Life at Duke

Planning for the unknown is never easy, especially when it comes to preparing for the financial realities of being a student at Duke and relocating to the Durham area. How do I find housing? Where can I get my groceries? What can I do for fun? How much will my loan refund cover in a semester? This page aims to give you an inside look into life at Duke! 

Personal Finance @ Duke is your campus resource when it comes to questions about managing your money, including what to expect financially when relocating to Durham and planning for expenses as a Duke student!

From balancing housing expenses and navigating the Duke bus line, to knowing the best places to dine out on a budget and finding ways to have fun around campus that won't break the bank, there's a lot to consider when you think about the financial realities as a Blue Devil and life at Duke. 

Check out this section for an insight into money management approaches at Duke including ways to save money on living expenses, transportation, food, socializing, and more!

  • By far the most expensive budgeting item to plan for and oftentimes requires proactive reflection to really make an impact.
  • Avoid studio or 1 bedroom accommodations if possible.
  • Roommates will lower housing costs significantly, especially when renting out an individual room inside a home.
  • Accommodations closer to campus may cost more, but living closer to campus, especially near a Duke Bus line, could balance out by saving you in other areas of your budget
  • DukeList, a sort of Craigslist for the Duke Community only, and NearDuke.com, sponsored by our student newspaper, the Chronicle, are great places to search for housing!
  • The Duke Bus system is a great, free option to get around campus. Check out different ways to get around the research triangle with this public transit guide.
    • The Duke Vans service provides free, on-demand shared transportation for students. Rides are available to and from most Duke facilities and to off-campus locations within a 2.5 mile radius. 
  • For those with personal vehicles, plan for upfront costs like a designated parking pass and be mindful that parking is extremely limited Monday-Friday, 8 am - 5 pm. 
  • Ridesharing as a means to travel across campus can be quite costly. 
  • Scooter systems like Bird, Spin, and Lime are present on campus and in the community. Certain populations may receive discounts with these services; read more on the nc.gov site!
  • Many places in Durham are within walking distance from East Campus, including grocery stores, restaurants, shops, and night clubs.
  • Individuals facing food insecurity have campus resources to turn to: The Feed Every Devil program and the Graduate & Professional Student Community Pantry
  • For those on Duke meal plans, budget out food points to stay on target and limit the need to load more points. Check where you should be in food points based on your plan using this chart.
    • If you find you have extra food points that you are not using, consider switching meal plans after a semester to save some extra money.
  • Duke Dining offers Daily Devil Deals, meal options for $5, at nearly every vendor selection on campus 
  • Keep an eye out for when different groups on campus host events that give out free food!
  • Plan ahead for meals and build routine, realistic menus 
  • Once you know your meal rotation or plan for the week, compare deals and specials at different grocery stores
  • Downloading the apps for grocery stores near you can be an easy way to shop around before actually going to the store! 
  • Buying in bulk can save money, but typically require upfront costs like membership fees. Consider splitting the membership costs with family members or friends. 
  • Avoid spending too much on pre-packaged meals as these tend to cost more than cooking with fresh or whole ingredients. 
  • To help save on meal prep time, invest in efficient but low cost appliances like crock pots or air fryers. 
  • Give yourself a realistic budget for snacks on campus, coffee trips, fast food runs, and going out to eat. Look for balance- maybe only go out to a traditional, more expensive sit down option twice a month or only stop for coffees on the days you have class before 10 am. 
  • Limit take out through apps that charge fees higher than standard delivery fees.
  • Textbook rental companies like Chegg, Amazon, and eBay may offer your required course materials at a fraction of the costs 
  • The Duke Library may also have your textbook available for in-library use for free!
  • The Duke Technology Center located in the Duke Store offers a payment plan for those looking to purchase a personal computer
  • Similarly, those looking for more information on the Duke Bursar's Monthly Payment Plan for semester bills can do so on their website!
  • Check out different sites like Duke EventsGroupon, or Event Brite to find fun and low cost things to do in the area.
  • Get creative when hanging out with friends! Different types of theme nights can help mix up the traditional game board, movie, or potluck nights you might be used. 
  • Streaming services can be a great way to cut back on cable costs. Look at platforms that offer student discounts like Spotify and Amazon Prime. Consider sharing streaming service costs with friends!
  • Durham nightlife can have covers from $5-10 on weekends and other high traffic nights. Plan ahead by not going every time or asking a friend to cover your costs.
  • Thrift stores are popular in Durham and can save money and encourage sustainability on school supplies, clothes, and furniture. There are also online sites like ebay.com and Duke hosted events like Devils Thrifthouse throughout the year that can take some financial pressure off looking nice.
  • There are many “Duke in…” programs to take classes in another country.
  • Over the summer, Duke Engage trips occur in Durham, around the country, and even abroad. Use the opportunity to give back to the community and get a stipend for doing so!
  • Consider finding a summer job or internship. If the internship is unpaid, Duke may be able to provide funding through this program offered by the Career Center.
  • Storing your extra boxes in a storage facility can be costly. Try to split costs with a few friends, or ask to store at a house or apartment of a friend nearby.

Additional Duke Finance Resources


List of Housing Near Duke's Campus

Compiled by Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, this site contains servas as the ultimate guide for researching housing options near Duke University. Whether you are focusing on a residence that meets your budget, a home close to Duke's bus system, or are interested in findings areas with the most community, Nearduke.com has the resources to support your housing search! 

Link to Website


It's like Craigslist for the Duke Community! Check out listings for discounted home goods, rental options, and much more! 

Link to DukeList

1:1 Personal Finance Appointments

Need more info on money mamangement as a Duke student? Make an individual appointment with our staff! 

Link to Bookings Page