If you’re reading this, you’re probably not too surprised to hear that Connecticut is one of the most expensive states in America. Indeed, the Constitution State has an overall cost of living that’s a whopping 18.4% higher than the national average. This is especially bad news for college students who are already required to pay for tuition, housing, and all necessary books and supplies. But one sure way college students can save a bit of dough is to attend a school in a town with a lower cost of living. Fortunately, such a strategy is even possible in an expensive state like Connecticut.
Methodology: Creating our ranking of the 10 most affordable college towns in Connecticut required us to first list all of the applicable towns in the state. Once we had that, we consulted Sperling’s Best Places to find information about each town’s overall cost of living. We considered the average costs for things like healthcare, housing, food, transportation, utilities, and entertainment, then compared those numbers to the national average. The 10 most affordable towns based on that information were included in our list of the 10 most affordable college towns in Connecticut.
Eastern Connecticut State University
Cost of Living: 4.8% lower than the national average; 23.2% lower than the state average
Home to Eastern Connecticut State University, the town of Willimantic is a mid-sized city within the Worcester metro area. Students living in Willimantic can enjoy easy access to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Because the city’s population is generally well educated, the town boasts a nice selection of local arts and culture. Just about every cost of living category for Willimantic comes in at 3-4% lower than the national average. The one exception to this is housing, which averages a whopping 29% lower than the national norm. A university student intent on living off campus can expect for pay about $822 per month for a studio, or $880 for a one-bedroom apartment.
Connecticut College, Mitchell College, United States Coast Guard Academy
Cost of Living: 3.2% lower than the national average; 21.6% lower than the state average
New London is a college town through and through. Home to three major colleges — Connecticut College, Mitchell College, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy — New London is chock-full of beautiful and historic sites. Students living in New London enjoy an overall cost of living which averages just slightly lower than the national norm. Costs for healthcare, food, and entertainment all average only 3-5% higher than the U.S. average. Costs for utilities average is nearly 14% higher! Fortunately, some money can be saved on transportation and housing, both of which come in well below the national average.
Cost of Living: 2.5% higher than the national average; 15.9% lower than the state average
Hartford, Connecticut’s capital, offers its residents the typical capital-city amenities. Students living here can expect lots of cultural diversity, a full calendar of events, and a relatively stable local economy. Living off campus is easy, thanks in part to the fact that housing in Hartford averages 34% below the national norm. A studio apartment, for example, can be rented for about $770 per month, while a one-bedroom can be rented for about $962 per month. Other cost-of-living categories in Hartford average anywhere from 3% (food and healthcare) to 28% (transportation) higher than the national average.
Charter Oak State College, Central Connecticut State University
Cost of Living: 5.1% higher than the national average; 13.3% lower than the state average
As a suburb of Hartford, the town of New Britain offers its residents the same major capital-city amenities, pros, and cons…just at a slightly higher cost of living. Although food, entertainment, and healthcare cost just about the same in New Britain as they do in Hartford, costs for utilities, transportation, and housing average significantly lower. Indeed, housing in New Britain averages 18% lower than the national average. A studio apartment would cost a student living in New Britain approximately $703 per month, while a one-bedroom would cost about $880 per month.
Cost of Living: 6.6% higher than the national average; 11.9% lower than the state average
Home to Goodwin College, East Hartford is another town in the capital city metro area. As such, East Hartford offers its residents a stable local economy, lots of diversity, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. But with an overall cost of living that is 6.6% higher than the national average, East Hartford is a bit more expensive than its neighbors. While housing in East Hartford still averages well below the national norm (16% below, to be exact), costs for healthcare, food, transportation, entertainment, and utilities average anywhere from 3% to 22% higher.
University of Connecticut
Cost of Living: 7.5% higher than the national average; 10.9% lower than the state average
The population of Storrs is practically tripled by college kids when University of Connecticut is in session. This, combined with the fact that 20.4 years is the median age of the full-time population of Storrs, makes this a textbook college town. Well, except for the cost of living, which averages 7.5% higher than the typical American town. Average costs for food and transportation average only 3-4% above the national norm, while healthcare and entertainment average about 6-7% higher. Housing costs are nearly 9% higher, and studio apartments in Storrs go for about $799 per month — about $30 more than the Hartford/West Hartford/East Hartford Metro.
Yale University, Albertus Magnus College, Southern Connecticut State University
Cost of Living: 9.7% higher than the national average; 8.7% lower than the state average
Students at Yale, Albertus Magnus, and Southern Connecticut State have a lot to look forward to when it comes to living in New Haven, including lots of college town amenities, historic sights, and great local healthcare options. Unfortunately, such highlights come with a cost of living that is nearly 10% higher than the national average. Although food and healthcare only average 3-7% higher, the average costs for entertainment, transportation, and utilities average a whopping 24-30% more than the national norm. Fortunately, housing in New Haven averages a full 13.5% less than the U.S. average, and it’s even possible to rent a studio apartment in town for about $1,000 per month.
University of New Haven
Cost of Living: 10.7% higher than the national average; 7.7% lower than the state average
Like nearby New Haven, West Haven offers its residents a pretty town, lots of historic sights, and plenty of things to see and do. West Haven’s various cost of living categories even look pretty similar, with food and healthcare averaging 3-7% higher than the national average, and entertainment, transportation, and utilities averaging 23-29% higher. While housing remains West Haven’s lowest cost of living category, living here costs slightly more than in New Haven. Indeed, a West Haven studio rental is likely to set you back about $1,060 per month, while a one-bedroom would be difficult to find under $1,180 per month.
Cost of Living: 12% higher than the national average; 6.4% lower than the state average
Though located about 20 minutes outside of Hartford, the college town of Middletown is still near enough the capital city to enjoy many of Hartford’s amenities. Living in Middletown costs about 12% more than it does to live in the average American city. The biggest factors to this higher cost are entertainment, transportation, and utilities, all of which average 11-20% higher than the national average. Even housing is about 10% higher in Middletown than it is elsewhere. The cost of a rented studio apartment averages about $780 per month in Middletown, while a one-bedroom averages about $980.
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
Cost of Living: 13.3% higher than the national average; 5.1% lower than the state average
Home to Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell is another town in the Hartford/West Hartford/East Hartford Metro area. As such, Cromwell residents enjoy a stable local economy, cultural diversity, and a calendar packed with arts and cultural events. Cromwell’s overall cost of living averages 13.3% higher than the national norm, the higher categories being entertainment, transportation, and utilities. Costs for food and healthcare average 3-5% higher than average. Housing costs fall right in the middle at 12.2% higher than the national norm.
And the most expensive college towns in Connecticut? Those would be:
- Fairfield (72% higher than the national average),
- West Hartford (27.6% higher)
- Danbury (24.5% higher).