How to Calculate Cost of Living for Study Abroad Students?

The cost of living anywhere is basically the amount of money you will have to spend while covering the essentials for a healthy living. 

Preparing a budget or calculating the cost of living abroad is an absolute necessity to ensure that you have enough funds to survive. 

So, if your journey of higher education has started, this article will help you get one step closer to your destination. By the end of this page, you will have known –

  • Factors to calculate the cost of living abroad
    • Necessary spending
    • Discretionary spendings
  • Cost of living in some top study abroad destinations
    • Cost of living in the US
    • Cost of living in Canada
  • FAQs

Factors to Calculate Cost of Living Abroad

You plan a trip with your friends. What are the expenses that you factor in while preparing a budget?

Accommodation? Transportation? Food? Recreational activity charges? Souvenirs? 

Well, then these are pretty much the same factors you will have to take into consideration while calculating the cost of living anywhere. Some are necessary while some are discretionary spending. 

Once you figure out what will you have to pay for while studying abroad, calculating your cost of living abroad would become more systematic and easier. 

Check out them in detail below.

Necessary Spendings to Calculate Cost of Living Abroad

There are certain things that you will have to spend on for you survival. Let’s find out what all these things are and how can you estimate their cost. 

Housing/ Accommodation

You can either get housing that your college provides or you can rent an apartment to live in. whatever the case, it will make up a big percentage of your cost of living abroad.

So, how do you figure out whether or not you’re getting a fair deal? Or how can you negotiate?

First up, do your research. The housing prices of different areas in the same city can be polar apart. So, 

  • Decide which area would suit you the best and goes with your set budget. 
  • Make sure that your place isn’t very far from your college as it would only increase your transportation cost and time. 
  • Validate the legitimacy of your broker. In some countries like Germany, there are high chances of losing your money to fraud brokers. 
  • Leverage the data you’ve gained through research and try to negotiate the rent with your landlord. 


Doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian, non-vegetarian, or vegan. Food is going to be another big expense in your monthly budget.

You can’t go hungry to save up. But you can plan smartly. To stay in your budget, try to eat out at restaurants or clubs as less as possible. Many colleges provide food, especially lunch on campus at a subsidized date. You can opt for that.   


Transportation doesn’t only include the commuting cost from your house to college. You will be going out with your friends. Or you would simply want to explore your city. 

All this commuting will also make up a large amount of your transportation cost. 

To cut down on these expenses, you can –

  • get a monthly pass on public transport like bus or subway.
  • get an apartment at a walkable distance from your college.
  • avoid taxi or online cab services during peak hours.


Water, gas, electricity.

These are some necessities for you to survive. After your house rent, this is probably the second most expensive factor on the list.

The only secret to cutting costs on utilities is to use them judicially.  

Make sure to turn off electrical appliances before leaving the room or house.

Do your laundry when you have enough clothes. Otherwise, you will be wasting electricity and water by washing just one pair of jeans. 

Hygiene/ Personal Care

Other than all of these things, you will need your toothbrush, shampoo, face wash, toiletries, etc. 

If you want to save on these items, you can 

  • Use them judicially
  • Avoid going for luxury brands
  • Avoid items that are more on the expensive side or are not absolutely necessary.   

Discretionary Spendings

Yes, you have moved to a different country to study. To focus on your future. But that doesn’t mean that fun is out of the question. 

You will need to go out and hang out with your friends, go for a movie, or go to a gym to lay off some steam or that study pressure. 

Don’t cut down on all these expenses. Instead, compromise. You can choose one thing at once. 

  • For instance, try going to a nice restaurant or a pub only once or twice a fortnight. 
  • Subscribe to a gym that is near your house and is a bit on the cheaper side. 
  • May be don’t always get the best seats for movies or theatres as they are more expensive than others.

Cost of Living in Some Top Study Abroad Destinations

We gave you some tips and you are now a few steps ahead of where you were a few minutes ago. 

Great! Now let us present you with some examples. Here are some of the popular study abroad destinations, one of which, might be your future. Check out the estimated cost of living there and get to know the expenses you will need to factor in while preparing your budget. 

And if you haven’t decided on a destination or college yet, we are here to help you select the right university. Contact us to know more. 

Cost of Living in the US

Undoubtedly, one of the most popular destinations for international students. Why do we say that? Because as of 2019-20, about 4.6% of the total US student population comprised international students. 

