A guide to India as an expat

India hasn’t always been a destination for expats to set up and find work, but it’s steadily becoming a popular location. With a vibrant culture and fast-paced cities, many are uprooting to seek a new experience abroad. The expatriate community in India varies from teachers and artists to CEO’s of international companies, so despite its small size, India boasts a wealth of opportunity and experience for travellers and expats alike. 


Population: 1,324,171,354, according to a 2016 estimate [1]
Religion: 79.9% Hinduism, 14.2% Islam, 2.3% Christianity, 1.7% Sikhism, 0.7% Buddhism, 0.4% Jainism, and 0.9% Other [2
Capital city: New Delhi 
Official languages: None [3]
Currency: Indian Rupee (₹ or INR)

Holi festival

Language and diversity

India has one of the largest populations in the world, which means it’s a wealth of diversity in language and culture. According to an archived report from the Times of India, ‘Article 343 of the Constitution and the Official Language Act say that the official language of the Union will be Hindi.

However, the attempt to adopt Hindi as the official language was strongly opposed by several non-Hindi speaking states.

As of 2018, there are 22 scheduled languages in the Constitution with more under consideration, while there is no ‘national language’, Hindi and English are still considered the ‘official’ languages in India.

Healthcare in India

India has a vast and universal healthcare system, but discrepancies in quality between rural and urban areas are still very prominent. The doctor to patient ratios, particularly in poorer, rural areas are significantly low and access is limited. 

Many people turn to the private sector for better healthcare, but as there are out-of-pocket costs, accessibility across the board is still an issue. Private hospitals are known to have very high-quality care at a fraction of the price of developed countries however, so this option can be accessible for expats who are in need of healthcare while abroad.

Insurance is available, and can often be paid by employers, however, this isn’t universal across all regions and many people are still left out-of-pocket for healthcare costs. 

Understanding the healthcare system in India and taking necessary precautions before leaving, and while abroad, will help ensure that your time overseas is safe and enjoyable.

Remember to pack these essentials:

  • Mosquito net: Depending on where you stay, this might be provided, but it’s a handy item to pack to keep the mosquitoes at bay when insect repellent isn’t doing the trick.
  • Adapters: India can often experience power outages so having rechargeable products like adapters and chargers ready will be invaluable.
  • International sim card: if you don’t plan on buying a local one, an international sim card with help with international roaming when you need to contact people back home.
Gateway of India

Visa requirements and work in India

For expats moving abroad, there are two types of visas that typically suit, these are the employment visa, and the business visa. 

The employment visa is applicable to those who have been transferred abroad for a job with their existing employer, or those who have a guaranteed offer of employment from an Indian company. It is also available for people volunteering with an NGO for up to a year before needing to be renewed. This often requires extra paperwork on top of that which is initially required for the visa application process, so it’s best to check with the Indian embassy website prior to applying.   The business visa is for expats who are moving to India to set up a business, purchase or sell industrial products, or establish business ties with an Indian company. Similar to the employment visa, this visa will also require additional documentation in the application process. The business visa is valid for over one year, however each stay is limited to six months at a time.

Getting a job

Getting a job in India

There are a few options for expats looking for work in India. For those on a business visa looking to expand their business overseas, India is slowly establishing itself as a burgeoning market for business, but still has a number of obstacles that can make the ease of doing business somewhat difficult.

Despite this, industries like retail, telecommunications and construction are starting to flourish and with it, opportunity for expats looking for work abroad.

If you’re not being transferred to India through a company, there are search engine options for finding a job as a foreigner, but it’s also a good idea to get recommendations from people who know what the best sites are, or research which options are rated highly online. Using overseas and expat job portals like MichaelPage, Go Abroad or even leveraging networks on LinkedIn can help with finding work internationally.

Costs of living in India 

While India has aspects of living that might be more affordable than other parts of the world, living in the big cities like Mumbai and New Delhi can still be expensive. One option is to ask whether complementary accommodation can be included from an employer or alternatively, you can ask fellow expats or networks in India for a recommended agent. 

Sometimes fees can be incurred for viewing a property with an agent, but this isn’t a legal requirement. Deposits can range from two months to one years worth of rent and it’s worth asking for receipts and a tenancy agreement if you do decide to rent a property.

To get an idea of the costs involved in moving to India, here’s a few of the major currencies compared to the Indian rupee as shown by the OFX Currency Converter as at 25/2/2019:

  • $1000 USD = 70,143 INR
  • $1000 AUD = 50,173 INR
  • £1000 = 91,621 INR
  • €1000 = 79,513 INR

When it comes to the conversion, doing some research into the best ways you can send your money abroad before you head off is the way to go. Using a foreign exchange specialist like OFX will help in providing smaller margins than the big banks, and with 24/7 customer support, you can be anywhere in the world and OFX will be able to help.

Schooling overseas

Schooling in India

Schooling in India can vary greatly in both state-run and private schools, with a wide range of curricula and philosophies.

Public schools in India, under various articles of the constitution, is free and compulsory and provided to children between the ages of 6 and 14. Public schools can include those run by state and local government, as well as the centre government.

Private schools in India are privately owned and not government funded (unless these are charitable trust run schools with some government aide) and are often a popular choice for families, particularly in urban areas and some rural areas. Generally, private schools in India are known to cover the entire curriculum, offer extra-curricular activities, and the pupil teacher ratios are typically much better.  

Alternatively, many expats often seek out international schools for their children, which follow their home curricula and is international in its orientation. According to the International Schools Consultancy (ISC), India currently has 410 international schools to choose from. However, international schools are often more expensive, and spots get taken very quickly.

India is a fascinating, complex and culturally rich place to experience as an expat, and regardless of why you’re moving to India, there’s plenty of options for all your living necessities. If you do decide to move to India, you can use an international money transfer specialist like OFX to send your money from your home bank account to your foreign bank account without hidden fees or large exchange rate margins. Plus, it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re making the move abroad. Now you can get back to the exciting parts of moving abroad.

Please be advised that while every effort is make to keep this information up to date, OFX does not provide employment, immigration or tax advice or the like, and you should always consult an employment, immigration or tax professional about your unique circumstances.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. UKForex Limited (trading as “OFX”) and its affiliates make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.

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