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Retirement in India: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Friday, March 21st, 2014   3:45 pm |  Category:   Retirement locations   |   35 Comments  
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Retire IndiaAlmost everywhere we have been we have found the people to be friendly and helpful. When we take a walk we are greeted with Namaste and folded hands. If we see them again we talk and are invited to tea or lunch. Then it’s “Please come and stay with us while we are both in Delhi.” We are now planning to vacation is South India with some of the friends we have made. Many have told me that they appreciate my effort to maintain the Indian customs and dress. One of my lady friends remarked, “You are more Indian than I am.”

 

As I have said, India is not for the faint of heart. Basically, things don’t work well here. Electricity comes and goes, sometimes for days at a time. Many of our friends and family have backup power generators. Homes are not constructed with insulation. There is no central heat and air. The outside air temperature of 50 degrees F can make for a very cold house and a very hot house when it gets to 115 degrees F in many parts of India. I cannot imagine what winter would be like. This winter we went back to the States.

 

India’s infrastructure is poor and getting worse. The roads are crowded and in need of repair. Repairs that are made do not last more than a year due to substandard materials. Delhi is two hundred miles from Ghorakhal. It takes a bone jarring eight hours by car. Our flight from the States was delayed due to weather. The delay caused us to miss our train and we could not get tickets on short notice. Traffic especially in the cities is very heavy and traffic laws are not obeyed. The biggest vehicle takes the right of way. Pedestrians, goats, horses and oxen pulling carts are allowed on the toll roads. The railways and trains are owned by the government and have not been upgraded in years. One must book a ticket thirty days in advance and then be put on a waiting list. Only 47% of Indian households have toilets, 3% use public facilities while the rest relieve themselves out in the open. Garbage management is almost nonexistent, even in the big cities. Garbage is thrown in any empty space that can be found or out the front door into the street. The lack of bathrooms and untreated garbage has contaminated most of India’s ground water and rivers. Only 33% of households have access to treated water. Those households with means have a water filter. Much of the construction is done by unskilled hand labor. There seems to be no uniform building or electrical codes. Bribes are expected and required to get anything done. Cooking gas is government subsidized. Since we are not Indian citizens we cannot legally buy it, forcing us to get it from the black market.

 

India is not a pet friendly country. Though it was expensive we were able to bring our two elderly dogs. Both have since passed away. This year due to a change in the law only those planning to permanently relocate here are able to bring in their dog or cat. The loss of our pets left a huge hole in our hearts. While we were in the States and after we obtained our new family members, two Toy Fox Terriers we found out about the change in pet regulations. Tourists will not be allowed to bring in their pets period. The cost of relocating our pets including air fare, pet passports and bribes ran us $2700.00. Our pets were held for 16 hours by Delhi’s cargo hold and not released to us until we paid the bribe. Fortunately we were allowed to feed and water them while they were being held. Including the flight time they spent 30 hours in their crates. We were fearful that they would be stolen as I have not been able to find the breed here. My husband and I have decided that if we do leave India with our dogs we will not return.

 

The negatives of India have caused us to rethink our retirement here. We plan to extend our stay here for the next twenty months. At that point one or both of us and our pet children will fly back to the states to see family and take care of business. I do love where we are living now and our simple peaceful lifestyle. There are many parts of India we want to see and experience. We have made some very good and dear friends here. We are not sure if we want to put up with the lack of infrastructure, the difficulty with traveling from place to place and India’s growing population and bribe expectations. Time will tell.

 

 

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35 Comments
  1. Retirement homes in India May 16th 2014  11:44 am

    Thank you for this usefull information
    Really helpful

  2. Deepak Feb 3rd 2015  9:53 pm

    Hello
    Can you share more details how did your husband recovered from insulin ?

  3. Adv Sachin Nagpurkar Mar 11th 2015  5:34 am

    I am thinking of retiring in Uttarakhand. please suggest some place and the price of some decent accomodation which i can purchase. i am from bombay.

