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How much Money can you Save in USA on H1B/L1 Visa? Living Cost ?

One of the many drivers for many internationals to work in America on H1B or L1 Visa is their ability to save more money they can in their home country. The big question is how much money can you save in America ?   What are the typical expenses that someone on H1B Visa or L1 visa would encounter ?  How much is the cost of living in USA ?  In this article, we will review all the typical expenses, how much you can save by looking at all of them.

What are Savings ? Income vs Expenses ?

In general, the net amount of money you can save is the total amount of money that you earn minus the taxes and total amount of expenses that you incur for your living. This is no different for H1B visa or L1 visa holder. While you may make more money, you need to factor in taxes as well that a state can have to come up with nex expenses

Net Savings = Income – ( Taxes + Expenses )

Let’s first look at the expenses that you would typically incur as an international on H1B or L1 visa.

Cost of Living in USA on H1B/L1 Visa – Expenses List

The cost of living in US is a sum of various expenses that you incur for your stay, food, transportation, and many others typical expenses. Below are the list of those expenses and how they can vary.

In the below calculations for cost of living & expenses, we will assume you are living in US with your spouse. So, it is technically for two adults living in a rented house.

House Rent

House Rent can vary a lot by location you live and the size of house you rent. If you take a 1 BHK, it is cheaper, but many prefer to take 2 BHK or 3 BHK for convenience. Rent in bigger cities for 2 BHK could be around $2500 to $3500 USD, depending on size of the house and other options.  In smaller cities, this could be like about $900 or less. These smaller cities are in towns with less population and not in the most happening parts of the state.

Car EMI

The car monthly payment, also called as every month instalment(EMI), can vary by the type of car you buy like economy, regular or luxury category car. Let’s say you buy something that is not of luxury like BMW or Mercedes and something like Honda or Ford that is normal car, then you can end up paying anywhere from $300 to $600 USD. This can be higher, if you go for a high end car.

Car Insurance

Car insurance monthly payment varies by the type of the car you own and your driving record. If you are new driver and just got your license in the US, your car insurance would be high. The reason is, it is based on your driving record and history. Also, the place you live has an impact on the car insurance payment. You may pay double or more, if you live in big cities. It can vary from $80 to $150 or more.

Car Gas ( Petrol )

The common American English word for Petrol is ‘Gas’. The expense for gas varies by the commuting distance from your office. If your office is short drive, then you may pay like $100 or $150 per month. If you commute in high traffic cities, this can be as much as $250 USD or more.

Mobile Phone

Mobile phone plans vary by the type of plan you take, if you have multiple lines on the plan. Also, in recent years, the focus is more on data and unlimited data. Let’s say you go with something like Verizon Unlimited, you may end up paying anywhere from $60 to $90 USD per month per phone line. If you have a land line, you may pay a little for that too.

Groceries

The amount you spend on groceries like vegetables, milk, snacks, other cooking related stuff,, depend on how much you cook vs. how much you eat out. If you are foreigner on H1B or L1 Visa, odds are you may cook more at home. Also, the cost of groceries maybe even more, if you cook your country specific cuisine like Indian Food. The reason is, you would need to buy your country specific vegetables like Indian vegetables or Japanese vegetables (very expensive). This can vary anywhere from $300 to $500 USD per month.

Utilities ( Water, Cooking Gas, Electricity)

The cost of utilities that include Electricity, Cooking Gas and Water, vary by the place you live in. For electricity, if you live in warm place like Houston, you spend more on Air Condition, but if you live in a cold place like Wisconsin, you spend more money on the heating. So, it totally varies by the city you live in. In some cities, the apartment rental includes the heat as well, in such cases, the utilities bill could be less. On an average, it can vary anywhere from $200 to $300 USD per month. You can check Average Monthly Utilities Cost by US state

International Calling

Calling your home country was a big expense during 2004, but over the last 15 years, things have changed and most of the times, you use WhatsApp or FaceTime for the same. At the worst, you may use Google Voice or some service occasionally. It should not cost you more than $15 to $20 USD per month, if you take a dedicated monthly subscription.

