An expat living in India

Expat India

An expat living in India

Life in the Subcontinent

Introduction

India is a vast and diverse country in South Asia, known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes. It is the world’s seventh-largest country by land area and the second-most populous country, with over 1.3 billion people. The country is home to various cultures, languages, and major religions, which have all contributed to the country’s unique identity. From the bustling cities of Mumbai and Delhi to the tranquil backwaters of Kerala and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, India offers a range of experiences for travellers to explore.

India is also known for its vibrant cuisine, which varies greatly depending on the region. From spicy curries and flavorful street food to vegetarian dishes and traditional sweets, there is something for every palate in India. The country has a rich history, with ancient civilizations dating back thousands of years, including the Indus Valley Civilization and the Maurya and Gupta Empires. Visitors to India can explore historical sites such as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, and the ancient temples of Hampi.

Despite its challenges, including poverty and social inequality, India is a country of incredible resilience, with a rapidly growing economy and a thriving tech industry. Visitors to India can expect to be captivated by the country’s vibrancy, diversity, and warmth, as well as its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty.

Living As An Expat In India

Living as an expat in India can be an unforgettable experience of adventure, learning, and cultural exchange. However, it can also be a challenging experience as you adjust to the local customs and way of life.

Here are some tips to help make the most out of your time as an expat in India:

Embrace the Culture: India has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and living there provides a unique opportunity to learn and experience it firsthand. Be open to new experiences, try local cuisine, and participate in festivals and celebrations.

Learn the Language: While English is widely spoken in India, learning the local language can help you connect with the locals and make your experience even more rewarding. Many language schools and online resources are available for expats to learn Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and other local languages.

Plan your Finances: The cost of living in India can be relatively low compared to many Western countries, but it can also vary greatly depending on where you live. Major cities like Mumbai and Delhi can be expensive, while smaller towns and rural areas may be more affordable. It’s important to budget and plans your finances accordingly.

Stay Healthy and Safe: India has a different standard of healthcare compared to many Western countries, and it’s essential to have health insurance and take precautions to stay healthy. Safety can also be a concern in some areas, and it’s critical to be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions.

Explore the Country: India is a vast and diverse country with many beautiful destinations. Take advantage of your time there to travel and see the sights, from the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas to the tropical paradise beaches of Goa.

Living as an expat in India can be a challenging and rewarding experience. By embracing the culture, learning the language, planning your finances, staying healthy and safe, and exploring the country, you can make the most of your time there and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Expat city life in India

Cost of Living

The cost of living in India as an expat can vary depending on the city you’re living in, your lifestyle, and your personal preferences. Overall, India is generally considered to be an affordable country to live in.

Housing is usually the most considerable expense for expats, especially if you’re living in one of a major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, or Bangalore. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre can range from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 per month, depending on the location and quality of the apartment.

Food is generally affordable in India, mainly if you stick to local cuisine. A meal in a budget restaurant can cost as little as INR 100-150, while a meal in a mid-range restaurant can cost between INR 300-600 per person. If you cook at home, groceries can be cheap, especially if you shop at local markets rather than supermarkets.

Transportation is also relatively cheap in India, mainly if you use public transportation like buses or trains. Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Ola are also widely available and affordable, depending on the distance you travel.

Overall, the cost of living in India is lower than in many other countries, making it an attractive destination for expats looking to live on a budget. However, it’s essential to remember that the cost of living can vary widely depending on your lifestyle and the city you’re living in.

Where To Live in India

Choosing where to live in India as an expat will depend on your personal preferences, your work location, and your lifestyle. Here are some popular cities for expats to consider:

Bangalore: The “Silicon Valley” of India, Bangalore is a popular destination for expats working in the tech industry. The city has a vibrant nightlife, excellent dining options, and plenty of green spaces.

Mumbai: As India’s financial capital, Mumbai is a bustling city with plenty of job opportunities. It’s also known for its excellent food, nightlife, and cultural attractions, making it a great place to live for expats who want to experience the best of India’s urban life.