  4. Rajashekhar Jul 29th 2015  4:22 pm

    Ghorakhal, Uttarkhand, is a beautiful place. I have not been there but I have seen pictures of it. But what would bother me, if my wife and I were to live there , is its distance from Bangalore, our home town. That apart, thank you for this excellent article; everything you have written here (friendly, beautiful people, corrupt government, the dirt and filth, lack of sanitation and clean water for most Indians) are all, unfortunately, true.

  5. Wiktor Aug 8th 2015  6:40 pm

    I am of Polish origin and would like to retire in India, Vrindavan, I am not married (40) and got early retirement after being a teacher in Poland

  6. kalpana Aug 17th 2015  8:36 am

    This is a message for Wiktor. I also would like to retire in India too and have been to Vrindavan. I am single Indian woman living in Australia. I am a Hare Krishna devotee and would like to meet like minded spiritual people for settling down . My email address is kalpanadevi41@yahoo.co.uk
    thanks.

  7. Chris Oct 3rd 2015  6:11 pm

    It has been more than one and a half years since this was posted. It will be nice to have a follow up.

    I just realized you have moved back. Are you settled now or you wish you had sweated it out?

    Thanks

  8. ashok bansal Oct 16th 2015  1:46 pm

    I live in united states (citizen) here from the last 16 years. I am 42 years old.
    Recently I visited India for 4 months ( including Mathura/varindavan/Rishikesh) and realized India could be permanent retirement place But I really liked more Rishikesh than Varindavan.

    In Rishikesh, I stayed for 1 month. Weather is good even in summer as well as pollution level is very low, right in mountains. People are much nicer and honest.

    I am planning to buy one home in Rishikesh now. I feel Rishikesh could be permanent place for me for my rest of my life. There are lot of Ashrams in Rishikesh area and of course GANGA.
    I have been to Badrinath temple 14 times.

    I feel there are lot of places in Mountains to explore once I settle in Rishikesh.

    Thanks
    Ashok Bansal

  9. Mark Oct 31st 2015  9:17 pm

    I am (44) also thinking/planning to move to India and focus more on spiritual/quality life. Vrindavan would be perfect for me as i am Hare Krishna devotee but i am also looking at Mayapur in West Bengal and other places. I don’t think buying condo is the best idea at this moment. Rent is cheap and gives me a lot of flexibility to move around. Biggest problem is long term Visa as i am not of Indian origins.
    I hope you love living there. i just got back form India and miss it already :(

  10. Manu Jan 10th 2016  6:56 am

    1. Rent , don’t buy. As a rule of thumb, indian prices are 25% of New York/ Sydney / Dubai.
    Ignore the big cities, head to the tier 2/3 towns. Keep an eye on pollution levels and water availability.
    2. Go vegetarian and cook your meals. Invest in a rice cooker. Rice and lentils are staples here, if you adopt this diet, your dollar will go the extra mile.
    3. Research and invest in the local stock market. If you can’t be bothered, pick 3 mutual funds and put a small percentage of your savings. Hold it for more than a year and your gains are tax free.

  11. Narayanan Jan 30th 2016  12:40 pm

    When you retire in India and you are a US Citizen , what are the tax rules?
    Tax has to be filed in both India and USA. What are Investment Options.

    If anybody has any experience , please share.

  12. Kaberi Mar 29th 2016  8:40 pm

    Hi,
    I am Indian-born entrepreneur in Canada and planning to set up a retirement home in the foothills of Himalayas.
    The average monthly disposable salary after taxes in India comes to about 31,158.73 INR (approximately $472). Although prices vary throughout the country, such low average costs obviously mean the average American has plenty of options when it comes to retiring in India. In fact, a monthly disposable income of twice the Indian average – about $1,000 – can translate into a very comfortable standard of living.

  13. Jeanette Mar 30th 2016  9:33 pm

    I am retired female, now living in Florida USA and seek to relocate to Ghorakdal or near Spiritual Science Center. I am sattva student and would like to hear from another who seeks to retire in Ghorakhal or near Spiritual Science Center.

