How Much Money Can You Earn, Save in USA on H1B or L1 Visa?

You can save a lot and spend a lot. That’s the lifestyle in USA.

h1b l1 visa savings usa

Following question was posted by a reader.

I am new in US, Indian citizen, working in MA on L1 visa, have 8+ yrs of experience. I am not like rich/extravagant person. For good, medium average life style  and you know as an Indian culture how we are living,

How much one should save atleast in a month, if you have say 2 kids, single earner and planning to buy average house in US? Is that figure $1000 or $2000  in MA or equivalent State?

Chandana Dinesh posted the following reply

It totally depends on your family. If your kids are going to public school it’s very cheap . But if you go to private schools its way more costly. And also as your on L1 , your Spouse can work on ( L2 has to apply for EAD, Which can be done in 1 or 2 months). And also place where you live, you can’t expect much to save in Metros. But I think MA is lot better than SFO or NJ.

Salary for H1B and L1 Visa Holders in USA

Life is designed to get you in debt here in USA, unless you know the following

  • How much you earn
  • How much you spend
  • Where you spend
  • How much you actually want to save

As you know saving money is tough unless you have a budget and plan. With 2 kids, your school expenses will be high (if they are not in public school or day care expense).

It would cost over $800 per month for sending a kid to day care. Single income with 2 kids and buying a home is possible, but it depends on your income and cost of living.

Other questions for you :

  • Do you have money saved for down payment
  • Initial home expenses
  • Would yo be cash strapped after you buy a home?
  • Do you have emergency savings for 3 to 6 months?

While you find answers to above questions, Let’s ask the same question folks who ate in students visa status and waiting for H1B approval. Here’s question for you folks :

  • How much do you – Earn, Spend and Save with your salary?
  • What other financial challenges do you have?

See the answers below in the comments.

49 Comments

  1. Richa on November 20, 2017 at 1:52 AM

    Hi,
    i am being offered a work visa ( L1A) in my company and they have offered me a 80K salary gross. if we go ahead my husband would be leaving his job in India accompanying me along with my 2 year old daughter on L2. Currently we lead a comfortable life.
    i want to know is this salary enough to survive initially and will be able to save something out of it in a span of 3 years or so as it would starting afresh also.
    Although i know my husband can work after getting EAD since he is into business development are there jobs available for such responsibilities.

  2. JD on October 30, 2017 at 11:39 PM

    HOW much a java programmer of 7 years experience( Australia) in Michigan can make

  3. ammu on October 2, 2016 at 5:28 AM

    My husband has got H1B Visa and we are planning to travel to Lansing,MI with our daughter ( 3.8years ). His pre-tax salary will be 70k$.I will be on dependent visa and will not be working…..In india I am working as embedded software developer with a CTC of 8LPA.
    Is it a good choice to quit my job and travel to US?
    How much we can save per month during the stay in US?
    What will be the avg expenses for my daughter’s education?
    Is it really difficult to find a H1 sponser once I am in US?
    In case I get H1 and start working ..how expensive is the .day care / pre school ?

  4. sathish on August 27, 2016 at 11:10 AM

    Hi, i am sathish from chennai india.i have completed diploma in civil engineering.i have three years experience in admin field.now i am willing to do any job. can anyone give a suggestion to me for what to do? and if there any jobs please give me information

  5. Justanotherguy on November 2, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    Me and My wife are working in India and are earning 30 Lakhs between us. We dont have any rent to pay as live in parental home and have 1 crore as savings as of now. Our typical expenses in a year are covered by single salary and as of now we save around 20 lakh per year.

    I have been offered a move in oppurtunity to Texas, with apporx in hand salary of 5000 USD PM, while my wife will be on H4 along with my infant daughter. I am not sure of what could be typical expences in Texas (Home, Food, Travel, Insurance, Entertaintment, Phone,TV Etc) after which savings of what amount can be achived., an d with my current savings in India, is it worthwile coming to US ?

    • Raghuram Sukumar on November 2, 2015 at 3:18 PM

      Expect to spend about $2500 to $3000 per month. So, your can save about $2000 per month.

      About $800 in rent will be your major expense.

      1 Year = $24,000 (expected savings). One trip to India will wipe out bulk of your savings. Having said that, people buy home with single income.

      Don’t compare only how much you can save. the Quality of life matters. but, its hard for me to explain or convince the pros and cons. You have to live here to experience and decide. Everyone will have their point of view. But, your wife will be on H4 and to get H4 EAd, it will be another 2 to 5 years depending on your employer and green card process.

