A Guide to Living in India

A Guide to Living in India

23rd January, 2015

India is a fascinating country. It is the second most populous country in the world and is rich in regional traditions and various cultures. Historically, people tended to move away from India to find their wealth in western countries. However, this trend is slowly reversing. The number of expats in India is believed to be in the region of 1.43 million according to Finaccord and this figure is growing year on year. A lot of people are attracted to India because of the low costs and the opportunity to capitalise on new business opportunities. There are then those who simply want a change, a chance to embrace a new culture and way of life. Irrespective of why you are planning to relocate to India, this post will provide you with some key details you should know before your big move.

Job Opportunities

If you are planning on working in India you will be pleased to know that you will be participating in one of the world’s most diverse and fastest growing economies. There is a high demand for skilled employment, especially as a lot of companies are electing to outsource part of their business activities to India. Nevertheless, competition is also high for these jobs, and thus you will need to make an effort to stand out from other candidates.

The service sector is growing rapidly in India. It currently employs roughly 30 per cent of the active population and this is a figure that is only going to increase. Telecommunications and IT services are two industries worth noting for their fast growth and large presence in the country. Aside from this, the rest of the active population largely work in the agricultural sector (approximately 50 per cent) and industrial sector (approximately 20 per cent). Prominent industrial industries include cement, transport equipment, machinery, mining, textiles and pharmaceuticals. In regards to the agricultural industry, Indian farmers mainly produce tea, sugarcane, wheat, rice, vegetables and fruit.

Those moving to India from the west need to be mindful that salaries are considerably lower. A good salary may be a quarter of what professionals earn in western countries. Nonetheless, this does of course reflect living costs in India. It’s certainly advisable to look for a job prior to your move. A lot of expats nowadays are on assignment with multinational corporations, however, a lot of Indian companies are looking for skilled mid-level professionals with experience from overseas.


Special housing complexes aimed at expats have been developed in the big cities, such as New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, in order to cater to the increasing number of expatriates in these locations. In order to legally buy a property you must meet the residency requirement of 183 days per financial year. If this does not apply you will need to rent instead.


You need to apply for a Permanent Account Number (PAN) if you are required to pay taxes in India. All of the following are taxable in India – salaries, capital gains, profits and gains from profession or business, income from house property and income from other sources. At present, you are taxed on anything in excess of INR 200,000. If you earn over this amount you will be subject to the following tax rates…

  • Between INR 200,000 and INR 500,000 is taxable at 10 per cent
  • Between INR 500,001 and INR 1,000,000 is taxable at 20 per cent
  • INR 1,000,001 and above is taxable at 30 per cent

Needless to say, paying tax in a new country can be complicated, and thus if you are feeling unsure it’s always advisable to use the services of a professional so everything runs smoothly.

Health Care

In India the health care is extremely mixed. The private offering is of an exceptionally high standard, thanks to western medicine and leading doctors. However, a lot of locals cannot afford the costs associated with private medical treatment and thus they rely on traditional remedies and alternative treatments. You are highly advised to take out international health insurance prior to your move. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office even recommends expat medical insurance, stating that expats must recognise that local facilities cannot be compared with western countries. However, if you take out a global health insurance policy you can be certain of access to the best hospital network, ensuring the best facilities, doctors and treatments. The private hospitals in India have earned the country a reputation as a medical tourism centre and you will be able to gain access to this side of their healthcare system if you have expat health insurance in place.


India is an expansive country and thus has diverse weather patterns. The nation can be split into four different climatic regions. These are as follows…

  • Arid / Western India – Low rainfall and high temperatures.
  • Tropical / Southern India – Very hot and humid.
  • Sup Tropical / Northern India – Summers are hot and wet, whilst winters are dry and cold.
  • Alpine / Himalayas – Generally low rainfall and high temperatures, however the climate does vary in these zones because of the deviations in altitude.


You probably already expect the roads to be congested and crowded in India, as it is one of the world’s most populous countries. However, driving in India can be a dangerous experience. The country actually holds the world record for road accident related deaths. This is because a large proportion of motorists do not abide by the traffic laws that are in place. Pedestrian crossings are also limited, which makes being a pedestrian as well as a driver relatively dangerous. Nonetheless, increased awareness has led to the introduction of ArriveSAFE and other road safety groups. You definitely need to be cautious when driving in India or you could always hire a professional driver to navigate the streets for you.


Finally, as English is prevalent in India – especially in Southern India, most expats will not experience any language issues when moving to the country. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that roughly 30 per cent of the population speak Hindi, which is the official language. Nevertheless, there are actually an additional 14 official languages aside from Hindi, with more than 30 other languages being spoken in the country.

All in all, you should now have a better idea of what to expect when moving to India, as well as the different steps you should take prior to your move. It’s always a good idea to try and secure a job before relocating or at least get a good feel for what is out there. Moreover, don’t forget to acquire international health insurance prior to your move to ensure you are protected no matter what. But most of all enjoy your experience; embrace India and its fantastic culture and delicious cuisine.  Hopefully you will love your new way of life!

Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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