India is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the west and the Bay of Bengal to the east. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal belong to India. The country borders Pakistan in the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan in the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar in the east. In the Indian Ocean south of India lie the island kingdoms of Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
The flag was adopted as the future national flag of India during an ad hoc meeting on 22 July 1947, twenty-four days before India’s declaration of independence from Britain on 15 August 1947. It served as the national flag of the Union of India between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950, and thereafter as National flag of the Republic of India. The saffron field in the flag stands for courage and sacrifice. The white field represents peace and truth, and the green field symbolizes fate. The colors yellow and green are also interpreted as symbols of Hinduism and Islam, respectively, the two dominant religions of the Indian subcontinent. White then stands for the peaceful coexistence between religions. The symbol in the center of the flag is the Hindu wheel of life chakra, where the color blue is the color of the sea and the sky. The twenty-four “spokes” of the wheel correspond to the twenty-four hours of the day, which refers to the fact that life is in motion and death is stagnant.
Before you go
Don’t forget about health insurance
The Indian economy is the fifth-largest in the world, and only 1.28% of the GDP is spent on healthcare. India’s central and local governments provide schemes to subsidize the cost of care there. However, with 0.55 beds per 1,000 people and years of underfunding you may not receive the care you’d expect.
India has a multi-payer universal health care model that is paid for by a combination of public and private health insurance funds along with the element of almost entirely tax-funded public hospitals. The public hospital system is essentially free for all Indian residents except for small, often symbolic co-payments in some services.
Do Foreign payment Cards Work in Indian ATMs
India uses rupees as money. They come in denominations of 2000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and coins. Each note has a clear mention of the value of the note in English and Hindi. If you are planning to visit India for a vacation, you ought to learn about the cash system. With demonetization and insecurity, it is better to carry virtual cash than actual paper money. This includes travel cards, debit cards, credit cards, and so on.
Debit cards and credit cards are very commonly used in India. Thus, you can always find an ATM closer to you. Even if you are planning to buy things or get a service, you can swipe your card at the counter, in most shops. However, keep in mind that your bank at your place would obviously charge you for the service of using your card in an international destination.
Visas, Jobs, and Working in India as an Ex-pat
Whether you start looking for work before moving to India, or after, will often largely dependent on the sorts of skills and qualifications you hold. For example, India is a well-known exporter of IT services, so if you’re in that sector, you may find it easier to apply for and get a job remotely.
First and foremost, in order to work in India you must obtain an employment visa and a work permit. You will usually be able to apply for these yourself as a qualified professional – but often, your new or future employer will apply for these on your behalf.
To apply for an E-Visa you’ll need;
- Valid travel documents (e.g. your passport)
- Proof of employment with the company/organisation
- Your qualifications/professional certification
What are the pros of moving to India?
- The cost of living can be very reasonable. Housing remains one of the biggest expenses for ex-pats, but even in bigger cities, there are cheap options available if you know where to look (or are willing to compromise a little on the standards of accommodation you may be used to). Food is very inexpensive and many ex-pats can comfortably enjoy help around the home (e.g. a nanny, gardener, or cleaner).
- There is a huge array of cultures and lots of diversity in India. You certainly won’t feel out of place as an Expat – as locals are renowned for being welcoming.
- It’s also one of the oldest civilizations, dating back to 5000 BC. In 1947 the country gained independence from the British and it’s continued to thrive ever since.
- Telecommunications are great! You can expect excellent internet and TV service in most areas.
- Services in India are inexpensive. If you need to get your computer, car, or appliances repaired for any reason it’s very reasonable.
What are the cons of moving to India?
- The weather can be stifling. India is a huge country and temperatures vary from one region to another but it’s also the wettest country in the world so be sure to pack a brolly!
- Whilst the majority of India is relatively safe, crime is persistent. Women traveling alone can be targets for assault and some public places, especially those that are popular with tourists, are targets for terrorists.
- Driving in India is a whole new ball game!
