As someone who lived in one of the most expensive cities (Los Angeles), the difference between what I spent during my undergraduate years at UCLA and IUB was stark. For example, if you went during an inconvenient time during an inconvenient day to the movies, you may spend $15 (which doesn’t include the timed parking which may or may not be free); of course if you went any other time but matinee, you’ll probably be spending $20 per person. In Bloomington, I have never spent more than $8 for a movie.
Now the movies are just one example. I have really enjoyed the IU Auditorium where the prices are far below what you’d normally find on Broadway. Nationally recognized shows come to Bloomington and student prices start at just $20! I have maybe gone to 3 or 4 theatrical productions in my life prior to coming to IU and now I’ve been to that many in just the past year. Bottom line, cost is much less of a factor in whether you are able to go to any one event.
Additionally, everything that could ever be in Bloomington is in walking distance of public transportation. Of course it helps that with your student ID, the city transportation (along with the campus already) is free.
One of the reasons I chose this school over others was that it still had the amenities of city life at a cost at which I could actually enjoy them. And because the school is such a large part of the city, many of the businesses have special deals or events just for students. In my opinion, Bloomington is second-to-none in providing everything that you need and want without having to cost you an arm and leg.