This is a crowd sourced guide listing out all the things one has to consider while (or thinking about) returning to India. If you’d like to add something, feel free to edit (subject to approval).
1. Convincing family
This is perhaps the most difficult step you’ll face while planning to return. Everyone will have their own suggestion and recommendations + reasons why you’re making a blunder. While they may be right, it is your personal choice on what to do and how. Here are few tips on how you can convince each family member/friend on your decision.
Whether you’re a wife or husband, convincing and more importantly, making sure your spouse is in agreement with you while making the move - is significant. India can be harsh to those who have been away from her for a long time. Here are some suggestions to resolve the spouse conflict.
- Make sure you talk and discuss the reasons that matter to you, that prompted you to make the move.
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages openly.
- Think & plan about where you’ll be 5 years, 10 years and 15 years from now after the move.
- List out things each party might have to sacrifice.
- Think about finances, how it will plan out and worst case scenarios of things don’t work out.
- Figure out who can be of help if things go wrong in India.
- If you have kids, figure out what you have for them in planning for the next 15 years.
- Ask questions like - Are you really excited about this move, is it practical, will it make you happy in the long run?
You’ll be surprised that, more than you, it’s your family who’s going to be concerned about your move.
“Are you mad?” is a common reaction. Prepare for it.
Folks in India consider living in USA more lucky than winning a lottery ticket. Convincing them is probably going to be a failure, most of the times. Especially, if you try to explain them why. Instead, it might be a good idea to display some kind of assertion and projection of what you plan to do in India when back. Like starting a company for example.
Of course, I’m exaggerating this. Not every family is the same. What is really important is to be prepared for questions and not get stuck in that Diwali get together with Mr. Shuklaji, when he throws that “USA v/s India” question.
Friends are probably the easiest to convince. They probably know you better and your potential.
The next most significant decision you’ll make while considering returning to India is managing and re-allocating your finances. Here’s a split down of different financial items you got to take care of during the process.
a. Credit cards
You’ll have to say good bye to your credit cards when leaving USA. All that credit history you carefully built up over the years is going to have to go. Good thing is that you can start afresh in India. Lot of folks think that it’s a good idea to max out their credit cards before they leave. Don’t. It’s gonna back bite you someday or the other. Also, it’s not good karma. You’re probably also creating a bad reputation for the community.
Strongly recommend to rollover your 401k to a more secure investment which provides down market protection with some guaranteed returns - eliminate the risk. Get this done before you leave.
Tip courtesy - Santosh (Financial Planner, Ph: +1(713)-927-5532)
c. Bank accounts
It is recommended that you close your bank accounts but in case you’re going to be using them in the future, make sure you keep the minimum balance and avoid overdue/minimum balance notifications.
Tie your Indian NRI account to US bank account, just in case you have to withdraw funds (tax refunds, 401K etc) later in the future.
Let the banker know that you might be out of the country for a while and will be operating the account from elsewhere. That way, they won’t lock you out when accessing the account online from an unknown IP.
d. Credit score
You might want to “lock” or “freeze” your credit cards so that you protect yourself from identity thefts and protect your scores being misused. (Source)
e. Preventing ID theft
Get Sailing Permit (Departing Alien Clearance) . Visit IRS office in the area of your employment. You should carry proof of your travel.
g. Financial planners
There are couple of financial planners in this group whom you might wanna reach out to for proper financial planning. Please refer the list below.
- Santosh - Ph: +1(713)-927-5532
3. Finding job
Probably the most challenging task ahead of you while planning returning. While many of us have startup dreams, finding a good job in India is still a ‘tough job’. Here are some tips.
a. Where to apply
b. How to prepare
- Make sure you start job search well in advance.
- Hire a recruitment agency if needed for professional help.
- Set expectations right, after consulting with experts.
- Estimate your cost of living in whichever city you’re planning to move to.
- Activate your Linkedin connections. Get in touch with potential contacts who can be helpful to you.Get in touch with recruiters with whom you have worked or who helped you making a switch in the past.
- Do not hesitate to add new connections even if they are unknown to you. Sending a Personal note introducing
yourself rather using default Linkedin Message will have better chances of acceptance.
c. Recruiters & Professional help
- Achyut Menon (Hyderabad) - LinkedIn Profile
4. School & Kids
For the kids, it’s going to be tough. Culture change, dealing with chaos, languages etc. Of course, it’s going to be only for a while, but they need a lot of attention. Here are some helpful tips.
