Cost of Living in India

Indian rupees to show cost of living in IndiaIn a country as large as India the cost of living varies considerably from place to place. However, it comes as a surprise to many new arrivals that the cost of expat life in major Indian cities such as Mumbai and Delhi is actually quite expensive. According to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2012, Delhi and Mumbai were ranked 113 and 114 out 214 cities analysed, making them both more expensive to live in than other expat destinations such as Ottawa (115), Riyadh (135), Boston (129).

Luckily, expats living in India are among the most well paid globally and those who can negotiate a lucrative relocation package for themselves will be able to afford additional luxuries that they wouldn’t be accustomed to at home such as maid services, chauffeurs and the Indian tradition of hot, home-cooked lunches delivered to the office.

Cost of housing in India

Paying for accommodation is likely to be an expat's biggest expense when moving to India. Both Delihi and Mumbai have particularly expensive property markets. For instance, a house suitable for a family of four in Delhi will set expats back INR 600,000 per month.

Wherever possible, expats should try to negotiate a housing allowance or complimentary housing into their employment package.

Cost of utilities in India

The cost of essential utilities such as water, gas and electricity will vary according to where in India an expat is located. On average, one can expect to pay around INR 2,000 per month for basic utilities in a one-bedroom apartment. The cost of ADSL Internet will be around INR 1,200 per month.

Cost of healthcare in India

Luckily expats moving to India will have access to relatively cheap healthcare services. Furthermore, despite the favourable cost, the standard of healthcare in India remains very good. Expats will, however, have to factor in the cost of international health insurance unless this is covered by the employer.

The average consultation with a private doctor in India will cost around INR 400 and a home visit from the doctor will cost around INR 700.

Cost of education in India

While in theory it is possible for expat children to attend a public school in India, the fact is that the standards are poor and certainly not in line with standards that most expat parents would expect. Indian private schools are an option, although the pressure put on students at these institutions often leaves expat students struggling.

Thus, the only real option available to expats living in India is to send their children to international schools. Securing a place at popular international schools in India is incredibly difficult, and on occasion expats may need to call upon contacts or pay a bribe to secure a place for their child to bypass a long waiting list.

Fees vary from school to school but, generally speaking, expats should expect to pay around INR 1.8 million a year in school fees per student. For this reason, it is very important for expats to have an allowance to cover the cost of the children’s school fees.

Cost of entertainment and eating out

The cost of entertainment and eating out in India will vary according to an expat’s personal tastes and preferences. It is possible to eat out inexpensively in India, especially if expats are open-minded and interested in trying the local cuisines. Dinner at a local restaurant in Delhi will cost around INR 840 and fine dining can be had for half of what one would pay in Europe of North America.

Cost of groceries in India

Expats who decide to shop locally and enjoy local produce will find that the cost of everyday groceries are very cheap in India. Shopping at local vegetable markets also allows expats to eat fresh seasonal produce, while supporting local vendors.

If expats opt to purchases imported Western foods, their monthly grocery bill is likely to be considerably higher and at least as expensive as back home. Beef is especially expensive in India and one can expect to pay around INR 100/kg of fillet steak.

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