Managing the VISTA Budget

Living off of the VISTA living allowance is difficult, but not impossible if you manage your budget right. In fact, some VISTAs have even been able to save throughout their service year!


If you are moving to New York from another state, finding affordable housing may be one of the most stressful things about relocating. Unfortunately, our program does not provide housing, but we do everything we can to help you along the way. 

Good Eats!

We all have to eat! But finding affordable food can be a challenge when you are on a budget and new to the area. We have compiled some resources to make this more manageable for you. 

Local Resources

Many VISTAs move from across the country with as much as they can fit in the back of their car—which usually isn't much. The Capital District is full of resources, you just have to know what they are.

Having Fun on a Budget

There's no shortage of things to do in the Capital District, whether it's visiting some of Albany's historic sites or taking a day trip in the mountains to explore the Adirondacks. 

VISTA Campus

The VISTA Campus is the one-stop shop for all things VISTA. The VISTA Campus contains great resources that are useful before, during and after your service. As a part of the on boarding process you MUST create a VISTA campus account. This account will lead you through the Pre-Service Orientation for AmeriCorps including their required coursework and on boarding forms. 

The VISTA campus also offers many educational tools that you can use to navigate your way through your service year. We highly encourage you to utilize the resources offered on the VISTA campus website below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When do VISTA Fellows AmeriCorps members start service?

We have two cohorts. Our Winter Cohort typically starts in February. Our Summer Cohort will typically start in July.

Q: Is housing provided?

No, we do not provide housing to VISTA fellows. Many of our incoming VISTA fellows choose to search for housing and room together. We can also provide a contact for a real estate agent who can help you find places to live in the capital region. Compared to many other places in New York the capital region is a more affordable place to live but it can still be quite challenging on the set living allowance. On average, rent in the capital region can range from anywhere from $500-$1,000.

Q: Where should I live? 

VISTA Fellows are encouraged to live within a reasonable distance from their Service Site. We also recommend you do your research;  you can use websites like or City-Data to find out which neighborhood is a good fit for you. 

Q: If I am accepted, how can I find additional information about the Capital Region and other incoming AmeriCorps members?

Before you start your service, you will have access to our VISTA Fellows Facebook Group page. You can search for roommates, learn about affordable housing, or simply get to know and connect with other VISTA Fellows.

Q: Does AmeriCorps pay for moving expenses?  

The Corporations for National and Community Service will reimburse members for vehicle mileage, or their purchase of air and train tickets to relocate for service. CNCS uses Rand McNally to determine the mileage and is reimbursed at the current federal rate. Those members moving more than 50 miles from their "home of record" will receive a $550 “Settling-in Allowance” in their first paycheck.   

Q: Will I need a car for VISTA Service?

As a Siena College VISTA fellow, you are given a Siena College ID which serves as an unlimited Bus Pass for the CDTA system. The CDTA system is pretty efficient and an appropriate alternative to a vehicle in the Albany Area. A car may be recommended for those living or saving at sites outside of the Albany area, in places such as Troy or Schenectady, or based on the needs of your Site.

Q: Am I able to have an additional (part-time) job?

Yes, based on CNCS policy you are allowed to seek outside employment but,  you must be able to still commit to full-time service at your site

Q: What are the hours?

Members follow the schedule of a typical business day, which varies by partner organization. A full-time member serves approximately 40 hours per week at the partner organization. 

Q: What does it mean to be a part of a VISTA "cohort"? 

VISTA Fellows meet at least once a month for Team Building Days and are encouraged to collaborate and connect with one another both inside and out of work. This cohort of VISTAs provides a supportive peer-learning environment for our members as they grow and overcome obstacles during their terms of service.

Q: Where will I be placed for service?

There are many factors that will determine your placement. We take into account your initial interview, The preferences of the supervisors from your site interview, and your own preferences and background experience, to determine your site placement.

Q: What do VISTA Fellows typically do after completing service? 

VISTA is committed to preparing members for post-service life. Many members go on to grad school, find jobs at their host sites, or through connections made during their service years, or complete a second year of service.

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