While you are going to school in the U.S.A. as an international student, you need to save every possible penny.

Studying in the U.S.A. is expensive. Make sure you have a good idea about the expenses involved.

Cost of living is a major factor when selecting a university.

The Cost of living calculator will give an idea about expenses in different cities and it’s very clear from the differences in salary range for master’s degrees in 13 different cities.

Also, a student’s life style is much different from people who work full time.

Here’s the breakdown of a typical monthly student expense and this list gives an average covering many cities. If a student happens to study in LA, it will be more expensive.

Cost of Living in LA

  • Apartment Rent – $75 to $200/month (Can’t avoid it. More roommates = less rent)
  • Electricity – $10 to $25/month
  • Food – 150+/month (Depends on Eating Habits)
  • Laptop – $450 – $1,500 (One time investment)
  • Cell phone – $35 to $70(iPhone costs more, landline not required)
  • Public transportation – $30 (usually for students it’s free)
  • Books/Textbooks – $50 – $150/quarter (Get books from friends or buy used books)
  • Shopping/travel – $20 to $50/month (It varies)
  • Calling cards – $5 to $20/month (free – Skype, GTalk, etc.)
  • Car – $1,500 – $3,000 (How to buy a used car)
  • Car maintenance – $80 to $100/month (Includes – insurance, gas, service, parking)
  • Gifts to GFs/BFs – Unlimited

How much did I spend while in school?

  • Apartment Rent – $75 (yeah it’s just $75)
  • Electricity – $10 – $15
  • Food – $125/month
  • Laptop – $1,500 (Fujitsu Lifebook)
  • Cell phone – $45 (I got my cellphone almost towards the end of my M.S.)
  • Landline phone – $5
  • Internet, Cable TV, Netflix – $15
  • Books/Textbooks -I got most of my books from friends/seniors
  • Shopping/travel – $50 to $100/month (It varies)
  • Calling cards – $10 (Used Yahoo Messenger – Voice chat)
  • Car – $600 (My first Car, shared the cost)
  • Car maintenance – $50 ($100/2 insurance, gas, service, parking)
  • Gifts to GFs – $0 (Poor Me!!)

Next – Cost of Living at the University of Southern California (One of the most expensive places to live in).


  1. Rohan Kulkarni on April 11, 2017 at 3:02 AM


    I got an admit from a university in New York City for MS course.
    So can you explain how much will it cost me other than my tuition fees.
    I was thinking to stay off-campus and some of friends suggested me to rent a house in NJ and travel to NY, since the lectures are usually scheduled two days a week.

    So can I get a help how much will it cost me.

  2. Omkar on June 16, 2014 at 2:07 AM

    Hey I am traveling to California Riverside this Fall .i.E September 2014.
    What is the cost of living in Riverside including House rent, food, traveling, Electricity etc on monthly basis?? If there is any additional cost please let me know…. Can you please help me in this??

  3. Julia on February 8, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Hi Raghuram,

    My name is Julia and I work at NerdWallet, a personal finance website that brings an analytic, consumer-oriented approach to financial product recommendations.

    We have created a valuable Cost of Living Calculator: http://www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator/
    This tool helps to educate students about living expenses and incorporates factors such as entertainment, food and health care costs. I am reaching out to you and hoping that you will highlight these tools as resources on your website.


  4. dipika on July 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    next year m planning for doing MS in USA……can anyone please tell me the living expenses over there….

  5. tamer ramzy on May 28, 2012 at 2:25 PM


    I am planning to study in univeristy called northwestern plytechnic univeristy it is located in fermont, california
    I want to know whether this is good univeristy for study mater in busienss and i want to know the cost of accomadation around this universty.


  6. Zeba on March 18, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Can one live easily in $2000 a month in Charlotte? I won’t be having any car.

  7. Katie on February 29, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    $125 / month for food is a joke, unless you’re okay living off of rice and butter noodles. I find it hard to spend less than $300 / month on groceries.

