The country of great opportunities, equal rights and unlimited freedoms with one of the largest economies in the world come from all over the world: every year the United States receives more than a million migrants. It is not difficult to find a job here, it is quite possible to build a career, the locals are tolerant of foreigners and everyone can live the way he likes. True, for complete well-being, you will have to work hard and spend a lot of money. We talk about the price of the American dream.
Work without rest
It's not just Japanese workaholics who burn out in the workplace: it's also a common diagnosis in the US. A quarter of Americans work for years without a vacation at all, while the rest have a very short one – from 10 to 14 days, but even taking it in its entirety is not customary. There are no long sick days either, and if a person works under a contract, he can lie down at home for a maximum of 2-3 days, which are not paid. It is hardest for young mothers: the United States is the only one among developed countries where there is practically no paid parental leave. Only 20% of working women can afford such a luxury, while the majority work until childbirth and return to their duties after 3 weeks.
The main items of expenditure in the United States are housing, medicine and education. On average, a house costs $217,000, and in some states up to half a million. The most expensive apartments are in large cities and suburbs. Renting a modest apartment in a decent area of New York will cost about 1500 USD. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment in California for 1800–2000 USD. About 200 USD is spent monthly on utilities, another 40–60 on mobile communications and the Internet.
At the same time, most houses do not have central heating and centralized hot water supply, the temperature in apartments does not exceed +20 °C, and water is heated in electric or gas boilers, and it lasts for 10-15 minutes. Why is it not customary in the US and Europe to leave apartments or houses as inheritances to children?
The cost of medical insurance in the USA is 250–400 USD per month, depending on the service package. But even it does not cover all expenses in full: it usually does not include dentistry and aesthetic medicine, and in the case of a major operation, 10% of the bill will have to be paid in addition to insurance. Often you need to pay extra for other medical procedures, and for calling an ambulance.
Treatment without insurance is even more expensive: a visit to a therapist is 200–300 USD, an ultrasound scan or an ambulance call is 500 USD, a crown for one tooth is 2000 USD. It is not surprising that many immigrants go to be examined or treated at home, especially when it comes to dentistry. It is almost impossible to self-medicate in the USA: most of the drugs, even the most common ones, are not sold here without a prescription. To get it, you have to go to the doctor; if you have insurance, such a visit will cost at least 20 USD.
Life on credit
Few can buy a home without a mortgage in the United States: the cost of a house is 3.5 times the average annual income of an American family. According to statistics, 40 million Americans spend a third of their income on home loans, 20 million – more than half. For debts, you can easily be left without a roof over your head, so the poor people of the country are homeless or move to trailers, like the heroine of the Oscar-winning film “Land of Nomads”.
But the credit history of most Americans does not even begin with a mortgage, but with a student loan: a year of study at a university can cost 30–40 thousand USD, and such loans take more than a dozen years to repay. They also buy many other things on credit – cars, household appliances, the same medical insurance. In total, in 2021, the inhabitants of the country owed banks 15 trillion USD. Why do not parents, but children take a student loan in the USA?
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Everyday spending in the US involves additional costs that are invisible at first glance. Tipping in restaurants, hotels, gas stations and taxis is mandatory and is the highest tip in the world – 15-25% of the bill. For convenience, the check immediately indicates the size of the tip.
But you have to calculate the sales tax yourself: in each state it is different, it is not included in the price of the goods, and at the checkout you have to pay 5–10% more than indicated on the price tag. For example, an iPhone costing $969 will actually cost $1,110. Other fees, such as city, county, or state taxes, also increase the real cost of goods.