The 5 Cheapest Cities in the USA to Live in as a Student | FindAPhD.com
Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

The 5 Cheapest Cities in the USA to Live in as a Student

‘Cheap’ may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of postgraduate study in the USA, but with some clever budgeting and the right choice of location can go a long way to making it more affordable!

To help you save pennies (or cents) we’ve listed the five cheapest US cities to live in as a university student, using crowdsourced data from Numbeo.

#5 Saint Louis, Missouri

Coming in at number five is Saint Louis, a waterside city near where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers become one.

Saint Louis is home to the world’s tallest gateway arch, which stands at 630 feet and has earned it the nickname ‘The Gateway City’. Covering 1,300 acres, its prized Forest Park is larger than New York’s Central Park, and is packed with forests, nature reserves and museums which attract around 13 million visitors every year.

Here’s how living costs in Saint Louis compare to the national average:


Living costs in Saint Louis
Item Prices in Regina National Average
One-bedroom apartment (in city centre) $1,242 $1,838
One-bedroom apartment (outside city centre) $1,002 $1,378
Monthly utilities $197 $189
Monthly transportation pass $78 $70
Meal at inexpensive restaurant $20 $20
* These figures are based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo and rounded off to the closest whole number.

#4 Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis is a hub for sports fans, hosting the world’s largest one-day sporting event, annual car race Indy 500, and home to teams for every major American sport from soccer to hockey. It also offers the opportunity to race in the Indy Mini, which is the largest half marathon in the United States.

If sport isn’t your thing, you can also learn about the city’s long history at the Indiana State Museum (its indigenous population can be traced all the way back to 10,000 BC!) or browse three floors of exhibits at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Here’s how living costs in Indianapolis compare to the national average:


Living costs in Indianapolis
Item Prices in Indianapolis National Average
One-bedroom apartment (in city centre) $1,441 $1,838
One-bedroom apartment (outside city centre) $1,082 $1,378
Monthly utilities $213 $189
Monthly transportation pass $60 $70
Meal at inexpensive restaurant $20 $20
* These figures are based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo and rounded off to the closest whole number.

#3 Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is the largest city in the southern state of Kentucky, known for hosting the Kentucky Derby, the most prestigious horse race in the USA, and for being the hometown of the world-famous boxer Muhammed Ali.

Main Street, in Louisville’s centre, is home to Museum Row, a cluster of ten unique museums and distilleries within five walkable blocks. Here, you can learn about Louisville’s history, try its delicious craft beer, and find out why it’s nicknamed ‘Bourbon City’.

Here’s how living costs in Louisville compare to the national average:


Living costs in Louisville
Item Prices in Louisville National Average
One-bedroom apartment (in city centre) $1,440 $1,838
One-bedroom apartment (outside city centre) $929 $1,378
Monthly utilities $195 $189
Monthly transportation pass $50 $70
Meal at inexpensive restaurant $18 $20
* These figures are based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo and rounded off to the closest whole number.

#2 Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis overlooks the Mississippi River and is famous for the now world-renowned strains of rock ‘n’ roll, soul and blues music that originated there. Industry heavyweights including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Aretha Franklin have all resided in Memphis, and recorded at its legendary Sun Studio, which continues to attract big names in popular music today.

If its cultural significance isn’t draw enough, Memphis is also one of the USA’s greenest cities, with over 160 parks and over 230 days of sunshine every year.

Here’s how living costs in Memphis compare to the national average:


Living costs in Memphis
Item Prices in Memphis National Average
One-bedroom apartment (in city centre) $1,164 $1,838
One-bedroom apartment (outside city centre) $1,009 $1,378
Monthly utilities $235 $189
Monthly transportation pass $43 $70
Meal at inexpensive restaurant $16 $20
* These figures are based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo and rounded off to the closest whole number.

#1 Cincinnati, Ohio

Clinching the prize for cheapest city in the USA is Cincinnati, one of the only cities in the USA to technically span two states (its official borders encompass the northernmost region of Kentucky) – an easy way to tick two boxes on your USA travel checklist!

One of Cincinnati’s most historic neighbourhoods is Over-the-Rhine, which contains some of the most well-preserved 19th century buildings of any district in the USA. It was largely developed by German immigrants who settled there in the 1850s. Today, it is home to craft breweries, trendy bars, outdoor markets and German-inspired architecture.

