move you’re looking for. 

Nashville, Tennessee 

  • Medical Schools: Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University 
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville General Hospital, Ascension St. Thomas Midtown
  • Cost of Living: Medium (1 BR Apartment: $1049/mo)

While Nashville is best known for country music, don’t disregard Nashville as a great place to live and study. This up-and-coming city has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, driven by great weather, a lower-than-average cost of living, and a thriving healthcare sector. The fact that the Music City also boasts top-notch entertainment and live music only adds to the draw. Like many fast-growing cities, critics say the infrastructure hasn’t quite kept up with the city’s population growth, and a car is virtually a necessity for getting around. 

Omaha, Nebraska 

  • Medical Schools: Creighton University, University of Nebraska
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Nebraska Medical Center, Nebraska Methodist, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
  • Cost of Living: Low (1 BR apartment: $752/mo)

Not interested in high-cost coastal cities, or have a family to raise while you’re studying? Maybe Omaha, Nebraska is the place for you. This midwestern city is one of the best places to raise a family, including great schools, a low cost of living, and a high rate of home ownership. Don’t forget the fact that Omaha also has one of the world’s best zoos and aquariums to boot. If family-friendly, affordable living is tops, Omaha could be right up your alley!

Rochester, Minnesota 

  • Medical Schools: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine
  • Notable Hospitals/Training Opportunities: Mayo Clinic
  • Cost of Living: Low (1 BR apartment: $832/mo

The small city of Rochester, Minnesota is the home of the Mayo Clinic, routinely ranked as the best hospital in the United States. Whether medical school, residency, or fellowship is your interest, you won’t be at a loss for opportunities when it comes to building your career in medicine here. Don’t just take our word for it either – Rochester has been recognized as both the healthiest place in America and also earns top marks as one of the best places to live overall, combining a low cost-of-living with a high quality of life, short commute times, and a host of outdoor activities. If a smaller town is what you’re after, you might want to give Rochester a shot.

You can get fantastic medical training at any number of schools or residency programs in the U.S., but the place in which you choose to live can make or break your quality of life. Hopefully, this list sparks some ideas about what’s most important to you when choosing where to live and study medicine.

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