Living in the USA vs. Living in India: 5 Big Differences
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Actually, it is slotted to become the third-largest global economy by 2030. This means that if you are planning to expand your business to this country, your endeavor is likely to be fruitful.
However, if you’re planning on moving from the USA to India, the vast differences in lifestyle, culture, and way of doing business can seem very intimidating. It’s good to know before you go, so here are five differences between life in the USA vs. India.
1. Cost of living in the USA vs. India
Renting a furnished one-room apartment in cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, the most populous cities in India, will cost you around $400. In the USA, prices for a similar apartment in cities like New York and Chicago land around $1,000/$1,500. This is a huge difference and applies across the board whether you’re talking groceries, utilities, or entertainment.
The same goes for salary. Being able to earn a similar salary in India as in the USA translates to a high standard of living in India. If you are a skilled professional, it’s possible to earn between $4,000 – $5,000 per month which is great considering how much you’ll save on living costs.
In the USA, on the other hand, you can make between $6,000 – $7,000 as a skilled professional – which isn’t significantly high enough to guarantee good savings due to the higher cost of living in the States.
2. Electricity use in the USA vs. India
This seems like an odd topic, but electricity has long been a must-have in the USA as opposed to the commodity it is in India. The average Indian uses around 96% less electricity than the average American and this isn’t necessarily by choice.
Power cuts are a common occurrence even in some of the larger Indian cities when the government is trying to save energy. For many Americans, it can be a big shock to have to become accustomed to going without electricity for a couple of hours every day.
The possibility of power shortages in India is something you should keep in mind as you prepare to move abroad.
3. Going back to school in the USA vs. India
Let’s say you move to India and you decide it might be beneficial to pursue an MBA or some other advanced degree. There are quite a few things to consider when doing this.
No doubt, higher education is much cheaper in India. You can get an advanced education at a good private university for around $15,000 per year. In the USA, you’d be lucky if you only paid $15,000 per semester at a state school. Generally, you’ll end up dumping around $50,000 per year into your education.
However, having a degree from an American university can do you more good in the long run. This is simply because degrees from the USA are globally held in higher regard than those from India. You’ll just need to choose between paying a lot for a more ‘valuable’ degree, or paying less for the same education but having a degree considered of lesser value.
4. Running a household in the USA vs. India
We’ve already covered the cost of living, so let’s take this a step further and look at hiring domestic help. Labor is extremely cheap in India. This means that most middle-class families can afford to hire a maid and at times a driver.
This is a pretty foreign concept in the USA. Here, the cost of labor is higher and the average citizen would not be able to hire someone to clean their home or cook for them. In India, you can hire a live-in cook and maid for around $200 per month. In the USA, you’ll end up paying this per week just to have a maid come in a couple of times to clean only.
Having this benefit in India could definitely make life easier for you. It will allow you to focus on growing your business as opposed to spending time on household upkeep.
5. Language in India and the USA
Both English and Hindi are considered to be official languages in India. Yet, it’s impossible to consider moving to this country if you plan on relying solely on your English skills.
While English can be applied in the business world, outside the office is a whole different story. 80% of people in India speak or understand Hindi, making it the most widely used language in the nation.
English, on the other hand, is understood and spoken by less than 50% of the population. In the USA you may be able to get by with just English, but in India, this is simply not the case.
Life in India vs. in the USA definitely has its pros and cons. Exploring what those are is essential for being well prepared for your potential move. If you’re serious about bridging the gap between the USA and India, you may want to consider going the extra mile and taking some excellent Hindi language classes.
If you feel unsure about where you stand language-wise, a placement exam is the perfect way to figure out your level and progress! Knowing Hindi will not only be essential when it comes to enrolling in university, hiring domestic help, or looking for a great apartment. It will also be priceless as you begin navigating the fascinating customs and cultural differences between India and the USA.
Editor’s note: Article updated on August 4, 2021.