  14. Lorenzo Apr 2nd 2016  9:31 pm

    It sounds very interesting, what do you do for fun? do you guys volunteer in the community? I am planning to retire in that side of the world… although my concern is I could get bored too soon… I need some sort of activity. Please if you can tell about volunteer opportunities? there is any muslim community out there? thank you

  15. chari Jun 30th 2016  12:40 am

    Does India Govt. tax US INCOME from ROTH mutual funds, set aside for retirement./ I am told my Us Govt. pension & social security are exempt from Indian Income tax, PLEASE confirm this. How much would it cost, pe month, for a senior citizen couple in MYSORE (Souuth India). We are total vegetarian. How much one should plan on (a) 2 Bedroom house (not flat), maid servant, man servant, doctor visit (we are both hale and healthy) Are reliable, quality medicine available in India. Please give as much info. as possible. Very much obliged. Thanks. June 29, 2016 8:40 PM EST

  16. Prakash Mishra Aug 9th 2016  5:48 am

    I have ancestral land in Uttrakhand. It’s connected to road, water , electricity can be arranged. A solitude place, facing East , Himalayan view…I grow turmeric there. I am a CA engaged in business based at Delhi. I too want to retire soon….devote time for meditation…
    Any one interested in joining me….?

  17. Radha Gunta Aug 20th 2016  2:40 pm

    I am an American Born, USA citizen who has been living in Andhra Pradesh along with my Andhra Born Physician Husband for the last seventeen years. Before settling in India we lived in USA after marriage for almost twenty years. Lately I am missing living in America very much. I am also a Grandma. One daughter is in Pune and the other in USA. As we get older it gets difficult to manage here in India. House keepers are very unreliable and it is impossible to look after a large house without help due to so much dust and pollution and lack of workers to reliably maintain the grounds. If you are planning to settle for retirement in India from USA I would strongly reccommend that you think a thousand times. One or two year visit yes, but permanent settlement is very very difficult and requires that you become a really dettached Yogi.

  18. RICK FELDMAN Oct 18th 2016  7:38 pm

    Are you still happy there?

    I am a 64 yr old who wants to get out of the rat race but scared to make the leap…fear of the unknown.
    $1000. a month for all my expenses would be wonderful.

    How do you travel from your city and do you have internet???? phone???

    thank you,

    Rick

  19. Sukhendu Roy Chowdhury Oct 26th 2016  12:59 pm

    Dear Prakash,

    Yes, I too have a plan to settle down in Uttarakhand.

  20. Richard Summers Nov 4th 2016  7:18 pm

    I’m now 64, living in Arizona, and starting to collect my social security. I’ve been a practitioner of meditation since the age of 14, and seriously considering relocating to Rishikesh.
    I’m wondering that since it’s quite a tourist destination, is the cost of living higher? What is the cost of medical care? and can a little private dwelling be found for say the equivelent of $150.00 a month?
    Any help that anyone can provide will be greatly appreciated..:)
    pushinpaintdaily@yahoo.com

  21. Sandra Nov 8th 2016  10:47 pm

    Hi Prakash,
    I am interested in joining you. I have a dog, how do you feel about a dog? Have you built a home on the land or is it vacant? I am retired and planning on transitioning to move to India in 2017. I currently live in NYC. Where your land is located how far are you from the nearest city or town? What is around the area? Is the drinking water clean? I devote some of my time with practicing Paramahamsa Nithyananda Integrity techniques and other techniques and also practice Anandmurti Gurumaa Nidra Yoga.I want to learn higher practices. I also enjoy gardening and singing bhajans. Hope to hear from you.

    Warm wishes,
    Sandra

  22. Shanker Nov 30th 2016  6:21 pm

    I am a retired Indian Professional living in Orlando, Florida. I lost my wife 2 years back due to cancer and living alone. Planning to move to India. I am 74 years old and from Karnataka and US Citizen. What are the income tax liability, US SSA requirement, Travel issues and suggestion will be greatly appreciated.

