Cost of Living in India

Indian rupees to show cost of living in IndiaGiven 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 pricy.

The 2015 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai and New Delhi at 74 and 132 out of 207 cities. India’s most expensive city, Mumbai climbed 66 places in the ranking due to its rapid economic growth and inflation.

Expats who negotiate a lucrative relocation package in India can often afford luxuries that they wouldn’t be able to at home like maid 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. For instance, a four-bedroom house in New Delhi can cost upwards of 200,000 INR per month.

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 a 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 expats can expect to pay upwards of 1.8 million INR a year for senior students, so it's important to try and negotiate a schooling allowance into their employment contracts.

Cost of eating out in India

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 when expats are willing to try local cuisines. 

Cost of groceries 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.

Cost of living in India chart 

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices in Indian Rupees (INR). Prices vary across India – these are average costs for New Delhi in May 2015.
Accommodation (monthly rent from unfurnished to furnished)
Furnished two-bedroom house INR 90,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom house INR 80,000
Furnished two-bedroom apartment INR 85,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment INR 75,000
Food and drink
Dozen eggs INR 57
Milk (1 litre) INR 43
Rice (1 kg) INR 57
White bread  INR 23
Pack of cigarettes (Malboro) INR 180
Public transportation (approximate values)
City centre bus/train fare INR 20
Taxi (rate per km) INR 19
Petrol/gasoline per litre INR 70
Eating out
Big Mac Meal INR 200
Coca Cola (500 ml)    INR 30
Cappucino INR 89
Bottle of beer INR 100
Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant INR 500
Internet uncapped ADSL per month INR 1,550
Mobile call rate (mobile to mobile per minute) INR 1
Electricity (average per month for standard household) INR 4,000

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