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Hi everybody

Grads and non-grads, I'm going to tell my story but I think this post might help other people too

I have been admitted to my first option of university (YEY) but I am not sure if the stipend they offering me will be enough to cover my living expenses. So, first set of questions:

- Do you know any websites that show reliable information about cost of living in different cities in the US?
- Besides rent what else should I take into account when assessing the cost of living in each city?

I have already talked to people in the Program but I've been getting some mixed information about renting there.

Meanwhile, I have also been admitted to my second option which is offering me more $$$ to go there.

- How important is the stipend when choosing a university do your PhD?

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I am personally using this.  I think it’s good and it has a lot of college towns (some of the other ones didn’t and you need to use one site for all of them to compare accurately). Also be sure to subtract fees and state taxes before you do a comparison because both of those will vary a lot.  It might not be as big of a difference as you think.  Plus all of these models will have some error so if it’s close consider the possibility of a tie.  I am aiming to have rent and utilities account for 30-40% of my income after taxes and fees unless that is impossible for the city.  

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How I'm evaluating stipend

  • Rent
  • State Taxes (Do they tax groceries? Clothes?
  • Making a sample budget - i.e. I get 1500 a month I can pay 700 for rent, 100 for utiliies, 80 for bils etc etc down to the penny and then see if that's realistic.
  • Transportation (Car, parking, public transportation fees (is it free))
  • Fees at the university (if not covered by stipend etc)
  • Student loans (if you are planning on paying them during grad school or have them)
  • Insurance
  • Discretionary cost (going out to eat, shopping, etc)

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7 minutes ago, AllieKat said:

I've been using this tax calculator to determine my net pay in 2018/19 for each school.

Don't forget that stipends aren't taxed Social Security/Medicare. Some programs tax federal/state beforehand; others rely on you to deal with paying taxes during tax season. Some cities may have 'city' taxes that you may be required to pay.

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I think where you will be living is a lifestyle change, so factor that in as well.  

I'm also deciding between a place in a major city (my top choice) or a place nearby where I'm at (which I can commute from home). I'm looking through craigslist for roommates, zillow for housings and different forums to figuring out what my living expenses will be and it really isn't adding up. I'm factoring in this will be my full time job for the next 5 years and the stipend I'll be receiving is generous, but for me to be independently living outside of my home by myself for the next 5 years is daunting me...

 

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On 2/27/2018 at 8:54 AM, AllieKat said:

I've been using this tax calculator to determine my net pay in 2018/19 for each school.

This was really helpful, I was looking for a tax calculator.

 

On 2/26/2018 at 11:00 PM, Elephas said:

How I'm evaluating stipend

  • Rent
  • State Taxes (Do they tax groceries? Clothes?
  • Making a sample budget - i.e. I get 1500 a month I can pay 700 for rent, 100 for utiliies, 80 for bils etc etc down to the penny and then see if that's realistic.
  • Transportation (Car, parking, public transportation fees (is it free))
  • Fees at the university (if not covered by stipend etc)
  • Student loans (if you are planning on paying them during grad school or have them)
  • Insurance
  • Discretionary cost (going out to eat, shopping, etc)

I'm trying to check rent prices for both cities, and also groceries and this kind of things. Thanks for sharing the things I should account for.

 

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