- Pollution and general cleanliness can be an issue in heavily populated areas
- Longer working hours. Ex-pats work on average over 4 hours more in a workweek than in other areas of the world.
Transport if you are living in India
Driving: Re-think everything you know
Some of the most common observations from expats are:
- It’s not commonplace to follow lane discipline,
- sounding your horn is not frowned upon like in western countries,
- and it’s more or less a free-for-all!
Because of the chaos (and sheer population of road users) India now accounts for 6% of the world’s traffic accidents (correct as of 2018). It’s now commonplace for a simple bump on the road to turn into a court case with expensive fees involved.
With all this in mind, most ex-pats (and even many locals) are more comfortable avoiding the hassle of driving by either using a taxi/cab or other means of public transport instead.
You won’t find a shortage of transport means in India, there are plenty of taxis, buses, and rickshaws in major towns and cities. But be warned that prices vary a lot, particularly if you’re not using large companies like Uber or Ola. Even metered cab drivers often choose not to use the meter prices so you may want to negotiate your fare upfront. And don’t forget to carry smaller bills/cash with you for payment.
If you’re planning to travel longer distances, you may want to consider train travel. You might be used to seeing the media portraying trains as overcrowded, unhygienic, and unsafe, however long-distance services are anything but that. You can often find long-distance lines offering safe, comfortable, and spacious seats for relatively inexpensive costs.
Do’s in India
- Greeting people still usually involves a handshake in India. However, some prefer namaste instead. This is when you hold your palms together (fingers pointing up) and bow slightly.
- When attending a meeting, you should address those of the highest seniority first
- Using Sir or Madam in a work environment in normal or using formalities like Mr or Mrs.
- Dress codes in the workplace are usually comfortable business attire and suits (albeit it’s not always necessary to wear ties). Women more commonly wear trouser suits as opposed to skirts.
- Punctuality is important in India (as with most places) so leave plenty of time for getting to/from meetings.
- English is the ‘business language’ of India
Learn the language (at least some of it!)
Where to live in India
Speak to the locals when visiting
Contrary to popular belief Hindi isn’t actually the most popular language in India. In fact, India has the world’s second-highest number of languages (780 in total). So, be sure to check in advance what the native language is in the region you’ll be living and working.
Whilst India does have one of the largest English-speaking populations in the world if you’re planning to move somewhere more rural, you should at least learn some of the most common phrases before you go.
Whilst India has a vast array of different languages and dialects, it’s also one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world. So you’ll usually find it very easy to converse with locals. Get involved in some community events or get chatting to your neighbors to get a feel for what the place is like before you commit.
Open your mind
India is full of cultural delights and has so much to offer. If you go, be sure to try some new dishes, meet some locals, and attend cultural events and historic sites. It’s an incredible opportunity to grow and broaden your horizons.
Learn to say ‘no’
There’s definitely a perception that foreigners (both residents and tourists) spend more money! If you want to avoid being ripped off you’ll need to learn to be fair and get ready to negotiate hard if you are looking to purchase something.
Pack for every season
India can endure some extremely hot weather, but it is also the wettest country on the planet. So be prepared to swap sandals for wellies and an umbrella. Of course, each region is different though, so if you have a set destination in India, be sure to research the weather there before setting off.
Best places to live in India for ex-pats
The financial capital of India is a hotspot for so many because of the great work opportunities, but it also houses some of the best schools in the country which is why it attracts so many ex-pat families too. Education is important if you are living in India with your kids.
However, Mumbai remains one of the most expensive places to live in India. This is large because ex-pats in Mumbai represent some of the best paid in the world, with an average income of over USD $200,000. Many of them enjoy relocation packages of 1-1.2 million rupees ($15,500-$18,500) per month for housing alone!
Want to see a more cosmopolitan side of India? Head to the energetic, coastal city of Mumbai–home to ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs and the hottest Bollywood actors. Tourists are never far from five-star hotels or gourmet restaurants in this luxe city. And even if those activities are out of budget, a cruise down the beloved Marine Drive will make you feel like royalty as you catch a glimpse of the scenic coast and glamorous Art Deco buildings.
