Carbondale is a small city in Southern Illinois with a population of ca. 26,000 people. The region is quite affordable and graduate students can afford to live alone (if they wish)--- something that is more difficult to achieve in most college towns. Further, students can also live in a rural forested areas while being less than 10 minutes from Carbondale. The regional landscapes varies from bottomlands to uplands with rolling hills, bluffs, and rugged topography. This makes it perfect home for outdoor lovers (when they are not in the rainforest’s of S. America). For more info on the city of Carbondale go to http://explorecarbondale.com
Though somewhat isolated, when in need of big city amenities, St. Louis is about 2 hrs away. Other nearby cities included: Memphis, TN (3hrs); Chicago, IL (5 hrs); Louisville, KY (3 hrs); Nashville, TN (3hrs). In terms of transit services, Carbondale has direct Amtrak routes to Chicago and Memphis (to New Orleans). The Marion regional airport is 20 min from Carbondale and serviced by Cape Air and connects daily to SL. Louis International Airport. The tickets to St. Louis can be as cheap as $50 each way. There also exist several shuttles to St. Louis. Alternatively, there are many daily flights from United Airlines at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah Kentucky, which is about 1 hr away.
As follows are a few of my favorite things in Carbondale area (in no particular order):