    • Bhanu on July 3, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      I would agree with Katie, this website is wack. Living in LA for 75 dollars a month, that is not possible even if you live with 10 roommates in a single room, its possible if you live in a ghetto neighborhood. Living expenses are way too high in LA. Everyone doesnt eat rice all day long so ye.

  8. Anand on September 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Came upon your article while googling. I am planning to get into Miami Ad School. Will be helpful if you could help me with approximate living expenses there or which city comes the closest to expense there? Will check that article than.

    • HSB on September 22, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      Miami is bit expensive, if you have part time jobs/RA/TA you can manage + awesome place to be.

    • Bhanu on July 3, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Miami is not a bit expensive. Miami is super expensive, i am currently working in Miami. The rent over here for a single bedroom starts around 1400/month. But again if you want to live with a bunch of roommates its a different story but still it is not going to cost you less than 600-700 a month and that too if you are sharing. The living expenses are ridiculous, car insurance in Miami is the highest in the United states.

  9. Udbhav on July 21, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    sq115 you are lallu , this is useful for undergraduates like us too…..

    Well I would like to have an article regarding living cost in Texas….
    If possible I would like to post one (When i reach there, hope it happens sooooon.. )

  10. sq115 on July 11, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    It’d be great if you could post some articles for undergrads too.

  11. kumar pratik on June 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    may i please have your email id because i have some queries and if you could please help…it would really be nice of you.

  12. roghupoti on May 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    i want to be skinfilth like you

  13. wazem on May 19, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    I want to know the living cost in new york?

  14. Fragbait on April 7, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    Multiply pretty much all of it by 4 or 5 and it's a more accurate portrait of living in America.

    • Umank on May 30, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      depends on what state u livin in.. ofc u need to 10x it if u comparing Boston and Arlington… ijs

  15. karthik on December 12, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    please can any one inform physiotherapy P.G cost with fees and accomdation cost in U.S

  16. Rekha on September 26, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    please tell me about cost of living in Atlanta.

  17. Natasha Sandhu on August 25, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    Please send me the cost break down of living in Erie, Pennsylvania

  18. mitesh on August 2, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    tel me cost of living in canada. & plz tel me future after complted biotechnology courese over there…any job over there in pharama company or any reserach lab. how much salary they give,,,,,,plz tel me.

  19. trveen on July 7, 2010 at 5:17 AM

    We need cost of groceries, rental figures etc for 201o … 'cos cost of living as gone up.

    • HSB on July 7, 2010 at 8:51 PM

      Cost of living have gone up in India, not in US due to recession.

      • Varun Kumar on August 25, 2010 at 10:12 PM

        I agree with u. Cost of living in India is much higher than the US.

  20. sagar gaikwad on June 24, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    ya i also agreee that it could have made available in indian currency

  21. Venkatakrishnan Jayapal on June 11, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    HSB hi once again ,

    On reading this i noticed that you have graduated from UTA . How is that university ? Job opportunities after graduation there??? Can you put some light on this university ..what was your stream of education?

    • Udbhav on July 24, 2011 at 8:33 AM

      Hi Venkatakrishnan Jayapal,

      Hope you check out your HSB Blog….

      Well as per your querry UTA is a decent and a god university, and also has fine ranking and do researches too. You can check them out at http://www.uta.edu.
      It’s a cool college ..!

  22. venkatakrishnan Jayapal on June 11, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Hi HSB ,

    Its a really useful guide .Your blog has given me good idea of many things that i have also recommended your blog to many of my friends aiming to do higher studies.

    Personally i thanks alot for such a good work . Keep Going 🙂

  23. vidhya on June 1, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    all the info which is given is nice, but it luks gud if the expenses r mentioned in indian currency…..

