How to Choose a Place to Live in India
Posted On: March 22, 2011
When thinking about how to choose a place to live in India here are a list of important questions to think about getting answers to. Answers to these questions vary widely on the city, its infrastructure, and available resources. No two situations will be the same.
- Do you have uninterrupted power supply?
- How frequent, if at all are power cuts?
- Do you need to bring power adapters with you?
- Does the place you’re staying have a generator?
- How can you find out about power cuts? (Sometimes only local newspapers written in the local script carry this information.)
Food, Meals, Drinking Water
- Is there any food provided in the place you stay?
- Where do you go for food?
- Can you cook or warm food up there? Ask what specific gadgets are available.
- If available to you, be specific in requesting things like stove, utensils, and microwave (microwaves are still not common in all parts of India).
- Is there a water purifier or is it better to buy bottled water?
- How can you get access to gas cylinders?
Check out some of our experiences getting used to living in a service apartment in Kochi back in 2011!
- Is there already an internet option available where you are living?
- If you need to arrange it, what are the local ISPs and what options are there for connections?
- How long does it take to get these connections?
- How will you arrange your work if your internet speed is not up to your comfort level?
- How much do you rely on the internet for work or personal reasons?
- Where would you be able to access the net from outside your residence if required?
Laundry Machine on a Verandah in India
- Does your accommodation have a washing machine?
- If not, how does one arrange for laundry service?
- Can you do your laundry and ironing on your own or must you have a washerman or a maid do it?
- (Be aware that dryers like we have in America are not available or rare to find in India, clothes are dried outside in the sun.
Life and Social Factors
- If you will be staying ad extended time (say a month or more), you may want to know about proximity to places like grocery stores, malls, social outlets available, and other daily life activities.
- Number of people sponsored to stay in the housing.
- If you are taking your spouse and/or children with you, assure the company’s accommodations will be suitable for the total number of people in your family and that the company will pay the bill for all members (some companies have policies to only pay for you as their business guest).
Others staying in the same accommodation
- Will this accommodation be reserved only for you (and your family) or will others be staying there also?
- If others are staying there, do you get your own room or have to share with someone else?
- Can it be arranged to stay alone if that is your preference?
- What kinds of phone facilities are there where you will be staying?
- For the landline can you make calls as well as receive calls?
- Can you adapt your mobile/cell phone to use in India?
Proximity to work
How close is your accommodation to work?
Keep in mind commute times in India during rush hour may be longer than you are used to in the U.S. If it is possible, before moving to India, visit to locate your housing, rent a car (note: drivers come automatically with car rentals, self-driving rentals are rare) and go in between the house and work during different times of the day. Just keep in mind, that once you buy your own car in India, you may have to drive yourself, which is a totally different ball game!
Most buildings or housing complexes are gated in with a cement fence. The gate to this compound is watched by a watchman (security guard). If you expect others to visit you, you may give the names to the watchman or they will call up to you when the guests have arrive to confirm they have come to see you.
- How will you get to and from work?
- Will your company arrange a car and driver?
- Is this car and driver available for other outings or only transportation to and from work?
- Can the driver speak English? (Has the driver had much experience with foreigners?)
- What restrictions are there for females coming to India?
Is there a 24-hour water supply?
Will you get hot water in your room? (In India bathrooms are fitted with a geyser, the concept of a centralized hot water heater is not popular. Some places store water on the top of the building and the sun heats it throughout the day.)
Find out what is the typical dress code and pack appropriately for work and climate conditions.
Bring your favorite sun-tan lotion.
Are mosquitoes a problem in that area (bring mosquito repellent or buy it in India, a mosquito net for your bed may be required as well).
Factors that can Influence Types of Accommodations
In addition to understanding the types of accommodations and planning questions one can ask to secure a comfortable stay in India, one must also be aware of the company’s experience with outsourcing.
Things to think about:
- Is the company a fully localized Indian company or American/ Foreign company in India?
- How long has the company been in India? And, in that particular area?
- (Here you can assess that company’s knowledge of the local area and availability of different kinds of accommodation.)
- How long have they been doing outsourcing?
- Will they provide you India culture training?
- How many months or years have they been arranging housing for business visitors?
- How long do employees stay and is it temporary or for permanent relocation?
- Is that area well known for outsourcing or new to outsourcing? How has the infrastructure (hotels, housing, restaurants, etc) conducive to outsourced visitors, expats, and repats?
- Brainstorm other factors that could be relevant.
Photos and video courtesy Jennifer Kumar, blog owner. Jennifer Kumar, author of this post is a US Citizen who has lived in India as an expat for 10 years. She provides cross-cultural, expat and business communication coaching. Contact Jennifer Kumar if you’re interested in more information.
Copyright © 2011, Updated May 2020 Jennifer Kumar. All Rights Reserved. Do not reprint.