Eat Out at Restaurants

Your expense for dining out varies by your food habits. Assuming you take a lunch box to office and cook home often, this bill would be less. You may end up spending maybe $150 to $200 for eating out. Again, this is assuming you are not going to fine dining restaurants and eating at some modest fast food or not so expensive restaurants.

Movies, Shopping – Misc Expenses

Your expenses for things like Movies, Shopping ( buying new clothes or items for home ), etc. totally varies by your lifestyle and kind of things you prefer to buy. If you are into buying expensive clothes & branded items, you may get a fat bill for this item. If you are conservative and watch out your expenses for these miscellaneous items, you can limit your expenses anywhere from $150 to $200 per month.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is an optional expense. Most of the times, good companies pay for the health insurance and this may not be your expense. But, you may need to factor in this item, if you are paying from your pocket. This totally varies by the plan, age, etc. So, we can ignore this in our calculations, but keep in mind though.

Now that you looked at all the expenses and how they can vary, let’s summarize it in a table and add them up. For the below computation, we are taking expenses on the mid-range assuming you are living a conservative lifestyle and not living a luxury life.

Expense Description Cost in USD ($)
House Rent – 2 BHK ( average in normal city) 1200
Car EMI 300
Car Insurance 80
Car Gas 150
Phone 90
Groceries 300
Utilities 200
International Calling 10
Eat Out 150
Movies, shopping, other misc. expenses 200
Total Expenses $2680
Monthly Living Expenses for H1B or L1 Visa holder

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.

Taxes you pay in US as H1B or L1 Visa holder

Taxes are a big part of your overall salary, you would end up paying anywhere around 35% as well depending on the state you live in and your status as single or married.

For example, 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 $3,600 per month ( approximate). See below from actual Payslip from Wisconsin state for someone making $5000 USD per month.

Pay Slip with Taxes in US for Wisconsin State

You can use something like ADP Pay Check Calculator to get an idea of Net Income that you will get after paying taxes. You can enter approximate numbers to get an idea. You can also read Taxes for Non-immigrant Visa Holders in USA to understand more.

Now that we know the Taxes and Expenses, let’s look at the savings.

How much can you save – Approximate Savings?

Assuming your Salary is about $60,000 per year or $5,000 per month ( for sake of simplicity), below is how the savings would look like in a state like Wisconsin(WI).

Gross Salary  ( Per month)$5,000
Net Salary   ( after taxes, per month)$3,600
Monthly Expenses$2,680
Net Saving $920
Savings with average salary of $5000 per month

Now, if you make about $120,000 per year or $10,000 per month ( for sake of simplicity), below is how much you can save in the state like Wisconsin. The tax slabs change with higher income, so even if your salary doubles, you would not get entire money to your hand.

Gross Salary  ( Per month)$10,000
Net Salary   ( after taxes, per month)$6,809
Monthly Expenses$2,680
Net Saving $4,129
Savings with Average salary of $10,000 per month

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. Above number are very low.

How to estimate cost of living for a City or State ?

If you look at the expenses list we reviewed above, there are two key things that drive most of the monthly expense. The first one is home rent and second one is taxes that you pay in the state. Other expenses are pretty much similar or can vary slightly, but not much though. Below are the two costs you need to have handy to estimate your cost of living in a city or state

  • Rental Expense – How much is the average rent in a city
  • Taxes – How much are the state related taxes

It is important that you understand the baseline savings that you can make, when you work on H1B Visa or L1 visa.  Some companies pay less, some pay more. We have given tabulation of the same for $60,000 USD per year vs $120,000 USD per year in a state like Wisconsin. As you can see, you can save anywhere from close to $1000 USD for lower salary and about $4,100 if you make higher salary.

Just looking at your salary of $60,000 USD or $120,000 USD per year, without considering taxes and your expenses, will give you wrong perceptions about savings and your financial planning. So, think about all the expenses and then

Did I miss any expenses ? How are your expenses living in US ? Share your thoughts in comments.

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

   

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475 Comments

  1. Hi All,

    I have got an offer of H1B for 65000$ for Indianapolis location. I want to know the expense for an single person in Indiana and How much can i save there ?
    I am earning 8 LPA in Pune.