    • Umank on May 30, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      1$ = 45 INR … do the math…

  24. Misbah on March 29, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    Ur articles are too good !

  25. Chetan Dahal on January 19, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    It's cool, getting an apartment with 75$ is indeed a thinkable quiestion. However, blog is fruitful to those who are preparaing to go US as a student


  26. Varun Kumar on January 15, 2010 at 12:11 AM

    I don't rate it a good article….. this article belongs to the year 2002. It seems like this. The rates are so underestimated. I wonder how they wrote insurance $30 a month….. lol… its $486 per semester. The apartment even in Dallas or any low expense states are not what the blog saying. I study in Los Angeles and I know the real rates. I have people from many places in US. The only thing that I felt genuine was about the car. Even laptops are somewhat ok price but that 1500$ thing seems too much.

    • Varun Kumar on January 15, 2010 at 12:12 AM

      I have a laptop of $600 and its the best. $1500 is very expensive.

  27. Varun Kumar on January 15, 2010 at 12:01 AM

    Hey Happyschoolsblog… who wrote that "APARTMENT RENT $75"….. I really wonder what type of place you talking about. When you mention the rate please mention of which state? In California, $75 is a joke…. average room is at least 450$ and do u mean 5 people shared a room?.. lol

  28. vishnu on January 12, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    really this blog is very usefull for students who wants to know abt cost of living in us.can u tell me some information that how much interest we have to pay for banks after completing ms & when we have to start paying loan for banks

    • Varun Kumar on June 25, 2010 at 1:14 AM


  29. sharath on January 3, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    HI this is sharath final year B.E(E.C)

    I wish to apply for the followin uni this fall

    1.San JOse State uni.

    2.Prtland State uni.

    3.Kansas State uni.

    4.Oklahama State uni.

    5.Uni of texas at San Antonio

    Plz el me about the expense studyin in these uni's. Are they expensive or normal..

    If possible plz express ur views about these uni

  30. nishant on August 15, 2009 at 8:57 AM

    good analysis buddy

  31. ganesh.b on June 29, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    that's good!!but friend please give some idea about what u eat and from where u get that? do u cook or what? in several places u mentioned pressure cooker why? grocery means….what it include?

    • Varun Kumar on January 15, 2010 at 12:03 AM

      Eat whatever….. your average food expense of a single day can never be less than 10$

  32. krupa on February 22, 2009 at 5:06 AM

    information provided is really helpful.you r doing a gr8 job

  33. Santhosh on January 23, 2009 at 2:49 AM

    its really a usefull blog to me. i got a lot of information only visiting this blog…

  34. Vandana Varshini on November 26, 2008 at 3:27 AM

    That was a really good analysis! You are too good Mr.Raghu. Every time I come to your blog I wont leave with out opening some 11 windows at one go (I will click links of something I havent read on the page current page and then on that page and so on) It is so informative and very usefull. I never knew so many things until I read your blogs I consider myself lucky too have come across this blog by accident (on google search actually)

    • Varun Kumar on January 15, 2010 at 12:15 AM

      This is really a good website. But this article is shocking because it is unexpectedly inaccurately figured. But rest of the articles are good.

      • HSB on January 15, 2010 at 6:58 AM

        Varun – Thanks for list of comments :). I can give you list of 100's of students who have similar cost of living now. No need to go back to 2002. There is another article for USC too, which will say different figure. Texas, Florida, AL, Ok, KS, MS, …. 2 Bedroom for $500 to $700 shared by 6.

        I guess you are paying mandatory insurance offered by school – Here is a link where most international students buy insurance for $31 – http://www.happyschoolsblog.com/health-insurance-

        I think you got Gateway Laptop for $600. I have used Fujitsu, HP, Thinkpad, Macbook, Vaio, Dell and Gateway personally. I can say the different between cheap/good quality. Quality of Fujitus, HP, Thinkpad, Idepad, Dell is way above thean Gateway. You will understand as time goes on 🙂 Walmart sell $298 HP laptop with very good config. Dell XPS you can get for $700 to 900 with coupons.

        Keep your comments coming, many readers are finding it useful.

        • nitinkumar on April 23, 2010 at 5:10 AM

          my back ground is b.tech(ece) electronics i would like wat is the cost of ms in usa in average college

  35. Narayana on November 8, 2008 at 11:29 AM

    🙂 good article.

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