Cost of Living

If you are a graduating senior contemplating a job offer, or a recent graduate thinking of moving to a new city, it is important to research the cost of living, as it varies from city to city. The cost of living is the cost of maintaining a certain standard of living. Understanding the cost of living in any given city helps you make an informed decision about the salary you will need to sustain yourself.

Do Your Research

Predict your earnings using a Salary Estimator and then use the Federal Paycheck Calculator to estimate your take home salary. Once you have your take home salary you can compare it to your monthly budget. Salaries are important, but there are other factors that you should consider. How far your salary can go depends on costs such as housing, transportation and food. You can use the Cost of Living Calculator to determine these costs. Below are line items to consider when creating your post-graduation budget:


This expense generally takes up the most significant amount of your budget. However, it is fixed therefore you will know exactly what to expect and can plan accordingly. You may want to consider living with a roommate(s), so you can reduce your costs by sharing expenses with others.

Average Monthly Rent in Austin: $1,561

If you live in a city with decent public transportation you can perhaps evade the unavoidable expense of a vehicle. If not, it’s important to make a realistic and informed decision based on your current financial situation. Are you going to buy or lease? New or used? Insurance provider? Which plan? Click here for a quick guide to purchasing a vehicle!

Average Monthly Public Transportation Expense in Austin: $41

Average Monthly Used Vehicle Expense:  Car Payment: $381, Gasoline: $200, Insurance $125

Whether you are a college student or a full-time working adult, there are many opportunities to dine out, socialize and overspend on food. Convenience is generally the determining factor when deciding what to eat, however cooking at home will prove to be better for your financial and physical health. Visit ** hyperlink food insecurity page** our section on cheap eats for more tips and tricks on eating on a budget!

Average Monthly Food Budget: $314

This includes electricity, water, and at times gas. Practicing efficient usage of utilities will help you save money on a monthly basis. Be practical to avoid big bills. In some instances, your rental may include utilities or you may be able to level out your bills. Contact your providers and ask them about paying a fixed bill each month so that you may stay within your budget without any worries.

Average Monthly Utility Bill Total: $140

Healthcare is a fixed expense. Typically, your employer will have a plan that you can pay for directly from your paycheck. However, if you prefer a private healthcare insurance provider you can compare and pick the best plan for your budget.

Average Monthly Health Insurance Cost for a Single Person: $574

You put in the work at school, you put in a solid day at your job. You’ve earned some fun. Absolutely. These costs are something you can control but they’re also always variable. We’re referring to happy hours, meals out, concerts, sporting events, or movies, and this category can have a serious impact on your discretionary cash. In the early years of paying down your loans, you might want to keep these expenses in check as best you can.

Other expenses to think about are things such as vehicle registration and maintenance, mobile phone bills, gifts and medical costs. Some of which are unpredictable, but can be planned for by setting up a savings account and setting up automatic withdrawals from your monthly paycheck.  It’s better to be prepared than in a panic.

Final Tips

Living at Home
If after all your calculations and predictions you feel uneasy about your post college experience, consider the common solution of living with your family to boost your savings and reduce your student loan debt.

Defer your Student Loans
Federal student loans have a grace period of 6 months, however if you need more time, contact your loan servicer. You may qualify for deferment, suspending payments temporarily, based on current income. Working with your loan servicer and remaining in good standing with your debts will help maintain good credit for the future. ** link managing debt after college**