Delhi: India’s capital city is a hub for politics, business, and culture. It’s home to some of India’s most famous landmarks, including the Red Fort and the India Gate. Delhi has a lively cultural scene, excellent dining options, and many job opportunities.

Pune: In the western state of Maharashtra, Pune is a smaller city popular among expats for its pleasant weather, relaxed lifestyle, and excellent schools. It’s also home to a growing tech industry, making it a great place for expats working there.

Chennai: Located on India’s southeast coast, Chennai is a major bustling city with a rich cultural heritage. It has a vibrant music scene, job opportunities, and some of the country’s best beaches.

Ultimately, the best place to live in India as an expat will depend on your preferences and priorities. It’s a good idea to research each city and visit them to understand what living there is like before deciding.

How To Find Accommodation

Finding accommodation in India as an expat can be challenging, but there are several resources and strategies you can use to make the process easier:

Online rental portals: Websites like MagicBricks, 99acres, and Housing.com are popular online rental portals in India where you can browse listings for apartments, villas, and houses in different cities. You can also filter your search based on your preferences, such as location, price range, and the number of bedrooms.

Real estate agents: Working with a real estate agent can be helpful, especially if you’re new to India and don’t know the local language or customs. Real estate agents can help you find suitable properties based on your requirements and budget, negotiate with landlords, and assist with paperwork and legal formalities.

Social media groups: There are several social media groups for expats in India where you can connect with other expats and ask for recommendations on accommodation. Many expats also post their listings on these groups.

Local newspapers: Some newspapers have classified sections where landlords and tenants can advertise their properties for rent. This can be a good option if you’re looking for a more traditional approach.

Serviced apartments: If you need help determining where you want to live in India, or if you’re only planning to stay for a short period, consider renting a serviced apartment. Serviced apartments come fully furnished and equipped with all the amenities you need, such as a kitchen, laundry facilities, and housekeeping services.

When looking for accommodation in India, it’s essential to remember that costs can vary depending on the location and quality of the property, including the amenities provided. It’s also important to negotiate with landlords and, most importantly, clarify all the terms and conditions of the rental agreement before signing.

Mumbai skyline

Education & Studying

India has a diverse and vibrant education system, with many world-renowned institutions of higher learning. As an expat, you may choose to study in India yourself, or you may be considering schools for your children. Here are some things to research and keep in mind:

Language: The official language of instruction in most Indian schools and universities is English. However, depending on the school, students may also be required to learn Hindi or another regional language.

Cost: The cost of education in India varies widely depending on the institution and the program you choose. Public universities in India are generally more affordable than private institutions, but private schools and universities may offer scholarships and other financial aid for international students.

Quality: India has several high-quality universities and schools recognized globally for their academic excellence. The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are two of the most prestigious institutions in India.

International schools: If you’re looking for schools for your children, several international schools in India offer curricula from other countries, such as the International Baccalaureate or the British GCSEs and A-Levels. These schools may be a good option if you want your children to have a familiar educational experience.

Entrance exams: Many universities in India require students to take entrance exams, such as the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for engineering programs or the Common Admission Test (CAT) for management programs. These exams can be quite competitive and may require significant preparation.

Overall, India offers expats a wide range of educational opportunities, from primary and secondary schools to universities and professional programs. It’s important to research different institutions and programs thoroughly before deciding and considering factors like cost, quality, and language requirements.

High School students India

Working & Employment

India is a popular destination for expats looking for work and employment opportunities. Below are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering working in India as an expat:

Visa and work permits: To work in India as an expat, you’ll need a valid work visa and work permit. These can be obtained through the Indian embassy or consulate in your home country.

Job market: India has a rapidly growing economy and a diverse job market, with opportunities in fields like information technology, engineering, finance, and healthcare. However, competition for jobs can be high, and it’s essential to have a robust set of skills and qualifications to stand out.

Language: English is widely spoken and used in business in India, but knowledge of Hindi or another regional language may be an advantage depending on the industry.