      You can try living and working here for a year. If it doesn’t work, you can go back.

  6. MP on November 15, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    I am a recent grad from a masters program (non-tech) and currently earn $54K. I also live in Washington DC which is extremely expensive rent-wise (I pay $1500 for a studio that I share with my bf) – Despite this, there is no reason why I can’t save 20K+ annualy. How do I do this? Living in DC means I don’t need a car and transport is not too expensive (under $100). Me and my bf cook in a lot, we go out with friends often for happy hours but while they may down 5-7 drinks we stick to buying 1-2 beers to keep spending down. We don’t dine at fancy places instead we spend money on travelling and visiting new places (and that is a priority for us, but everyone has different priorities). My employer matches my 401k upto 4% gross which vests immediately- so thats 4.5k between both of our contributions, I started a Target Retirement Roth IRA with Vanguard (if you want to invest in stock market long term but do so passively, a Roth IRA is your best bet!). I put in the maximum annual allowance or $5.5k – so I’m at 10k savings with that. I also set aside $1000-1200 from my paycheck into a separate online savings account plus I expect to get $1-1.5k back in tax refunds during the year. So I’m already at $25k annual savings not including any investment gains (or losses) during the year. It is totally doable without being a “stingy” Indian. And oh yeah, I didn’t have any student debt at graduation (no my parents didn’t pay for it – I worked 2 jobs+scholarship) nor am I stupid enough to rake up any credit card debt (that’s for irresponsible American kids). And no I do not plan on going back to India every year or “buy expected gifts” for relatives (DO NOT BUILD SUCH EXPECTATIONS EVER!!)

    • Raghuram Sukumar on November 18, 2014 at 4:47 AM

      Thanks. Converting your comment to a blog post to give more exposure.

  7. Pck on October 14, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Hello All,

    I need your advice, I have a offer of $75K from a company in San hose, california with a bond of 2 years . I will be travelling with my wife and 1 kid (toddler). Me and wife both are working here in Mumbai and our joint income is around 18L. Out there my wife will be on H4 and won’t be working.

    So can I survive there and save anything ? Please recommend me any suggestion.

    Your kind suggestion required.
    Thanks in Advance.

  8. John on August 24, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    My wife is in H4 and we dog sit just as a hobby and to keep ourselves busy but we get paid as well. When she gets checque on her name and if it exceeds 600$/year does it affect her status in anyway? If I get the checque on my name and it exceeds 600$ does it affect my status or Green card process. @Raghu any words of wisdom? Thanks

    • Raghuram Sukumar on August 26, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Rule 1 : you can’t work while on H4 visa. Period. I haven’t seen any one had any problems, but you never know. So, I wouldn’t keep do that any longer.

  9. CarmineHazzard on July 3, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    Important points.

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  11. sakhu on June 3, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    i live in FSM , AR we are two earning members , total expenses are about 1800$ a month including rent, utilities, food, eat out, insurance, gas,personal expenses, gym etc and we save 4000$ every month . This place is small but peaceful and a beautiful place to live. No hassel no traffic and secured. Minimal crime rate.We eat out every week twice in good restaurants and still manage to save 4000$ every month out of 6000$ monthly income. There are about 18 Indian families here and believe me nobody wants to leave this place even if you get more money in another city because this place has less cost of living and u can save more. After all most of the immigrants working in US main goal is to save more and more while u are working in US as u cant save that much in India.

  12. ARP on May 1, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    How much could be the salary difference between DBA or software developer and Mechanical engineer, both r Bachelor degree, say 9 yes experience and working in big company…?

    • ARP on May 1, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Continue above living in same city

    • Raghuram Sukumar on May 2, 2014 at 7:03 AM

      There should be 20k difference.

  13. SalaryDeduction on May 1, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    If my salary is $65,000 per year (Its CTC ) then how much I can save in NJ?
    Family members: Me + wife + 1 Year 6 months kid…
    How much tax
    Rent
    Food
    Gas
    Utility

    Raghu please reply so that I can plan accordingly.

    • prashu on May 28, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      about 3oooous

    • sakhu on June 3, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      u will hardly save anything if u are going to live in NJ and single income. NJ is expensive and plus the rent will be high the salary that u are expecting is way too less as compared to NJ standad. If u earn 65k$ Out of this 30% flat will go in taxes u will get hardly 3800$ in hand every month out of this you will spend minimum 1200$ ON RENT AND UTILITIES ( considering lowest rent possible ) plus food will cost you 1000$ more every month and other expenses will be 500+ you will hardly save couple of hundred $$$$ IN NJ but the same income in Texas will save you more becuase in texas you dont have to pay state tAX and less cost of living as compared to nj.

