Cost of Living in India

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 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai and New Delhi as 55th and 103rd respectively out of the 209 cities studied. The cost of living in Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata is significantly lower as they were ranked 144th, 170th and 182nd respectively. 

Expats who negotiate a lucrative relocation package in India can often afford luxuries that they wouldn’t be able to at home like domestic services, chauffeurs and having home-cooked lunches delivered to the office.

Cost of housing in India

Accommodation is likely to be an expat's biggest expense in India, with property in New Delhi and Mumbai being particularly expensive. Wherever possible, expats should try to negotiate a housing allowance or complimentary housing into their employment package.

Cost of healthcare in India

Expats moving to India will have access to relatively cheap healthcare services with good standards. They will, however, have to factor in the cost of health insurance if it isn't covered by their employer.

Cost of education in India

It's possible for expat children to attend public schools in India, but their standards aren't in line with what most expat parents would expect. Instead, expat children usually attend international schools. Securing a place at popular international schools in India is difficult, and calling upon contacts or even paying bribes to secure a place aren't unheard of.

Fees vary between schools but fees are routinely high, so it's important to try and negotiate a schooling allowance into employment contracts.

Cost of groceries and eating out in India

Expats who buy local produce will find that everyday groceries are cheap in India. Shopping at vegetable markets allows expats to eat fresh seasonal produce while supporting local vendors. Those who buy imported Western foods will have a considerably higher bill.

The cost of entertainment and eating out in India will vary according to an expat’s personal preferences. It's possible to eat out inexpensively in India, especially if expats are willing to try local cuisines. 

Cost of living in India chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Mumbai in December 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

INR 100,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

INR 50,000

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

INR 45,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

INR 25,000


Eggs (dozen)

INR 60

Milk (1 litre)

INR 50

Rice (1kg)

INR 55

Loaf of white bread 

INR 25

Chicken breasts (1kg)

INR 250

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

INR 300

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

INR 250

Coca-Cola (330ml)

INR 30


INR 140

Bottle of local beer

INR 170

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

INR 1,200


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)


Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

INR 900

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

INR 4,000


City centre bus/train fare

INR 20

Taxi (rate per km)

INR 20

Petrol/gasoline per litre

INR 80