20 Fascinating Differences Between Lifestyle in India and USA

Following article comparing lifestyle in India and USA, cost of living, and day-to-day things is written by Rashmi – Posted a comment to Real Reason I’m Going to USA : To Be Treated Like a Human Being.

Maybe Attitude

I have to thank HSB for starting this thread. One thing is for sure is that this discussion brings out the varied mindset of Indian youth. There is evidence of strong love for India as well as strong hatred. I hope there will be changes in attitude/thought of some people participating in the discussion here and it gives me strong motivation to thank HSB and spend time here.

I will bring in some real life incidents to ponder over. All of the following examples are about friends/acquaintances/relatives and I will take care to keep the description anonymous.

Case 1: Purchasing Flat in India

When I bought a flat in Gurgaon in 2005 (of course on loan with some dollar savings as down payment), it was kind of group deal to get a better bargain from the builder and several of my team mates booked flats on the same apartment.

One of my close teammates refrained from booking, I tried to persuade him, saying that this is s good investment, property prices are going up, you will have tax benefits, go for it. He said, no I will have another 2yr trip and then have enough savings to buy on cash, no loans.

He stayed back in US with H1 and got married, had kids. After 6yrs, in 2011 when we talked, I asked did you buy a flat in Gurgaon, he said no, the 3BHK flats at the same place are now INR 1.5crores and I only have 50L of savings (dollar money).

Instead of thinking of saving in dollars, you should think “smart” investment and ROI. Staying in US with family (if spouse is not working) may not save you enough money as you have to travel to India every year, pay car loans, rents etc. If spouse is working you earn enough in India as well.

Case 2: Education

There are numerous instances of people deciding to come back for child education purposes.

Higher education like MS/PhD are very good in US but not primary education. Also the education is pretty costly to manage.

Case 3: Nanny for Childcare

I know a guy who was very excited about US and its lifestyle. After marriage, when the couple were expecting their baby, they wanted someone from their family in India to travel and take care of the lady during pregnancy and after child birth.

Unfortunately, no one could travel as everyone had other family obligations. They offered to help only if the lady comes to stay with their family in India. They had to do that, because affording a nanny/bay sitter in US is damn expensive.

Case 4:  Outsourcing and Racism

This guy lost his job just after marriage in US. Unfortunately he had a long stretch of wait before he landed on another job(almost a year), I helped him financially through that lean period. This was during 2009.

There are other examples of things going wrong in US. Like attacks by African-Americans in downtown area, racism at work place, deep under current of hatred for Indians because of fear of outsourcing. So, its not all rosy in US. Everything in life comes as package, there will be positives and negatives. It is important to understand what one wants and one has to be responsible about decisions.

Life in Equally Good in India

I think life is equally good in India these days. Let me give examples,

  • In 2004, I could book flight/train tickets on internet in US. I used to think US is better since I can’t do this in India. Now we can do so in India.
  • In 2004 I could pay my bills on internet in US, buy stuff from dealstobuy etc. Now we can do the same in India. These days I buy books from Amazon/Junglee, buy merchandise, discounts in restaurants etc from snapdeal.
  • In 2004 I could pay by credit cards every where in US. Now I can do the same in India.
  • In 2004, multiplexes were there in India, but not big malls. These days they are everywhere.
    McDonald, Domino etc.
  • I pay phone bills, internet bills, taxes, electricity bills, bank transactions, everything on internet, I do not see a difference between US and India.

Now lets talk about some of the things from cost and affordability perspective.