You can also see a more authentic, local side of Mumbai in the bustling “Thieves Market” or at the Churchgate railway station, where hundreds of thousands of homemade lunches are packed up for delivery to the city’s office workers every day.
Make sure you devote a day to checking out Sanjay Gandhi National Park and exploring
As the capital of India has a huge amount to offer any expat living in India. It’s a relatively safe city and already houses a large expat community so it won’t take long to settle in. There are of course plenty of career opportunities and there’s a great infrastructure in place. Which makes it all the easier to enjoy the social and cultural delights Delhi has to offer. Childcare is also very inexpensive if you have a younger family to cater for. The main drawback is that – as with any bustling city – pollution levels are high.
Despite its crowds and chaos, New Delhi offers tourists a lot to love. The colorful capital of India is the perfect marriage of heritage and modernity. Old Delhi contains some of the country’s most treasured attractions, including the Jama Masjid, Red Fort, and Chandni Chowk shopping thoroughfare. But throughout the sprawling city, tourists can explore countless other sites of spiritual and cultural importance.
Chennai is well known as a strong IT hub in India – so often attracts ex-pats. But it also made our list because it is one of the safest places in India (especially for women), and was branded the 9th best cosmopolitan city in the world by Lonely Planet in 2015. It again boasts beautiful temples and is rich in culture and nightlife, but you’ll find it is less hectic in comparison to some of India’s other major cities. It also boasts excellent schools and the estimated cost of living for a family of 4 is around $1,232 USD a month.
Places to visit
If there was just one symbol to represent all of India, it would be the Taj Mahal. The monument inspires millions of tourists to make the trip to Agra every year, waking up before dawn to see magnificent structure radiate at sunrise. But Agra tops the list of the best places to visit in India for reasons that go beyond India’s most famous attraction.
Translated to “Land of Kings,” Rajasthan brims with remnants of the kings and queens of past centuries. Between its glittering palaces, stately forts, and lively festivals, this western state deserves a starring role in your trip to India.
Jaipur, part of the Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit, which also includes Agra and New Delhi, is one of the top places to visit in Rajasthan. Dubbed “The Paris of India,” it’s known for its characteristic pink buildings, lavish City Palace, and jewelry stores galore.
The “Blue City,” Jodhpur, offers tourists an equally unforgettable experience in its hilltop Mehrangarh Fort.
Udaipur oozes romance with its flower-lined streets and fantastic City Palace Complex, where the royal family still lives today.
And Jaisalmer looks like an Arabian Nights fairy tale brought to life, with its yellow sandstone structures and historic havelis (mansions). No matter where you end up in this desert state, you’ll be captivated by the magic of Rajasthan.
India’s not just full of big cities and holy sites–it also has incredible beaches down south in Goa. Its stretches of golden sand along the Arabian Sea offer something for every type of tourist, whether you’re interested in hanging out with the backpacker crowd in laid-back beach huts or having a ritzy tropical getaway at a five-star resort.
One unique part of Goa is its blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. You’ll experience the fusion throughout the destination, from its Baroque architecture and cathedrals to its spicy vindaloo curries and seafood dishes.
Andaman Islands are the go-to place in India if you’re looking for a classic beach vacation. They’ll treat you to powder-white sand beaches flanked by coconut palms, pastel-streaked sunsets, the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, and dense jungle landscapes. No postcard could possibly capture the majesty of this gorgeous destination.
Its ultra remote location, closer to Indonesia than mainland India, presents challenges for those who want to step foot on one of the few dozen islands open to tourists. You’ll need to take a domestic flight from a major Indian city, such as Chennai, New Delhi, or Mumbai. Or, you can brave one of the long-distance ferry rides across the Bay of Bengal.
The effort can be well worth the reward, though. You’ll have some of India’s best beaches almost all to yourself, and the chance to see rare birds and thriving coral reefs. Culture hounds and history buffs will also relish exploring the Victorian British ruins on Ross Island, which are slowly being engulfed by the jungle.