Here’s how living costs in Cincinnati compare to the national average:


Living costs in Cincinnati
Item Prices in Cincinnati National Average
One-bedroom apartment (in city centre) $1,260 $1,838
One-bedroom apartment (outside city centre) $1,006 $1,378
Monthly utilities $122 $189
Monthly transportation pass $77 $70
Meal at inexpensive restaurant $12 $20
* These figures are based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo and rounded off to the closest whole number.

Find a PhD in the USA

Ready to start looking for your idea project? Browse PhDs in the USA in our database.




You may also like...

Working in the USA: How to Find Work During and After Your Studies

Everything you need to know about part-time and full-time work as a student or recent graduate in the USA.

Read more
Health Insurance in the USA – A Guide for International Students

Why you'll need health insurance as an international student in the USA and how to find the right plan for you.

Read more
Applying for a PhD in the USA

Our guide tells you everything about the application process for studying a PhD in the USA.

Read more
What a PhD Course in the USA Actually Looks Like

This guide tells you everything about the structure of a PhD course in the USA from courses, assessments and the academic calendar.

Read more
PhD Funding in the USA – A Guide for 2023

Our guide to PhD funding in the USA has information on fully-funded PhD scholarships, as well as other funding options for international and domestic students.

Read more
Guide to Student Visas in the USA

Our guide tells you exactly what kind of visa you need to study a study in the USA and what you need to apply for it.

Read more
Living in the USA – A Guide for PhD Students

What's it like to live in the USA during a PhD? Our guide covers accommodation, student living costs, working and other key information.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Environmental Sciences in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Environmental Sciences in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Electrical Engineering in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Electrical Engineering in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Agriculture in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Agriculture in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
Student Accommodation in the USA – A Complete Guide

We cover the types of student accommodation available in the USA, typical costs and what to keep in mind when booking.

Read more
Studying in Chicago – A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Chicago is a fascinating city with lots to offer postgraduate students. Here's everything you need to know about living costs, the top universities and graduate careers.

Read more
Studying in Boston – A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Considering study in the USA? We've put together everything you need to know about studying a postgraduate degree in Boston, including the top universities, living costs and work visas.

Read more
Studying in LA – A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Considering study in the US? We've put together everything you need to know about studying a postgraduate degree in LA, including the top universities, living costs and work visas.

Read more
Studying in New York City: A Guide for Postgraduate Students

We cover everything you need to know about studying in New York, including top universities, living costs, accommodation and more.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Business & Management in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Business & Management in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
Spring Intake at Universities in the USA – The What, When and Why

We've covered everything you need to know about applying for the Spring intake at a university in the USA.

Read more
Autumn (Fall) Intake at Universities in the USA – The What, When and Why

We've covered everything you need to know about applying for the autumn (fall) intake at an American university.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Chemistry in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Chemistry in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Engineering in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for PhDs in Engineering in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
PhD Study in the USA - 2023

Detailed guides to PhD study in the USA. Our guides have information on universities, courses, funding, student visas and life during a PhD in USA.

Read more
The Best Universities for PhDs in Biological Sciences in the USA (2023)

Looking for the best universities for Biological Sciences PhDs in the USA? Compare ranking tables from top sources here, along with their methodologies.

Read more
The Ivy League – A Guide for PhD Students

The Ivy League is a group of eight prestigious, high-ranking universities in the USA. Find out more about PhD study at an Ivy League university and how you can earn a place!

Read more
Inlaks Scholarships for PhD Students

Inlaks Scholarships provide a fantastic funding opportunity for Indian students looking to do a PhD abroad at one of the world’s top universities.

Read more
Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships

If you’re an Indian PhD student currently studying a PhD at an institution in India, you could apply for a Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowship to undertake research in the USA.

Read more
Top Universities for Postgraduate Study in the USA

What are the best universities for postgraduate study in the USA? Our guide looks at the latest global league tables to identify top-ranked American institutions and help you discover the best postgraduate opportunities.

Read more
10 Facts About the USA You May Not Know

Considering postgraduate study in the USA ? Here are some fun facts about the country you may not have heard.

Read more
Top 5 Most International Universities in the USA

US universities that are known for maintaining an international outlook and welcoming students from across the world.

Read more
6 Things You Need to Know About Studying in the USA as an International Student

Thinking of studying a postgrad degree in the USA? These are some things you ought to know!

Read more
Why Studying in the USA May Not Be As Expensive As You Think

The cost of studying in the USA may seem high at first glance, but there are plenty of funding opportunities to make it more affordable!

Read more


Last Updated: 17 August 2023