Cost of Living in USA on H1B or L1 Visa

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

In Living in USA by Kumar316 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.
Health Insurance (Optional)

100 to 200

This is optional as many of the decent employers give health insurance, so I will not add this expense for total calculations.
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

 

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Comments ( 316 )

  1. Moorthy

    I am planning to move to Burlington,MA soon from india with L1B. I am a bachelor. I have been offered 65K dollar per annum. Could you pls give me a fair estimate on savings and expenses ?

    Thanks,
    Moorthy

  2. mittal

    Hi Guys,

    I am planning to move to san jose ,CA.
    What could be the average expense and tax for 100k salary for L1.
    Some website shows 22k tax and someone mentioned around 40k so please guide what would total tax on 100k for 2 dependent.
    I will travelling with wife and kid (less than one year)
    I heard it is very expesnive and hard to save in such salary.
    What could initial cost of setting up home (Bed/TV/Sofa/Kitchen) ?
    Any additional advice appreciable.
    Rent for 1 bhk ?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Mittal,

      You can go to any online calculator and do this yourself. Set state as California, deductions as 3 (you, your wife, your kid) and filing status as married filing jointly.

      As for the rent, go to sfbay.craigslist.org and look for apartments in and around San Jose.

      For furniture, you can start off w/ second hand stuff sold on craigslist. Lot of them is good (people sell it for dirt cheap when relocating) or buy from Ikea.

      Bay Area is expensive in general, and when coming on L-1, you would be stuck w/ the employer. Your wife can apply for EAD and can add to household income. If the child has to be sent to daycare, then those expenses also add-up.

  3. Abhayankar

    Hi
    My Wife has got an offer for $62K in Virginia (as a chiropractor) I will be joining her during my MBA by end of the year. Will we be able to manage 2 possible senarios:
    a) My wife + me + 4 year old son (Cost for our living(rent food utility car gas etc) son’s education medical etc
    b) My wife + 4 year old son (Cost for our living(rent food utility car gas etc) son’s education medical etc and me living and spending separately in another state (based on MBA offer)

    Can you suggest which scenario is possible to afford with the $62K

  4. Pooja

    I wish to pursue advance diploma in HR in usa. I am single. What will be my living cost in usa if i live in college hostel? What are kob prospects for HR professionals there andcsalaries?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Pooja,
      It varies by school. The admission letter will list the exact fees or you can check the University website that you are applying to get those details. I cannot advise on the prospects, you will need to your research…

  5. Vinay

    Hi All,

    I hold a valid H1B visa which is already stamped. But, my current employer is not able to identify any project for me @onsite and its been 8 months since my stamping.Frustrated with this, I started taking up interviews and to my luck I have cleared an interview and got and offer of14L per annum pkg in INDIA. Now, my current employer is asking me to travel on a temporary project to NewJersey and later I will be moved to charlotte for a long term project for $66000.
    I am in a confused state . Can you please suggest which option is better? Onsite or offshore?

    1. VJ

      People go to US for 3 reasons
      1) To spend few years in US , save some money and come back
      2) Go for GC and try to settle down permanently
      3) Just to explore and visit US

      If 3 is valid for you can go, if your goal is 1 or 2, then currently offshore option seems better.

  6. Ramu Chacha

    Can a family survive with salary of 62K in California area? I am not going to the US to save, I just want to see the place and roam around for 3 years, so saving is not an issue. I am just worried if I would be able to travel and manage occasional medical expenses. Has anyone achieved this feat yet 🙂 Also, the visa is H1b so I will change later if I have to.

    P.S.: I am going for sure, just wanted to know if I would have to beg on the streets in addition to working in office 😀

    1. VJ

      It depends on what part of california you are going to. If it is bay area, then it will be really difficult to roam around (roaming around too needs money). One more factor is whether you will be alone or with family.

      1. Ramu Chacha

        Thanks VJ, I will be with family and possibly admit my kid to some pre-school in 6 months and then send him to school. Total in hand salary would be around 3700 PM I guess. So below is what I am looking at.

        2000 – Rent + Utility
        500 – Food + Household
        500 – Kids Education and wife + my occasional shopping
        50 % medical – 300 $

        I now have only 400 % to go to office and and save for travel. Is this accurate?

        1. VJ

          Preschool of kid alone will cost you around 600.
          Rent + Utilities in bay area can easily be around 2500 (for 1bed room apartment).
          If you are a software engineer, then the average salary in bay area is around 100K. So you can negotiate on your salary.

          1. Ramu Chacha

            Thanks much! It is a take it or leave it situation, no room for negotiation. I will see how it goes once I land. It could be anywhere in CA so I am hoping some areas would be cheaper than the other and possibly I can have a longish commute to save on rent. If all else fails, change job after 6 months.

