‘The Big Bang Theory’: Did Raj Koothrappali Really Need an Allowance From His Parents?

For a show about a group of researchers from California, The Big Bang Theory writers sure mentioned money a lot. Raj Koothrapalli and his family’s wealth was a topic of conversation often, and most fans know that the astrophysicist was relying heavily on his parent’s extreme wealth to swing his lifestyle, but did he really need it? When you consider how much money Raj actually made, it’s very possible he could have lived pretty comfortably on his own merits.  

What was Raj’s job?

Raj worked as an astrophysicist at CalTech. With a Ph.D., Raj moves to the United States to take a research position at CalTech.  He quickly befriended Leonard Hofstader and Howard Wolowitz. Sheldon Cooper becomes a friend by proxy, and eventually, Raj opens up to Penny, too.

Educated at the University of Cambridge, Raj would have likely earned a good salary for his work at CalTech. According to Chron, an astrophysicist, like Raj, would probably earn around $115,000 per year. After taxes were factored in, he’d take home around $6,000 each month for his work at the university. Pasadena is a pretty expensive city to live in, but Raj probably could have made his salary work as a single person.

How much was Raj’s allowance?

Raj’s allowance is mentioned multiple times over the 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory. It becomes something of a running joke and everyone from Sheldon to Howard weighs in on how Raj pays his bills. What is never mentioned, however, is the exact amount of the allowance.

Fans do eventually find out that Dr. Koothrappali pays Raj’s rent, his car-related costs, and his credit card bills each month. Assuming that Raj’s car payments and insurance cost about $500 per month and his rent payment are average for the area, we can assume that Dr. K is footing the bill for at least $2500 per month. Adding in credit card payments may raise the allowance figure significantly, depending on how much Raj is spending per month.

Could he survive without his parent’s help?

After Raj’s parents divorced, they pull his allowance. Raj’s mother, however, claims that his father decided to pull funding because he could no longer afford it. Based on the way Raj’s family money is spoken about, that was unlikely to be accurate, but did Raj really need his parents’ money to survive? It doesn’t look like it.

Raj lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena, like the rest of the group. His apartment was much larger than Penny’s but it wasn’t ostentatious by any means. The average rent in Pasadena is around $2,000 per month. Assuming he paid the going rate, Raj would have about $3,900 leftover after making his rent payment.

Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco)
Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Rent isn’t the only bill that Raj would have to pay, though. Internet access, cable, and electricity would cost the socially anxious astrophysicist an additional $600 per month. Eating out or getting takeout, as the friends are apt to do, would likely add an additional $300 a month to his bills. A car payment and insurance would likely add an additional $500 to his budget. Even factoring in all of his costs, Raj would probably have around $2,500 per month left over for fun money.  

While Raj is used to a pretty high-end life, do to his family’s money, he could totally get by on his salary. If Penny can make it work, albeit by taking handouts from her friends, Raj can totally survive without the help of his family, although he probably couldn’t buy whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted anymore.