Expenses You Will Incur While Studying Abroad -1

Set Costs


The cost of living while studying abroad

Guess what, you have to pay rent whether you’re in a different country or not. The amount will depend on where you decide to go. Just like where you live now, urban is more expensive than rural. And some countries generally are cheaper than others, with regard to both educational and living costs.

Advisors at your school’s study abroad center can help you choose a great destination and home-away-from-home that works with the amount you are able to spend.

When I went to Buenos Aires I lived in two different places. For the first two months I lived with a host family with two other students and for the last four months I lived in an apartment with two different students.

In both cases, the housing was set up through my host school. If you stick with us and listen to the podcasts, we will discuss hostels, Airbnbs, and host families — so you can bounce around a lot more.


Choose your flight wisely when studying abroad

If you are a student in the U.S. and your study abroad program is not in Canada or Mexico, you definitely will be flying. In fact, you’d still probably fly to either of those countries. Your travel price will depend mostly on where you go and when you book your flight. Here is a list of round-trip airfare prices I looked up five minutes ago to give you a ballpark idea.

Chicago to London — $981

Los Angeles to Sydney — $1,210

New York to Buenos Aires — $1,010

I know most host colleges and universities aren’t located in these cities so if you need a connecting flight tack on an additional $300-$500. You should try and shoot for the $1,500 dollar range for your entire flight. Mine was about $2,000 and I went from Madison, WI to Buenos Aires. I connected in Dallas.

If you are at least six months out from your departure date try and start using a rewards credit card that earns you miles. Put as much as you can on this: your college tuition and rent; gas; food; daily living expenses; passport fees; visa fees; program costs; your application fee; all the additional expenses you can think of… everything.

Just make sure to pay the entire bill on time every month. You’ll accumulate reward points or cash-back, won’t rack up interest charges and your credit score will increase. A few months ago I took a ski trip with my friends and the flight was free thanks to my rewards.


Just like with housing you have to pay the cost of attendance wherever your education abroad program takes you. For those of you who are at private or out-of-state schools you can actually save money.

If you are at an in-state public school (which is most of you), tuition at your participating host university should be close to what you’re paying now.

Discretionary Costs


Trying different food while studying abroad

“You don’t need a sliver fork to eat good food” — Paul Pruddhome

You could consider me a bit of a foodie. I love watching shows like ‘I’ll have what Phil’s Having’ or one of the many Netflix documentaries on the subject.

As far cost goes you should expect to spend a little bit more than you would at home.


Because when you are abroad you meet new people and are usually in a vibrant culture that you’ll want to take advantage of. This means going out more. You can still go grocery shopping, but there is no substitute for getting to know a group of people over a few bottles of wine and great tasting food.

In some situations, you’ll save money.

For example, when I first lived with my host family they would take care of breakfast every morning. Other times you will spend more, like when you’re staying in a hostel and they don’t have a kitchen. Though a lot of hostels provide breakfast which usually consists of toast or cereal, but don’t expect an omelette station.

Food is one of the many ancillary benefits of studying abroad. Probably my favorite. In every episode of The Study Abroadcast I ask the guest what food they miss most from their time abroad. So if you listen to any of the interviews expect to salivate, just a little.


Adventures to take while studying abroad

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Out of all the expenditures on your trip this will be the most discretionary.

Most people study abroad through comprehensive programs and have most of their trips bought and paid for. But on top of that, students usually venture somewhere new most weekends. I studied abroad independently and was able to plan all of the excursions on my own schedule. Here were some of my activities — the links are where I stayed:

Whitewater Rafting and Zip Lining

Skiing in Patagonia

Iguazu Falls (one of the most mesmerizing experiences of my life)

Surfing in Brazil (where I had one of the best meals of my life)

I know I just said “my life” twice in a row, but that is how important and memorable these experiences were for me. If anywhere, this is where I urge you to splurge a little.

However, going for the excursions and memories is not the main point of this blog. There are many other travel websites that you can reference for the fun stuff. You can just as easily go on mini adventures and field trips without spending a lot in and around the city.

Keeping a budget sheet can help you track your expenses – and keep them on track. Not a bad idea.


Souvenirs are completely discretionary. I regret not bringing back more from my trip than I did – especially after seeing Gabe from The Office’s set-up. I wish I would have brought back something comparable.


Gifts for family and friends also are nice to bring home. We have discussed the irony of buying things for your parents while in college, but no matter what they say, they’ll be grateful for a meaningful memento of your travels. Siblings, too.

Book costs should be similar to what you are paying now, and insurance is actually cheaper.Don’t forget that there are a ton of financial aid options available to help cover expenses for students studying abroad: scholarships and grants; federal loans; private loans; and work-study opportunities to name a few.  

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