The cost of living in the United States will vary depending on which region of the United States that you live in and whether you live in an urban, rural, or suburban area. Many of the numbers that we will explore in this article are based on averages throughout the United States, and you may notice drastic differences in some instances. For example, the Midwest region of the United States (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc) will have lower values than those shared in this article; whereas New England’s numbers will be much higher. The university that you are attending can help you determine the amount of money that you need to budget per year for your living costs. All of the numbers in this article are in United States Dollars (USD).
Housing and Utilities
One of the places that you will see a lot of variation in the United States is in housing and living accommodations. The average apartment in the United States can run anywhere from $500 (one bed room apartments in more rural areas) to $1,500 (3 bedroom apartment in urban areas).
This price could also vary depending on which utilities are included in your rent. Many renters in college towns will include a few utilities in the monthly rent, but that is not always the case. Consult your contract to determine what is included in your rent. Here are some of the most common values you will see for different utilities:
- Electric: $50 to $100 per month, depending on the size of your apartment and if there are energy efficient appliances and lights used. If your heating is electric, it can make your costs up to $150 per month.
- Gas: Not in all apartments. If used for cooking, it will only run from $10 to $15 a month, depending on how much you cook. If used for heating, it can run upwards of $50-$100/month.
- Internet: Averages $45-$50 per month.
- Cellular service: Most services average $50 a month, unless you include a data plan, which can push it to upwards of $100 per month.
- Water, sewer, and trash. Many times, this is included in the rent because your landlord will cover it for the entire apartment building. If you do have to pay, however, most municipalities will bill you every quarter (3 months) and it will cost approximately $50-$75 every quarter, depending on the region you reside in.
When you are living in the United States, you will likely want to budget approximately $1000 – $1500 per month for housing and utilities.
Here are some other costs that may come up during your time in the United States. These numbers are just to help you determine how much you may spend
- Groceries for one person, for one week, can run between $20 and $40, depending on what you diet consists of. A gallon of milk costs approximately $3.50, a loaf of bread is about $2.50, Rice is about $1 per pound, and eggs are about $2.00 per dozen. Fresh produce costs quite a bit and will fluctuate depending on which fruits and vegetables are in season.
- Gas costs approximately $3.50 per gallon. If you are lucky enough to be in an area that has public transportation, you can get a monthly pass for approximately $50-$60 (some areas have discounts for students).
- Clothes are relatively expensive unless you go to a large chain department store (Wal-Mart, etc). A pair of jeans can cost you around $40.
If you are looking for more information about the cost of living in the United States, take a look at the Numbeo prices for various items; these numbers are based on user input from those who live and/or visit the United States. You can also take a look at Find The Data, which also does the same sort of user based input values. The United States Census Bureau puts out relevant information about the cost of living in various areas of the United States.