Living in India: A guide to moving to India as an expat

September 17, 2018 2:12 pm Published by

If you have ever spent time in India, you will never be short of words to describe a land full of contrasts. Magical, spiritual, friendly, exotic, vibrant, colourful, mysterious, chaotic and awe- inspiring are just some of the many words that describe a place like no other on earth.

The many employment and financial opportunities the country offers are resulting in more and more expats choosing to live and work in India.

Therefore, we have put together a guide to moving to India as an expat, so you can be as informed and prepared as possible:

Population and land

India is a vast country where 1 of every 6 people on the planet live and is rapidly developing having doubled in size in just over 40 years. Indeed, India is expected to supersede China as the most populated country over the next two decades.

Located in South Asia it is bordered by Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, China, Burma and is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean.

Food and Culture

Diversity is felt all over India as it embraces a great many cultures, religions, and languages but there is no denying that it can be a busy and very crowded place which many expats can find challenging at first.

Full of beauty it is a land of contradictions with areas of cutting-edge technology and architecture closely surrounded by areas of difficult to watch poverty.

However, there is one guarantee that India can offer and that is you will be welcomed with open arms. As confirmed in a recent expat survey, only one in ten expats experienced unfriendly behaviour towards foreign residents, in contrast to the global average of 17%.

India is home to numerous different religious and ethnic groups, although the large majority of the population are Hindu.

The official language of India is Hindi although English is widely spoken, and many Brits are pleased to find that they drive on the left-hand side of the road, however driving on the busy and crowded roads of India is definitely not for the faint-hearted, as it can be extremely busy and chaotic and you will often come across animals in the middle of the road, even in the cities.

India is truly a food lover’s paradise and is very different from region to region. Street food is widely and cheaply available and for vegetarians, India probably offers some of the most varied cuisines available worldwide.

The Economy

The economy in India is currently one of the world’s strongest and is going through a period of economic growth that is beating most around the globe. With inflation levels close to the target, India is in a strong position and according to the World Bank, it has “enormous potential”, especially as both the manufacturing sector and service industries, continue to see continuous development.

Indeed, the World Bank’s latest report highlights that India is likely to regain its position as the fastest growing major economy after conceding to China in 2017.

Cost of living in India

Although major cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi can be expensive, the vast majority of cities in India offer expats a very good and affluent standard of living for a relatively low cost as items such as housing, food, education, and entertainment are lower than in most western countries.

Tax rates in India are reasonably generous and there are various bilateral agreements to make sure that the expatriates don’t pay double tax.


The Indian government places a great deal of emphasis on the importance of foreign trade and investment and welcomes multinational companies who often have an expat workforce. In recent years, more and more Indian businesses have imported experience and skills from overseas for certain level roles.

There is a large supply of highly qualified and skilled candidates, making competition for skilled jobs fierce. However, the strength of the local workforce continues to attract more and more international companies to outsource their work.

You are expected to work hard in India and the working week will often have more hours than many other nations.


International and local private schools are the most popular with expats where their children can study the International Baccalaureate or other internationally recognised qualifications and meet other expat families as well as Indian children.


Although in major cities healthcare facilities are improving many expats find that compared to their home countries most Indian hospitals are often not as well equipped, especially outside the big cities.

However, the positive about healthcare found in India is that more than seven out of ten expats (71%) consider it to be overall affordable according to a recent survey, although the majority of expats do still consider private healthcare insurance a worthwhile investment.


For many observers, the thing that holds India back from being the next trade and industry superpower is its often-inadequate infrastructure and it can be both challenging and frustrating for expats, especially in the early days of moving to India.

Many blame years of under-investment, a lack of transparency and unacceptable levels of corruption to the ongoing problems with India’s infrastructure. While others maintain that the sheer size of the country and population and the early stages of economic development significantly influence the infrastructure challenges.

There is no doubt that the infrastructure including electricity supply, telecoms, roads, railways, airports, and ports present major hurdles to economic growth.

As an expat, you will experience very irregular voltages and frequent power cuts. However, the great news is that as India begins to tackle its infrastructure challenges. There will be sizeable expat job opportunities, especially in the areas of construction, energy, transport, and technology.

Having fun

A great deal of the fun activities in India are centred around family life and children and are likely to play an essential part in establishing relations with other families.

There are plenty of activities to engage from visiting the many temples, trendy bars, and cafes.

For many expats joining a local expat club or network is the best way to make new friends and exchange advice on expat living in India.


India has a diverse weather pattern. Although, there are mainly two seasons in India; a rainy season and dry season, from October to March, the weather is unexpected and can change from dry to moist to cold. During the rainy season, heavy rainfall and flooding can be common.

Above all else, nothing can prepare you for life in India, the smells, noise, chaos, the ever-growing electric mix of people and the beauty but one thing is guaranteed: it will offer any expat who chooses to live and work there a taste of life that is as beautiful as it can be challenging.

Have more questions to be cleared on moving to India as an Expat? Get in touch with us and learn about how we can assist you with smooth migration to India: