Update on my situation:
So guys, I reached India by May 19th and it’s been almost a month now. Here’s my update.
Things move slowly (Ex: Getting Aadhaar card)
No surprise here but just reinstating the fact that everything moves slowly in India. I had almost everything listed down in a pretty long list so it was easy to knock down each stuff one by one but if you aren’t well planned that way, things can go pretty crazy.
For example, one item on my list was “Get Aadhaar card”. Boy, little did I know that there would be surprises. You’d need all kinds of documents and remove all inconsistencies from them if there are any. There’s always long queues at the location. I had to go twice to the location and still couldn’t get it done. (One place didn’t have the eye scanner, another place didn’t have “connection”). The application was done on the third day after a long wait and they got my data wrong (typo). I can see the status of my application online but I haven’t received the card yet.
Narrower roads, no place to park
Roads are getting narrower and vehicles seems to have reproduced themselves, especially bikes and scooters. There are no parking spaces in cities and they come at a premium. Tough luck if you have an SUV, 'cos finding a place to park those big guys is probably harder than winning a lottery. I’m thinking of getting a bike now.
Pollution and Heat - Is still a problem
It’s a lot more cleaner now. Ha! Just kidding. It’s dustier, dirtier and hot (I’m down south)! You feel a lot more tired and exhausted at the end of the day.
Financial Situation - You’ll be treated well
The good thing is that if you have saved up your money, it’ll put a smile on your face when you get it converted. I linked my US bank account to an NRE account (routed via a remittance account) and had my funds transferred. It was nice to see a good sum come by.
You go to the bank and they treat you well (cos of your account balance). I made it a point to talk to the bank manager and give an idea of my situation, showed interest in some products and long term goals. She was super interested and had everything taken care of, with me sitting in her cabin (like withdrawals and starting new account etc). I used SBI because that’s where I have all of my banking done. But if you got to Axis or such new gen banks, they have custom programs for NRIs that has a lot more fancy benefits. I for some reason, don’t like to buy into fancy programs and stuck to the basics where I found value. For example, Axis Bank has a program called “Burgundy” where if you deposit INR 5 Lakhs, you will get preferential treatment, special products and one to one customer relationship etc. I skipped it for now as it was too much frills and less of meat. The SBI manager on the other hand, didn’t have any fancy products but gave me her number and has committed to getting things done if I text her.
India sure is on a high growth course. You can tell from the infrastructure development in small cities and overall progress. The city I live in (Kochi) has a new metro line and there are apartments being built left and right. Not sure if one would consider this progress, but it’s good to see this happening. Cities sure are growing and of course the chaos that comes with it is increasing as well.
Digitization - Good to see traction
There is a big push on digitizing things and I found it interesting. Not all are in favor of this and there are glitches everywhere you go, especially from the elder generation. But overall, there is a new platform and everyone’s trying to get their spot on it. I mean there are apps for pretty much everything, there are digital wallets, banks have more services accessible online and things have become a little bit more easier. I’m not sure if everything works they way it is supposed to be, but that’s not the point. A step has been taken in this direction and I’m sure things will improve as we go ahead.
Jobs - Are plenty
I know that some of you were wary about finding appropriate jobs in India. Well, this is how I see it. Obviously, you are most likely not going to get a job that pays you in US scale. But there are more jobs than ever in the tech space at least. Developers, Strategists, Marketing folks are much in demand. I find that tools and ideas are catching up fast with the US market and the gap has narrowed to how and where it was few years back. I find companies using pretty much the same tools and systems like in US and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference. People’s mind set too has changed if not for the larger part. People are thinking globally and products are being made not just for the local market but with a global outlook. There is also a big push to build “desi-products” and surprisingly there are successful companies too.
Cost of living is higher but still cheap
I also found that cost of living has increased compared to 2000’s but it’s still cheaper compared to NRI cost of living. There are plenty of options to buy stuff now like groceries or home decor to name some odd few. And you can get global products at a slightly bigger price. For example, you can get a Chromecast in India for $50 (equivalent INR) when it is available for $35 in US.
People are more health conscious and organic fruits and veggies are available now. Of course, jalebees and samosas are in plenty but I find people more selective these days, not eating oily food etc (I might be skewed in my perspective here, but talking from my experience.)
Real estate is booming but slowed down temporarily
You could buy a lavish 2000 Sqft apartment in a small and upcoming city like Kochi from a top builder for about 1.5 Crores and in big cities for 2 Crores and above. Many medium and small builders are available in plenty with offerings from Rs. 45 Lakhs and up. Real estate is different in each city but if a general thread is to be drawn, there is little bit of a slow down currently, and people are more on a “wait and watch” mode. Many properties are being built but takers are few. New policies are being brought in like RERA etc and especially after de-monetization, there’s less black money in the market and hence the slow down. Sources tell me that it is only temporary and you’ll see a boom in the next years to come. But it depends on what the Govt. policies are like.
That’s all I can think of right now but I’m sure there are more things I can share. Will do as I come across them.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Hope this helped.