Can you Save Money in USA on H1B or L1 Visa ? Cost of Living ?

Cost of Living in USA on H1B or L1 Visa

by Kumar · 52 comments

One of the many drivers for many internationals to work in America on H1B or L1 Visa is the monetary benefits and savings they can make. The big question is how much money can you save in America ?   What are the typical expenses ?  How much is the cost of living in USA ?  Let me shed some light on these and give you some numbers for getting a high level idea.

Cost of Living in USA on H1B or L1 Visa ?

The below expenses are based on a big assumption that “You are married and living with your spouse, renting your own apartment”.

 

Item Description

Cost in USD ($)

 

Additional Notes on expenses

Rent ( double bed)

1100

This can vary a lot by location you live. In bigger cities, this could be double.  In smaller cities, this could be like about $800 or less.
Car EMI

300

Typical car down payment, if you buy a decent car on loan.
Car Insurance

80

Car insurance varies a lot by driving record and place you live.
Car Gas

100

Average, if you have less commute. It can vary a lot by your travel.
Phone

85

If you have family plan with mobile carrier.
Groceries

300

All the vegetables, snacks, etc. for cooking food.
Utilities

100

Electricity + Cooking Gas + Water. This varies by region, in cold places, make sure you take where heat is included.
International Calling

30

Calling home and others in home country
Eat Out

100

This varies by your food habits. Assuming you take a lunch box to office, this is just for eating out in weekends or occasionally
Movies, shopping, other misc. expenses

150

This again varies. If you buy lot of clothes and other items, it will be very high.
Total Expense

2345

Total

 

You can even save more or spend more based on your lifestyle. I have not included any expenses related to your travel, buying clothes, other home setup things like Sofas, dining tables, chairs, etc.  Also, if you have kids, you will encounter some more expenses, which are not included in above.

If you make about $60,000 USD per year in USA, which is $5000 per month (Gross Salary).

For instance, if you live in a state like Wisconsin, your take home Net Salary  would be $3,700 per month ( approximate)

Approximate Savings in State like WI

Gross Salary  ( Per month) $5000
Net Salary   ( after taxes, per month) $3,700
Monthly Expenses $2345
Net Saving $1355

 

All the above numbers are highly indicative and can vary based on state. Also, the take home or net salary varies by state with state taxes.

It is important that you understand the baseline savings that you can make, when you work on H1B Visa or L1 visa.  Just looking at 60,000 USD per year, without considering taxes and your expenses, will give you wrong perceptions about savings and your financial planning.

Did I miss any expenses ? How are your expenses living in US ?

You can also read Cost of living in USA as Student on F1 Visa

 

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam September 14, 2014 at 1:48 am

Hello, I got a offer of 75000 /yr offer from ATL / GA. How much saving can be done with 2+2 kids family ? I can easily get around 10 lac / yr job in india. Is it good decision to migrte it to usa ? Appreciate the response.

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Adams123 September 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

For a family of 4 ( older kids 10-15) in NJ to live a decent and “respectable” life. Rent and utilities 2200, two ordinary cars ( $ 500) , gas ( 200) , auto Insurance $ 150 per month, groceries – $ 700, other expenses like home items, clothes etc $ 200, classes for children ( music, soccer etc) $ 300, eating out – 300, vacations and India trips apportioned on a montly basis- $ 300, monthly bus for school ( NJ they do charge for public school busing depending on how far you live from school) $ 100. I am not including any more real lifestyle expenses or expenses of mortgage and other family in India. So at a household income of $ 80 K , it is a wash! . Of course, you can cut corners, live in basic accos, eat little or nothing and never spend a penny outside to save but why come to the US when you cannot get a taste of the quality of life here? Don’t look at savings until you work hard and grow up the ladder quickly to make the 120K plus salaries. This is a great land that rewards those who can push themselves hard – remember, everyone works 40 hours a week, successfull ones work 60 hours or more with all other things equal! That is when you can do a 25% savings rate.

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Deepak July 20, 2014 at 12:19 am

Hello Friends,

I am going to Orlando, Florida this december along with my wife and 3 yrs old son (both on H4). My package break up is like:
- Base Salary: $70,000 per year
- Benefit Allocation: $10,000 (this will include health insurance, cell phone, internet connection …)
- Year End Bonus

I am yet to clearify from my employer about Benefit allocation if it is included in the basic salary or additional.
I am looking for an estimate of monthly fixed expenses.
Rent, Taxes (no state tax there I guess), food, phone, electricity, water, internet, school.
Will I be able to do some saving or it will be difficult to manage. Anybody from that location or who knows the expenses there well, could you please help.