  23. Sarah Petty Dec 29th 2016  4:31 pm

    Hello Prakash–
    Are you seriously looking to create a deliberate community?

  24. Linda Feb 28th 2017  6:12 pm

    I have just turned 70, female and am looking at India to retire. I currently live in the US but am British. I made the move from the UK with my husband 21 yrs ago although he passed just two years later. I am finding it difficult now to live in the US,

    I live on my British pension plus a little extra that I earn from typing/copy editing/proofreading.

    If anyone has any advice or comments for me I would like to hear.

  25. Kenneth Mar 8th 2017  7:41 pm

    Hello Linda , , Im Canadian , caucasian and also looking at retiring in India . Im struggling with visa information . If you or anyone has any information , suggestions I would really appreciate the help .

  26. Elayne Ghiron Mar 21st 2017  7:02 am

    Thinking of an all encompassing hotel in india then i will make a choice. Do you know of a good one?
    Thanks

    7lp8

  27. Jessica Mar 24th 2017  8:42 am

    Hi All, I am also very interested in retiring to an all encompassing hotel in India but so far have drawn a blank. Appreciate your comments/advice.

  28. Ashok Gupta Mar 26th 2017  10:37 pm

    Hello All
    I am US citizen of Indian origin 64 years old.Almost ready to retire.
    Before moving to USA 20 years back I traveled a lot in India due to my work.
    I was also fortunate to visit a lot of other countries.
    I live in Washington state and lived before in New Jersey and Nebraska.
    I did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of friends in India.
    My findings:
    1.For US citizen of Indian origin
    Get overseas citizen of India card.
    It is like double citizenship.
    2.For Americans-get 10 years visa.
    Can stay 6 months in India.
    General info:
    In India a 1 bedroom furnished apartment rent is 15000 to 25000 Rupees.
    It comes to 250 to 350 USD per month.
    Please use magicbricks.com and 99acres.com to find one.
    Also try home stays.
    Grocery for 2 people is USD 200 or less/month.
    Help part time is 100 or less/month.
    Other expenses USD 300/month.
    Total for 2 people comes to 1000 or less.
    In hills like Rishikesh-Haridwar there are a lot of opportunities to do yoga,meditation ,social work and trekking.
    I know a guy who is is associated with NGO.
    https://www.ekal.org/us
    I am going to live in Rishikesh/Haridwar from Oct 2018 till March 2019
    on experimental basis.
    I am planning to rent out my home in Tacoma WA for one year.
    I have a lot of friends and relatives in India and they promised to visit me
    once I am there.
    If successful,plan to live in India in winters only when the weather is gloomy
    in Seattle-Tacoma WA.
    I hope info is useful.

  29. Buland singh Apr 7th 2017  6:46 pm

    Hello everyone presently I am living in Canada and working on a project on how I can provide foreign tourists a stress free life during their retirement where they can happily live on spending a small amount of money. For this India is the best place. I researched various cities and found Rishikesh is the best place. It is a pollution and noise free city and the world birth place of yoga. So I am working on the project where I can provide good small cottages fully furnished with all facilities according to western needs. If anyone is interested in my project please contact me on kenny_0172@yahoo.co.in

    Rishikesh estimated monthly costs
    grocery $50
    Utility bill $15
    Transportation $15
    Laundry $10
    Phone / wifi $10
    Tv $8
    Rent $150
    Doctor visit $10
    Medicines are cheaper than in the US and Canada
    Retired people from western countries live a better and cheaper life .

  30. yohan Apr 25th 2017  10:24 am

    India is a great place to retire,if u dont mind the bad side, best for those who are seeking spiritual life. There are many spiritual paths,and im now into vaisnavism -worship of Lord Krishna- im planning to go there soon,and end this life among chanting devotees,kirtans-festivals……if anyone wish to know more of this path,contact me. cidanandas-gmail

  31. Brahmann May 30th 2017  4:44 am

    Hats off to all who have retired in India. I was born and brought up in India – now living overseas for the major part of my life. I left India when I was 19 and am now 52 years old. Although I have visited India in the past and even got married there, I’ve not returned to India for the past 15 years.

