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Completed one year in India, believe it or not we are still recovering from the hangover of this move. Took so much time to get back to routine, check out this long due update…
Some tips: I will start with some tips:
1. You need to fill a request to direct your mail to someone who can further either courier mail to you, or scan and send. This can be done through USPS.com, you should sign up for online fax and online mail service as well. There are lot of websites where you can upload document and send fax, you can also try http://www.mailaletter.com for sending letters.
2. IRS needs to be notified about the address change. I suggest you give POA to your CPA this will help you many ways.
3. Make sure all your credit cards are paid off; if not then link those accounts with your main bank account.
4. Biggest problem that I had faced was related to property taxes, in many cases because of the recession tax collection agencies staff had been cut short and most of them do not accept electronic payments. Make sure you have pay bills online capability, most of the banks offer this capability.
5. Most of the banking and financial institutes will pick up the address change notification through USPS but there are still few institutes that you may need to go back online and verify the change, so make sure you are carrying all user ids and passwords.
6. Generally people suggest buying furniture abroad thinking it’s probably cheap and have better quality but that is not the case, I think it’s just mental setup of dollar conversion. We had bought a leather sofa for USD5K but I found better stuff here in India for that much money. You can avoid shipping that hefty stuff.
7. One of the common question asked is if TVs purchased in USA are going to work in India(PAL and NTSC is a confusion). This is not a concern anymore, I had 4 flat TVs and which I was literally donating but my shipper suggested to carry them and try out, was surprised even the one which I bought in 2002 worked here without any problem. So get all TVs that you have purchased as flat TVs are still costly here.
8. If you are keeping your properties and have not already rented them out, you need to fill up a landlord agreement with the utility companies, it ensures that when tenant moves out of the home, office or any property then utilities get transferred under your name till the time next tenant moves in. If you do not do this then chances are that you need to re-initiate request all utilities from scratch.
9. If you are shipping any of the electric/electronics equipment, check if it can work on 220V if not then get converters from USA(Amazon.com is the place to get them all), they are all made in China but have better quality than but is available in India. Also see the wattage and multiply the same with 1.5, e.g if your TV consumes 1000W then get converter which has capacity of 1500W.
Set your expectations right: One thing is very clear you need to format your hard disk of expectations on many fronts. If you are coming back from countries like USA then understand that India is a country which is four times smaller in area and has four times more population than USA which creates an overall impact of sixteen times, this impact is huge and means smaller homes, smaller cars, narrow roads and lot of people around you. But if you are in business then this also means that you have 16 times more opportunities available. Move to India could also prove to be very expensive if you think you will carry the same lifestyle that you had been carrying abroad.
Infrastructure: I could not find one thing that is not available here now, rather in many fronts India may have already beaten many countries e.g. communications, education, medical tourism etc. Some of my friends do ask about, roads, cleanliness, civic sense of people. Message for them, things are changing here fast but if you are going to compare India with USA, UK, Australia then you will be disappointed, compare with what you have seen 10/15 years back. If you keep that mindset then you will appreciate the progress here.
Place where you are moving to: Try to move back where your base used to be or where you have your most friends or family members. Sometimes your jobs could impact this decision but think twice and explore if you have any opportunity available in the area where you have proper support system of friends and families. When you move abroad chances are that you have established your life independently without any help but that is only possible because systems abroad do not impact consumers and normal public, India is a different ball game you have to have your circle to get many things done.
Kids: Kids have completely surprised me with their adaptation and how well they have settled down here. Not even a single time they have complained rather seeing poverty here they have started appreciating and thank God for all what they had been experiencing. Try to get kids in a decent school and see if you can get good apartment or Villa with club and parks. Today many such communities are popping up in main cities of India. If you push your kids in your legacy home and traditional cities, chances are it’s not going to work. Food is not a problem at all; right from Papa Johns Pizza and Baristas to great Italian and American restaurants are available in major cities. Also most of the international festivals are celebrated here, today is October 31 and there are so many kids celebrating Halloween in our community. Kids do not miss anything here in India now.
Schools and Education: I was little bit worried about school and board system in India but depending upon the grade of the kid you may have various choices. There are many international schools available. When I was researching about schools, many friends and relatives told me that we may have to donate lot of money to get them into the school. I was taking a big chance, always hated donation system but was mentally prepared, come what may, I will not admit them to a school where donations are demanded. And for that reason I had prepared list of 5-6 schools and thought of trying one by one. We were very lucky that we went to the first school and my elder daughter was offered an admission without any such demands; rather both younger kids were also offered admission at sibling discounts. Our daughter is excellent in studies and was advanced student in USA but I don’t know till date, if it was our luck or the school was impressed with her credentials or they actually do not entertain these bad practices. I found most of the international schools have best of the infrastructure. If possible admit your kids in good international school, this will really help you.
Help Available: There is a lot of help available, now professional companies are popping up everywhere who can arrange service maids for you with proper background check up etc. We used to pay $1300 for the maid in USA, and for that much money you can hire 5 maids here, right from cook, cleaning maids, gardeners and driver. This is a big advantage.
Law and Order: Many friends from USA have asked me about law and order in India, law and order here may not be up to the level but consider these two examples, there was a bomb blast in Pune, no one got hurt but 11 people lost life in USA when they were watching movie. During same time there was another attack on Sikhs in USA and I guess 6 people got killed. I seriously think that there are bad and good people everywhere, if you are a target or have bad luck then you are not safe anywhere.
Pinch: This is for most of our friends; we may have discussed “No love for materialistic stuff”, but trust me once you move and start living here, you get very different feeling. We miss our cars, I had been to Merc showroom and GL 550(Most of us owned) that monster is costing here 1.5 CR INR, 2/3 times costlier than what we paid in USA, even if you think you will spend that much, that brings security concerns and you may have your BP shoot up if someone hits the car. We miss our home (which probably is not worth more than 750K USD), space, environment and neighbors. Here in Gurgaon if I need to own something like that home then you are talking at least 10-15 Cr INR minus infrastructure. So check your bank balance and adjust your lifestyle accordingly.
Struggle: No doubt there is so much of help available here, but I miss friends, my lifestyle, I miss driving, I miss cooking, I miss how I used to handle all handy work myself. You need to understand very well who you are, can you bribe, can you deal with black money, do you have patience to see that someone bumps into your car and does not even stop, and in the end do you have enough time to deal with the poor commitment level of people around you. Systems are improving but our generation may not be that lucky to see what we experience abroad. I see things that I cannot tolerate and are wrong and every day I struggle with the question, should I be part of these wrong practices? If I become part of it then I struggle internally and if I do not then I know things will not move at all. Every time seeing so many poor people everywhere makes me think why I am sitting inside this car and why this lady, man or kid is struggling outside. I hope God gives me strength to do something constructive to help these people. This is my personal situation but you may be able to handle these issues at different level.
Satisfaction: Close to friends and family, nothing can beat that. Kids are very happy, I feel like we have given them something which they had been missing. They don’t want to go back and we are very proud. Our 6 years old son when sees garbage on the roads tells us that he will make garbage bins and teach people how to use them rather than complaining about it. For us that is a big win and I hope nothing pops up in future and if it does then I do not mind being an international citizen.