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Financial Considerations

Providence is surprisingly affordable. Housing costs are lower here than the national average, and housing dollars will go farther here than in Boston, New Haven, or the New York metro area (Rhode Island has the lowest rent costs in New England, after Maine). Brown’s comprehensive Student Health Insurance Plan helps to defray expenses. And Brown students get free public transportation through a partnership with RIPTA that works throughout the state.

New students will want to plan for travel and set-up costs. Typically, landlords will want the equivalent of two months of rent up front (security deposit and the first month of rent).  Apartment costs vary, of course, based on location, size, amenities,  and whether utilities are included in the rent.

As a guideline, one could assume monthly expenses of $2,635, including rent and utilities ($1,430), food and groceries ($660), transportation ($100), books and supplies ($135), and personal expenses ($310).

The following websites can help you determine the realistic costs and considerations, based on your needs and circumstances. Cost of Living Comparison Calculator allows for the comparison in salary and cost of living between two U.S. cities. Comparisons include rent, electricity, health care, clothing, pizza, movies, and more. 

CNN Money’s How Far Will My Salary Go? is a city-to-city comparison of the salary needed to obtain the same standard of living as well as changes in groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and health care. 

Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index is a source of city-to-city comparisons of key consumer costs (housing, utilities, transportation, health care, groceries) and miscellaneous goods recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNN Money, and the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Results are available for a fee. 

The Grad Sense Budget Calculator shows different budgeting scenarios based amounts entered for funds and expenses typical to graduate student living. The Cost of Living section also provides helpful advice on budgeting and ways to pay for school.

Economic Policy Institute Basic Family Budget Calculator estimates current family budgets for 400 metropolitan areas by size and type of family.’s Virtual Relocation compares the cost of living index between any two of 800 U.S. cities. Includes comparisons on 2,000 square foot homes, property and sales taxes, income tax, median household income, crime, education, auto insurance, and the weather. 

Runzheimer International rates cities for cost of living in the U.S. and abroad for a fee. 

United States Department of Agriculture Expenditures on Children by Families provides estimates of the annual cost of raising a child through age 18. Data is arranged by family income, age of child, and type of expense (housing, food, education).