HSB 004 : IS $70,000 Enough to Live in America for a Family for Four?

Raghuram Sukumar Lifestyle, Podcast 19 Comments

I’m doing a show of this kind for the first time here in Happy Schools. Topic of this today’s podcast episode was inspired by a family of  four considering if they want to move from India to U.S.A. on H-1B and H-4 Visa. But, they have bunch of challenges to overcome.

moving from india to usa budget 70k

Moving to from India to U.S.A. comes with it’s own set of challenges. If you are single and a student, all you got to do is pack two suitcases and then travel to your university.

If you are married and moving to America for a job, then it comes with additional challenges, but your challenges will be on different scale but manageable.

But, if you are married with kids who are going to attending college and high school, then moving from India to America will be challenging. Because, you have to plan for kids school, college and new expenses.

Anitha is one such mom. She reached out to me with an set of questions I couldn’t ignore. Here’s her question

I got job offer on H-1B Visa to work in Dallas, Texas. I will be paid about $70,000 per year.  My family, including my husband will have to be on H4 visa and they can’t work. Later when my daughter if gets converted to F-1 Visa, maybe she can work. I have the following questions

  1. My daughter is in 3rd year engineering college in India and is aspiring for MS. How much do I need to estimate for her studies?
  2. My son is 14 years and he will be studying for 3 years on free education program but after that, can I support for his graduation in US?

Will I end up in poverty if I chose to go to US, please advise.  Thanks in advance.


Can you imagine what’s going through their minds about this decision making process and challenges they have to face in moving to America?

What stuck me the most was the last line of her question : “Will I end up in poverty if I chose to go to US?

Lot of families in America earn far less than $70,000 per year. But, I wanted to give more facts and real life scenario’s they will face in first few months. So, I invited  a special guest to talk in this show to help Anitha and her family.

Listen to the Show

I have been providing advise to prospective students, current students, H-1B Visa, H-4 Visa holders to an extent. But, it’s tough to give advice to parents when their kids are attending college and high school.  Our son is 5 years old and I haven’t faced scenarios that a parent with high school going  kid would face. That’s the reason I requested Vidhya to be in today’s show.

We discussed several issues on following topics

  • Cost of Living in America for Families
  • School Admission for High School students
  • Social and Cultural Shock
  • Expectations and Reality

Cost of Living for Indian Families in America

Expect to spend anywhere between $400 to $800 per month.

Other major expense will be your apartment or home rental.  Provided your company pays for your families health insurance. Apartment rent will be around $1000 per month for a 2 Bed and 2 Bathroom apartment.

$70,000 in salary in Texas will be about $1800 to $2200 take home pay per pay period when paid bi-weekly.

Here’s the sample paycheck  from ADP for your $70,000 in annual salary.

biweekly take home pay 70k texas

So, you need to plan your expenses for income of $4,000 per month.

First few months in Texas will a challenge and it’s mainly because of Cultural Shock and settling down.

Sometimes, life can look really overwhelming in first 60 days. Several things that are required to settle down are interconnected.

First, you need to rent an apartment before you can get admitted in the High School. Address proof is required to enroll your son in the school. Then, you need to get Drivers License and a car. For your husband to get Drivers License, then would have to get a letter from SSN office that he’s not eligible get an SSN ( that’s the case here in North Carolina), only then DMV will issue a DL for him.

Then you will be depended on others to drive you to work for first few days, till you get your DL and car.

As you can see, things are inter-connected and it would take time to settle down. So, after you move to U.S.A. get help and build a social circle of friends. And take one day at a time. If you come with open mind, then you can make it work here. After all it’s a land of opportunities.

You can even consider moving with your spouse and let your kids be in India for 30 or more days. After you a place to stay, get a car, drivers license, cell phone, get settled and have your kids come to USA.

Listen to the Show

What do you think of this show?

As you can see life in U.S.A. is not all bells and whistles. Moving form India to U.S.A. requires like lot of work, plan and preparation. I hope we clarified some doubts for this family.

I like to hear from you,

  • Would you be interested in more episodes of this kind?
  • What did you think of this show?
  • Did you learn anything new about living in USA?

What other topics should I cover for upcoming shows?

See Also :  How to Save $20,000 per Year With $54,000 Salary


  1. Hi ,

    Myself Rahul and i got the H1b this year. And will come with my wife on H4. we both are working here in India in IT industry and our monthly income is 1.5 lac including both . I have a offer to join a company based in dallas. And they offered me 90K. I am currently saving around 1 lac in India.
    Can you give me the brief cost of living in dallas where only i can only work as H4 person does not have permit.
    And can i save the same amount of money in dallas.

