Moving to India for Europeans or Americans would be quite a culture shock. Everything is different – the language, religion, crowding, lifestyle, standards, education, health and family life. Perhaps the only thing we are familiar with is Indian food! However, many people who move to India are in fact Indians, repatriating after a time away, sometimes after a generation or more.
For foreigners, the wisest thing to do is learn about India, to avoid problems through ignorance. For example, pointing with a finger is very rude to Indians; they point with a jerk of their chin. Indians also beckon with their palm downwards, pulling the fingers inwards and Indians never ever whistle or wink; it is too impolite. If an Indian grasps their ears they are indicating they are sorry, or sincere, so read the signs carefully! The biggest frustration may be in communicating with Indians who simply want to oblige and tell you what you want to hear. This can lead to problems. If you ask “Is the temple this way?” they will reply “yes”, even if it is not! Rather ask the question “Which way is the Temple?” to ascertain a more helpful reply. Respect is high in Indian culture, and they use titles and surnames or ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’ rather than first names.
India is a large country so travelling over large distances is usually by air, or by train. India Railways is the largest rail system in Asia. It is relatively inexpensive and there are many services daily which are often crowded. Visas are required by everyone visiting India except Nepal and Bhutan nationals. It is easiest to obtain a visa from the Embassy in your home country, before leaving on your trip.
Language is not generally a problem as the official languages are Hindi and English. The currency is the Indian rupee, and they drive on the left, a throwback to the time of the ruling British Empire. India’s climate is influenced by the proximity to the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. Most rainfall is in the Monsoon season, between June and October, and although the northern mountainous regions can be cold, the Himalayas do keep the cold Asian winds at bay.
Business opportunities abound in India, producing much employment, although wages are comparatively low for Westerners, as the cost of living is so cheap. India has the fastest growing economy in the world based on textiles, chemicals, steel, equipment, cement, mining and petroleum. It is known for its gems and textile exports and jobs may be available in these businesses, as well as in the service industry, providing call centres.
Healthcare Insurance is essential for ex-Pats as you will not have the same level of access to the healthcare system as the locals do. Get professional advice from an experienced company such as Medibroker, who understand the needs of ex-Pats. There is also plenty of information and tips for ex-Pats on various ex-Pat forums.
Housing and real estate varies greatly depending upon the area you are living, and the proximity to the city. Checkout what is available, and consider renting rather than buying if your stay is relatively short-term. International removers will be required to ship your household goods.