Moving to India

International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Moving to India? Expats talk about what you need to know before moving to India.

What do I need to know before moving to India?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to India, they said:

"The best advice was to bring a great mattress; Indian mattress are not like ones at home. Bring your vacuum cleaner; I have a Kirby so it really hurts that I left it behind. Choose a very good moving company; I thought mine did ok until I heard war stories from other expats (I did send an apology). Get your PAN card ASAP; you can't sign a lease agreement without one. Be very clear to what you want and make sure the settling in people stick to your guidelines as they will waste your time showing things that don't fit; I knew what was on the boat and needed 4 bedrooms and they kept showing us 3 bedroom flats. I knew that I wanted to be close to Indian culture without sacrificing access to expat shopping. I did not want my husband and children to spend more than one hour on commuting. Ask Indians for advice; so many freely helped us navigate the waters. They were our saving grace," explained one expat living in Mumbai, India.

"Visit as much as possible. Check if there is a generator and what is connected to generator. For eg it is very important to have air conditioners connected to generator. Ideally, talk with people who have lived there. Is the water supply ok? Is it safe? What kind of neighbours? Any mold risk? Who is paying for the gate guards and what is the deal. Are there quarters for servants and maids?," said another expat in New Delhi.

"Mussoorie is a hill station--and because of that, most directions include "up from" or "down past", and they're meant in the vertical sense. Be ready and able to walk, or get yourself a driver's license for a car, motorbike or scooter if you're not going to want to walk. Except for the monsoon, the climate is pretty mild. You can buy just about everything you'll need here or down the mountain in Dehradun, so pack your personal sentimental things - furniture, clothing, pots and pans, etc. are all readily available," added another expat who made the move to Mussoorie.

"For the move itself, don't bring too much. Most domestic items can be found very cheaply here, so long as you steer away from the malls. Bear in mind that unfurnished here means not just no furniture but no air conditioners, appliances and so forth. Make sure you know exactly what is included. Don't be shy about asking for things such as new mattresses and also new furniture if it looks well used! Power blackouts are common. Make sure you have generator back-up or at least an inverter (battery back up) or you'll spend a lot of time in the dark. Don't expect an oven, very few places have them. We only saw one apartment with an oven (which we now live in, but that wasn't the deciding factor). Microwaves are smaller than in the US but you can get combination microwaves that also double as a convection oven. You won't be cooking big turkeys so a small oven shouldn't be too troublesome. Insist on a water purifier. When you arrive start out with bottled water and after several weeks convert to the purifed water and your stomach should adapt pretty well. Decide before packing whether you will choose to live in unfurnished, partially furnished or furnished. A colleague packed assuming he'd find an unfurnished apartment but wasn't able to find one (mostly furnished here) and now he and his wife are having to try and store furniture that they brought from the US. No easy task. For neighborhood, I can't comment on areas that we don't live in but we really like where we live in the Boat Club Road area as there is plenty to do within easy walking distance. Don't try to wait it out until you dream home turns up. It won't and it is better, in our view, to get settled quickly. Nothing ever seems to be quite finished, so expect teething problems and don't get hot under the collar about them as you'll waste a lot of emotional energy to no avail. It's different here! Get to know your neighbors, especially the locals as we have found them to be unfailingly friendly and helpful - our immediate neighbor arranged a dinner party to welcome us and introduce us to some other neighbors within a week of arrival. The little tips they can help you with can make life much easier - such as one of the local grocery type stores delivers and so our neighbor took our list and called them and we had all the cleaning stuff we needed, you know mops, brooms, trashcans, and so on within an hour of moving in without the hassle of having to shop for them and far cheaper than had we bought them at one of the supermarkets that expats tend to gravitate towards, at least in their early days in country. Find your nearest little photo store and get a couple of dozen passport photos done as soon as you arrive. You'll need them as they are obligatory for even routine stuff like getting a contract to deliver propane (which your cooker works on), cellphone, aircard, lease registration and so many other things. Carry your passport. You'll need it for ID purposes a lot in the early days. In Pune, shop on MG Road (Mahatma Gandhi Road). There are some great little stores and you'll get most of what you need at much less cost than in the malls and it's a lot more fun too. Don't be afraid to buy your groceries from the markets. Sure the vegetables have a shorter shelf life than in the US, but Indians buy every day and many don't have fridges. You'll need to wash them thoroughly (using purified water) before use, but then you should back home too! The most important advice? Don't fight the place, you'll have gone home again before it changes that much. Relax, get into the flow and enjoy India and if you do it's an adventure and a wonderful place to live," explained one expat living in Pune, India.

"Keep in mind that this area is very populated with tribal Indians. The illiteracy, unemployment, and alcoholism rate is very high. Minor incidents can spark off huge protests. Law and order after dark is non-existent. If you are moving to India for the first time, our suggestion would be to move to a more metro area with other expats to rely on," said another in Khunti.

"My advice is have someone that is familiar with the area and housing market find and negotiate the terms of the house. You are likely to get it cheaper and the best location," explained one expat who made the move to Ahmedabad, India.

How do I find a place to live in India?

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
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Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Living in India GuideLiving in India Guide

Expats in India advise finding an apartment building or home with a backup generator, hiring a driver and adapting to Indian food.

India Forum India Forum
Meet other expats and talk about living in India.

Healthcare in IndiaHealthcare in India

An overview of healthcare in India - the quality of hospitals, prescription medicine in India, vaccinations, finding an English-speaking doctor in India and more.

Cost of Living in IndiaCost of Living in India

Expats offer insight into the cost of living in India.

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Moving to India? We've compiled a laundry list of advice from expats living in India about what to bring, apartments, expat life and more. It's must-read guide for anyone researching how to move to India.

Real Estate in IndiaReal Estate in India

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in India.

Pros Cons of Living in IndiaPros & Cons of Living in India

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in India.

Retiring in IndiaRetiring in India

Advice for people retiring in India.

Contribute to India Network Contribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in India.

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