Moving to the US from India: A Complete List of Considerations from an Indian who Lives In The US
Written by: Abhinit Modi
“It was my dream to live in California”, “I wanted to study among the best teachers and peers”, career, traveling, lifestyle, cross-cultural dating opportunities - people have quoted multitudinous reasons for moving to the US. A glamorous world, many of us grow up fantasizing about.
Like many other kids - I used to work at a tech giant in India, then came to the US to study, and got myself a much better job at another tech giant.
I have been living in the US for 4 years and although I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, I am considering moving back.
I have heard many different perspectives on this from people of different age groups, both men and women at different stages in life. Factors below are collective opinions and some objective facts.
Use them with a grain of salt.
We spend about 50% of our non-sleeping adult lives working. It is illogical to not take it seriously. I am assuming that you are missing something in your job and hence reading this article.
If it is money, I might not be able to make any strong comments. It all depends on what kind of savings difference you are looking at. But, remember: factor in the cost of living.
If your work culture currently sucks, there is a very high likelihood of it being significantly better, at least in most professions. But again, the warmth in your team is better off in India. Professional boundaries are rigid in the US unlike at home. Teammates in Hyderabad are some of the best friends I have made!
Peer quality. It is important that your team is equipped with skilled professionals. But clearly know what skills you want to grow in, see if your peer group has the bench strength for it. Have a high bar.
Work life balance. People value life and time in the US. Human resources being so abundant in India, there is never a dearth of that dude who will be ready to work on a Saturday.
Quality of work is the tricky part! I have hundreds of friends who complain with the quality of work even here. So to help you answer, ask what is it the problem you want to solve? Everyday. Think long, think beyond 7 years. If you do not have enough freedom, or the opportunity to solve that problem in the US, rethink. Job wise you will not have freedom to experiment, change or quit.
A very personal choice again. Not that some love their parents less, it all just works out for both of them.
This tangent tends to bend with time, with many people returning back after “some” years. Lesser festivals, lesser weddings - all a fragment of your conditioning. Distance of a couple hours vs a couple days (jet-lagged) makes a lot of difference.
People in the US generally enjoy a higher degree of everyday freedom.
You can do many things here, for which you would be judged, outcast, gawked at in India.
Making a living in the population and competition at India’s scale is no trivial task.
Professions do not have strong social status labels associated like in India.
Women safety cannot even be compared.
#4: Quality of Life
How easy is it to carry out mundane activities?
US offers automation and India offers leverage to subscribe for house help. Once you have a family it is hard to do everything by yourself is what I hear.
People are less selfish in the US but it takes effort to befriend them. Law and order is followed religiously.
Better roads and traffic.
Pollution and weather conditions - US wins hands down.
Luxury - You can afford a fancy ride, at least once in a while.
There are interesting things to do around - well maintained national parks, many hiking trails.
More importantly you get time - time for yourself, to pursue a hobby, to keep yourself healthy etc.
Undoubtedly earnings are higher even with the increased cost of living. But it gets hard if you are the only one earning in the family. PPP is a solid tool to evaluate.
Not all VISA statuses are friendly. Some situations can keep you in months of anxiety. Weigh your mental peace cautiously.
Where do you want to raise them? Growing up in the US, they will be Americans. Evaluate the kind of relationship you want to have with them.
#8: Social Life
Diverse people are a norm in the US. I made really great friends in grad school, but making connections outside of such a setting is hard, even at work.
Close knit colonies where a family is closely connected with 20 other families is not very common in the US.
Even after years, many people though comfortable and rich, lack a sense of not being a part of this community. It bothers you a very tiny bit because it is countered by many logical advantages. But it lingers in the back of your mind and aggregates over time. If you know you are gonna have a hard time connecting with culture there, your stay is gonna be short.
Why am I coming back?
No I have not had any realization and want to come back and transform a village. Nor is it that the love towards my family has increased a lot.
It is just that I want to at least have an option.
Experiment different job roles, products, than just run blindfolded. Take a break whenever I want. Do not worry about money much before quitting.
Get home in a couple hours.
Feel more useful to people.
Live with a sense of belongingness and not alienated.
Neither place is absolutely better or absolutely worse. Where you choose to live is a very personal decision that depends on your circumstances, preferences and timing as life keeps evolving and our perceptions and needs change with it.
Hence, do not make this decision because it is not an obvious yes. It was a few years back, maybe not now.
The biggest questions you want to ask yourself is -
What do I want more freedom in?
What kind of problems do I want to solve, how do I want to be of use?