Yes, you read that right. Approx 1,075,496 college or university students in the US were foreign-born, coming from 200 different countries. 

What kind of expenses do all of these students had to take care of? What was the average cost of living in the US for them or will be for you? Let’s find out.

Avg Cost of Living in the US = USD 1,500 – USD 3,022/ Month
Expense Categories  Particulars  Cost for One Person
Housing/ Accommodation  A fully-furnished apartment (900 sqft) $ 900 – $ 1500/ Month
Utilities (heating, electricity, gas, etc)  $137/ Month
Hourly cleaning help $ 27
Laundry detergent  $ 12/ Month
Transportation  1 liter of gas $ 1.29
Public transport tickets $ 78/ Month
Food  Lunch at a fast-food restaurant $ 9
1 liter of milk $ 0.99
Bread for 2 days $ 2.48
Vegetables and fruits for a week $ 30
Personal Care & Hygiene Cold medicine for a week $ 8
A 15 min visit to a private doctor $ 123
Toiletries for 2 weeks $ 32
Haircut  $ 10 – $ 26
Entertainment  Movie tickets (2) $ 27
Theatre tickets (2) $ 150
Basic dinner at a restaurant (for two) $ 49
Dinner at an expensive restaurant (for two) $ 84
Gym membership in business district $ 53
Prepaid Mobile Tariff (1 min, without discounts) $ 0.17
Clothing  A pair of jeans $ 25 – $ 51
A summer dress at a high street store $ 47
A pair of sneakers $ 50 – $ 92

NOTE: The data provided above is subject to change with time. Please use the information as a reference only and verify the accurate costs at the time of planning your study abroad journey.

Cost of Living in Canada

Ministry of External Affairs, India gave the official figures in 2021 for the number of Indian students with study permits for Canada

And guess what the number is? 215,720, which at that time was 1.8% more than the number of students holding US study visas.

Want to be one of those 250k+ students studying in Canada? Then here’s how much you will be spending monthly living there. 

Cost of Living in Canada


Avg Cost of Living in Canada ~ C$ 1300 / Month (Without Rent)
Expense Categories  Particulars  Cost for One Person
Housing/ Accommodation  1-bedroom apartment C$ 774 – C$ 1335
Utilities (heating, electricity, gas, etc)  Approx C$ 168/ Month
60 Mbps wifi C$ 80/ Month
Transportation  Monthly pass C$ 100
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) C$ 2
1 liter gas C$ 1.70
Food  A meal in an inexpensive restaurant (one person) C$ 18 – C$ 22
Milk/ rice/ egg/ bread C$ 2.5 – C$ 4
Vegetables and fruits (per week) C$ 30
Personal Care & Hygiene Gym/ fitness club C$ 53
Toiletries for 2 weeks C$ 25
A 15-minute visit to a private doctor C$ 166
Haircut  C$ 29
Entertainment  Movie tickets (2) C$ 14 – C$ 30
Theatre tickets (2) C$ 70 – C$ 153
Dinner at an expensive restaurant (for two) C$ 100
Prepaid Mobile Tariff (1 min, without discounts) C$ 0.38
Clothing  Avg Clothing (both, men and women) C$ 45 – C$ 130
A pair of jeans (expensive brands) C$ 73

NOTE: The data provided above is subject to change with time. Please use the information as a reference only and verify the accurate costs at the time of planning your study abroad journey.

Cost of Living in Canada

FAQs on Estimating the Cost of Living Abroad

Still have more questions? Then let’s explore some FAQs. 

Question 1: Should the cost of living abroad affect my decision of a destination?

Ans: You can’t complete your study abroad journey without sufficient funds. So, finding a destination that falls under your budget would be advised. 

Question 2: How much should I spend to cut down the cost of living abroad?

Ans: A simple rule of thumb – to manage your finances, limit your expenses to necessities. If it’s affecting your budget planning, try avoiding expensive lifestyle choices like eating out every day or taking expensive cabs for transportation. 

Question 3: How do I know if I can afford to move to a new city/ country?

Ans: First, come up with an amount that you can afford to spend on a monthly basis. Then, prepare a list of all the items or commodities, for which, you will have to spend money. Then find out how much these things cost in the country/ city of your choice. Finally, compare the costs and figure out if you will be able to manage financially. 

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