  7. Rana

    Hi
    Can you please tell cost of living in Pennsylvania. With minimum of how much salary, a small family (husband, wife nd 3yr kid) can survive.
    Thank you.

    1. Pkan

      I am working out in Philadelphia and staying in the suburb PA with my wife (30 mins by train).

      1BHK rent – 960$ (some ppl pay 800$ in same apartment)
      utilities – 50$ internet (company pays) + 40$ electricity +80$(heat+water+apartment charges)
      Groceries – 250 -300$
      Mobile bill for 2 lines- 60$
      Train pass – 140$
      eating out – 100$

  8. Saty

    Hi,

    I am expecting L1 offer of $70000 per year (with out Tax deductions) and location is San Diago, CA.

    I am married, have 4 year Kid and my wife is housewife

    Please advise if this is manageable Salary. and how much i can save in a year ?

    1. Navneeth

      Hi Saty,

      I have been living in San Diego, CA for 4 years now. You can survive with 70k here with your family but savings could be a bit difficult. It depends on your life style as well. So good luck.

  9. Chimsu236

    Is 73k in Reno, Nevada good package..I am going with my wife. Can you tell me if I can save enough there? What is the cost of living in Reno?

  10. Bipin Dash

    Hi ,

    I am getting 60k$ per annum from my employer.I am going to riverview florida.
    I am bachelor.Could you please let me know how much I can save ?In india I have 16k $ per annum.

    Thanks,
    Bipin

  11. Amit Joshi

    Hi,
    I completed my Civil Engineering Diploma in 2007. I have 11+year experience in civil engineering and management, Now I want to move to USA, but i want job in management sector please suggest me the best sector for me….management or engineering and the best package in?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Amit Joshi,
      If you plan to work in US, you need to find a work visa ( H1B Visa ) sponsor. For this year, the H1B quota is over. You will need to find a company that is in US or MNC that can sponsor you H1B visa for next year quota and apply through them.

  12. Suhail

    HI ,

    I am planning to move to BOSTON,MA soon from india with H1B dependent wife and 4 yr old kid. I have been offered 60K dollar per annum. Could you pls give me a fair estimate on savings and expenses ?

    1. Pravin

      Hi

      cost of living in Boston & suburbs is expensive as compared to other cities. Based on current rental market 1BHK is around $1400- $1800, Car Insurance is expensive and for rest of the expenses i would say would be more or less as per the detailed expense shared

  13. @T..

    Hi, I am working in India as a Software Performance Tester. I am getting 10Lpa for my current role. My exp is 5 years. I am 2010 Btech passout. I am single and currently planning to go to US for MS. to be specific I am from an average private college with an average grade(63% along with a few carry overs) for my B_Tech. Please let me know some benefits/drawbacks I might face monetarily in both short term and long term. I am a sharp minded person and was distracted a lot during my education and initial years of caarrer and made it till now with almost zero efforts.

      1. T

        My motive towards study in US is career and money oriented. So i think i will get a reservation under student visa for 3 years(last year of my stud+OTP) correct me if i am wrong about staying in student visa category during my OTP period.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          It is OPT. There is nothing called reservation. You will need to complete your course and then apply for OPT…Most of the times OPT gets approved, but you need to find a job to retain your OPT within certain amount of time. You need to be clear that, if things do not work out, you may have to return with H1B lottery…be aware of the fee you pay and other circumstances and make an informed decision.

  14. Rohan

    Thank you for detailed breakup in the cost and all these member comments are also very helpful. I am trying to understand for L1 visa job that I have been offered 120k plus bonuses is good enough money for a couple in New York ? We don’t have any children and we don’t have any liabilities in India. However we are very outgoing and like to enjoy to the fullest. With this job, will we be able to have a same life in the states ? Especially NYC as the city in itself is expensive. We also want to stay in the city and enjoy the city life, I understand the rentals can be high. Can someone give us a clear picture?

    1. Ana

      I am having two opportunities…one in Plano Tx salary will be 103000 and other in Fairfax VA having $ 145000 offer . Can you please suggest me which place is better if we campare savings ,cost of living as well as in future if I want to buy house there ?

    2. administrator
      Saurabh

      Rohan,

      I think it is a decent salary. Not handsome, but decent. Advantage of being on L-1 is that your spouse is eligible to apply for L-2 EAD and can add to the family income. I am not from NYC, so cannot give a more detailed breakdown.

    3. Kunal

      I am coming to Little Rock, Arkansas (US) for 1 year. My company offered me USD 80K per year. I am married with 4 year Old Son.