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Anand June 10, 2014 at 4:16 am

If you are living in the bay area, that is, San Jose, Fremont, Sunnyvale then following is the breakup of probable expenses and savings.

http://thetomorrowbeckons.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-much-would-it-professional-save-in.html

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Graduate student May 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

take home $1404/month
groceries $300/month
rent $600/month
utilities $200/month
savings $ 300 /month
living in upstate NY.

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SingleGuy May 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I am amazed to know that people get so good salaries (60K, 75K…).
I get 48K annually (courtesy of the company I work for) , i am single, bought a car, rented an apartment and do some savings..
After few months, you will come to know what fits into budget and what doesn’t.. Where to buy and where not to.. And if you just see what you ‘need’, you will spend wisely, but if you see what you ‘want’ , any salary in the world is not enough..

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BoredGuy May 2, 2014 at 5:44 am

What are the deductions from my salary ?
Tax information – State Tax – http://taxes.about.com/od/statetaxes/a/highest-state-income-tax-rates.htm ; Federal Tax – http://taxes.about.com/od/Federal-Income-Taxes/fl/Federal-Income-Tax-Rates-for-the-Year-2014.htm
This is what I have put together from the various websites:
Federal Tax – 10%
State Tax – 6%
Social Security – 6.45%
Medicare – 1.45%
Is there anything else ( leaving aside medical and dental insurance costs) they will deduct from my salary ? Also, what will be the minimum / maximum cost of Medical + Dental insurance that will be deducted by my employer ?

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nandini April 22, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Hii,
With the pay of 120000$ per annum can we survive and save enough of money in sanfranscico… What will be the total cost of expense for husband and wife?? Please tell me

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anumita June 4, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Hi Nandini,

SF has one of the most expensive housing prices in the US. Having said that, a pay of $120K is pretty decent. Depending on whether you wanna live in the city or the outer districts your rent could vary between 4k(in the city) to 2500 around the SFSU area. Public Transportation is gr8 within the city so that should work up to 100 bucks for the MUNI/BART or a little more if you intend to use a car. Utilities and other costs work up to the estimates above in the article. Depending on your spending habits you can live quite comfortably in SF.

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Anand June 10, 2014 at 4:21 am

SFO is costly than the other bay area cities like San Jose, Sunnyvale, Fremont. You may try to the option of staying in Fremont and traveling to SFO using BART. For your information, here is the expenses v/s savings for the bay area cities:
http://thetomorrowbeckons.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-much-would-it-professional-save-in.html

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Karan February 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Hi,

I’m making Rs 17 lac per annum (gross salary) in India. It translates to roughly 1.10 lac per month after taxes.
I’m expecting an offer soon from US employer in St. Pete. What should be a good enough salary there? I’m willing to accept the offer only if I can save 2500 $ per month. I’m single.

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Kiran July 28, 2014 at 9:37 am

Hi Karan,

I am in a similar situation and would like to know more about the offer u got and how much u are able to save?
Actually i am also not interested to go if my savings is anywhere below $2000K in US.

Regards

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Holy January 27, 2014 at 10:35 am

Hello everybody.

Company I work offered me to transfer to the US with a salary of $70000/yr. I wonder if you can tell me if this amount is enough to live in San Antonio, TX. I am married and have two kids.

Thanks.

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pranab January 19, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Hi, i am coming to Seattle usa on march 2014 on l1-b visa. Is this visa good for long term work ? Or i need to apply any other visa. Also my gross sal will be 97000. I will be single living here. How much cost of living will b here. How much i will b able to save ?

Thanks, pranab

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Rajesh May 4, 2014 at 5:32 am

Hope you had a good flight and settled now in Seattle . I am trying to find cost of living at Seattle . Can you please share your email /contact to get more info ?

thanks,
Rajesh.

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Babu December 10, 2013 at 2:14 am

Hi,

Can anybody provide an estimation of the Cost of Living in Durham, North Carolina for a Family (with Kid).

Thanks
Babu

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Ashok November 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

Folks,

I would be travelling to New York soon with salary around 62K. I heard that NY is too expensive. Can someone help in understanding whether I will be able to survive with this salary in NY? Forget about big savings, I am happy if I am able to survive in NY with my take home pay.
PS: I am single and would be in a shared room.

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Prasheek December 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

we’ve bent to tour in NYC for 3 nights,we found stay at one gujju’s (potel) cheap level dorm system hostel kinda motel for $35 a night.was quite clean though.
it was on 41 the avenue,straight left from greyhound port authority,in beside of NY times office.was preety cheap but was shared though.

