Living Cost in St. Louis

Living Cost

Please do check the section St. Louis and Paris for their respective living cost expenses. Information regarding housing, furniture, transportation, food and so on are provided.

Traveling to and Staying in St. Louis:

Amsterdam University Fund

The Amsterdam University Fund (AUF) offers bachelor and master students the Individual Travel Grant that can be requested to travel to St. Louis. The maximum allowance for an exchange program outside of Europe and for longer than 3 months is 900€. This will roughly cover your flight ticket and visa costs. For more, please see http://alumni.uva.nl/en/auf/student-grant/individual/individual-travel-grant.html

Flight and Visa Costs

Although your flight costs are dependent on the airline you are flying with, you can estimate to spend somewhere between 400-600€. Students have previously paid 550€ including luggage and an additional +-300€ for the J-1 Visa. The costs might still vary. As noted above, the AUF individual travel grant covers 900€, so this covers mostly the flight and visa costs. You will only receive the 900€ upon return in Amsterdam and after writing a short reflection on your stay.

Health Care

You will need to be registered with Washington University’s healthcare system for administrative and visa purposes. Although this allows you to visit the doctor and dentist as often as you want, you need to pay 10% of the total costs yourself. This comes down to roughly 250$ for the four-month period.

Teaching Assistant possibility

Depending on your research interests and available vacancies, the department of Sociology/Anthropology/Social work may have a vacancy available for you to assist in teaching a course (I recommend sending out emails early to contact persons in the department). This is highly recommended as educational experience but can also help in paying some of the living expenses. Expect to be compensated somewhere between 300-400$ per month.

Housing

Washington University (WashU) could provide the housing and it could be expensive. You might find reasonable offers if you seek early. You can search housing outside of Wash U’s system. Students in past have found it tricky and risky.

Below are some of the initial quoted costs (per house, not per person) in the Craiglist:

One-bedroom: 1150-1250 per month

Two-bedroom: 1200-1500 per month 

Three-bedroom: 1400-1600 per month

Your best bets are with Quadrangle and Airbnb (although you might find something through Facebook or Craigslist). Quadrangle is the housing option provided by WashU, and was used by the French students in our year for a semi-furnished apartment they had available for the four-month period (no cooking wares or other utilities like Internet in the apartment). The rent was 1200$ (so 600$ each per month), but this was without utilities like gas/water and other services like Internet.

Airbnb has certain advantages over Quadrangle. Unlike Quadrangle, you do not have to sign for a fixed period at the start of the month, but you can check-in and check-out whenever and pay for a daily rate (you get discounts on long-stays via Airbnb). In addition, most Airbnb housing will be fully furnished, and you will have access to utilities and services you need (Internet, washing machine, dishwasher, cooking wares, bedding, etc.) We would highly recommend looking into this option for these two factors alone. For a spacious two-bedroom apartment in Shaw, students paid 1200€, so 600€ a month each, but this was inclusive of all the services and utilities mentioned above. Keep in mind that when you move away from Central West End or University City, the distance to Washington University may be greater so that it is useful to contact previous Trans-Atlantic Forum (TAF) students to ask if the housing option you are considering is convenient.

You might find cheaper unrenovated bedrooms for around $663 per month. It will be hard to find these rooms and the costs might vary. Some apartments might have varying stipulations such as you must rent it when it becomes available, even if that is a full month before you arrive, or you must lease and pay for a full 6 months even though you will only live there for 4. Just be careful and safe. Please also look out on Craiglist as you might find an international student house willing to rent and share.    

Furniture

Considering the unfurnished apartments, Wash U can coordinate a rental program for furniture from Empire Furniture. (may be a contact person required for this coordination)

  • one bedroom: $190

  • two bedroom: $260

  • three bedroom: $350

If you want household items for cooking, linens, plates, towels and such, it is an extra cost starting at 175 per month and going up based on need.

Bills

Electricity are usually ranged from 30 dollars in the summer to 90 in the winter. Gas could be slightly expensive and can increase in the winter. The Internet can come around 50 dollars a month. Please save 30-50 dollars a month for cell phone service depending on the data package.

Groceries

This is probably the most expensive part about St. Louis compared to Amsterdam or Paris. Nutritious and healthy food is expensive compared to cheaper fast food options. The WashU campus provides a canteen but a lunch- or dinner meal can be somewhere between 6-8€. I highly recommend avoiding expensive grocery stores like Whole Foods and Schnucks and try to shop cheaper at Aldi. Unfortunately, this option may not always be available, so you may end up eating outside of your apartment or end up at an expensive grocery store. Just some examples that spring to mind at Schnucks:

500ml yoghurt 3-4$, 1,5l orange juice 3-4$, dozen eggs 2$, bread 2-3$, hummus 3$, cheese (gouda or parmesan, small piece) 6$, bag of chips 3$, 6 granola bars 3$.

You can expect your groceries expenses to be somewhere between 1 to 1,5 times of what you would spend at Amsterdam or Paris grocery stores, however, with cheaper eating-out options and smart shopping you can save yourself large expenses.

Public Transport and Uber

Your public transport card is covered by WashU allowing you to take metros and buses around town, but dependent on your location this may not be the most convenient option to travel to campus. For instance, Central West End and downtown areas are right on the metro-line with WashU, but other neighbourhoods are not so well connected.

Another cost to consider is Uber or other taxi-services. Since St. Louis is built with a car infrastructure, it will not always be convenient to bike to certain places at certain times. For instance, you may go out for drinks and end up using Uber to go home. Although Uber is relatively cheap, the costs can add up. A quick clance at my PayPal transactions indicates that I spend around 300$ on Uber over the whole four-month period, although I must admit that I used the service more often than needed.

Traveling

St. Louis is connected to Chicago by Amtrak train service, which is a highly recommended option to consider for a short vacation. Train tickets can be as cheap as 40$ when booked in advance. Other options to consider are Greyhound buses, although not everyone’s experience is positive with this service. For domestic flights (especially to faraway locations), I would recommend booking in advance and using the cheapest option available (e.g. with transfer). Since I had to fly to Washington, D.C. on relatively short notice, I ended up paying 330€ in flight tickets but I am sure this was not the best deal at the time.

Amsterdam to Paris

One can take a train from Amsterdam to Paris and then stay in a hostel for night stays.

Transportation

Train tickets from Amsterdam to Paris are ranged from 90-130 euros round trip. The cost might vary. The earlier you book the less they cost. Metro tickets cost 1.90 euros per ride. On average 4 rides a day can help you in navigating the city.

Hostel

A shared "family" rented room can cost between 40 and 60 euros per night. The cost might vary.

Food

Expect to spend a minimum of 15 euros if eating at a restaurant. Bakeries are generally very cheap. Previous students have spent at least 300 euros per person in total.