New Delhi, India Report of what it's like to live there - 04/30/24

Personal Experiences from New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India 04/30/24


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I've lived in various countries across Latin America as an expat.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA. It is approximately a 17 hour direct flight from JFK airport with American Airlines. Direct flights from Newark to Delhi also exist. With international connections it can take up to 30 hours one-way. It is a long flight away from home.

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3. What years did you live here?

2023 - 2024

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4. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Mostly low rise apartments with balconies, small kitchen spaces in nicer areas of Delhi. Rush hour traffic is insane after the work day. A typical 15 minute work commute can easily turn into 30 minutes with traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are cheaper but are usually covered in dust and grime. You have to wash off even eggs and milk cartons. There are some stores that sell Western products but are significantly more expensive. There are also organic grocery stores/delivery subscription services that are reminiscent of Whole Foods. You will probably end up paying US prices or more if you do not want to eat Indian food every day.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

I wish that I shipped more household cleaning products (Tide pods, bleach, mop cleaners) and condiments.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Zomato and Swiggy are popular food delivery options.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

New Delhi is a pouch-only post (no DPO/APO). International shipping options like DHL exist. There's also Amazon India.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Household help is quite common to use in New Delhi, however the quality drastically varies. Housekeepers are relatively affordable. There are "all-rounders" who perform most cooking and housekeeping duties.

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3. Do you feel that it is safe to walk, run or hike outside? Are there areas where bike riding is possible? What is the availability and safety of outdoor space for exercising? Are these easily accessible?

This is not a safe place for outdoor activities due to the pollution and array of stray animals. Most streets do not have a sidewalk to walk on so you are often walking beside cars and cows.

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4. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Workout facilities are few and far between. The few options available are often crowded and/or overpriced.

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5. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit card usage varies widely as some days it is completely functional and other days it is not. Most people open an Indian bank account in order to use PayTM or pay for items in cash.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is possible to live in Delhi without knowing any languages but it is definitely useful to have for bargaining purposes.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes, Delhi is not an accessible city.

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Uber and BluSmart are very affordable. Ubers will often cancel on you at the last minute though.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Airtel Internet works relatively well.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I use GoogleFi for international travel. If you are a part of a diplomatic mission

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are opportunities to volunteer at animal shelters and with the impoverished population around the city.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual. Formal dress is required occasionally.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There were a few incidences of members of the diplomatic mission being assaulted by groups of young local men. Delhi is not a safe place for women and I personally do not feel comfortable anywhere in the city. In addition to the usual problems of living in a metropolitan city (pickpocketing, theft, etc.) women are frequently assaulted and/or harassed by local men.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you are living here for more than a month, you are more than likely going to face some sort of gastrointestinal issue during your time here. Mosquito-bourne illnesses are also common (dengue, Zika, chikungunya).

Basic sanitation practices that are common in the US are practically unheard of here. All produce must be bleached before consumption. The tap water is not drinkable without a distiller. There are many Western-trained specialists here (dentists, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, etc.). The Embassy also has a health unit that can provide basic medical needs.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

HORRIBLE HORRIBLE air quality! The air quality is poor year round but especially from October - March when you can see the pollution. It has an affect on physical and mental health every day. I would not recommend this post for people who have respiratory issues like asthma.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The air quality makes living here so difficult. Some restaurants are not as conscious about food allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The air quality can negatively affect moral and mental health during the winter.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's moderate/cold from November - February and is mostly hot for the remainder of the year. The weather is hot and humid from July - September.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expatriate community.

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2. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?


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3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I highly recommend traveling across Kerala. There are also many safari opportunities nearby.

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4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Taj Mahal isn't exactly a hidden gem but was worth the visit.

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, there are many opportunities to buy beautiful handicrafts and artwork. There are many longstanding melas and baazars where you can barter for a good deal.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The availability of international flights across Asia makes it easy to travel the region at an affordable price.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Regions of India vary drastically. South India is significantly better to live in compared to North India where New Delhi is located in my opinion.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely not. Living in New Delhi was an overall terrible experience.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

peace of mind.

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4. But don't forget your:

return airplane ticket.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"India in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know" by Mira Kamdar

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is truly an awful place to live but it is important to get out and explore in order to keep your sanity.

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