Salaries and benefits: Salaries for expats in India can vary widely depending on the industry, location, and experience level. Some employers may also provide benefits like health insurance, accommodation, and transportation.

Cultural differences: Working in India can be challenging due to cultural differences, such as hierarchical structures and different communication styles. Being open-minded and willing to adapt to the local culture is essential.

Taxation: As an expat working in India, you may be subject to local taxes. It’s essential to understand India’s tax laws and regulations and consult with a tax advisor or accountant to ensure compliance.

Overall, working in India as an expat can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Still, being prepared and informed about the job market, cultural differences, and legal requirements is essential. Researching different industries and companies, networking with other expats and locals, and seeking professional advice can help you find the right job and smoothly transition to working in India.

Transportation

You would have heard of the driving conditions in India. The tremendous traffic volume is the first thing you’ll notice (at least in the major cities), and in some rural areas, the roads are shared with animals and transport carts. It is also common to notice the lack of lane discipline, and like in Western nations, honking your horn is not frowned upon; you will constantly hear this sound, free-for-all!

Transportation for expats in India can vary depending on their city and region. Here are some standard modes of transportation:

Public transportation: This is widely available in most Indian cities, including buses, metro trains, and suburban trains. These options are generally affordable and can be an excellent way to navigate the city, but they can also be crowded and uncomfortable during peak hours.

Taxis and ride-sharing services: Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Ola are widely available in most major Indian cities. These services can be convenient and relatively affordable, but traffic can be heavy, and driving can be challenging.

Auto-rickshaws: These are a popular form of transportation in many Indian cities. These three-wheeled vehicles are smaller and more manoeuvrable than taxis, but they can also be more expensive and less comfortable.

Personal vehicle: Some expats may buy or rent a private car for transportation in India. However, driving in India can be challenging due to heavy traffic, poor road conditions, and different driving customs.

Researching transportation options in your location and considering factors like safety, cost, and convenience is essential. Many expats find it helpful to ask for recommendations from locals or other expats and to gradually explore different modes of transportation as they become more comfortable with the local environment.

Rickshaw transport

Healthcare

Healthcare for expats in India can be of varying quality, depending on the location and the specific medical facility. Here are some suggestions and things to keep in mind:

Medical insurance: Expats must obtain medical insurance covering their stay in India. This can help cover the cost of medical treatment in case of illness or injury.

Hospitals and clinics: India has both public and private hospitals and clinics. Private hospitals are more expensive but offer higher quality care and better facilities. Some popular private hospitals in India include Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Hospitals, and Max Healthcare.

Doctors and specialists: It’s essential to research and chooses a reputable doctor or specialist for any medical treatment. Expats may want recommendations from other expats, colleagues, or locals.

Prescription medications: Many prescription medications are available in India, but ensuring they are genuine and reputable is essential. Expats may want to consult a doctor or pharmacist to ensure they receive the correct medication and dosage.

Alternative therapies: India has a long tradition of alternative and complementary therapies, such as Ayurveda and yoga. Expats may be interested in exploring these options, but it’s essential to research and choose a reputable practitioner.

Medical emergencies: In a medical emergency, expats can call for an ambulance by dialling 108 or 102. Private ambulances are also available for hire.

Overall, expats in India can access high-quality medical care. Still, it’s essential to research and chooses reputable facilities and practitioners and to obtain medical insurance to cover the cost of treatment.

Banking

Banking in India for expats can be pretty straightforward, provided you have the necessary documents and follow the correct procedures.  

Types of accounts: Expats can open two accounts in India – Non-Resident External (NRE) and Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) accounts. The NRE account holds foreign currency earnings, while the NRO account holds income earned in India.

Documents required: To open a bank account in India, you will need to provide your passport and visa, as well as proof of address, such as a rental agreement or utility bill. Depending on the bank’s requirements, you may also need to provide additional documents.

Choosing a bank: India has a large number of banks, both private and public. Choosing a reputable bank with a good track record and convenient services such as online banking and ATM access is essential.

