FAQs for Living in Pittsburgh

Disclaimer: This is NOT an official guide. Neither me, nor CMU/RI nor any person associated with content on this page, is/are responsible for the outcome of using this information. You have been warned.

This FAQ is written to help mainly students coming to CMU. It may also be helpful if you are coming here for other purpose.

If you send me an email asking a question which is clarified by information below, it just shows that you don't read too well. That being said, I am reasonably patient with queries.

Table of Contents


Living costs are about 800-1100$/month (if you are scant-reasonable in your wants). Add in a couple hundred dollars if you like to party.


The city of Pittsburgh runs its own bus service (called PAT), which has frequent buses to the CMU campus. If you are a CMU ID card holder and a student, then you can ride the bus for free. Otherwise, you need to carry exact change. These buses do not give change back. It is recommended that you carry a roll of quarters (available from any bank). Generally, summer scholars/interns cannot ride the bus for "free" (since their ID card doesn't have a bus pass in it), but there are many exceptions to this rule and you should always confirm it with the authorities.

CMU also runs it's shuttle services from Shadyside to the main campus. Additonally, CMU runs an escort service (from 6:30am to 6:30pm) to Squirrel Hill and Shadyside both. Having a CMU or a University of Pittsburgh ID suffices to ride the shuttle or escort. CMU Shuttle/Escort Webpage

If you have a driver's license, a zip-car maybe a great option to go for long drives.

If you are a brave soul (like many) and can brace the cold/heat/traffic, then you can use a bicycle too!

Additional info: CMU: Getting around town.

Accommodation and Setting things up

CMU/Pitt(University of Pittsburgh) students generally stay in areas like Shadyside, Squirrel Hill. These are reasonably safe neighborhoods and are well connected. The rent per person can vary from 350-600$ (depending on where you stay and with how many people).

Factors to look in when choosing a neighborhood

  1. Reputation in terms of safety
  2. Ease of access
  3. Proximity to grocery/shopping places

List of hotels: CMU: Visit Us Accommodation

If you are a grad student, it is very likely that you will be living off campus. University housing is available only for undergrads.

Advice on finding a place: CMU: Finding Housing Try craigslist for finding apartments. It is an online classifieds site.

If you are an Indian student, the CMU IGSA(Indian Grad Student Association) has limited temporary accommodation (basically some generous souls agree to provide shelter to the new students). Check this out: Temporary Accomodation Guide.

Another great resource are the following Facebook groups. They generally have posts (apartment listings/sublets) by students/professionals living in Pittsburgh. If you are looking for short-term leases, this place should be a great start too.

If you are looking for things to setup (furniture, appliances etc.), you might find this Facebook group useful too - https://www.facebook.com/groups/580647781993254/


Full-time student: F-1 Intern/summer scholar: J-1

This information is wayy too complex for me to add here. Better visit the Embassy site.

What to get when coming to Pittsburgh ?

Pittsburgh gets really cold, so try to get some clothes which will help you in your initial days. I suggest buying heavy jackets from the city itself after that (if you stay here in the winter). This saves space, and also the jackets bought from Pittsburgh are made to withstand the very cold weather here.

For Indians, a reasonably complete list by UPitt: Ankur: Things to bring

Which airlines to use ?

For Indians, all of them are the same. Go for the one which is cheapest! Try to reach Pittsburgh about a week (or 3-4 days) before your work/semester starts. It helps you settle in well.

International Travel Tips

Luggage ? Currency ? How do I get from the airport ? Check the link by CMU IGSA: IGSA Incoming Students

What to do in the city?

I will repeat a very "cliched and popularized fact" - Pittsburgh is the most livable city in the US. Check out CMU: Pittsburgh for more. Another excellent resource is Living in Pittsburgh (the tag-line is "Our city made affordable").

CMU has a number of things to do (even if you are a grad student). The Indian Grad Student Association (called IGSA) has events which you can be a part of. Their website: CMU-IGSA University of Pittsburgh IGSA: Ankur-IGSA

University of Pittsburgh has a good social scene which one can enjoy.

Thank You ?

If you found any of this information useful, and cannot stop yourself from expressing your undying gratitude, mail me! I appreciate good feedback or simple thank-you's.


Thanks to the below mentioned venerable people

Date: 2013-01-31

Author: Ishan Misra

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