      Will 80K is sufficient for Little Rock, i just want to live a simple life there with a common basic necessities.

      Can someone just give me an average cost about, schooling, grocery, other utilities like gas, cable, internet, water, electricity and all…

      this way I will get some idea about the average cost i have to spend per month.

      Also what will be Income Tax rate on L1-B Visa, if my stay in US will be more than a year.

  15. Amit Joshi

    Hi,
    I am amit joshi (33year age) from rajasthan, I have my own construction company, 12 year experience in engineering and management field, I earned approx 30-35 lacs yearly, now i want to migrate to US, but i am confuse for the field of job i did diploma in civil engineering but i want the job in management, i got many jobs of project management but did not applied
    please suggest me for the field and minimum salary…

    1. Curid

      Hi Amit

      It is not possible to migrate to US with construction/civil experience. Except for technology jobs, it is nearly impossible to find an employer who will file a H1b visa as there are enough American workers available for those jobs.

      You should look for other countries, may be.

  16. Rinku

    Hi,

    I am having around 13 K annual income in India. I have H1-B visa and would be travelling to Houston, tx on 78K annual salary along with my wife and 3 year old kid for 1 year.

    Need you help and suggestion on cost of living or an average monthly expenditure (including school fee of my child).

    How much i will be able to save on monthly basis.

    Thanks in advance

    1. VJ

      Your approximate income/month after tax = $5000
      House Rent + utilities = $1500
      Kids school – $500-$1000
      Groceries etc = $500- $800
      Medical insurance – depends on your employer(if employer doesn’t provide insurance, then around $1000 for family)
      Rest depends on your life style.

      If you are not extravagant, then you can save around $1500-$2000.

  17. Deepu

    My company is offering me L1 visa with 75K for Hermitage, Tenneesse location. I am married (houese wife) and have one year old boy. Will i be saving any money with this salary if i accept the offer.

    My current salary in India is 13 L.

    Please suggest

    1. Curid

      Irrespective of savings, people have desire to go to US anyways. Why question then.. Lol.. Will you skip the offer with an advise from a stranger in a public forum? What ever advise you get, you will finally decide to go to US, why bother asking then.

  18. Om

    Hi All,

    I would need your suggestion to take my decision. I am currently earning 16 Lac/Annum in India & working as IT manager. My company has offered me USD 76K salary in L1A & Phoenix (AZ) will be my location. I will be coming here with my wife (not working) & son (7 years old)
    Please suggest on following –
    1) Should I take this offer of US? If yes, how much can I save?
    2) Is 76K proper for my experience level of 12 years in IT? Should I ask for more? If yes how much?

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Om,

      76K for 12 year experience looks on the lower side. Although your son would be able to get public education for free, yet there are lot of other monthly expenses like rent, cable, gas, insurance etc which will keep your monthly savings to minimal.

      In addition, b/c this is L-1A you cannot change employers/job. See if you can get a better salary.

    2. VJ

      You can get around 1 lac/annum in arizona based on your experience. But the indian companies always tend to be on lower side of salary. you can negotiate with your employer. if you get 90k, i think you can accept.

  19. Mani

    My husband is working in Spokane, Washington state and his income is 40,000USD per annum. We are planning to move there as a family with 1 year old kid ( J2 dependent visa) and my mom ( B1 visa).
    Please share the cost of living and possibility of saving in this region.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Mani,

      I don’t know the expenses in Spokane, but 40K for a family of 3 would be too low. You may survive but there won’t be much of savings.

      How much is your husband able to save there now as a single person?

  20. Anonymous

    I have 5 years of experience as a java Developer and my current salary is 6lacs/PA, A consulting company named Tech Brains Solutions inc had filed for my h1b, on LCA salary mentioned is 60k USD, i am awaiting for my visa interview in couple of weeks, they have asked me to sign a contract of 2 years and if any thing happens in between i wil hav to pay fine of 15K USD,

    the consulting firm is based in NJ however i dont know which state i wil be working in as i wil be sent to work for other clients

    should i take this oppurtunity and come to US would i be able to save a lot of money atleast 1.5lac/month???

    and what questions should i ask my employer or things that i should know beforehand… please guide me as i m really nervous about it

    Thanks

    1. Vj

      Are you single or having a family? A lot depends on that? Even if you are single. It will be almost impossible to save 1.5 lacs/month. A big portion will go into taxes. Accomodation and medical. Then comes your internet, phone and car expenses. It depends on your life style too

      1. Anonymous

        I am single and live lower to moderate life, after all my expenses i should be able to save atleast 1 lakh ?can i? otherwise whats the point of going so far away from family…

    1. Amit

      A single bedroom in multi bedroom should cost you around $600 -$900 in NJ. The above table does not include medial costs. Usually some companies take around $100 per month for Health benefits premium from paycheck pre-tax. Usually lower the monthly premium more the Deductible. After tax + medical premium you are looking at take home pay of $4600 per months.

