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Archive for March, 2007

After writing this post, many H1B aspirants have been asking a lot of questions especially on the expenses of living in the US. Many of them are married and would like to know what are the additional expenses in bringing their spouse along with them and about having the delivery of their child in US. For the past few days I have been doing some research and collecting data which would help married guys to take decisions regarding the above. It is taking much more time than I thought so I am putting it off for a while and in the mean time I will answer a couple of questions concisely. I will elaborate on these in the blog post to come (maybe in a couple of weeks).

1. What is an average monthly cost for a couple to stay in CA?Is it possible to survive with an annual package of [60K annual + Health + Dental + Vision Insurance + paid vacations + sick leave etc]

There are a lot of factors to consider when we try to identify the expenses, but to make things simple I will concentrate on the most general ones.

  • Rent – $1200 – $1400
  • Utilities – $200
  • Phone + Internet + Cable – $100 – $150
  • Grocery – $400
  • Health Insurance premium- $200 (including spouse)
  • Car loan payments – $250
  • Car Insurance (depends on whether only one person drives or both of you drives) – $100 – $150 (this will reduce as you build a good driving record. I will explain what is a good driving record in the next post)
  • Gasoline – $100 – $150
  • Entertainment (eating out, visiting places, entertaining guests etc). This is optional – $100 (this is an irregular expense i.e. we might spend $20 a month and $150 another month)
  • Parking – If you work downtown and drive to work you will have to pay for your parking. Chances are low that companies in downtown would provide free parking to employees. It could vary anywhere between $75 to $200 per month.

We can see that the average expense is around $2000 – $2500.

A 60K salary means your monthly gross salary is $5000. Expect $3300 after tax (approx). So you can definitely survive with a 60K salary in CA. But your savings are not significant. But the idea is to get settled in the first year and then think about saving later. California is an expensive place. Other places might be comparatively cheaper. This is for living a decent life. Of course you can spend less if you want to, for eg., getting a cheaper apartment. Please note that we are not considering any unexpected expenses like medical emergencies or motor accidents etc. It is always a good idea to keep some money apart for such emergencies.

2. If I expect a child in US, then what will be the cost as far as care and child delivery is concerned? and do the child and parents gets any privileges in US?

Cost of having your child delivery in US mainly depends on a couple of factors:

  • Your insurance coverage
  • Whether it is a normal delivery or Cesarean

Typically insurance covers 90% of medical expenses while you pay 10%. Sometimes it can be 80-20 which means you shell out more money. Get the best insurance coverage if you plan to have the delivery in US.

Normal delivery costs will be approx $8000. So you spend like $800-$1000. But Cesarean is very expensive – like $25,000. So you pay $2500 – $3000 as hospital expenses. Cesarean means you also have to spend more days in the hospital and more money on medicines. Recovery period is longer too.

Irrespective of these factors, you have to pay for periodic checkups during the pregnancy periods and tests required, if any. There is a typical copay of $20 which you have to pay when you see the doctor. The rest is covered by insurance. Copay for emergency visits will be more, typically $100.

Then there is the expense of bringing your mother/mother-in-law or maybe both and sometimes father and/or father-in-law also for take care of your wife during and after the pregnancy. Assuming you bring just your mother/mother-in-law it would cost like $2000 for visa and flight tickets. If you bring mother/mother-in-law and father/father-in-law then the cost would be double and you might also have to move into a bigger apartment.

Once the delivery is over, other expenses kick in. Baby food is a little expensive. You need to buy diapers and other stuff regularly. If you plan to get a nanny, the expenses would sky-rocket. Day-care centers are also expensive. (More details on the actual expenses in the next post). Babies tend to get ill very often and that is something we cannot neglect. So naturally medical expenses also increase. Currently I dont have any information about the expenses of sending the kid to school, but I will try to get something on that.

If the child is born in US, he is automatically a US citizen. You can get him/her a US passport in a few days. This means you dont have to worry about getting the child a US visa, but will require a visa when you take the child to India (but that is much easier). The child is entitled to all benefits other US citizens will get but the parents don’t get any privileges. However, when the child becomes an adult, he can file for your Green card (not very useful considering the time period required for the child to become an adult, huh ?)

3. My wife in well qualified, Can she work in US legally by any way?

Your wife will be on H4 and cannot work legally in the US. However she can change to a H1 visa and start working (More details on this in the next post).

4. I will be signing an agreement with my employer. From legal point of view, can I break that agreement and go for a change?

The rule of thumb is to avoid getting sued. Legal expenses are more than affordable for the common man. The validity of the agreement you sign may or may not hold up in court depending on federal and state laws and also on the clauses mentioned in the agreement. Nobody can force you to work in a company if you dont want to work there (“Employment is at will”) but they might be able to show that your resignation caused them considerable financial losses and might ask you for compensation. Whether or not you win the case is not the point. The point is that a large sum of money is required for the lawsuit as lawyer fees. That said, the chances of the company taking you to court is low, due to loss of goodwill from other employees and due to the expenses involved. Ok, now my recommendation – work with this company for 6 months or 1 year. Then look for a better job or negotiate for better pay. Once you are on a project the company usually dont have much option other than to pay what you ask for. But this might ruin your relationship with your employer and is not recommended. It would take about a year for you to become settled (getting car, buying required things etc) so I think you should stay with your first employer for that period. By that time you will get to know more about life and work in the US and will be able to make better decisions.

