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Living expenses in US

  1. May 21, 2003 #1
    If you earn $1800/month,
    after deduction of tax, how much is left?
    Will that be sufficient for a single man to rent a room, to maintain a second hand car, food and miscellaneous expenses?
    How much can you save?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2003 #2
    Saint, good question. Let me help you out

    I am a single male, 23. I lead a very simple life. My expenses are this:

    Rent (apt)
    gas for car

    I spend about 1800 dollars on this a month.

    My car payment is 300 dollars. So if your car is paid you can remove that.
    My rent is 650 a month.
    Those are the main ones.

    from that you should be able to determin some information.
  4. May 21, 2003 #3
    I would like to apply for graduate research assistant with Minnesota University, I got to plan for my living expenses in order to survive.
    I am from malaysia.

    May I know Fall semester and summer semester are on which month?

    If i get my tution fees ~$3800/semester waived (PhD),
    and earn $13.5/(2~3 hourly rate), work 30 hour/week, can i survive?
  5. May 21, 2003 #4
    Although I am a bit confused about your income amounts. Here is the information.

    Based on the list above, the list of my expenses. I have to have 24,000 dollars a year for those cost, and that's high so there's probably some savings or spending money involved.

    So if you're earning 24,000 or more a year, you're certainly fine!

    That doesn't include tuition, but I believe you said it's waived. Many schools waive graduate tuition if you do research for them, that's what I think you were saying.

    About the semesters.

    Fall semester begins towards the end of August and ends about mid decemeber.

    Spring semester beings early january and ends early May usually.

    Summer semester usually begins late May, and ends early august. But summer semesters are often different, sometimes longer and sometimes much shorter.

    Glad I could help!
  6. May 21, 2003 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    To clarify, thats AFTER taxes, right? Your $1,800 takehome works out to $21,600.

    Generally I would estimate taxes at 1/3, however being a non-citizen they are probably considerably lower. So that makes the $24,000 takehome into $36,000 gross.

    With cuts you can squeeze a decent living out of $24,000 though - especially in a college town. Lots of good cheap housing (if you put 10 people in a 3 bedroom house for example).

    LA, your numbers are about in line with my own (I have a 2br apartment and currently looking for a roommate, but I have no car payment, so that evens out). It must be emphasized though that the USA is a big country. Cost of living varies by as much as 50% from one place to another. I live in suburban Philadelphia and its a pretty high cost of living area. I have no idea about the location of U Minn. You'll definitely want to check, Saint.
  7. May 21, 2003 #6
    I meant that i require 24,000 handed to me to live. So yes that'd be after taxes, but I don't earn my money, it's a no interest loan.

    Yes, region means everything man. My apartment, hich is 500 square feet, in my area alone could go for anything between 400 and 1000 dollars, just because of he apatment complex, or the part of atlanta.

    But if you're looking to live near a university, you're bound to find somewhere. PLus you could always get the graduate housing.

    And you could certainly cut of car money if need be.

    taxes aren't 33% on a salary of 36,000 I don't think. I mean I have no good idea, but I don't believe they're that high for that low of a salary. WHo knows...not me.
  8. May 22, 2003 #7
    1) how much to spend for parking fees if you own a car?
    2) i have a driving licence, do i need to apply again in US ?
  9. May 22, 2003 #8
    I'm not sure about the first one, it depends where you'd live and where you want to park your car. It could be mostly free (at an apartment/house) or it could get quite expensive (school/downtown).

    For the second question, your driving licence should be honored in the U.S., but I'd inquire about driving laws in the state(s) you will be in. You can get driving manuals from the state in question; I suggest checking out their web page, you could probably e-mail or call them to request one.
    Actually they have it online (in english)

    And here is University of Minnesota's web page:

    Also, I'm not sure about the taxes thing, but I thought that non US citizens should be paying taxes to their country of origin unless you're trying to become a U.S. citizen. If you do have to pay U.S. taxes, I'd allow for a figure of about 25%. You should write (or call) to the U.S. embassy in Malaysia (assuming there is one) and ask them if they have any legal and/or tax information they can mail to you for your situation.
  10. May 22, 2003 #9
    How long should I stay in US in order to obtain US permanent residency?
  11. May 22, 2003 #10
    I live in the Orlando, FL area, and $1800 per month would do wonders for me. I currently pay $380 for rent in a university-oriented apartment complex, and that includes electricity, water, internet connection, and cable TV. Next year it is going up to $412/month. You can easily find something for uner $500/month here. I don't eat out much, and I spend about $50/week on groceries. I don't have a car, just a bicycle.

    And then there is the cost of a phone, and miscellaneous stuff like movie tickets.

    This total is much lower than $1800/month.

    I live on about $8,000-$9,000 per year, plus the cost of tuition.
  12. May 22, 2003 #11
    Hmmm, unless things have changed without my knowing it, there is a difference between a temporary student visa and a ‘green card’ (permanent residence). If you are going to the US on a student visa it is expected that you will be leaving afterwards, not hanging around trying to get permanent residence.

    Are you going to apply first for a student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate?
    You will have to convince the authorities that you can do a few things like;

    Speak English
    (They want to know you can follow along with studies)

    Meet financial expenses
    (They don’t want you collecting welfare, food-stamps, etc.)

    Show evidence of intention to leave the US after your schooling is completed.
    (This one can be tough. They want to know that there are compelling reasons why you will leave following the completion of your schooling)

    In short, there are many types of visas and avenues you could consider. What is your preference?
  13. May 22, 2003 #12
    Saint, $1800/month is plenty -- that's more than most US grad students make. If U Minnesota is anything like U Wisconsin, you'll spend $300-$600/month on housing (depending on how nice you want). Parking varies, but outside of major cities (NYC, Chicago, etc) it's pretty cheap. You do want to make sure your apartment has a place to park nearby (some don't) -- and often this isn't room on the university campus for students to park there.

    As far as permanent residency... if you get a PhD in a science/engineering/computer field, and have a job lined up afterwards, you can almost certainly get your employer to sponsor you for a green card (permanent residency.)
  14. May 22, 2003 #13


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    Staff: Mentor

    I forgot to mention, I'm self employed. So I pay the second half of the SS tax. Thats like 7.5%. So maybe 25% is a better number for most people around that income range.
  15. Jun 11, 2003 #14
    I was enrolled into local university for my phd in engineering, i think i had better complete it and then plan to get an academic job in US. Hope to realise this in 4 years time.:smile:
  16. Jun 12, 2003 #15


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Saint, do you think you might be eligible for a tax-exemption? Take a look at the tax laws at www.irs.gov, for tax treaties, probably publication 901.

    I am from the Netherlands, staying in the US and I am exempt for two years.. one catch: if I stay a day longer, I will have to pay all the tax back over those two years.. but that depends on the country, Japan has a two-year tax exemption and they don't have to pay if they stay longer.
  17. Jun 30, 2003 #16
    My PHD is on the right track, I hope to finish it in 18 months, and get a job in US and further my research there in academic institutions.
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