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Prakash March 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

For NYC, you can stay in Jersey City on shared accommodation with your friends or colleagues.. As a bachelor you would spend approx 800 Min – 1100 Max per month including all your expenses.

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virgo123 November 23, 2013 at 10:25 am

Hi,
I will be getting 75k for a San Jose job and planning expenses,along with a wife , as under.Is it realistic :
rent 1500
food 300
travel 200
office café for lunch/per month 200
utilities/calling 150
weekends 100
medical 300
expenses 2750
tax 1867
Savings 1633

Reply

221g london November 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

Hi Saurab,
I attended h1b interview at London consulate. They issued me 221 g form saying she need to do some administrative processing. and asked to send below documents to email id mentioned in the form
CV
List of publications
Invitation letter from sponsoring institution in US
Employment letter .

I m confused about List of publications .

any one in the forum faced similar kind of issue..

Please suggest me .

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H1B Visa Approved November 23, 2013 at 5:55 am

Can Anyone tell me how is albuquerque,NM as a location. Also is $62000 salary enough for this location. How much will be the take home salary?

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Prasheek gaikwad November 23, 2013 at 6:14 am

62k >after taxes >41550> 3500 PM net take home.
Least household gonna depend on your life style,exm. min rent 500,food 500-800 ,,groceriess 150,cellphone 100,gas 200 (well,If you can afford car),,,,,

I save around $2500,where I was told 75k.where My back home chennai,salary was 6 lcs pa.so its all you gonna get double bucks wht you get bck in hm.best of luck & welcome to stats hommyyy.
All around if you’r here for exposure,its good savings gonna be second point.

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H1B Visa Approved November 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm

@Prasheek,

Are you in US…? You were saying you save $ 2500..If you dont mind can u tell me what is your gross salary?

I am asking above ques to confirm savings to salary ratio even though it depends on your lifestyle and the cost of living of the place where u r staying.

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Prasheek November 24, 2013 at 12:07 am

Hey Bud I don’t know Howmuch you gonna save or spend,I shared my past which is going to be your provisional experience in stats.Infact whatI’ve wrought-up was just minimum base expenses,so It may be less savings for you.well about me,I bent here on L1(55k NY) to h1(75kCL) since 2010 from Polaris software,but soon going to move back home for some family future cause m single & Havnt been to home due to stamping issues.I hope this infos will help you a lot.Btw apart savings, USA working exposure gonna help you a lot.

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guest21 October 1, 2013 at 4:46 am

Also, Please tell me, flat 30% tax includes federal, state and medical insurance?

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guest21 October 1, 2013 at 4:38 am

how much is the state tax in San Jose, California?
Is 70000$/year is sufficient to survive in San Jose, CA for a family(2 members). Please reply.

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Someone November 7, 2013 at 1:54 am

Might be a bit difficult but doable. Don’t expect to save anything much.

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H1b_Gunjan_2013_Michigan September 23, 2013 at 9:45 am

Hi Saurabh and Forum Team ,

I have got H1B Visa for Auburn Hills, Michigan . Base Salary : 60077 USD and 2300 for Medical Insurance . I am single so no family. Can you please help me to know useful things being in USA.
1) How to find apartment nearby auburn hills? ((Big Challenge for Me)) > There are no seniors or other members :( in Auburn Hills .
2) How to find Public Transport availability ? Should I buy a car ? I have Indian Driving L. If not what should I do to get USA Driving L
3) And very silly but a qn .. When I come out of Airport ? Taxi ? CAB ?
Please pls help me :( I ll be thankful to all .
-Gunjan

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Use Google September 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm

For the love of god, they are paying you 60K a year and you have these knd of questions to ask! Why don’t you use the millions of websites to find acco, also you should find a place close to work if not you need to get a car. FYI taxi and cab are the same thing! Can you not post in community sites asking people who actually live there these questions?

I still don’t know who is willing to pay you 60K

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Akki September 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Dude….just take a cab for first month and in mean while fix yourself with a car. As you NEED one in metro Detroit area.

And for your all other questions please research a little …it’s not that hard.

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vijaya September 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

my husband s h1 aproved.his salary per year $75000 in detroit. is a good salary? help me any one.

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Akki September 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

75000 is good but you need to understand that cost of living will vary a lot depending upon the neighborhood you choose to live in.

And also depends upon your lifestyle . :) . Welcome to Metro Detroit

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sam June 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I was getting $70,000 in Minnesota at one point, but barely could save $1000 per month, with no kids and moderate lifestyle.