    And although it is my birth place, of which I have many fond memories – most of them are now faded with passage of time, development, the rise of the population and accompanying pollution – together have taken a toll on the beautiful clean life I once experienced as a child and growing up lad.

    I will urge all, specially to the Non-Indians, to pay special attention to the advise given by Radha Gunta, and to again read between-the-lines the entire experience as stated by the original poster of her experiences in India.

    The benefits of low cost of living, and nice friendly people are soon over-shadowed by the reality of the filth, low hygiene levels due to poor sanitation and etiquette standards and zero manners practiced by the uneducated class (population) due to lack of education. Even basic necessities become a prestige to have – not to mention the petty bribes at every step of the way in your daily living. India is no walk in the park folks!

    Yes, local people treat you with respect, and love you for who you are, but coming from my experience, the basic necessities, an educated gentry of certain IQ level and exposure, and daily hygiene practices are more important to living a stress free life, than looking for a low cost of living country. Even spiritual programmes become useless and meaningless when basic standards of living begin to feel like a distant memory.

    In my opinion, and specially for people who are not of Indian origin, there are other better places which are less corrupt, and where one has access to basic necessities at least. Caucasians, beware! India will not live up to your dreams of blissful retirement. I highly doubt that bliss still exists in India!

    To Wiktor and Yohan – I will say, stay where you are, love your country and live in your country – probably in the suburbs where living will be cheaper for you and practice whatever yoga or vaisnavism you want to – If he/she exists, then god is everywhere … you definitely will not get closer to spiritualism by moving to India … just be good in life an dpractive goodness. Thats enough to find

    To all other caucasians – visit several times before deciding to set up life in India…there is no substitute to personal experience…India is good, but it may not be the life you imagined.

    Me, being an Indian, am not retiring in India…sorry folks…really very sorry! I love India minus its drawbacks.

    Be happy Live Happy!

    Cheers!

  32. Molly Jul 11th 2017  8:07 am

    Brahmann .. thanks for your comments. It is easy to romanticise India with such western movies and Exotic Marigold Hotel and Good Karma Hospital etc I visited, and stayed for a year more than 20 yrs ago. I loved it. But I was young. I’d love to retire in Rishikesh, my guru visits there each year, I could take up yoga, and live a “spiritual” and relaxed lifestyle, healthy vegetarian food – but the reality is quite different from the dream I can see from the many comments. Things seem to have changed a little, but the hygiene and lack of infrastructure/water/electricity etc does have an impact. I will visit in 2018 for a month. Perhaps stay 2 to test it our again with a view to staying for 6 months of each year, and returning to Australia for 6. I’m not sure if this will be financially viable, if I can rent in each place when I leave … any ideas?

  33. Akash Sep 20th 2017  7:32 am

    Even from my own personal experience, India has changed dramatically over the last 5-10 years and especially with the new govt and advent of technology, a lot of the daily minor irritants and inconveniences are rapidly and permanently ending. Thus it is possible to achieve the same and higher quality of everyday living at par with western societies-such that even Diaspora members of my own family are now moving back to India in their fifties and later.
    The biggest improvements they find over living in Europe, and North America are-
    1) The strong sense of serendipity and adventure – life tends to get bland and predictable after a while elsewhere. There is never a dull moment in India.
    2) Possibility for community living and volunteering, giving back and having folks taking care of you
    3) Brighter colors, warmer weather, lots of people and animals/wildlife – less depressing. I live on the outskirts of Delhi- supposed to be one of the worst places to live in- and yet we have over 50 species of birds, and other animals co-existing, along with plenty of tropical vegetation that does make one feel more happy and tuned to the wonderful planet in a much better manner.
    4) Possibilities for cheaper assisted living- cooks/housekeepers/attendants/daily masseuses/cleaners/chauffers/utility fixers/maids, nurses- there is help for every budget and every need available.
    Yes its a bit hard to find and retain quality, verified help.