    Thank in Advance

    Reply
  2. Hi
    In India myself and my husband earning 45L/A.
    I got an H1B offer in California. He is into telecom. We have 2 kids(8 and 6 years)
    Below are my queries.
    So whether he will get a job there?
    How long it will take to get EAD to get a work permit after we reach the US?
    Is it a good idea to go to the US?

    Reply
      • IMO, 130k in California would be an lesser than average salary. If you are coming with H1, you should get H4 for your spouse. Once you are in US with H1, to get EAR for your H4 spouse, H1 holder should have approved I140 which is one of the stage in your GC process. So, after coming to US, your employer should initiate the GC process. It might take min 1 year to get I140 stage. using that, you can apply for H4 EAD to your spouse that might take another 6-8 months. These are the best case timings. would vary based on situation. With 2 kids, spouse not working, 130k, it wont be a good idea to move here. Good luck.

        Reply
  3. Hi Friends,
    Is it a good idea to move to US at age 40 with spouse and two kids? 100K package. Michigan area. Can we save anything there? Is it worth leaving India for that saving? Please help me to take a decision.

    Reply
    • Kiran,
      It depends on your goals and how much you make in India. Many move to US for lifestyle and not necessarily money. So, depending on how much you make now and your goals for future, you should consider moving.

      Reply
  4. Hi All,
    My self and my husband together making around 24L P/A salary in India.
    I got an offer with 110 K P/A in California.
    Is it good to move to US with spouse and 2 kids on H1B

    Thanks

    Reply
  5. Hi Friends, Got an offer with 70-30 share model – (java) in Michigan area. Currently getting 22L pkg in India. Is it a good idea to move with spouse and 2 kids? Can we save $3000 per month if we live a basic life there? Please advise.

    Reply
  6. I have an offer 41L from a company in Pune, India. I am getting an option to Travel USA on H1B with gross salary $156K- ($130K base salary + $26K variable bonus). I will be travelling with Spouse and 6 years old child and will be staying in NJ (If I decide to travel). I do understand well the quality of life/education I can get for my child and if I look for long term plans if I compare it with India, but I would like to get an idea in terms of financial benefits, how much min amount I can save while staying in NJ (living simple life with basic family needs), work location NYC, with the gross salary I am being offered ? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sasmi,
      Many of these depend on the location you stay, rent you pay. The article above is still relevant and put up your expenses and do math. Check the taxes and then you can know.

      Reply
    • So 130 as base is a decent number to live in NJ and commute to NY. I am not counting the variable as I am not sure how it works in your Company. I live in NJ from 4 years and worked in NYC. In short you will get good 1 bedroom apartment in Edison or Rahway for around 1500 – 1600 . Around 500 will be your commute cost. 300 will be your utilities including the internet and phone. In my opinion if you want to come and see the world this is a good option to explore as 41 LPA is a good number for Pune too and can’t be ignore easily. Also since it’s H1B your spouse can’t work on H4

      Reply
  7. Hello all,

    I am planning to move to Houston, Texas. The interview is still on and we are yet to talk of salary and other remunerations.

    What will be the monthly expenses for a family of 3, like me, my wife and our kid. The expenses should include everything starting from rent, electricity bills, water bills, mobile phone bills, internet bills, school fees, transport charges, dining out 2-3 times a month etc. In the end if I want to have a savings of USD 2500 per month, how much should my salary be after all deductions?

    Kindly help.

    Reply
  8. Hi,

    Got an onsite offer for $66K in Greensboro. In India i would get ~13LPA for my next switch.
    Should I go for onsite or change my job in India?.

    Thanks,
    Raj

    Reply
    • Hi Raj
      it depends on lot more factors.

      may be you can check this link

      https://youtu.be/loa-GWth-J4https://youtu.be/loa-GWth-J4

      Reply
  9. Hi ,

    In india me and my husband getting getting 48L/A .I have opportunity to go US (Husband and 2 kids).
    My husband leave the job and come to us along with me

    1: which is best L1 or H1B.
    2: How much i can save in US.
    3: Is it good to go or stay back in india

    Reply
    • BR,
      it all depends on your priorities and future plans.
      1. H1B as it gives you option to transfer employers
      2. read the above article and calculate based on your salary that you can get.
      3. This is a personal decision, you need to be clear on your priorities and future goals.