  • Cars are cheaper in US. Refurbished cars are in good condition in US.
  • Laptop/LED/LCD etc electronics are cheaper and latest in US. But these days I find accessories like USB drive, HDD and cameras cheap in India than US. Samsung Galaxy S-II got launched in Asia first and 2months later in US. iPhone 4S is launched everywhere at same time. Some technologies are used in US first, but that gap has rapidly come down due to communication revolution.
  • Eating out is hygienic, you do not fall sick. I see improvement in India but no where close to US still.
  • Human labour is damn expensive in US, you can’t afford a driver/maid etc. I have 2 maids, I do not do household work, I think time is better spent in acquiring knowledge, in gym and with family than sweating out doing vacuum, mopping and cooking. People may say its not much work in US, but it gets increasingly difficult once you have kids.
  • Education is very expensive in US. In India if you are good enough to crack an entrance and get into a govt engg college, you pay less than 5 times than in US.
  • High taxes (40%) in US. In India you have a lot of investment options to save tax. In India it is below 25%.
  • Mobile tariff is expensive in US. In India I use postpaid mobile, STD in 50paisa all over India, ISD is Rs 1.5 for North America, and local calls 30paisa, 3G internet Rs 100 a month. No US tariff can beat that.
  • Utilities – Monthly charges for netflix/cable/satellite tv etc are expensive in US. In India, INR 300 a month , all channels
  • Broadband tariff is cheaper in India. I pay Rs 800 for unlimited 2mbps. If you take a 3G dongle, you pay Rs 750 for 2mbps and you can use that almost everywhere. In US, 3G/4G dongles are very expensive.
  • Public transport. Very little in US. You gotta have your own car. Delhi metro is very advanced, though crowded. But same is true in Toronto, Japan and New York.
  • Public Infrastructure. US wins hands down. No argument here.
  • Govt/Public processes/system like acquiring passports, driving licenses etc. I got my driving license (electronic one) in 2weeks with Rs 275 in 2006. I had to go to the RTO office 4 times, first time to get the forms and learn the process, second time to deposit them with supporting documents, third time for driving test and fourth time for getting the DL. My experience was this, I faced harassment of demand of bribe, standing in the row was painful because there was no shade beyond a point. I worked around the hurdles by remaining adamant on the process and not paying bribe, complained to a higher RTO officer, refusing to accept the offer from the brokers.
  • Things are in transition, you gotta have some patience. I have an observation to make here. Indians are ok to stand in long queues in US, but they are not ready to stand in queues in India, I do not know why so impatient in India. I had better experience while obtaining birth certificate for my daughter. Filled the form on internet and just collected the certificate at the counter by paying cash.
  • Crowd: I agree the crowd in India is not that civilized. Civilized means allowing elders, ladies, handicapped people to go ahead of you in queues or vacating a seat for them, being sensitive to other people in society, treating them courteously etc. In US, crowd is much better (expected since more educated people are there), but I have seen them laugh/get irritated when Asian people behave badly in queues etc. My point is if you allow an Indian ahead of you in a queue, do so with full respect, not with a sarcastic smile. In India, the bad behavior people face in hospitals, govt offices etc are because of this crowd behavior.
  • Medical facilities are better, but very expensive. Medical insurance is expensive. High end surgeries and treatment are cheap in India.
  • Indian family culture and value system – India wins this one hands down. In US, society is very formal. You may say Hi to a guy on elevator for 10yrs and still know nothing about him.
  • In India the support system is very strong. Your kid is taken care of even if both you and your spouse work. After you get old, whatever money you may have, but you can not buy the affection and care of your blood relations. You can only get that by relationship building. Make that investment when you are young. You WILL need help to even do small household chores when you are old. We help our parents/grand parents/elder relatives here in India, our kids watch and learn this culture. If your kids grow up in US, they will adopt US culture. As Prasad said, you will be lonely when you get old.
  • US is not growing. I do not see a difference in a New York 5yrs back and now. But you see big difference in Gurgaon. The salaries have not increased in US in last 10yrs. In India it has gone up significantly. There are always jobs in India, in US it is not so.
  • Higher education: It is better in US. Thats why we are here is not it ? But this is changing slowly. Universities in India have started investing more in research and eminent profs are coming back. Though the number is still very low. I have a point of view here. Things have changed in last few years. You do not need a Dronacharya to become an Arjuna these days. If you know how to use google and internet, its all you need for knowledge.
  • The reason why I am on this blog is the perception. In India, if you are foreign educated (be it from some Tom/Dick/Harry college), people give you respect. Thats the slave attitude the british have left us with. That is the reason probably, why people become so obsessed with US lifestyle. The white skin effect. So it is strategic to have a US education if possible.

What About Money and Savings

Now lets talk money.

Be it US, India or anywhere in this world.

A “job” mentality can not make you break the financial barrier.

Being “financially stable” and “financially independent” are 2 different things.

  • Financially stable means you have comfortable life but you have to work for that everyday.
  • Financially independent means you still live a comfortable lifestyle even if you do not work i.e by having self-generating assets.

With a job, the maximum you will have in life is 2-3 houses, cars, LED TV etc.

To really make a difference and break the barrier (becoming financially independent), you gotta think business. Otherwise, it hardly matters whether you are in US, China, Japan or India.


Very good insights about lifestyle in India and USA. There are few things I disagree and lot of things to which I agree.

Medical Expenses

Medical facilities are better, but very expensive. Medical insurance is expensive. High end surgeries and treatment are cheap in India.

Agree – Health Care in Expensive and Insurance in Expensive. Indian its cheap.

Here is my view. To get quality care in India, you need to pay. Poor people can’t afford to go to Top Hospitals in India.  But in USA, even you don’t have an insurance, in case of emergency, you get the same quality and care as anyone else.

Child Care and Nanny

Child Care in Expensive.  If both parents are working, then they have to let the new-born in day care when mom starts working.

Its Indian Culture or Tradition to have their parents come to help when new baby is born.

We had our son and our parents came here to help.

Our American Neighbor had baby around the same time, their parents came couple of day after baby was born, they were here only for couple of days. then its was mom, dad and new born.