    For the negatives, yes Indian public systems are creaking at the seams due to the sheer growth in numbers. But please remember we also have the largest number – 800+ million, of workforce available and hungry to help out. Also, Indian systems are designed for being labor intensive and dependent on other people- such as family, neighbors and communities, as well as outside help, hence its a bit difficult for folks who are used to independent, rugged, isolationist, self-help living. On the plus side, if you have the right help/butler/concierge services, life is an absolute luxury over here. And general human interaction as we grow older is anyway better for our emotional and physical well-being. Just like in the US- apart from there now being a (US Clone) “app for everything”, our replacement for apps is people. So instead of self-driving cars, we have autonomous driving in terms of hiring chauffeurs.

    Each day in India is anyday better than living in expensive nursing homes, assisted living and retirement communities of the West. You will save a lot more money, and have a much better and happier life. Not to mention having a lower lifetime carbon footprint.

  34. Akash Sep 20th 2017  7:43 am

    Also, for all pet-parents,

    India is still new to the concept of recreational pet parenting- though it is exploding at a viral exponential pace as more Indians become affluent and adopt Western customs, so all your needs are now met in most superstores, vets and breeding areas. However, India has a strong tradition of community pets, and keeping bovine and farm animals, birds and pigeons as pets over dogs, rodents, reptiles.
    There are enough and more natural wild free-ranging K-9 units in all rural and urban areas, and its great to experience living and helping them out. Several returning expats in India have found strong meaning in working with animal shelters and units to help out urban animals. Our streets might be lesser clean- but atleast the bulls are not slaughtered for meat right from the start, and are allowed to live on. If you do find meaning through animals, I strongly urge you to help out existing animal shelters and interventions, rather than just adding species which naturally dont exist in India, and will anyway be cooped up and unhappy in homes. There is a strong culture of free-range here. Please also do consider the lifetime carbon and environmental footprint of keeping a pet

  35. Akash Sep 20th 2017  7:58 am

    There are several things to do for volunteerism and fun. I live in an army retirement community where I take care of my grandparents, who though retired as 2-star generals are very middle class by US standards. They maintain an active life well into their 80s and 90s, and there is a very collegial life that they enjoy. Some of the daily activities

    1. Group yoga, laughter clubs, walks, massages
    2. Access to libraries for reading books, self-improvement, internet and newspapers
    3. Volunteering and teaching underprivileged kids, providing after school support and nutrition to the kids to ensure generational upward mobility.
    4. Travelling both within India and abroad once every couple of months. Flight connectivity has improved dramatically and so have roadways and general tourism infrastructure everywhere in last 3 years. You have billion dollar unicorn startups like Oyo Rooms, MakemyTrip, and Yatra making this happen now.
    5. Getting together with families and friends to plan festivals – there is a festival in india for every full-moon and no-moon day- so technically upto 24 festivals
    6. Active writing and media- they write articles for local media, deliver talks on radio, even wrote cookbooks and presented cookery shows, and write out memoirs.
    7. Investments- we now manage and do stock market investments both in the India and US, and its surprisingly easy to manage from home, My grandmom learnt investing in her 70s, and is making a dollar denominated 10% IRR return for the last 10 years.
    8. Cultural events- music concerts, dance, theater, films, food festivals, shopping festivals, – there is something always going on which is free to attend. However this is mostly because this is Delhi. and would be difficult to find outside metropolitan cities and their suburbs
    9. Learning new skills- they are now learning cooking various world cuisines, and painting via a variety of media.
    10. Are also learning more about Indic religions, philosophy and reading up on various primary texts, by learning more of Sanskrit. Several of these texts were inaccesible to them when they were young and poor 70 years ago. Only now in the 2010′s onwards. are translations more easily available and there is more systemic attention paid.
    11. Farming and gardening- they love doing this! Grow all flowers, fruits and vegetables on rooftops , terraces and gardens, as well as our community garden. This is so relaxing for them and they get pride and joy in watching things grow.


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