  14. Henry on May 1, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    I’m 8 months in my opt and I’ve saved $30,000 so far. I make 60,000 per year living in dfw Texas. I work in IT field with bi weekly pay of 1700-2000. I’m single, living comfortably with $250 rent and utility, $90 insurance, no car payment I drive a beater, $200 food, $150 gas, $50 gym, and $150 fun or misc every month. I graduated from a public Texas high school here and undergraduate with a full ride due to to my ranking and ACT. Looks like I won’t win h1b this year, as I already lost hope. But I might be able to afford a master with savings. Tution here is 8,000 a year from good accredited public Texas university.

    • Nomanshaheer on July 9, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      Whoich company provided USD 90 Insurance? Can you name please?

  15. Raghuram Sukumar on April 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Thanks for detailed breakdown. NJ is very expensive.

    Commute time increases when you want to buy a home that you can afford. Single Income with less than 100k in NJ will make life bit tough with 2 kids.

    Sorry, I can’t disclose the income from the blog.

    • Lafeyete on April 30, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about MA. The only things which are specific to location can be rent and state tax. Other things like medical insurance, phone, electricity, internet and groceries will not vary.

      • AA on May 1, 2014 at 9:41 AM

        @lafeyete:disqus: I think all above breakdown you described for MA right…? But are you talking about those expenditures for living in Boston OR outside Boston in suburbs..? because it makes a difference

        • Lafeyete on May 1, 2014 at 9:43 AM

          Except the rent, what are the things which you think can make difference. If you dont have commute expenditure then you have car EMI.

          • AA on May 1, 2014 at 9:52 AM

            I think living in Boston would cause increased rent + taxes. and cooking at home would also make difference, eating outside everyday or every 1-2 day will increase cost. I think the key is if you are earning say 70-80k living outside Boston, probably you need to try save lot with less spending by having a used car, home made food, around $1000-1500 apartment rent. The time when you reach up to 100k to 120k balance, you can put 15-20% down on 280-300k house. that makes your premium a bit less or within $1800-$2000 per month including taxes… please correct me If I am wrong and share your thoughts…



          • Lafeyete on May 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

            Right. There are multiple ways to cut down the expenses. But I think that even if you cook at home the cost of groceries will be around 800 for 4 members. 200 per head for groceries isn’t much if you consume more organic food.

            For car for sure you can get a used one but then the insurance cost rises and maintenance as well. For me it makes sense of getting a new one.. using it and then when done selling it off so overall I dont pay a lot for it. The expenses given by me are not very hard. There is 10-20% +- which depends on how you want to live your life. For me I think that it was enough saving all my life and now when I can afford I want to live in a good way.

            Saving is important but not that the cost of happiness. If in India you can earn, save spend on your kids well and go out for vacation then it makes less sense in living a terrible life elsewhere. Why would someone ever want to leave a comfortable life and enter a life of limitedness.



    • Excited on January 26, 2016 at 3:21 PM

      Hi Raghuram,

      I will be moving to Dallas area in a month timeframe.. I will be getting 110k salary and I have dependent Spouse and kid of 4years accompanied… How much would be my savings per an anum considering day care / pre school for my dependent child

      • Raghuram Sukumar on January 27, 2016 at 8:11 AM

        Work backwards with expenses. Rent and day care would be your major expense (if you send you 4 year old to day care). Your goal is to spend one paycheck and save the second pay check. If not, try to save 80% of your second paycheck. Plus your monthly car payment will be $200 to $500 depends on type of the car.

  16. hv on April 28, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    To be honest I am single and live alone. But I have lived in three different states so far – some cities and some suburbs. Not only does the state matter but also the city (Buying a house in a school district will be a little more expensive).If it is a bedroom community again it will be expensive.

    I have neighbours who rent 2BHKs with 2 school going kids. At this point I will say it all depends on your income. My parents came to visit me for 5-6 months and I could barely save anything. Again, I earn only 65k and just graduated few months back. If you have lived here longer and have enough money saved up and also have some back up investment (collateral – house or land in India) I would say go for it. But do a lot of market analysis before buying.

  17. Raghuram Sukumar on April 28, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Re-framing your question in short:

    Is $1000 per month saving considered good enough for a family for 4 (2 kids) with single income who is on H1B?

    Let’s look at your question from a different view :

    If you have a savings Target of $1500 could you reach that from current income?

    What expense are you willing to sacrifice to reach that savings?

    Here’s why $6000 in saving can be wiped out in a one India Trip. That’s 6 months work of savings.