      Reply
  10. Hi All

    I am coming to NY end of this year on H1 with wife and a 2 kid of 9 and 5 yr.
    My company is offering me a salary of 100K/annum. Can some one please help me out, whether this is a decent salary. How much will be average cost per month & how much i can save per month.

    Thanks in Advance

    Reply
  11. Years of Experience : 4
    Current Salary: 39 LPA
    Offer in Santa Clara, CA: 176k USD
    Type: L1B
    Status: Single

    Is this fair offer? should i be negotiating more?

    Reply
  12. Hi Guys,

    I am moving to Rolling Meadows, Illinois location with $90K salary from Hyderabad, India. Can you guys please help me how much I can save per month with this salary as a single person?

    Thanks

    Reply
  13. I have offer of 87 k for Middletown – NJ location. My current salary is 14.5 Lacs in India. I will be traveling with my wife and 1 year son. Is it worthy to travel to USA??

    Reply
    • For simple calculations :
      Post tax : 61k (30% for easy calculation)

      Min living expenditure : 36k

      Left : 25k you will have left.

      Living expenditure can be different based on your life style and child needs

      25k* 70 is approx in best case you will be able to save

      Reply
  14. Hi ,

    I am currently getting 35 lacs INR in INDIA.

    But I got an offer of 100K USD from US NJ location. Will it be good for me.

    I have a 7 yrs old kid and my wife . How about the cost of living in NJ?

    can someone advise …

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Definitely 35LPA in India is much better than 100k in US staying with family.
      If you live a conservative life without too much expensive choices, your expenses might be around 2.7k-3k per month (rent, car, food, insurances etc Vacations, Trips etc not included). Your monthly take home pay will be close to 5.6-5.8k. you can save around 20LPA roughly. This might come low if you have unplanned expenses, Travelling to India etc. So you can decide.

      Reply
  15. I have an offer to relocate to US with 118,000 salary. My office is at NYC, probably I will be staying at NJ.
    I will be travelling with my wife and 2 year old kid.
    Can anyone please let me know how much in hand salary I will be getting in hand after tax deductions?

    Regards,
    –Gagan

    Reply
    • You won’t be able to save 6 to 7k each month as described by someone. For 100 k you take home will be around 4300 each paycycle after both state and federal taxes. So 8600 is you each month salary. Now if you live a decent life you house rent for a good house will be atleast 1500. For NJ to NY commute you will spend atleast 500 and the rent I mentioned is if you stay atleast 1 hour commute from NYC. Now you will pay atleast 500 for the health insurance each month. Your house expenditure will be minimum 1000. I think that’s it and remaining is your saving plus I have not added any day care expenses if you want your kid to be in daycare. It will be atleast 250 each week.

      Reply
  16. Hi,
    I am Ritika, my husband has an offer of 130K and I have an offer of 70K in north Carolina. I have 2 kids aged 8 and 6 years. In India we are together getting a package 45 lakhs per annum in Bangalore. What is the cost of living in north Carolina. After school, I may need to send my kids to care center for 2-3 hours or so. I am in dilemma please help.

    Reply
    • Hi Ritika,

      Quick calculations to help,
      You both will togher in USA will make 200k , post tax 140 minimum will be in-hand for the family assuming 40% you guys spend that will leave u with 84k which is ~ 58lc INR.

      Similarly in India you guys make 45lc before tax, post tax that’s like 34lc, assuming you guys spend at 40% , you guys will be left with 20lc of savings in India

      So purely based on money savings I find this to be good to go for.

      Let me know if you wana discuss more based on my experience on this , connect on ramesh.botta@gmail.com

      Reply
  17. Hi,

    My company is offering me an L1-B Visa with a package of 120k + bonus in New York. In India, I have an offer in hand of 40 LPA in Hyderabad. My wife is already in US earning 72K. If I move to US, she can relocate from her current location to New York on the same package. My wife earns 10 lakh in India. Is it a good decision to turn down the offer I have in hand and move to US? I still do not have a VISA and I fear that what will happen if my L1-B gets rejected? 40 + 10 = 50 lacs in Hyderabad vs 192k in New York? Thanks in advance for your answers.

