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4 min read

Moving to India: A Guide for Expats and Digital Nomads

Worker experience

Author

Gabriele Culot

Published

February 29, 2024

Last Update

June 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Step 1: Prepare your documents

Step 2: Manage your finances

Step 3: Arrange housing and accommodation

Step 4: Consider job opportunities and working arrangements

Step 5: Organize healthcare and education

Step 6: Ensure your safety

Step 7: Immerse yourself in Indian culture

Make India your new home country

Key takeaways
  1. India has emerged as a popular choice for expats and digital nomads in recent years.
  2. Applying for one of the many Indian visas and finding jobs calls for thorough research and careful planning.
  3. Deel’s step-by-step guide shows you how to effortlessly navigate the Indian visa process and settle into your new home.

India’s fusion of rich heritage, diverse culture, and booming tech industries, along with the advent of remote work, positions it as a popular destination for expats and digital nomads. India is globally recognized as a tech giant and a hotbed for startups, gradually rising to rival other tech-driven markets like China or the USA. 

However, moving to India, like any other country, has unique challenges. Being well-prepared is key. Our guide is designed to walk you through the crucial steps to successfully transition to India.

Step 1: Prepare your documents

Before your move to India, it is critical to ensure that your documents are in order for entry and residency. Here is a quick look at the essentials:

Types of visa

India offers several types of visas to foreign nationals. Here are a few relevant ones.

  • Tourist visa: Allows to visit India for up to 180 days
  • Investor visa: Considered for those looking to invest in an Indian venture
  • Business visa: For those exploring business opportunities or attending business meetings
  • Employment visa: If you are relocating for work, having a job offer from an Indian company or an international company with branches in India
  • Student visa: Available to individuals admitted to recognized Indian educational institutions
  • Intern visa: Available for interns under an internship program
  • Research visa: Provided to scholars and professors keen on doing research work
  • Entry visa: Issued to those of Indian origin or family members of a person already holding any of the above categories of visas

Visa Sponsorship

Foreign nationals often require sponsorship from a relevant entity in India (usually their prospective employer) for an employment visa.

Essential document checklist

Preparing all your documents ahead of the visa application process is crucial to avoid any complications or delays. Depending on your visa type, these documents may include:

✅ Passport: Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in India

✅ Passport-sized photos: Standard dimensions - 2-inch x 2-inch

✅ Visa application form: Fill out the Indian visa application form online

✅ Proof of outbound travel: This could be tentative flight bookings showing your intent to fly back

✅ Financial proof: Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay

✅ Accommodation details: Evidence of where you intend to stay in India

✅ Proof of employment: If you are applying for an employment visa, a confirmed job offer from an Indian company is necessary

✅ Educational certificates: Depending on the job requirements, you might need to present proof of your educational qualifications

✅ Marriage and birth certificates: If your family accompanies you, these documents are necessary for dependent visa applications

Importance of Authenticating and Translating Documents

India may require certain documents to be legalized. You might need to seek the help of the Indian embassy or consulate in your country to authenticate paperwork.

Translations of documents not in English should be done by a professional translation service verified for accuracy to ensure they are legally recognizable by Indian authorities.

Step 2: Manage your finances

India is known for its relatively low cost of living. If you budget well, you could save money while enjoying a good quality of life. Here’s what you need to consider:

Cost of living in India

Here’s a list of the costs you can expect when living in India:

  • Renting: A one-bedroom apartment costs around ₹20,000 ($270) in big cities like Mumbai and Delhi, and drops to ₹12,000 ($160) in smaller cities and towns.
  • Buying property: Real estate prices in India vary greatly depending on the location and city. It is advisable to research and consult with local experts before making any property purchase.
  • Food and drink: Groceries in India are generally affordable, and eating out at local restaurants can be inexpensive, costing as little as ₹300 ($4) for a meal for two.
  • Transport: While public transportation options in India are economical, owning a car can have additional costs, such as fuel and maintenance. Gas costs and tolls vary depending on the city and distance traveled.
  • Utilities: Electricity rates in India are reasonable, but it is advisable to factor in the cost of water, gas, and internet services, which vary based on location and usage.

Taxation

When budgeting for your life in India, consider how much tax you’ll have to pay. India follows a progressive income tax system, with tax rates that range from 5% to 30%, based on your income bracket.

As an expat, it is essential to understand the tax obligations in India. Consult with a tax professional or seek advice from relevant authorities to understand your specific tax liabilities and any applicable exemptions or deductions.

Banking and currency exchange

India has a robust banking system with a choice of local and international banks where you can open an Indian bank account. Visit a nearby bank branch with the required identification documents, proof of address, and employment details.

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). Currency exchange can be done at authorized banks, exchange offices, or hotels.

Step 3: Arrange housing and accommodation

Finding suitable accommodation is essential for a smooth transition when moving to India. Here, we’ll look at the housing options in India and the steps you need to take.

