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Living Cost in USA for International Students

by Anamika Sharma
Living Cost in USA

Living cost in USA is one of the main factors for International students to consider before applying for admissions to any universities/colleges in the US. Living cost in USA involves accommodation expenses, food, travel, books, clothing and other miscellaneous expenses. The United States, being the largest economy in the world, can be really expensive for Indian students who wish to pursue studies there. The average living cost in USA varies from region to region. Living in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles can be very expensive as compared to smaller cities and suburban areas. However, the living cost can be minimized if the budget is planned with care.

Here in this article, we have covered the average cost of living in USA along with the ways to make the living cost in USA more affordable. Before that, take a look at the list of US states with the average rent of houses in the year 2018 as given in the table below.

Living Cost in USA – Monthly Rent in the States of USA

The accommodation cost is one of the main components to be considered while calculating the living cost in USA. This expense not only varies from state-to-state but also depends on the area the school is situated in. Living on campus can be easier on pockets as compared to living off campus. Given below is a table highlighting the tentative monthly rent for 1 BHK as charged in different US states.

A List of US States with Average Monthly Rent

S.No. Name of the US State Average Monthly Rent for 1BHK (in USD)
1. Washington 1000-1200
2. Idaho 550-700
3. Montana 800-1000
4. Oregon 900-1100
5. Wyoming 550-700
6. Utah 650-750
7. Colorado 1000-1300
8. New Mexico 500-700
9. Arizona 800-1200
10. Nevada 950-1200
11. California 1400-1700
12. Texas 800-1000
13. Oklahoma 500-700
14. Kansas 550-650
15. Nebraska 600-800
16. South Dakota 500-600
17. North Dakota 600-700
18. Minnesota 900-1100
19. Iowa 950-1100
20. Missouri 650-700
21. Arkansas 500-600
22. Louisiana 750-850
23. Mississippi 700-800
24. Tennessee 800-900
25. Illinois 850-950
26. Wisconsin 700-750
27. Michigan 700-800
28. Indiana 650-800
29. Kentucky 700-800
30. Alabama 650-750
31. Florida 1000-1150
32. Georgia 850-950
33. South Carolina 850-950
34. North Carolina 800-900
35. Virginia 900-1000
36. West Virginia 650-700
37. Ohio 600-700
38. Pennsylvania 950-1050
39. New Jersey 1300-1500
40. Delaware 1000-1100
41. Maryland 1400-1600
42. New York 1450-1600
43. Vermont 1300-1500
44. New Hampshire 800-1000
45. Maine 1250-1350
46. Massachusetts 1900-2200
47. Rhode Island 1600-1800
48. Connecticut 900-1100
49. Alaska 800-950
50. Hawaii 1600-1800

* The monthly rents indicated above are tentative. The prices can change as per the inflation/deflation rates in the area.Study Abroad College Admissions Login

The figures mentioned above gives a rough idea of accommodation cost in case an international student opts to rent a 1BHK flat. However, the expenditure on accommodation can be significantly lowered if the student goes for college dormitory or he/she lives in a flat on a sharing basis.

Now, lets take a look at other components that factor into the living cost in USA in case of international students.

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Living Cost in USA – Average Monthly Expenses

As has already been written above, the living cost in USA includes the expenses related to food, lodging, travelling, clothing and several other factors. Given below is a brief account of all the important components whose costs are calculated to determine the living cost in a country.


The cost of food is one of the most important components to be taken into account when calculating the living cost of USA. The food expenses may vary as per the preference of an individual. The average money to be spent on food can be around USD 2500 per annum. The cost may go up if you prefer to eat in restaurants more often. On the other hand, home-cooked food can help you keep the budget stabilized.


Travelling around can cost a student an average of USD 1000 per annum if he/she uses public transport such as buses and subways. Driving around in a car can raise your expenses steeply and can cause a dent in the budget.

Books and Study Materials

A student generally spends an average amount of USD 800-1000 per year on books and related materials. Using second-hand books, or downloading e-books or audio files, and using the college library can lower prices considerably.

Clothes and Shoes

Buying clothes in the US can be really expensive unless you make your purchases from department stores like Walmart, which offer discounts to its customers from time-to-time. However, a student must keep at least USD 500-800 aside to spend on clothes and shoes.

Personal Care

International students must also keep a separate pool of money, i.e., around USD 2000-2500 for their personal care which can include cold medicines, a short visit to a doctor, shampoo, toothpaste and other such items.

Now, take a look at the table given below to know the average monthly expenses to be incurred in the US.

Living Cost in USA on Monthly Basis

S.No. Particulars Monthly Expenditure
1. Accommodation USD 200-800
2. Groceries USD 120-160
3. Internet USD 40-50
4. Cellular services USD 50-100
5. Electricity USD 50-100
6. Travel USD 70-90 (public transport)
7. Shopping USD 100
8. Entertainment USD 100
9. Outside eating USD 70-100
10. Miscellaneous expenses USD 100

* The expenses mentioned above can vary from place to place in the US and the monthly expenditure can increase or decrease as per the living style of an individual.

Also read about – College application deadlines USA
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