Currency exchange: Expats can easily exchange foreign currency for Indian Rupees at banks or authorized currency exchange providers. Comparing exchange rates and fees ensures you get a good deal.

Taxation: Expats may be subject to taxation on their income earned in India, depending on their residency status and the duration of their stay. It is essential to consult a tax professional to understand your tax obligations.

Overall, banking in India for expats can be simple and hassle-free, provided you have the necessary documentation and choose the right bank.

Cultural and Religious Immersion

India has diverse cultural and religious traditions, and for expats living in India, immersing oneself in the local culture and religion can be an enriching experience. Each state also has its own language and manner of dress. Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Christian, Persian, and Anglo-Indian are just a few of the faiths and ethnicities practised in India.

Festivals: India is known for its colourful festivals, and many are celebrated yearly. Participating in festivals like Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, and Eid can provide a glimpse into local customs and traditions.

Food: Indian cuisine is renowned for its spices and flavours, and trying local food is a great way to experience the culture. From street food to regional specialities, a wide range of options exist.

Language: Learning a few phrases in the local language can help with communication and make it easier to connect with locals. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India, but many other languages and dialects are spoken across the country.

Religious Sites: India has many significant sacred sites, including temples, mosques, and churches. Visiting these sites can provide insight into local spiritual practices and beliefs.

Cultural Centers: Many cities in India have cultural centres that offer classes, workshops, and events focused on local culture and traditions. Joining a local cultural centre or club can be a great way to meet people and learn more about the local culture.

Volunteer Work: Volunteering with local organizations can provide opportunities to interact with locals and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and issues faced by the community.

In summary, immersing oneself in the local culture and religion can be a rewarding experience for expats living in India. Participating in festivals, trying local food, learning the language, visiting religious sites, joining cultural centres, and volunteering can all provide opportunities to connect with locals and gain a deeper appreciation for Indian culture and traditions.

Spiritual India

Dressing

Dressing in India as an expat differs from what you may be used to in your home country. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to dressing in India:

Respect local customs: India has a rich cultural heritage and many customs and traditions that are still observed today. When it comes to dressing, it’s essential to respect local customs and dress modestly, particularly in religious or conservative areas. For women, this may mean covering your head, arms, and legs and avoiding clothing that is too tight or revealing. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts in public.

Keep the climate in mind: India can be hot and humid, particularly in summer. When dressing, it’s essential to keep the climate in mind and choose lightweight and breathable clothing. Cotton and other natural fibres are a good choice, as they will help to keep you cool and comfortable.

Be aware of cultural differences: India is a diverse country with many cultures and subcultures. What is acceptable in one region or community may not be in another. It’s essential to be aware of these cultural differences and to adjust your dress accordingly.

Consider practicality: India can be dusty and dirty, particularly in the cities. When choosing clothing, it’s important to consider suitability and select items that are easy to wash and maintain. Darker colours and fabrics that don’t show dirt easily may be a good choice.

Embrace local fashion: India has a rich fashion heritage, with many beautiful and unique clothing styles. Embracing local fashion can be a fun way to immerse yourself in the culture and show respect for local customs and traditions.

Overall, dressing in India as an expat may require some adjustment. Still, with some research and awareness of local customs and traditions, it can be an excellent opportunity to explore new styles and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Clothing in India

Food & Cuisine

India is known for its diverse and rich culinary culture, and a wide variety of food is available for expats to explore. Indian cuisine is heavily influenced by local traditions, regional flavours, and the availability of ingredients.

Some popular dishes in India include biryani, a spiced rice dish with meat or vegetables; butter chicken, a creamy tomato-based curry with chicken; and samosas, fried or baked pastries filled with spiced potatoes, peas, or meat. Other popular dishes include dosas, thin crepes made from rice and lentils, and chole bhature, a spicy chickpea curry served with fluffy fried bread.

