Its True. I just came back from a 1 week US trip and realised that life in US is a lot cheaper than in Bangalore.
Houses are Cheaper – Roseville is a lovely town – 2 hrs drive from SFO. Intel & HP have large establishments here and its a short 20 min drive from Sacramento the capital of CA. A predominantly white neighbourhood – its picture perfect with its broad roads , lovely pavements ( yes if you come from India you ogle at the pavements & kerbs) , greenery , trees , peace & tranquility. Nice parks, lovely walks and drives. All amenities and stores close by. Safe & Secure. A 4 bedroom house here in excellent condition on a 5000 sft of land would have cost you 400 K ( 2.5 Crores). If you had a location like this in India ( which we don’t) a similar house would have sold for no less than Rs 5 Crores. A close comparison would be an upmarket Villa complex in Bangalore like Adarsh Palm Meadows or Prestige Ozone where a similar sized Villa would have been upwards of 4 Crores. And I am not talking of Texas where for 250 K plus you could get a similar deal or better. Apartments with no land in Indian Metros sell for 2 – 5 Crores depending on the location. These are bubbles of glitz surrounded by chaos & cacophony.
Electricity ,Water & Cooling / Heating for such a large house costs less than $ 250/ month. Thats about 9000 Rs. In Gurgaon if you have to run a similar house with centralised AC your monthly costs for electricity alone would be upwards of Rs 25,000. And AAP will not subsidise this. Yes the property tax you pay in US every 6 months may be higher than what you pay in India – but most apartment / Villa complexes charge you a monthly maintenance that can vary from 5 – 10 K / month . If you add this to the property Tax you pay then we pay a lot more in India than in US.
The monthly cost of running a house – Grocery / Maid(s)/ Driver / Cable / Milk / Newspaper/ Gas for Car / School for kids ….. is a lot higher. In India this can be upwards of Rs 1 Lac (~ $2000) / month. In the US you can manage very comfortable within $1000 – $1500. Thats a 50% saving. Food is cheap and nobody has maids or drivers. Most people have started getting a Neato or Roomba a Robotic maid that takes care of cleaning the house.
Buying a Car is a lot cheaper. A fully loaded Corolla in US costs $ 22K ( 13 Lacs) – In India its upwards of 15 Lacs . If not for the recent currency depreciation the gap in price would have been a lot more and the cars in US were almost 40 – 50% cheaper. And fuel prices in US are a lot cheaper than India. And its got more features and is a lot more plush. As you start moving up to SUV’s and Luxury brands like BMW & Merc the price gap widens and is almost 2X in India .
Cost of Eating out is comparable and you have a wide variety of upmarket restaurants. Yes the parking in US is a lot more easier and the ambience is better ( thats my verdict). A 3 course meal with some decent wine for 2 can cost you 75 – 80 $ . Good high speed Wi Fi comes free of cost. A drink – Just 1 Margarita in a nice restaurant in India can put you back by Rs 899/-. The taxes and surcharge in India are a lot higher. Most restaurants add a service charge and on top of that the waiter expects a 10% Tip. Add all this up and the cost of a meal in a fine dining place in India is comparable or higher to the US. And I am not even talking of ITC / Hyatt / Taj – where the rates are exorbitantly higher. But yes if you eat in Saravana Bhavan in the US the meal is 4X the cost of one in Chennai.
After food you come to clothing. Here again the US beats us hollow. The deals you get and the markdowns in an outlet Mall are genuine. If you have the time to hunt online you can get real fabulous deals. A simple track pant from Nike or Adidas can cost you Rs 2000/- – you can get that for $14.99 very easily in any Mall or large retail store. Levis in India start at Rs 1500 – you can get better quality stuff for $19.99. Van Heusen , Park Avenue shirts are so overpriced in India – they retail for 1500 – 2000 Rs , excellent formal shirts are available for $ 19.99 . I visited an outlet mall at Folsom and picked up Gym Tops for my wife – super quality Izod T shirts priced at $ 5.95 (Marked down from $30) – For $5.95 or Rs 360 you don’t even get a decent handkerchief in India. Across items clothes, shoes, bags, accessories you see a 30 – 50% cheaper pricing. And in most cases these are items made in India , Bangladesh , Jordan , Egypt – the stores are cleaner , AC works , the buying experience is better – and yet they are cheaper. I wonder how !
Hotel rooms come in wide variety from $ 59.99 to $199 for high end branded ones. Sure – the top brands in India at 200 – 300$ / night offer better service than the best in class in NY or DC that may charge you upwards of $500 / night – but if you can get a La Quinta Inn for $59.99 why do you need a Maurya Sheraton. Clean beds , toilets , Wi Fi , a Denny’s outside – thats all you need for your family when you go on a holiday. India has 1 star and 5 star – nothing in between – US has a wide variety to cater the the budget for all – and they all come well above the threshold.
Yes an University degree is more expensive. But you need to realise that you got 12 years of excellent schooling free of cost. And if you take into consideration the quality of education and facilities one can understand why millions from across the globe rush to US universities on a one way ticket. But for the many who pay donations and join Manipal or its equivalent – think twice should you pay 1 Cr and join Manipal or use that 150K for a good college education in the US.
And finally the only showstopper is probably INSURANCE. Medical , Car Insurance can really be a whammy and cost you 500 – 600$ / month. In comparison in India you can insure you car for 10K / year and your family for 25K / year. The only silver lining in this case is Obama Care – especially for the elderly.
So if you are planning to move from Bangalore to US don’t think twice you can manage in the same salary , but if you are moving from US to Bangalore remember to ask for a hike !