  2. Hi Raghu,

    I am planning to move to Dallas or Arlington TX by March . I am having H1B, family of 4 ( 2 school going kids ).

    1. What is Cost of living in Dallas or Arlington TX area. (I don’t want to get surprised after landing there :))

    2. My wife has H4, i heard there is new rule going to be implement in May 2016 – H4 spouse can work. Is that true. (other than I 140 or GC approved spouse can work rule )?

    Pleas help in above queries.

    Thanks a lot

    1. Author

      What I have discussed in this applies to you. H4 can’t work without H4 EAD and that rule became effective from May 26, 2015 (not 2016). You need I-140 approval to get H4 EAD.

  3. Hi ,
    The way you helping the people coming from India is appreciated. but
    your paycheck calculation is wrong.
    for the person who get 70000 per annum will get around 1000$ per week after taxes. h1b tax % is almost 33%. out of 70000, in h1b the person get only 48000 to hand.

    with husband two dependents i am sure cant survive in usa.

    room rent for double bedroom in texas around 1000$+.
    if you add utilities food etc easily 1500$ will be gone.
    There is not transportation in texas. you need car. if you move to usa your kids should stop studies in just sit at home in usa.

    Please dont plan to come to usa. if you and your husband can work and get around 120000$ you guys can just manage the life in usa.

    to study masters atleast need to spend 20000$.

    “Will I end up in poverty if I chose to go to US?” you are right this is going to happen for sure.

    1. Taxes with 2 dependents and 70k income will be way below 33%. SD + 4 personal deductions will get the taxable income down to say 45k (give or take).

      SST + Fed should be about 21-25% for this family. Texas has NO state income tax.

      This said, I do agree, it will be very tough in USA with a 70k job.

      Other area of concern is that the elder daughter will soon age out as a dependent (21 yr) and will need to get her own visa etc, which can be very painful (and expensive)

      1. Author

        That’s why I asked for 33% math. For 45,000 taxable income, one would pay $5,846. By this math, effective tax for $70,000 income is 7.83% (not 33%).

  4. Hello Raghu
    I am a regular follower of your posts.
    I am Laxmi and I came to the USA in 2008 on H4 visa while my husband is on H1. ( mechanical engineer)
    I have a MS degree in biochemistry from India and two years of experience as well.
    After coming to US, I tried for H1 sponsors but it was no use. I even got a couple of phone calls regarding job offers but unfortunately they all required work permit.
    I even consulted a community college and find out how can I add any certificate courses related to my subject which would finally land me on a job.
    ((We are in a place where the majority of the population is from mechanical background ( caterpillar))
    It seems to me they have no answer expect going for masters.

    Could you please suggest me any courses or diplomas i can join in my field which would finally lead to job
    I am interested in teaching profession. Would it be possible to take any related courses in community colleges so that I would land in County Schools as as teacher.

  5. Excellent show !! Raghu !!

    would be good if you cover things like
    – finding a right community if possible you can pick cities in bay area, Texas, NC etc
    – finding school
    – finding a car and trade-offs involved in this.

      1. Your blog helps a lot for issues in US You are doing a good service to our community
        Appreciate your efforts
        I enrolled in 2014 January, for a second Master in Technology management in Connecticut after working as a Scientist for 20 years in petrochemicals. It help me prepare well from the beginning like Toefl, visa prep and interview prep, life style cultural shock, expenses, hard work, the other thing like security issues, Moral decay too much freedom.
        Graduate Assistance, student worker, scholarships, Plagiarism and so on.
        I will be completing my program in April 2015.
        Grass always looks greener on the other side everything has advantages and disadvantages, you have to choose adapt and adjust!
        Raghu keep the good work going
        this is my personal view

        1. It was an excellent show indeed….

          It wud be good if u cud give some details for students aspiring for MS…..tips for settling down & ways to minimize our expenses as much as possible…

          Like some people say the college hostel is affordable but we should check if indian students r living in hostel……others say its better to take an apartment outside the campus & share the rent.

          Other point is some people say transportation through bus is free for students(we just need to show the student visa)……And at what point of time it becomes compulsory to buy a car ( is car required during internship)

          So it wud be really good if you cud give tips on settling down (listing various choices for accomodation, transport etc & suggesting the best way) & the ways to minimize our expenses as students as much as possible…

          1. Author

            Ok. It’s discussed in several videos before here in all the above issues.

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