Pretty much that’s what happens with new parents in USA. They don’t have parents staying with them for 3 to 6 months.


You have same investment options in USA to get Tax Breaks. You can max out your 401(k) and IRA. In addition, if you are a home owner, you get Mortgage Interest payments as tax deductions. If Both parents are working, then chile care expenses are deductible.

I don’t know what tax dedication are available in India, but there are options to lower your income tax in USA.

Money and Income

Being “financially stable” and “financially independent” are 2 different things.

Now very many people understand the difference. Unfortunately in India, parents want their kids to go to Medical School or Engineering.

You don’t see them encourage kids to think in terms of an Entrepreneur.

For anyone who wants to be Financially Independent, even in USA, working for an employer is not going to get you there, unless you are in Top Management position with Millions in Bonus.

If both husband and wife works high paying jobs 100,000 to 150,000 then you can expect to save 1 Million Dollars when you retire.

With Single Income, say $100,00 to $150,000 you will still have better savings, but you have to live pay check to pay check.  It takes long time to save money, paydonw your home loan and thinks several times before buying any product.

Financially Independent

It’s easy to say, you have to start a business, but its hard work. If you are really serious about being financially Independent, you need to change your mindset first.

You are trained all your life to get a job and lead a safe life. Risk takings is not part of course work. Even i you have a simple idea, it could change the world.

Facebook Paid $1 Billion for Instagram. It was simple idea, but the founder made $400 million just for having an idea and developing an product.

Trust me, it will change your thinking.

If you don’t have any idea on how to start a business, here is an awesome idea for you – Start Blogging.

Finally, I have to highlight this comment from Real Reason I’m Going to USA : To Be Treated Like a Human Being

When you have people like Ramkumar who writes

The whole issue pisses me off! You do not have the right to comment on what India is or would be until and unless you have not made any contribution to its betterment. You buggers are a parasite. You have imbibed all there essential education, right from nursery to engineering, in this mother country and then you fart on her face by pursuing your higher education abroad and settle out there. If  you buggers are really concerned, why don’t you do your bit and try something which could alleviate the sufferings of all? Doing a part time job while studying here is considered a sin and of low esteem, but you buggers readily lick the asses of americans there by doing all odd jobs for some bucks more!! Even I’m an Engineer, infact a topper from a very reputed college in India and I’m settled in India without any hitch or itch. It is because of you buggers is that this country is still poor!

Certainly such attitude and exposure shows they are happy to be “financially stable”.

What I still don’t understand is the same person is working (mostly in IT Services firm) and have been to USA (mostly to client site).

So, it’s not ok for some one to come to USA for higher education  and work part-time, while same person can work for American Client and feed his family and earn money, travel to USA for job. If he’s  thinks folks like us are parasites, I’m not sure what should we call him?

Ultimate Goal of these 3 blog posts is to create awareness of things that happen in USA and India. If someone is not matured enough to understand and learn how world is different place,  there is nothing I can do about that. Even if you don’t agree to others views, take this one single message – World is a Different place, things don’t happen the way you like.

As Arun Says

All the 120+ comments posted here are by those who want to go to US or want to settle there. What bloody work you had to come to this blog. Why the heck have you subscribed to HSB if you love India so much, and you are being so over-patriotic? All the guys who posted negative comments or anti-HSB comments are dreaming of US (either work or study or work for some time and return). They don’t want to accept ground reality.

Guys, grow up. Be sensible. There is nothing wrong to learn from other country. Be it USA or France or whatever. There is no shame in admitting that India is a developing country. Lets experience other country’s culture and system and learn from it. All those guys who posted negative comments have serious EGO problem. They refuse to accept ground realities.

Moreover, its not a debate about about which country is greater. It’s about experiencing cultures. Its about experiencing the difference. The world is a global playground. Our designs are done in India, validated in US, manufactured in China, delivered in Brazil and serviced in Czech republic.

All the anti HSB fans, stop following this blog and go do your patriotism stuff.

Rest of us would give a +1 to this post and show the middle finger to all those who don’t agree and carry on.

I thought this post would inspire a lot of people and give them a new dimension in their thinking. You simply carry on with your good work and don’t bother about these idiots. They are not eligible to experience this great country.

I’m not going to stop posting articles like this just because you don’t agree to my views or others views about India and U.S.A.

I’m sharing and posting the realities and realty bites. But, its matter of views and preferences and changing world views. As much as I love India, like to see her grow and become a developed country.

People are unique and I would have had same reaction if I was in College and never came to USA. But, life experience and exposure to new culture bring out different perspective in life. India is changing, people are changing. It’s the culture and attitudes that is thousands of years old. It will take  years to change.

Your Thoughts

Hopefully we will have more civilized discussion this time around.  Don’t forget to share this post in Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.