    Reply
    • Hi Dinesh can you where did do your schooling from to get 40+lpa in hyderabad can you please explain. What do you do ? And what was the role offers and what company do you work for ? And how many years have you been in the industry ? And name of the company offering you such package ?

      Reply
  18. Hello friends,
    i got an offer to work in Rockledge, florida for $82,000 per year. Is this fair salary and able to save $2500/month with spouse and 2 kids who are in 2 nd standard?

    Reply
    • you can save but from the first three month, initial set up will cost you.
      And used car is one time expense and from second year you can save if you dont take out of state vacations or go to India.

      Reply
  19. I am going to relocate to NJ coming september. Please let me know the cost of living there and how much I can save.My family consists of two persons …. heard from websites need to pay lot of insurances …. anyone pls tell me the split up of monthly expenses…my salary will be around 85k … thanks in advance

    Reply
  20. Hi ,

    Getting as offer for 79K USD at Pennsylvania.
    How much will I be able to save along with my family. What is the average expense for a new born child there ?

    Thanks

    Reply
  21. Can someone give an estimate for Raleigh(NC) with USD 70K ? I have my wife who is expecting (she will probably shift after 6-7 months after i move and settle down).

    Reply
  22. Hi. I have an offer to move to Charlotte on an l1 visa. What would be the average cost of living and ideal salary levels? What would be savings if we consider a ctc of USD 6000 per month. My ctc in India is Rs9lacs(accomodation provided by company) . I will be moving with my wife and we are expecting a child soon.
    Thanks for the help.

    Reply
  23. Hi Everyone,
    My company is offering me to relocate to US (Office is at NYC) and the expected salary would be 130,000USD. This is is going to be L1 and my family consists of 3 members (we two and a 2 year old Kid).
    Can you please let me know is it good/fair/perfect offer and should I accept. Most probably I will be staying in NJ. Please let me know the cost of living there and how much I can save.
    At present I am in Pune and have an annual salary of 22LPA and I have 11 years of work experience.

    Reply
    • your Take home should be between $6k to $6.5k, your rent and household expenses should vary between $4.5k to $5.0, Your annual savings will be between $18k to $20K

      Reply
      • Thanks for the response.

        Would you mind to share me the approximate monthly expenses. Please consider Having a second hand car
        2BHK for rent
        Transportation to office at NY by train/PATH
        Normal middle class living etc.

        Reply
        • I am going to relocate to NJ coming september. Please let me know the cost of living there and how much I can save.My family consists of two persons …. heard from websites need to pay lot of insurances …. anyone pls tell me the split up of monthly expenses…my salary will be around 85k … thanks in advance

          Reply
  24. I am getting an option to move to us and they are offering me 150K and location is bay area.
    Here in india i am having a 35lpa package and my wife is also an govt employee earning around 5lpa. We have no kid.

    Do you think i should take this option and move along with my wife whom has to quit her Govt job ?

    Reply
  25. hi not sure if i will got response how about cincinnati, i will be moving there for 65000 with wife and a son how much do you think i will have available for extra expenses

    Reply
    • 65k is a low amount I must say. Even the city and state is a low cost state but still with a family of three especially with kid you won’t be able to save much. I must say if you are living a comfort life in India you are in a good situation. If saving is not a big deal for you grab and come

      Reply
  26. I have a offer from Amazon Seattle and travelling from India, on L1B Blanket visa I am being offered 110k$ base with 15k$ relocation and 40k$ RSUs.

    I will be living alone, ready to share apartment and I know to cook.

    How much I can save monthly?

    Reply
  27. I am getting 89k for working in Chicago,illinois. Could you please let me know any ballpark estimate how much i can save per month, I am living with a wife and son of 3 yrs old.

    Reply
  28. Hello,

    I am Priyanka , my husband got offer $79600 per year . yet to decide city. how much do you think we should be able to save monthly?

