An expat’s guide to India

India, an ancient country has always been an attractive place for the millions of people around the world. The country with its rich and interesting history and vibrant cultures and traditions is worth exploring. The unique and diverse geographical features like evergreen forests, deserts, snowy Himalayan range, long coastlines and fertile plains add beauty to this country, making it an epitome of diversity and history.

Geography of India

India is in south Asia, a large country, it is the 7th largest country in the world. It shares its borders with 7 other countries and they are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The country is divided into 29 states and seven union territories. New Delhi is the capital city of India. Some of the major cities of the country include – Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and Jaipur.

Demography of India

India has been declared as the second most populated country in the world after China. According to the latest estimates of the United Nation India’s 2018 population is estimated at 1.35 billion based at the recent data. India’s largest city is Mumbai, with a population of 12.5 million, closely followed by Delhi, with a population of over 11 million. Overall, there are more than 50 urban areas in India with a population of more than one million people.


India is a home to various languages. The constitution of India designates Hindi as the national language and the majority of the population are Hindi speakers. There are other regional languages that are state specific. The constitution of India recognises 22 languages. These are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Sindhi, Santali, Boro, Maithili and Dongri.

Economy of India

India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy in the world as per the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). India’s GDP is estimated to have increased 6.6 per cent in 2017-18 and is expected to grow 7.3 per cent in 2018-19. Maharashtra is the most flourishing state of the country with an annual GDP of US$330 billion, which is nearly equivalent to countries like Venezuela and the UAE.

Climate in India

India has ‘Tropical Monsoon’ type of climate and it comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography, making generalisations difficult. The Himalayas and Thar desert influence the country’s climate, which is generally categorised into four seasons: summer, winter, monsoon and autumn. The average temperature varies between 22.5 °C and 27.5 °C almost everywhere.

India as an expat destination

Living in India can offer expats a taste of life in an exotic and diverse place. It is a bright and vibrant country with an eclectic mix of various cultures and people. Expats moving to India will find a wealth of places to explore if they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone.

At present, there are believed to be between 20,000 and 30,000 expatriates living in India and, whilst this is just a fraction of the 100,000 foreigners in China, the number is increasing on a yearly basis. India’s expatriate community has a wide range of different people. The region is popular with teachers, artists and spiritualists as well as CEOs and executives of international corporations.

Cost of living in India

Before moving to India, it is important to investigate the cost of living in the country. Given its large size, the cost of living in India varies considerably, but many new arrivals are surprised to find that living costs in major cities can be pricey. The majority of cities offer expatriates a very good standard of living for a relatively low cost and the majority of expats live quite affluent lifestyles.

The 2016 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai and New Delhi at 82 and 130 out of the 209 cities studied. The cost of living in Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru is significantly lower as they were ranked at 158, 194 and 180 respectively.

Expat Job and career opportunities

Finding job or work in India can represent a significant challenge and those who search for a job after entering the country may find that the salaries offered to them are less than desirable.

A large percentage of expats in India are on assignment with multinational companies but, in recent years, more and more Indian corporations have been importing skills and experience from overseas for mid-level professionals. In both these cases work should be secured prior to entering the country.

Despite the fact that India is recognized as a country that is high-tech and progressive, networking and personal connections remain prominent means of finding suitable job opportunities.

Key facts every expat should know about living in India

If you plan to stay in India for more than 180 consecutive days you will be required to register at the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within the first 14 days of your arrival. Failure to do so could mean that you lose your Indian visa.

You should never accept ripped or damaged bank notes – many places will refuse to accept them. You should always hand the Rupees back if they show the slightest sign of ripping or damage.

Despite Ghandi’s attempt to make all Indian’s equal, the caste system still shapes a rigid social structure. Caste determines occupations, political loyalties, spouses, and provides the rituals that govern much of behavior. Although it is a Hindu concept related to reincarnation, caste is so integral to Indian life that its impact is also reflected in Muslim and Christian community.

India’s currency is called the rupee (R) and is divided into 100 paise.

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