Real Life in America

greener grass

Real life in America isn't always the "greener grass" many people expect. Perhaps you have heard the American expression, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". It describes the inclination to look around and assume that everyone else has it better than you.

It's fairly common for foreigners to think of America as a very wealthy country where life is comfortable and luxurious (the "greener grass"). While this perception has some basis in truth, it is far from an accurate picture of real life in America for most people. This false perception often causes conflict and difficulty in relationships between Americans and foreigners.

And this isn't only the case with "gold diggers" (women who date and marry mostly for material wealth). Many normal women with sincere intentions have trouble adapting to real life in America.

This page, while TO Russian/Ukrainian women, I hope will be a resource for American/Western men. I'm not really sure how you can use it. It might be risky to just send your lady a link to this page. But maybe you can copy/paste it and send it to her without disclosing the source. Only you can decide the best way to use this. I'll leave the implementation to you.

Dear Russian/Ukrainian Woman

In this page I am speaking directly to you, a Russian or Ukrainian woman who wants to come to the U.S., or is already planning marry an American and come to the U.S. I'm sure much of what I say would apply to Canada, Australia, Western Europe, and other advanced countries, but my comments here are directly addressing the situation as it exists in America since that is the culture I know best.

I want to paint a little picture of real life in America for you. This may help you adjust your expectations and make the adjustment easier, or it may just scare you away. But, better to be scared away than to come with false expectations of what you will find.

The Biggest Surprise in America

Probably the biggest surprise you (a foreign woman) will face when you come to America to marry your man is MONEY.


"K" means "thousand", so $50K means $50000

When you hear that your man earns $50K, $75K, $85K, $100K per year, or more, it may be hard for you to imagine that this income does not provide a very good life.

But when one accurately considers the whole picture, the income, and the costs, and the debts, real life in America may not be exactly what you expect.

The Cold Hard Numbers

Let's take a closer look at the details of a very normal situation. Grab a notebook, pen, and calculator and follow along...

In America a man earning $75K/year is in the top 12% of income earners in America (see Personal Income in the United States (Wikipedia)). These figures may vary a little over time, but they still illustrate valid points.

Most American men who seek a partner abroad will be over 40 years old and will earn between $50K and $100K per year, so this picture I will attempt to paint will be fairly applicable to most men you will meet.

Men who are in engineering, accounting, I.T., corporate lower or middle management, and many self-employed small business owners will earn $75K-$100K.

The Unavoidable Expenses - The "Bills"

From that $75K this man probably pays over $55K/year in normal, unavoidable expenses, like:
  • Taxes (minimum 25% of income, or $18750)
  • Housing (mortgage/rent, maintenance/repair, insurance, property taxes, total is at least $1700/month)
  • Car (maintenance/repair, insurance, gas, registration, minimum $400/month - assuming the car is paid off)
  • Health Insurance (this can easily be more than $500/month per person, $6000/year)
  • Electricity/gas (in Dallas electricity can easily be over $250/month in the Summer and gas can be $150/month in Winter)
  • Internet (minimum $50/month, at least $100/month for GOOD internet)
  • Water (in Dallas $60/month in Summer, $30 the rest of the year)
  • Phone (mobile phone service is minimum $50/month per phone)
Of course these are all averages. For housing you could go three years without any special repair expense, then your air conditioner will die and cost $8000 to replace (yes, home air conditioners cost THAT much). Or you will discover that your house has "termite infestation" and that treatment and repairs will run $10000.

The same goes for the car repairs. Some maintenance is expected and planned, like oil changes every three months, new tires every three years, new brakes every few years, etc.

Then one day the starter fails and needs to be replaced at a cost of $1500. Or the automatic transmission fails. That will probably cost over $3000.

So when I say that car expense is $400/month, that's a long-term average including normal maintenance and occasional unexpected high cost repairs spread out over the life of the car.

Discretionary Spending

"Discretionary spending" is that spending about which you have more choice.

Of course you actually have a choice about all your spending.

You could live in a house trailer and have lower housing cost. You can suffer the heat without an air conditioner and save a lot on electricity. You can drive a 25 year old pickup truck and save on car expense. You get the idea. But changing those items involve much bigger life choices.

