As any potential expatriate will know, India is an incredibly vast and diverse country to call home. Like any country, each of India’s cities and small towns has something different to offer, accompanied by a unique personality. Whether you have India’s big cities in your sights, or you’re aiming for a more relaxing small-town life, India can offer the lifestyle you’re seeking on a budget that makes any Western country look overpriced.
Due to India’s sheer size and huge population, it is home to a wide variety of living situations. Expatriates on a reasonable wage can live in Indian suburbia on an affordable budget and enjoy a moderate lifestyle on a flexible monthly budget. However, if you’re on an above average wage then you are certain to get a lot more for your money by relocating to India. On the wage of most Western countries, you’re likely to be able to live a relatively luxurious lifestyle.
Housing and Utilities
When relocating to India, accommodation is likely to be any expat’s biggest expense. If you are planning a move to one of India’s larger cities then you should expect to pay considerably more. It is a common misconception that the whole of India benefits from low housing prices. Large cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are major centres for economic activity in India, which is reflected in the cost.
However, these costs are still significantly lower than living in places like London. For example, a house suitable for a family of four in Delhi will set expats back INR 600,000 per month which is around £6,070. Renting a small room or studio apartment in a city centre building meanwhile, may cost as little as £200 per month. Generally speaking, rooms within this price range are incredibly basic and will likely lack the comforts and amenities you are expecting.
Expatriates seeking a greater degree of comfort and who do not need to live in the city centre will easily find more luxurious accommodation in one of India’s smaller towns. The smaller towns are home to larger properties at a lower cost, enabling you to make the most of the money you have. You may even be able to afford amenities and services that you were not previously used to, such as swimming pools and maid services.
Utilities in India such as water, gas and electricity will naturally vary according to where you decide to relocate. On average, you can expect to pay INR 2,000 per month for basic utilities in a one-bedroom apartment. The cost of internet is likely to set you back around INR 1,200 per month.
When moving to India, you need not worry about the cost of healthcare as most services are considered to be relatively cheap. Despite the favourable cost, you will not be compromising on quality as the standard of healthcare in India is ranked incredibly high. You will, however, have to factor in the cost of international health insurance, unless this is covered by your employer. An average consultation with a private doctor in India will cost around INR 400 and a home visit will cost around INR 700.
It is possible for expat children to attend public school in India, although this is not recommended. Unfortunately, the standard of many Indian public schools are not in line with the high standards that most expat parents expect. Indian private schools are also an option, however the enormous amounts of pressure put on students at these institutions is infamous and expat students are often left struggling.
The best option for expats living in India is to send their children to international schools. Securing a place at these schools is notoriously difficult, and on occasion expats have been known to pay a bribe to secure a place for their children in order to bypass the long waiting list. Fees for these schools vary but generally expats should expect to pay around INR 1.8 million a year in school fees per student. It is crucial that expats expect this cost and have made an allowance for it.
Expats will be pleased to discover that local produce and everyday groceries in India are very cheap. Shopping at local markets will allow expats the opportunity to eat fresh seasonal produce unique to India, whilst also supporting local vendors in their area.
However, if you opt to purchase imported Western foods, your monthly grocery bill is likely to be considerably higher than, and at least as expensive, as back home. Beef is especially expensive in India, as it is not commonly eaten for spiritual reasons. You can expect to pay INR 100 per kilogramme of fillet steak.
Once you have taken into account all the staple payments required for living in India, you will be curious to know the cost of filling your spare time with entertainment and dining. Naturally, these activities will always vary according to an expat’s personal tastes and preferences. It is incredibly easy to eat out inexpensively in India, especially if you are open-minded and adventurous with food and are keen to try local cuisines.
If you want to eat dinner at a local restaurant in a city like Delhi, you will likely pay around INR 840. However, if you have a taste for fine dining you will pay considerably more by Indian standards, but still considerably less than anything you would pay in the UK.
Drinks and nightlife are also inexpensive in India. Most restaurants serve alcoholic beverages at low prices, whilst bars and nightclubs are also cheap to visit and enjoy. Many entertainment facilities will be increasingly available in India as it develops. From cinemas to shopping, you are sure to find activities that you enjoyed previously in the UK. Naturally, the prices will increase in the larger cities like Delhi and Mumbai, but these prices are still significantly less than those in the UK.
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