Boasting large mega-cities and beautiful rural destinations, it’s hardly surprising that so many foreign expatriates and retirees wish to spend their time in India. A beautiful country with a lot to offer, many people plan to settle down in India for the long term due to its immense natural beauty and affordable cost of living.
While India is a remarkably inexpensive destination for most expatriates, it’s not an easy country to ‘settle down in’ with your own property. Visa restrictions and a variety of bureaucratic difficulties make purchasing property as a non-Indian a frustrating and potentially expensive experience.
Before we get into buying property in India, however, let’s look at the country’s large and diverse rental market. With over one billion citizens, India is home to a huge range of properties for rent, ranging from small inner-city apartments to an incredible range of grand country homes and seaside developments.
Most retirees and expatriates in India live in one of the country’s major cities. In these locations, residential property rental rates range from fairly affordable to extremely expensive. Depending on your tastes and expectations, you will likely spend anywhere from $200 to $2,000 each month on rent in a large Indian city.
Of course, there are extreme options on both ends of the price scale – incredibly cheap shared rooms on one end, and ultra-luxury apartments on the other. Most expatriates, however, are interested in accommodation that matches what they can access in Western countries in terms of quality and affordability.
In smaller cities, the cost of living is somewhat more affordable. India’s second-tier cities are home to a variety of modern apartment developments and homes that suit the tastes of foreign retirees, making them an ideal place to live. Many small cities have rental rates that are half of those found in Mumbai or Delhi.
India’s small towns are incredibly inexpensive to live in, although the range of properties on offer is not the same as in major cities. While rental apartments can be found in many small towns at incredible prices, many expatriates prefer to live in more populated areas to avoid language and cultural issues.
Finally, India’s major tourist locations – particularly Goa, which is popular with retirees and expatriates from Europe and the United States – are the ideal place to find affordable housing aimed at foreign residents. Many apartments in these areas are aimed squarely at foreign expatriates in their design and amenities.
Rental property in India is typically rented using a long-term lease, and short-term accommodation is notoriously difficult to find. Many expatriates choose to stay in hotels and serviced apartments while looking for a rental property, as it can take several weeks to find a suitable property to live in after arriving.
While renting property in India is typically straightforward and simple, buying property in the country isn’t so easy. Foreigners are forbidden from buying any property – residential, commercial, or otherwise – on a tourist visa, and need to acquire a business visa and an India-based business to purchase any property.
This is something of a Catch-22 situation, in which the expatriate or retiree must acquire a business visa, yet needs to own a business in order to apply for the visa itself. In most cases, it’s best to speak with a lawyer in the area that you want to move to, as they can assist you with business registration and property laws.
It’s worth noting that the laws in many parts of India, particularly tourist-heavy areas, are not completely enforced, and that many expatriates have experienced issues with property that the believed they legally owned. Always speak with a lawyer before investing in any property in India to avoid similar issues.
Whether you’re searching for a clean and simple inner-city apartment or a large, expansive country home, India’s huge property market is sure to have something that fits the bill. From renting to buying, India is home to a wide variety of great housing opportunities for single expatriates, retired couples, and families alike.