If you add up all those unavoidable cost estimates above you will see that the total is around $55K USD per year. So after paying the bills there is around $20K remaining each year. That's $1700/month. That's the "discretionary income".

Perhaps $1700/month could go a long way in a small town in Ukraine, but not in America.

In real life in America any normal couple will spend $800/month on "food and supplies". This is food bought at the store and prepared at home and some typical household supplies like cleaners, toothpaste, napkins, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, etc.

NOW let's suppose that this normal couple has a very conservative entertainment/social life and only once per week goes out to dinner at a modest restaurant and a movie. That's probably $50/week (restaurant $30, movie $20), which is about $200/month.

SO NOW, after all these unavoidable, absolutely necessary costs, plus a little minimal regular entertainment expense, there is around $700/month left to truly spend freely as you and your man wish. THAT MEANS there is $700/month to spend on:
  • Vacations
  • Travel
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Make-up
  • Hair
  • Nails
  • Gym memberships
  • Home remodeling/decorating
  • Any additional local entertainment
  • Any UNEXPECTED COSTS (there are always some)

The Bottom Line

THIS BASICALLY MEANS that if all you do is go out to dinner and a movie (or equivalent) together once per week and buy normal food and supplies, and NOTHING ELSE, you might be able to go on a 4-day tropical beach vacation once every five months.

Of course if you're willing to only have vacations within a one-day driving distance and very budget accommodations you'll be able to do those a little more frequently.

AND REMEMBER, $75K/year is well above average, richer than 88% of America. But when you look really closely it doesn't sound that luxurious, does it? But that's real life in America!

And don't get excited if your man earns $90K or $100K per year. That certainly helps a little, but you'll still feel the same basic stress as you would for the $75K man.

I would guess that by now you are feeling a little stressed out. If so, welcome to real life in America. We can never quite afford all we want and need. At least if you're feeling this way now, you can start adapting to that reality now so that your transition will be smoother later.

But I'm looking for a RICH MAN...

I do understand that some Russian/Ukrainian women are not looking for that man in the top 12%, but really want a man in the top 1%, a "successful man", a doctor, a lawyer, a governor, a senator, a CEO; someone who earns at least a half million dollars/year who has a very comfortable, luxurious, "VIP" life. They don't just want the normal experience.

First you should know that this is a little like the 60 year old man with below average income, a little overweight and unfit, and not especially good looking or charming who searches only for a 25 year old Ukrainian model who is selfless, sweet, kind, speaks English, is family-minded, and who is willing to marry a fat, broke, unfit man 10 years older than her dad.

Unless there is something very exceptional about you, you will just be another woman chasing after the prince that all the other women are also chasing.

But besides that, if it is your goal to find that top 1% man, here are the other challenges you face...

Wealthy American men don't want women with materialistic motives

And most wealthy American men don't want women who are interested in them for their money, and they ALWAYS know when this is a woman's motivation. Actually, most wealthy American men ASSUME that their wealth is a woman's motivation, and they only let down their guard when they see lots of evidence to the contrary.

Wealthy American men aren't often seeking foreign women

Since there are not so many wealthy men, many local women are seeking them. So it rarely occurs to wealthy American men to seek a foreign woman. Sure, if you are the next leading lady in a James Bond movie, like Olga Kurylenko, then some REALLY rich American man might notice you and take an interest. But if you haven't yet starred in a James Bond movie or recently appeared on the cover of Cosmo magazine you might want to adjust your expectations.

"Normal" American men have learned how to LOOK and SOUND wealthy

It's just a normal part of American culture for people to try to look and sound better off than they really are. This especially true in the world of single men.

They know that women are often interested in wealthy men, so they have learned how to PRETEND they are wealthy so that they can get hot women. They may even seem to have very nice things, and live in a very nice house, and talk about their "investments" and "stock portfolio". But it is entirely possible that this is more fake than real.


"Real debt" means credit card debt, car loan debt, etc. A mortgage isn't what I would call "real debt" because usually the house is worth more than one owes on the mortgage.

They may owe more to the bank than all their things are worth. Or the whole story may just be complete fiction. It could take you years to discover that his wealth is a mirage.