You have to definitely consider the following expenses:

1. Health insurance cost- $300-$500 per month
2. Doctor visits/check-ups – $200-$600 per year (for healthy family)
3. Internet and cable- $50 per month
4. Receration/visiting places- $1000-$2000 per year
5. Eating out- $100- $300
6. Shopping- $100- $300 per month
7. Initial settlement cost (buying furniture etc)- $ 500- $2000
8. State Tax in Minnesota- $350 approx.
9. School expenses for children- $100-$200 (there are other expenses even though basic education is free)

Also in case you are reffered toa hsopital for check-ups (scan\ultrasound\minor surgery), this can cost you say between- $200 – $5000 , or even more depending on your insurance coverage.

Going to USA for $55,000 is a risk , unless you are confident about getting a higher salary in few months.

Thanks,
Sam

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VJK June 7, 2013 at 6:59 am

Thanks Sam,

This is really helpful information for me.

VJK

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Diya July 9, 2013 at 1:43 am

Very helpful!! Can one stay in USA with only one income family with only husband working if spouse is on H4 visa and does not have work permit?

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Saurabh July 9, 2013 at 1:52 am

Diya,
It all comes down to what salary the H-1 holder is getting, what location the person is in and how much they want to spend on a monthly basis.

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vasim dodiya October 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Lolllzzz I just had an dental Root canal surgery in my mouth N I loose almost my 4 months salary savings.Yet not married otherwise I could save nothing in albany Ny,better to stay back india if you’r earning 50k-60pm.Believe it or not then choice all yours.think T(2)WiSe.

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Saurabh October 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

vasim dodiya,
Bad dental insurance?

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VJK June 4, 2013 at 6:25 am

Hi,

I have H1B and planning to move US sometime first week of August to Minnesota, MN.
Can somebody help me in getting an expenses charter (may be approx) as i will be joined by my spouse and 2 kids. 1 will be school going kid (6 yrs old).
Also please appraise me about applicable taxes both state and federal.

Thanks,
VJK

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Myself May 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Any idea how much would car insurance cost in the USA for let’s say a new Elantra or similar

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Myself May 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Let’s say in LA, californa

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sudheer mangalpady March 26, 2013 at 9:13 am

Almost close but travel is a big ticket item especially with families. India (>1000/ticket) and within US atleast $3000 – $5000 a year for a family works atleast 300/month.

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Kumar March 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

Its totally depends how you are living in USA. I have seen some of my friends spending as little as $500 per month and still surviving. they never eat out. They didn’t bought any car and always have some one whom they ask for lift. Sharing two bedroom 1 bath apartment with 5 more guys. I was surprised when they told me the breakdown of money spent every month and how much they saved after just 10 months living in US. I was living at the same place from last 2 year and was not able to save even half the money that they have saved. And this apply to only bachelors as no family can live like that and save money.
As I said its totally depends on you and your aim. Whether you are coming to US just to save money or enjoy the culture and explore new world.

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Arun March 6, 2013 at 4:27 am

Sir, Can you please share the details of where I can get to know the taxes charged for different locations in USA.

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abi January 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Everything makes sense to me. The big loop hole here is that I don’t know anyone who settles down to a pay as low as 60000$/yr even after getting married and having children. Not even 10-15% fall into this category. They usually make a lot more and many make sure that the other person works too. So now you see a huge difference in savings and that ‘s the reason everyone still wants to be here. Apart from money its about the lifestyle you experience. With a 300 – 500$ car payment you will probably be driving a Merc or BMW if you like but like wise in India even a Sonata is not possible.

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soorya January 16, 2013 at 12:57 am

Hi,

You should also think of Medical Insurance for spouse and kids (if any).. Certain companies put this burden on the employee and the cost could go as high as $500 for a family with 2 kids.

Calbe(time warner/AT&T) is usually around $50 since you want a high speed connection for streaming Indian/regional channels using yupp tv.

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Kishore January 15, 2013 at 1:36 am

H1B Approved

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Raja January 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

You had forgot about the trips people make in a year. Atleast 2 trips pre year. So on an average 1000-1500$ per year on trips.

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Karsh January 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I think Cable and Internet is also a monthly necessity.

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Prasad January 11, 2013 at 6:30 am

Every thing matching my expensis in Atlanta, GA. But you missed health insurance and fedaral/state taxes which is around $250.

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Ankit January 11, 2013 at 8:42 am

i think those are the part of your gross salary so his calculation about 3700 take home is correct and it does consider fedaral/state taxes

Reply

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