      You can save anywhere from $1500-$2500 depending on your life style. Look good on paper but not in reality.

      – Amit

      1. administrator
        Kumar

        Amit,
        Great point on health insurance, I missed that. I have added that iteam as an optional expense to the above table. Thank you !

  21. rahul

    Reposting –

    Hello Experts,
    My company transfer from Delhi to NYC/Manhattan being offered 120k+18bonus. Married with no kids.
    Could someone please give us an updated breakup for cost of living and money we can save.
    appreciate your help in advance

    Rahul

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Rahul,
      The above table in the article lists everything itemized. Just consider Rent as about 3000 USD, if you plan to stay close to the NY city. If not, that can come down to 1500 USD as well.

  22. Vishnu

    Hi All,

    I will be getting a job in Santa clarita CA in L1 visa with 60k salary before tax.
    Can anyone guide is this advisible to come to USA with my wife & 3 kids.
    My salary in India is 7 LPA & living in chennai.
    I am confused a lot to take this decision.
    Can I save any money if I move to USA with my family.
    Pls guide me.

    Thanks in advance
    Vishnu

    1. administrator
      Saurabh

      Vishnu,

      60K for a family of 5 in CA is pretty less. CA is one of the most expensive states to live in and has one of the highest tax rates.

      I assume when you say L-1, then your current Indian employer is the one sending you to US. Can you negotiate the salary w/ them?

  23. rahul

    Hello Experts,
    Took me really long to read all 249 comments – was very useful, my company transfer from Delhi to NYC being offered 120k+18bonus. Married with no kids.
    Could someone please give us an updated breakup for cost of living and money we can save.
    appreciate your help in advance

    Rahul

  24. Prem

    Hi my present company offering me l1b with 120k to move MA or NH.right now my CTC was 18 lak and I have a kid of 1 year. Can I how much I can save if I live in nausha NH.

      1. Prem

        Hi Sourabh,

        Thanks for quick reply.Can I know how much I can save monthly if my company pays me 90k? It will be more helpful for me while discussing with my company.Thanks you Sourabh in advance

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Prem,
          Don’t know as I have never lived there. Maybe there are online calculators available that can help you with this.

  25. Sac

    Any idea what will be in hand salary for 170000 USD in NJ
    we are trying to migrate just to have feel of US for couple of years
    Family with 1 Kid

    Thanks
    Sac

    1. AA

      ADP Tax calculator is quite accurate for this(except medicare which varies from company to company):

      http://www.adp.com/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-tools/payroll-calculators/salary-paycheck-calculator.aspx

      1. Sac

        Thanks AA, i tried it but i am quite unaware about W4 and other exemptions in taxes , so wanted to get rough idea about how much you end up giving as Taxex+medicare +etc….

        1. administrator
          Saurabh

          Sac,
          In the link above, select NJ, set state/federal filing status to Married, number of exemptions to 2 (your wife and child) and it would give you the take home salary.

  26. Gocooleshwar readdy

    Need some urgent Tips to save maximum per diem for my US visit .
    Hi All,

    This is chitresh from TCS Hi tech city Hyderabad. TCS is sending me to New Jersy for Johnson & Johnson Project. I want to save maximium per diem allowance. What should I do?
    I have already done the following things:

    1) I have packed 7 kgs of Rice , 7 bottles of Pickels and 2 dozen maggy noodles.
    2) I have packed 2 dozen of medimix bath soap.
    3) 6 tubes of shaving cream.

    How much does a hair cut costs in America?
    Without taking bath, how many days I can go on? I hope this will cut down my consumption of soap and shampoo.
    My colleagues told me visit Mac Donalads for Lunch and dinner. Is it cheap?
    Whether pirated telugu movies are available in New Jersy?
    Can I access idlebrain.com at client site?
    Can I get curd rice and rassam in new jersy?

    What else I need to take with me?

    1. Ramesh

      Are you serious ? With this .. Your trying to save soap by skipping bath ? And coming here you want pirated movies also ? I am speechless after reading this comment from you

    2. Varun

      Why don’t u buy a packet of bread for 3 dollars instead of going to mcdonalds. U can survive for 2 days on 3 dollars. Come on man. Give us a break. What’s wrong with u. Americans laugh on Indians because of this kind of mentality.

    3. sabarish

      I’m assuming this wasn’t seriously posted. But nice to read how not to live a life. Living in US from India or elsewhere is a way of upgrading your living . Not the other way around 🙂

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