    Reply
  29. Hi,

    Currently i am earning around 40 to 50 lakhs per year in India(70K to 80K USD). I am about get an offer from a company located at San jose. How much can i expect/negotiate with my employer ? considering my current salary in India and living cost in San Jose.

    thanks
    Jony

    Reply
      • You join a MNC, work with them for a year, ask them for on-site and convince them to sponsor L1 visa or H1B visa, that’s the simple process.

        Reply
        • I have 4 years of work experience in schedule electric .Currently ,I have admit from Aeizona State University and also offer of 11 lakhs from reputed firm in bangalore .I am unable to decide which one to choose ?

          Reply
          • It is your passion on what you want to do. If you are just looking to go to ASU for the sake of US immigration, may not be the best thing to do as it will be waste of two years of time….you may join the company and see, if there are options to go on-site. If you are passionate about education, then you can pursue your masters, but you should be ready to come back, if you are not lucky in H1B lottery…

  30. Hello Everyone,

    I will be moving to Foster City, California along with my wife and 3 months old baby . My employer offering me 87K . Please help me if this is enough to raise a family in very expensive city where rent alone is minimum 2600$?
    Will i be able to save 1000$ monthly? I do have very simple lifestyle so is of my wife.

    Quick response would be appriciated.

    Thanks,
    Sachin

    Reply
    • Hey Sachin,

      You would get around $4300 per month. If your rent is $2300, Car EMI $300, $Insurance(Car) $100, Health $250, Gas + Electricity $150, Phone and Internet $100, Groceries $400, it is equal to $3600. You end up saving $700.

      This is very less liberty for buying clothes, eating out etc. Ping me over 285abs@gmail.com if you need more info

      Reply
    • no. you need atleat 110 in california. it has 8-9% state income tax and 7.25% sales tax. i would suggest you to ask ur employer to raise ur base to 105k atleast. even then u need to have good medical insurance, bonus and other perks to consider living there.

      Reply
  31. Hi,
    I have an offer of USD 75000 from an American firm in Atlanta. I will be travelling in Nov ’18 (bachelor). Considering an average live (stay / food / lifestyle) how much do you think I should be able to save monthly?
    FYI, from ADP: Monthly net salary comes to USD 4264.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  32. Hi All,

    I will be going to NJ with my Wife and 2 years old kid and my company is offering me 84K + 6K other benefits. Will this be Ok for NJ? How much I will be able to save?

    Reply
    • Hi Xaverian,

      Only house rent will get vary from one state to another state and remaining expense are almost same in all state.. you can get a nice house for Rent in NJ between 1200 to 1800. for your salary surely you can save some amount until unless you held up with any medical issue

      Reply
        • Yes I agree with Abel, except rent all other expenses are quite similar in living cost. Salary you mentioned is good but according to me you can expect $5-7000 more per year because in medical emergency we should have some more amount for safety side otherwise we would be under pressure all the time specially if you are moving with your kid.if you want to know more about Savings /expenses in detail ,,you can visit my channel “My121Cents”

          Reply
  33. Hello i want to live in america, if i have 90k usd on my bank account is there any posible i can apply for visa? If thatvis enough jow much money should i have on my bank account? Because they say there have a show money before your visa will grant or approve?

    Reply
  34. Thanks for giving this ‘ball park’ estimate of living on a visa in the US. I think a lot of times, good people forget to budget ahead of time. I believe you have given many some valuable information here.

    Reply
  35. Hi All,
    I will be relocating to NY office on L1 visa.
    Need your help to know how much salaray I should expect to spend a normal life.
    I will be staying with my wife and 1yr old kid.
    I heard NY is very expensive. What is the near by place to stay and commute daily for office.
    What is the avg. salary for an IT professional with 9+ exp? How much I can save at minimum?

    Reply
  36. Hi All

    I am coming to Nashua-Newhampshire end of this month on H1 with wife and a kid of 2 years.
    My company is offering me a salary of 85K/annum. Can some one please help me out, whether this is a decent salary. How much will be average cost per month & how much i can save per month.

    Thanks in Advance

    Reply

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