Vegetarianism is also prevalent in India, with many delicious vegetarian dishes to explore. Popular vegetarian dishes include paneer tikka, grilled cubes of cheese marinated in spices, and palak paneer, a creamy spinach and cheese curry. Many street food options in India include chaat, a savoury snack made with crispy dough, chickpeas, and spices.

Overall, expats in India can enjoy a diverse and flavorful cuisine, with many options for meat eaters and vegetarians.

Thali plate from India

Weather

India has a diverse climate with varying weather conditions throughout the year. Expats moving to India should be aware of the weather patterns in the region they will be living in to prepare themselves accordingly. Here are some key points to consider:

Monsoon Season: India experiences monsoon season from June to September. Heavy rainfall and flooding can occur during this time, particularly in coastal regions and areas prone to landslides. It is essential to be prepared for potential disruptions to travel and daily routines during this season.

Heat Waves: India can experience extreme heat waves, particularly during summer (April-June). Temperatures can rise to over 40°C (104°F) in some parts of the country. It is essential to take necessary precautions, such as staying hydrated and avoiding outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day.

Winter Season: Winter season in India varies by region but generally lasts from December to February. Some parts of the country, particularly in the north, can experience cold temperatures and an occasional snowfall.

Cyclones and Tropical Storms: Coastal regions of India are prone to cyclones and tropical storms from May to November. These storms can cause strong winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding.

Air Quality: Air quality can be a concern in some parts of India, particularly in urban areas. Expats should be aware of pollution levels and take necessary precautions, such as wearing masks and limiting outdoor activities during high pollution.

In summary, expats moving to India should be aware of the weather patterns in the region they will be living in, particularly during the monsoon season, heat waves, winter season, cyclones and tropical storms, and air quality concerns. Taking necessary precautions can help expats stay safe and comfortable throughout the year.

India climate

Exploring

India is a vibrant and diverse country with a rich cultural heritage, and there is much to explore for expats living there. 

Historical Sites: India has numerous historical sites, including the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, and the ancient city of Hampi. Exploring these sites will give you a glimpse into India’s rich history and cultural heritage.

National Parks and Wildlife Reserves: India has a rich biodiversity, and many national parks and wildlife reserves exist to explore. Ranthambore National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, and Kanha National Park are just a few examples of the many wildlife reserves in India.

Beaches and Coastal Towns: India has a long coastline and many beautiful beaches and coastal towns to explore. Goa, Kerala, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are popular destinations for beach lovers.

Hill Stations: India also has numerous hill stations, popular destinations for their cool climate and scenic views. Shimla, Darjeeling, and Ooty are just a few examples of the many hill stations in India.

Festivals: India is known for its colourful festivals, which are celebrated yearly. Participating in festivals like Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, and Eid can provide a glimpse into local customs and traditions.

Cultural Centers: Many cities in India have cultural centres that offer classes, workshops, and events focused on local culture and traditions. Joining a local cultural centre or club can be a fantastic way to meet new people and learn more about the local culture.

In summary, there is much to explore for expats living in India, including historical sites, national parks, beaches, hill stations, festivals, food, and cultural centres. Exploring and learning about the local culture can be a rewarding experience for expats living in India.

Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, India has one of the most prominent expatriates in the world given its rapidly expanding economy and inexpensive cost of living. The experience will leave you awe-inspired, and your life perspectives will differ. India is a country with a feast for the senses, with the authentic smells of spices, the noisy atmosphere of cars, buses, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles and truck horns constantly blaring, the array of colours of vibrant saris worn by women and the vast landscapes of wealthy and poor.

Living in India can offer a new perspective on life, one that is shaped by a different set of values, beliefs, and experiences. It can broaden a person’s understanding of the world and help them see things in a new light. India is a country that requires resilience and adaptability, as living conditions can be challenging and unpredictable. But it can teach a person to be resourceful, patient, and adaptable, combined with a  community and connection that is highly valued and living there can offer a chance to form deep bonds with local communities and to experience the hospitality of Indian people. If you can live and work in India, embrace this life-changing opportunity that will leave a lasting impression forever!

Flag of India

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