Grad school interview season is in full swing! For the program I’m in at Pitt (IBGP), this means that every two weeks from January through March, about 20 recruits visit the school for a long weekend (Thursday through Sunday) to interview with faculty members, meet the students, and tour the city. I’m pretty involved with the interview weekends, but I’ll do a separate post on what they include later on. One thing that every interview weekend (at Pitt, and elsewhere) includes, though, is lots and lots of questions! That’s where the idea for this feature came from.
“What…” Wednesday is a weekly(ish) feature on my blog where I’ll address one of the questions I’ve been asked about Pittsburgh, the University, or grad school in general. During interview season, these will spin out of things I’ve been asked by the recruits, and for the rest of the year, I’ll either continue to use questions I’ve been asked specifically, or things that I think are important to know about Pittsburgh, Pitt, or grad life.
This week’s question is: How far does your stipend go towards living in Pittsburgh?
Great question! It goes a long way. Pittsburgh has a very low cost of living. I spend just over half of my take home pay each month on rent and bills (including cable), and that’s actually more than anyone else I know of. Most people are probably spending closer to a third.
You can find inexpensive groceries, between farmers markets in the warmer weather and stores like Giant Eagle, Aldi, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Target that all sell groceries. It takes some comparison shopping at the beginning, but in the long run, groceries won’t cost you that much. If you prefer to eat out, nearly every neighborhood in Pittsburgh has a ton of inexpensive but delicious restaurants, and you have your pick of cuisine, too. Oakland, the area around the university, especially has restaurants with prices geared towards students.
As a student, you’ll have discounts or free admission to many museums and attractions around the city. The Pitt Arts website lists all of the museums that have free or reduced price admission, as well as shows that students can get cheap tickets for. (I’m seeing Les Mis in March, and I paid only $26 for a center orchestra seat!) You can get student rush tickets for Pens [hockey] games. And there are plenty of inherently free events throughout the city that you can easily find with a quick Google search. For example, there are always street fairs on the weekends during the summer and fall months.
So as you can see, your stipend will go very far in Pittsburgh! If you’re looking for a livable city to spend your grad school years in, Pittsburgh really is a great choice.