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Alex Ionescu, the reverse engineering prodigy who came into limelight when news spread that he found a way to bypass the Microsoft Vista DRM, had interviews with 3 of the world’s top software companiesMicrosoft, Google and Apple – and got offers from all three companies!

Guess which company he chose ? Find out here.

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Today I saw an ad in Craigslist for selling a Sony Vaio (the URL will work for only 7 days). The seller says:

Sony Vaio Laptop – “BEST BRAND LAPTOP”
– Laptop – Very Fast –

Comes with XP, Office, McAffee

DVD/CD-RW

Blah… Blah….

Towards the end of the ad, we see the true colors:

Pentium III
192 mb of Ram – Very fast
Huge 12 Gigabyte Hard drive

So you think this ultra modern machine would be expensive? Not at all, my friend. You get all these for a mere $419 !

Any takers for this great deal ? Respond fast, this is sure to go fast.

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PCWorld lists the most important people on the world wide web. Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt tops the list and Steve Jobs comes second while Bill Gates is not on the list at all. Unbelievably I am not in the list either!

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Running With Scissors

Running With ScissorsRunning with Scissors is an unbelievable story. Nevertheless, it is a true story and it is written by the person who could tell it best – the person who lived the story. Running with Scissors is the memoirs of Augusten Burroughs who has authored other books like Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects, Sellevision etc. Running with Scissors was #1 on the Newyork Times Bestseller list and stayed on the list for two and a half consecutive years. The book was made into a movie by the same name by director Ryan Murphy who also wrote the screenplay. The movie has been nominated for the 2007 Golden Globe award. The novel Sellevision is also being made into a movie by director Mark Bozek.

In Running with Scissors, the author tells his story as a teenager who used to be a neat freak but is forced to live in a house where they put turds on the picnic table and consider them as words from God. Augusten is gay, his parents are divorced, his mother is lesbian and she is mentally unstable and is treated by a weird psychiatrist, his boyfriend is a psycho and he lives in a madhouse where he lives an unbelievable life which is portayed in the book in the most humorous way, though dark by its very nature. The very fact that Augusten finds humor in these situations is what makes this book outstanding. I believe that for the same reason he was able to survive through his childhood without losing his sanity – seeing the humor in the dark episodes of one’s life. Augusten could have written his story in a different way – the sad story of a child facing abuse from his family and all those around him or a motivational story of a child who suffered hardships and fought his way through. But Augusten chose the best way and if we give it a second thought we can see that the story is really inspiring too. A lot of people, including me, would fare a lot better if we could see the humor in life. But we just see the melancholy, the drama, the losses, the tears – the unfair life.

I would rate this book 5 stars – it is original, humorous, thought provoking, brilliantly written and highly entertaining.

P.S. Augusten has a blog here.

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I am back into the reading groove. I am really completing the books that I start reading and that is something that hasn’t happened much in the recent past. I was always a voracious reader. A small mountain of Balarama and Poompatta was my best friend when I was a kid. I had read all the Tintin adventures and most of Asterix & Obelix comics by the time I was 10 years old. Hundreds of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Famous Five, Secret Seven books were devoured with a passion not shown for anything else. I had read the Illiad and Odyssey before my classmates even knew they existed. In college I shifted to Sidney Sheldon, Frederick Forsythe and Jeffrey Archer. While struggling with my engineering studies I got interested in computers and programming and slowly I moved towards technical books. This caused a slight change in my reading habit – I started to quit reading books in midway. Since tech books are usually dense and would require a good amount of concentration and effort to read the reading process would be slow. By the time I read a few chapters I would grow interested in an another book. So I would leave this one and move to another. I remember having read somewhere that the habit of browsing the internet a lot tend to shorten your attention span and ability to concentrate. This could be true since we are always moving from one webpage to another and from one window to another (ALT + TAB). The page has to be really interesting to us to make us stay there for more an a few seconds. Whatever the reason, I found my reading habit disappointing – I was never reading a book to completion. The Tipping Point was the first book which I read fully after a long period. Recently I have started reading fiction again which has brought back the tendency to finish the book. I am carefully limiting my fiction reading to a few carefully chosen titles (due to lack of time) and I am planning to write reviews of the book I read (both fiction and non-fiction). I have already written a couple of reviews (here and here) but I intend to do this more frequently. I just wrote the first review (Running From Scissors) but I thought I would write about writing reviews first before actually posting the review to give my dedicated blog readers (yes, all 3 of them) a little context.

You can see a list of books I am currently reading here. All the reviews would be under the “Book-Review” tag.

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