New Delhi, India Report of what it's like to live there - 06/11/24

Personal Experiences from New Delhi, India

New Delhi, India 06/11/24


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

This our seventh posting overseas and the first time in India.

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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?

We are from the U.S. There is a direct flight that’s 15 to 17 hours from some US gateways like JFK, Newark, Chicago, etc. Add connection time and one or two flights in the US. Connection can also be Paris, London, Amsterdam. Delhi has a major airport, so big planes.

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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?

We are lucky to have a unit with green space that is a short 20 min commute most of the time. Housing is often apartments. Good size considering a city of millions.

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

There are many items available. There are not many grocery stores, but many speciality shops. There is an amazing number/amount of delivery service: everything from two limes to baskets full. Like elsewhere, imported items are more costly. Local items are very affordable.

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

Nothing really. Maybe some more common spices or spice blends that are not Indian. Cajun. TeMex. BBQ rubs.

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

Tons of options for eating out or delivery: Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Italian, pizza, etc etc. Sometimes selection is by what is physically closer.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

It’s pretty warm most of the year. So ants and mosquitos are common. Then the typical roaches and moths. Nothing particularly unusual.

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Daily Life:

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

Is Embassy, but international package services are available.

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

Help is affordable and hiring helps entire families with secure income or skills. Typical are drivers (no where to park at many destinations plus traffic is very fluid), house-manager, nanny, gardener (even for a few balcony plants), cook…. Now, many hire one or two who do everything and is callled all-arounder (multiple skills of driver, clean, laundry,…).

Many packages and parcels require delivery codes, so good to have someone around just for that.

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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?

Yes, safe to walk, Normal street smarts: no dark alleys at night and avoid large crowds. Also as expat, possibly more likely target of pickpocket or petty crime.

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

Lovely high end yoga and other. Some Dip enclaves have facilities free for their staff. With the bad air quality, memberships may be worth the investment.

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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?

Yes. Amazingly so. Local cards and phone applications are great too

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6. What English-language religious services are available locally?

For sure, Protestant and Catholic. Many others, too.

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

None really. Bits help for some workers, but Google translate also helps.
Teachers for Hindi easily available and affordable, but it is only spoken in certain regions of India.

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

Yes. Everyone has some issues. Potholes, limited sidewalks, stairs, uneven pavement, dogs and cows in the roads.

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

Locally. Lots of taxi, Tuk Tuk. Ride apps are common - Uber, Ola, BlueSmart. Buses are crowded and probably to be avoided. Metro is spectacular, but limited destinations.

Intercity trains are fine as long as the higher speed ones with reserved seats, A/C, etc. Decent on-time stats for these. And still affordable, but not like new train in Europe.

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2. What kind of vehicle(s) including electric ones do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, infrastructure, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car or vehicles do you advise not to bring?

New Delhi has pretty strict import restrictions - right hand drive, age, etc. Quite a few bought and sold here in a big new and used market. Relatively affordable for new ones.

For road trips, can rent car with driver easily. So maybe consider smaller for city driving.

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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?

Yes. Good speeds.

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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?

Airtel was fine as local provider. Under $8USD per month for tons of phone and data.

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1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes. A number around and also mobile pet grooming.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Most fulfilling paid seems to be teleworking. Local salaries would be low for most. Probably too low to be of interest.
Teachers of many types. Some work for NGOs, UN, or multi-nationals.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There seem to be many organizations that want funding. A few actual opportunities do exist: helping street animals, teaching kids (afternoons after school).

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

Indians are usually very pleased to see expats wear their styles. More so than other countries and it is very practical for the weather. Otherwise smart casual will do in many situations.

Men are suits for business. Women are a parallel to this.

Formal dress for Indian weddings (although this could be Indian dressy instead). Maybe a few charity events or National Days.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pickpockets and petty theft. Women can be hassled when alone in the evening.

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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?

Tropical, so dengue, typhoid, malaria, etc.
Delhi belly. Food and water born illnesses common.

Lots of doctors with English or other languages and many have studied internationally.

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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?

Air quality limits activities for three + months each year. A definite concern. Masks are worn by many. Air cleaners indoors.
Heat is intense too. Possible concern, too. It can impact activities and Indian schools also close during intense periods.

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

January can be cold enough to require a jacket. Feb and March are lovely.
April to July is hot -can be over 115, but dry. Monsoon (July August) is not quite as hot, but humid so feels just as hot. October-ish to December is pollution season.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Overall, a wonderful American school. K- 12. Heard other schools are good, but no experience.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. Delhi Network meets weekly for coffee and has interest groups for various things too
7 Cities is wonderful - a semester of cooperative touring for 10 weeks. Morale is iffy. Delhi is intense and can be loved at time and no-so-loved at times.

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

Yes and yes. While the caste system was outlawed, some remnants remain. Historically religions were pitted against EEX.

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

Taj Mahal and other palaces.
Seeing tiger in Sariska Park.
Houseboat in Kerala backwater for a night

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

Bollywood dance lessons.

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

Many things for sale. Can buy anything.

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

Big city with lots going on.

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Words of Wisdom:

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


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

Winter clothes unless you plan to travel, outside New Delhi. Probably never below freezing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen or hat. Mosquito repellant.

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

New Delhi. - City of Djinns and others by that author
India - White Tiger

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