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Employment Outlook: India

by Mary Anne Thompson, Founder and President, Goinglobal, Inc

Foreign nationals enjoy India’s low cost of living, favorable work life balance and the opportunity to gain new skills. 

Living and Working in India

On the whole, foreigners like India. They enjoy the lower cost of living, and they appreciate the favorable work-life balance. Foreign residents find that they save more money since their living expenses are lower than in their home country, and that leads to a certain level of contentment and lack of stress. They also report that India is a good place to advance their careers and develop new skills

Nonetheless, relocating to India can be challenging for foreign nationals. Living conditions, culture and lifestyles are different from those in Western countries. Housing is typically foreign residents’ largest expense; however, those expenses can be offset by cheap but highly rated medical care, inexpensive food and high-paying jobs.

As is true in many places, living costs in India are heavily influenced by lifestyle choices. Typically, local goods are far less expensive than imported ones. Services, such as domestic help, haircuts, dining out and other entertainment, are cheap by Western standards. In contrast, electronics and household appliances are relatively expensive. For example, a 40-inch flat screen TV costs about the same in Delhi as in New York. Simply put, the more you live like a local, the more affordable India becomes.


The demand for suitable, affordable housing for foreign residents in India consistently outweighs supply. And finding the right accommodation can be a challenge, especially in large cities like Mumbai and Bengalaru, where housing is largely limited to apartments. However, more housing designed especially for foreigners is becoming available in large metro areas.

Housing costs in India vary widely from city to city and depend on location, size and type. Demand for premium property and the limited supply have caused housing costs to remain high in many areas.  

Housing in Mumbai is the costliest in the country. Rent for a four-bedroom furnished apartment can cost up to 12,000 USD per year, But Bengalaru, where prices are rising, still remains affordable, as does Pune. A four-bedroom apartment in Bengalaru can rent for up to 6,850 USD and in Pune for 5,200 USD per year.

Renting vs. Buying

Most foreign residents are renters. Rental properties include fully furnished, semi-furnished and unfurnished apartments, serviced apartments and even shared accommodations.

Serviced apartments are popular among singles and young professionals, and are convenient for people on short assignments or those who do not want to get involved with the official formalities of renting an apartment. They offer the amenities of a hotel, but they are expensive. For example, a serviced apartment in Mumbai can rent for more than 100,000 INR per month, and a four-bedroom house in New Delhi typically rents for 200,000 INR per month.

Although buying real estate is not especially difficult for most foreign residents, they usually rent their homes, rather than buy them. Foreign nationals may own immovable property if they are residents of India, i.e., living there 183 days or more per year. It is critical to use the services of a real estate lawyer when buying property in India.



Airplanes are the best way to travel between cities in India. Flying is faster and more dependable than other modes of transportation. India’s three major airports are:

  • Delhi’s Indira Ghandi International Airport
  • Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
  • Bangalore boasts India’s third-largest airport and its best regional airport.

Municipal Public Transportation

The quality of municipal public transportation in India varies from city to city, but it is universally inexpensive. In addition to government buses, local city trains, taxis and auto rickshaws, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Jaipur have metro systems. Metros are under construction in several other cities.

However, traveling via public transportation can be very crowded and is sometimes discouraged for foreigners. Some multinational companies provide their assignees with a car and driver.


Cars are affordable in India. Cars are driven on the left side of the road. A valid Indian or international driver’s license is required. However, it is difficult for foreigners to rent cars.

Road travel is difficult and can be dangerous. Traffic is heavy and chaotic. Trucks and buses are overloaded. Roads are often poorly maintained and lack signage. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. High-speed vehicles share the road with vulnerable walkers and free-roaming animals. The road structure is unsafe, vehicles are often in poor condition, and some drivers ignore traffic regulations.

In cities, traffic is also congested and it’s slow. The lack of lanes creates traffic jams, confusion, chaos and accidents. Extreme caution is advised when crossing streets.

Medical Care/Health Insurance

India offers both public and private health care. Its health care system is by law the responsibility of the states. While some government hospitals are among the best in the country, the system is overburdened and underfunded, and the quality of care varies from state to state. Although health care is available in major cities, it is limited or unavailable in rural areas.

Most foreign residents receive their health care at modern private clinics and hospitals. There is a wide range of Western-style hospitals, where well-trained, highly skilled medical personnel speak English and use state-of-the-art equipment.

The cost of private health care in India is relatively inexpensive. Even without insurance, many procedures cost only a fraction of what they would cost in other countries. Nonetheless, foreigners moving to India should have health insurance, and they should be certain the insurance is recognized by the hospitals they will be using.


Foreign nationals tend to have a positive view of life in India. They are able to live cheaply and save money, their work life balance is healthy, and most learn new skills that help advance their careers. The lifestyle is different from that in the West, but these differences can be overcome easily for those open to the experience. 


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