In real life in America a man who really even earns $75K/year and has no real debt is in REALLY good shape!

OR he won't be young, smart, healthy, fit, good looking, or even interesting

With the already extremely slim chance that you might be so fortunate as to find this wealthy man who has a good heart and all the best motives, the odds that he'll also be YOUNG (under 40), SMART, PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY, FIT, and GOOD LOOKING, and even a little bit interesting and charming are astronomically slim. Sorry, but fate is rarely that kind.

It's just an example...

Please understand, all of the above is just a very general picture of real life in America for an above-average earner. In reality there can be a wide variability in the specific details that may make a particular man's world seem brighter (or darker) than others.

A man who earns $150K/year may have LESS money left over after the bills and expenses than a man who earns $60K, but maybe the $150K man has a bigger, newer home. But then maybe the $60K man's life allows for more travel than the $150K man's life allows.

Or maybe a $50K/year man lives in an older and not so nice house, but the mortgage is paid off and the house is one kilometer from the BEACH in Florida. Maybe the house isn't very new and nice, but you can WALK to the beach in 10 minutes (yes, there are old, small, inexpensive houses not far from the beach in Florida). And with the mortgage paid off, that's one very large regular expense that he doesn't have.

See how much difference a few little details make?

NOW the Good News

None of this stuff bothers most Americans that much because they understand it. They wake up every weekday morning, go to work, don't have as much vacation time as they would like, have difficulty paying for everything they want and need, but still it works for them.

That's because it's what they EXPECT. It is just real life in America. They don't expect to be able to take several long international vacations every year, or live in a half-million dollar home in the best part of town, or buy expensive clothing, furniture, jewelry, boats, cars, vacations, etc. They just decide what's most important to them and PRIORITIZE, and WORK TOGETHER to obtain those things.

And if they are fortunate enough to have someone special with whom to share these struggles of life together, then they can be truly HAPPY.

But the REALLY good news is that America's nickname is "The Land of Opportunity". This means that if you don't like the way your life is, YOU can change it! You can work hard, come up with creative ways to earn more money, etc., YOU could contribute to making your life and your husband's life more pleasant and beautiful.

Most of America's greatest success stories come from people who started with humble beginnings. America is the place where hard work, perseverance, creativity, and ambition can lead to great wealth.

Bill Gates was not born to royalty or wealth. Personal computers were his hobby and his passion, and he just had a dream of a personal computer on every desk in the world. That dream has practically come true, and now Bill Gates is the wealthiest man in the world. Bill Gates dropped out of university because it interfered with his hobby.

Or, maybe you are a not a Windows person, but a Mac/iPhone/iPad person... Steve Jobs, the founder/father of Apple/Macintosh/iPhone/iPad, also came from humble beginnings, and also did not finish college/university, yet went on to become one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Maybe you use a Dell computer. Michael Dell also didn't finish university. He wasn't rich or powerful when he started, and didn't have rich or influential parents. He just had a dream of providing good computers at a good price. Now his name is on a large percentage of computers worldwide, And now he's one of the wealthiest men in America.

Surely you have a Facebook page. Mark Zuckerberg, the owner/founder of Facebook, started in humble beginnings, but he had a dream, and quit university to work toward it. Now he's among the wealthiest men in the world. He also didn't finish university.

Maybe you have heard about Wal-Mart, America's largest and most popular and successful retail store chain. It was founded by Sam Walton around 1950. Sam Walton was also born into humble beginnings and became one of the wealthiest men in the world at one time.

Instead of coming here feeling that your man must provide you with a wealthy, comfortable, luxurious life, if you came with an OPEN MIND, REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS about real life in America, willing to learn, and willing to work toward goals TOGETHER, you could have a VERY happy and beautiful life!

Now you're ready!

I hope that hearing about real life in America hasn't frightened you off, but has rather made the picture more clear so that it won't be such a bad surprise later. By knowing this NOW and dealing with it emotionally and discussing it with your man, you have a much better chance of facing these challenges later.

But if it does frighten you away, that's better than coming to America with false expectations and creating disappointment and causing a likely divorce.