Renting vs. buying

As property prices vary across India, it is important to consider your circumstances before deciding to rent or buy. Renting may be more suitable if you are unsure about the location or planning to stay for a shorter period.

Finding suitable housing

India offers a wide range of housing options, including apartments, houses, and gated communities. Online platforms like Magicbricks99acres, and Housing.com are popular for property searches, allowing you to filter by location, budget, and amenities.

For a stress-free experience, it’s essential to thoroughly review the lease agreement before finalizing the rental. The contract should include:

  • A detailed description of the accommodation
  • Rental amount and payment terms
  • Security deposit requirements
  • Lease duration and renewal options
  • Tenant responsibilities and any restrictions or rules imposed by the landlord
  • Whether pets are allowed 

Take the necessary time to research and visit potential properties in your new city, ensuring they meet your requirements and preferences before deciding.

Step 4: Consider job opportunities and working arrangements

Venturing into the Indian job market can be a highly rewarding experience due to the country's rapid economic growth and the expanding presence of both local enterprises and multinational corporations. While competition for jobs can be intense due to the large workforce, expatriates often find lucrative opportunities in sectors such as information technology, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Despite the challenges posed by regional disparities in income, many expats report that their earnings afford them a comfortable lifestyle, particularly in urban centers.

In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of identifying career opportunities and securing employment in India.

Job market overview

Conducting thorough research on current industry trends in India is crucial for job seekers. Online job portals like Naukri.com offer extensive listings across various sectors. India's tech industry, particularly in cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune, is booming, attracting professionals from around the globe. Additionally, there’s a considerable demand for healthcare, education, and engineering experts.

For more targeted job searches, LinkedIn provides a valuable platform for networking and discovering opportunities. While English is predominantly used in business, grasping some basics of the local language in your region can be advantageous, especially for integrating into the community and understanding the local market dynamics.

Understanding work culture in India

A blend of traditional values and modern business know-how characterizes the work culture in India. Hierarchical structures prevail in most organizations, with a high respect for seniority. It’s common for decisions to be made at the top levels, with an expectation for junior employees to follow guidance without question.

Working hours can be long, often extending beyond the typical 9 am to 5 pm schedule, and many employees work six days a week for full-time roles. However, the concept of work-life balance, more akin to what is seen in Western countries, is gradually gaining momentum, especially in multinational companies.

Networking plays a key role in India's business culture, with relationships often forming the foundation of professional interactions. Being open to attending social gatherings and showing genuine interest in your colleagues can significantly aid your career advancement.

Step 5: Organize healthcare and education

Relocating to India means adapting to its healthcare system and exploring educational options for accompanying family members. Especially if it’s your first time visiting, make sure to stay informed about the required vaccinations.

Healthcare system in India

India offers a dual public and private healthcare system. While public healthcare is available to all residents, its quality can vary greatly across regions, with urban centers generally providing better services. Due to the variability in public healthcare quality and long waiting times, many expats and locals prefer private healthcare facilities, which offer high-quality care at affordable prices compared to Western standards. Securing comprehensive health insurance is highly advisable to cover private healthcare costs.

Education options in India

India's education system encompasses public, private, and international schools, providing a range of choices for expatriate families. Public schools may not always meet international standards, but private and international schools offer high-quality education, often following British, American, or International Baccalaureate curricula. The demand for spots in reputable international schools is high, so early application is recommended. Tuition fees vary, with international schools being the most expensive option.

Step 6: Ensure your safety

Safety in India varies by region, with urban areas generally more secure but also more prone to petty crimes such as pickpocketing. It’s important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded places and when using public transport.

For emergencies, the pan-India emergency number is 112. It’s advisable to stay informed about local issues through community groups and social media, which can offer real-time advice and support.

Step 7: Immerse yourself in Indian culture

Adjusting to life in India involves embracing its rich and diverse cultural tapestry, which can vary significantly from one region to another.

Cultural integration: India's cultural norms and social etiquette are deeply rooted in its traditions. Showing respect for local customs, dressing modestly in many settings, and being open to diverse culinary flavors can help settle into Indian society.

Language: While India recognizes multiple languages, with Hindi and English being the most widely spoken, learning a few phrases in the local language in your area can enhance daily interactions and show respect for local culture.

Social norms: Indian society values hospitality and relational harmony. Building rapport and showing patience in communication are appreciated, as is participating in festivals and community events, which provide insightful experiences into Indian life.

Make India your new home country

From the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the busy streets of Kolkata, from the tropical shores of Goa to New Delhi and Chennai, India offers an unparalleled destination for expats and digital nomads. You can take advantage of a low cost of living, a rapidly growing economy with diverse job opportunities, rich cultural traditions, and stunning landscapes that vary from deserts to lush rainforests.

Careful research and planning can ensure a smooth relocation if you're considering international relocation to India. For extra support, Deel can guide organizations and their employees through the visa application process and help them shop for insurance plans.

Discover how Deel can help you obtain the necessary visa, or explore the Deel blog for more information on relocating abroad.

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