- Get School Relieving Certificate before leaving.
- Get birth certificate from respective county.
- Get OCI (for kids who are US citizens).
a. Finding the right school
Fortunately, there are more schools in India that understands the struggles returnees go through and they have recently shown signs of being more accommodating to returning students. Not all schools fall into this category though. Some schools are known to give special classes to students who’ve returned from US, in subjects like Hindi, Telugu and Tamil. Some schools provide lower grade text books for a year or up until the kids catch up with the rest. Sort of like a “preferential treatment” to help them grow.
If the schools are unwilling, it might be a good idea to hire a personal tutor for the kids.
b. How to prepare
Discuss clearly with your kids what to expect when returning to India. It’s going to be very rough for them, with the culture shock and everything. If they are in the teens, you need to really sit with them and set the expectations right. Kids sometimes will not share their trauma, fearing a backlash and it is very much recommended that you keep checking with them how they’re doing at the new school, whether they’re making friends or not, whether they’re being bullied etc, while in India.
A good idea to prepare the kids, is to show them movies where Indian school systems are shown.
c. How to deal with culture change
Culture shock is real. Just like how folks find it difficult to mingle with US culture, during migration, kids will equally find it difficult to “blend in”. Make sure you check in with your kids every now and then, give them confidence and the support needed, rather than throwing them under the bus.
5. House & Asset Management
a. Selling assets
You’re better off selling off your house before your move. (Source)
b. Professional help
You can make avail professional help. Here are some of the community members who can help.
6. Movers & Relocation Help
Probably one of the most common questions we get asked in this forum is which is the best movers to India?
While there is no one excellent mover, there are very good ones (and some bad ones). To set your expectations right, make sure you shop around early enough and go with the one that gives you not just a cheap price but also a good service. We have a list of good movers listed here.
P.S: Before you go shopping for price, make sure you get an idea of how many boxes you’d have and what they would weigh approximately. Movers price boxes according to their weight and dimension.
Ex: You’re likely to get a more accurate price if you ask price for 3 boxes, 10 x 30 inches, weighing 2 lbs each, rather than “all the stuff in my kitchen” (Trust me, people ask such questions).
a. Best movers
According to community inputs, here are some of the best companies who can help with moving your stuff to India.
b. What to take, what not to
Here’s a suggested list of what to take and what not to take when moving from USA to India.
To Take: Books, Clothes, Essentials.
Not To Take: Cars, TV, Anything big.
7. Selling off stuff
It’s better to sell off stuff in US, rather than bringing them all over to India. You’ll save a lot on shipping and freight charges and miss an opportunity to start afresh. Of course, hang on to items you are emotionally attached with.
a. Where to sell
8. SSN & Other Documents
Make sure you lock your SSN before you move out to prevent identity theft. To lock your Social Security number, visit the U.S. government’s [myE-Verify website] and complete the necessary steps online.
“You’ll need to enter your personal data, take a quiz, enter document data, and then get your results,” says Katie Gampietro Burke, CFP and founder of Wealth by Empowerment. “The Self Lock service is free and lasts for one year,” she says, “and participants will be given the opportunity to renew 30 days prior to the expiration date.” The website also offers instructions to unlock your number at any time. (Source)
if you have US citizens who are moving out to India, make sure that you acquire an OCI card. You can apply for it online and get it delivered to you in 3-4 weeks, if all documents are in tact. It’s a hefty process to apply, so make sure you follow all the instructions properly.
Setting up a temporary “redirect” on your US address to a friend’s or relative postal address is highly recommended so that you don’t miss any communication from companies or otherwise that might come on mail.
If you have a VOIP based phone like Vonage, make sure to give it back and close your account OR take it to India while using your US number. Don’t forget to disable emergency services if you have it turned on.
c. Mobile phone
Use a service like Google voice to redirect your US mobile phone to an Indian number, when ready.
11. Buying Apartment/House in India
a. How to plan
It’s obvious but plan ahead. Make sure you buy a property while you have the NRI status on. It is easier to get housing loans etc when you are an NRI as compared to a fresh Indian citizen.
Indian banks use credit scoring systems and financial history while availing loans, so if you’re fresh off the boat, then there might be a waiting period (to build credit score etc) required before you can get that dream property.