    Along with $1000 in savings from take home page, are you contributing in 401k, 529?

  18. hv on April 28, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I think it is based on some other issues too like how old your kids are, can transfer some money from India, is your wife willing to work and who will take care of the kids if she works (say for very few bucks), which city you live in, how much tax you pay, cost of living and very importantly the real estate market.

    Lets assume you are 30 years old (as you said you have 8 yrs experience) and earn around 80k to 100k. Till they are 5 yrs old kids need not go to school here. But if your wife is going to work then there is a question of who will take care of them because day care is quite expensive here. Some of my American friends quit their jobs to take care of their kids as day care is expensive. Some Indian friends have enrolled in Indian day care which is cheaper. You can invite your mother or mother in law to take care of them but that is 1+4.

    Public schools are good here and even GC people with two breadwinners opt for public schools. Schools are a totally separate topic so I will skip the discussion.

    My say is if your kids are not teenagers yet and if you can live in a 2BHK/ 3BHK just rent an apartment for now. You have just moved to the states so work for 4 yrs r so and save money, get stable and then get an apartment.

    Again it all depends on your salary and financial standing.

  19. sabu on April 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Location: Atlanta….
    For a family of 4 on a single income of $6000 per month will just make ends meet from my experience. Not sure what is the average monthly income of a software professional is but I used 6000 as a ballpark figure.This is just for a modest living. Breakdown : Total Insurance payments(car/health/rental) $1500. Rent $1200 . Monthly groceries and other usual purchases $1200 Gas $300 bill payments (internet/phone/tv/water/electricity/club memberships etc): 500. unexpected ($300)… total 5000$… yes so for a single earner you should have a better reason to stay away from India than saving money. Thats just my take. Please share yours.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on April 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      I have 2 incomes (full time job and blog income). We tend to re-invest income from blog into blog or save the money. Spend only from my full time job’s income. Our monthly expense is around $4,000 ( Mortgage, Bills, Pre-School, Living, Food, Gas). We don’t have car payments.

      • hv on April 28, 2014 at 6:34 PM

        Can you tell more about alternate sources of income like investing in shares, writing blogs, online business etc? Who all can legally do it – H1B, L1, F1 OPT etc? Also, if you are on H1B or OPT can you pursue any additional certification or a degree in a local college? I don’t know if you have already written an article on this. I will search but if you know anything please let us know.

        • Raghuram Sukumar on April 28, 2014 at 7:51 PM

          Can you tell more about alternate sources of income like investing in shares, writing blogs, online business etc?
          – Without earning income (yes).
          – Earning income (then you need to form a company, get H1B to work in your company. Easier if you investors)

          Who all can legally do it – H1B, L1, F1 OPT etc?

          OPT – you can start a company. OPT doesn’t have restrictions.

          Did you know you can start company and work in the company to avoid 90 days unemployment rule?

          Also, if you are on H1B or OPT can you pursue any additional certification or a degree in a local college?

          – Yes, you can study in H1B (part-time).

          Send me an email. Would like to know more about you. Or send me an LinkedIn invite.

  20. Prem in FL on April 28, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I work as software engineering in a small town in florida. this is my first job. No previous work experience.

    I get paid twice monthly. $1400 per pay check. Thats $2,800.

    Expenses : $500 (rent) + $300 (car payment) + $500 to $600 for food, gas, insurance, etc.

    So, I save about 1 paycheck per month. But, here other unplanned expenses

    – Trip ( like new york)
    – Goign to Miami ($200)
    – India Trip ($3000 – flight + buying things)

    • Prem in FL on April 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      I have $28,000 in loan plus $19,000 in car loan payment.

      • Mr B on April 28, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        What are you working on as i can say you are underpaid.

  21. Kumar on April 28, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    No useful information in this post. Author simply wants to extract data from viewers.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on April 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      Interesting to see how you put it. Extract information. What’s wrong is asking user to share their experience. After all #1 reason why people come to USA to to earn MONEY.

      • Intellectual_Suicide on April 28, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        It’s absolutely right to share the different school of thoughts. Nevertheless, predicting #1 reason to come to USA to earn Money has an intrinsic fallacy.

      • deepti on May 5, 2014 at 5:31 AM

        I m finding it useful. We are planning to travel in this oct and we checking like posts since long and this is been useful.

    • rakesh on April 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Ok.. then tell me with what intention you have logged into happyschool blogs and surfing the site.. to get some information … rite.. chill.. atleast we are not charged.. there are sites and consultancies which loot one’s pocket just for trivial information…

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