Moving Back to India — A Checklist

So you’ve decided to move back!

When I decided to move back to India there were almost NO resources for me and so to help with that, here’s a detailed checklist of things I went through when I moved. Some of this is applicable to moving from the US, but can be on the list for other countries as well.

First and foremost, pretend you’re moving to ANY new country. If you’ve been gone for longer than two years, do not expect the India you left to be the same India you’ll return to. It will speed up your adjustment and give you the patience you need to fit into a new world.

Before Moving

Ideally you would want to have a job in hand before moving because that reduces the number of variables to deal with when you do move. This checklist is assuming you would like to do that before you leave. Either way, be sure to sort out your finances ahead of moving.

  • Set your start date. That’s the best way to plan and stick to a deadline. Otherwise you’ll end up applying and waiting around for other opportunities or just keep procrastinating.
  • Shortlist companies and job roles. Be sure to consider office locations and commute times.
  • Apply to shortlist. Try and have friends or acquaintances recommend you internally as well.
  • Research average pay for the position and set non negotiable minimum salary and benefits. Talk to people who are or have been in similar roles/industries to find out more. Glassdoor also has some good information on how much pay you can expect.
  • Once you’ve got the job in India, put in your notice at your place of work and get excited!
  • Create google map of your future office location and nearby housing options. Commuting in India can be a nightmare in the bigger cities so try to live as close to work as you possibly can.
  • Close all retail credit cards that you won’t use. Like the ones you got from domestic chain stores like Banana Republic etc. That way if you do plan to move back one day you won’t have a bunch of unused credit cards impacting your credit score.
  • Talk to your bank and figure out how to manage your account from abroad. Figure out the minimum balance to keep the account open and what address/phone numbers you can give them to operate from abroad. That way you won’t get stuck trying to login to your account from India and have the bank try to send you an SMS verification when you no longer have your US number.
  • Do the above step for all other accounts like your 401K, e-trade, timeshares, etc.
  • Find a buyer for your car and start the transfer paperwork ASAP. You’ll get a much better price selling to an individual than back to a showroom. If you’ve got a loan open make sure you sell it for at least that amount so you can clear your debt. There’s a ton of paperwork to do in terms of changing the registrations etc. so start as early as you can on this.
  • Set dates and reminders to close out all other memberships/subscriptions. Like your gym, magazines, subscription boxes of any kind, etc. Trying to do this after you leave can be a real pain and you do not want to end up paying for stuff you’re not using once you’ve left.
  • Optional but unsubscribe to all local newsletters and mailing lists. Being abroad and randomly getting emails about sales at your local store just creates email clutter after a while.

If you live alone you will need to get rid of every single thing in your apartment so brace yourself and start as early as you can because this part can be a real headache. Especially if you’re trying to make some money by selling your furniture. The closer you get to your move out date, the more likely you’ll be to just chuck things in the trash instead of making even $10-$20 from each piece. And trust me, those sales add up really nicely.

  • Set your move out date and tell your landlord/leasing office. That’s the best way to plan and stick to a deadline. You can also figure out if there any costs involved if you’re breaking a lease and can adjust accordingly.
  • Rank furniture from least necessary to most necessary. For example least necessary could be artwork/decor/plants and most necessary would be mattress/house cleaning tools/toiletries
  • Rank clothing from least necessary to most necessary. For example least necessary could be heavy winter coats/boots and most necessary would be work clothes/pajamas
  • Start selling from least necessary to most necessary. Can be sold on craigslist, facebook, college groups, to friends, etc. Can also be given away to homeless shelters, schools, goodwill, etc. I was down to my suitcases and mattress on the day I left.
  • Make sure that everything you’re taking back with you can fit into at most three or four suitcases. Shipping anything by cargo is THE WORST. Customs will rip open your boxes and charge you for all kinds of random things. Paying for an extra bag is MUCH easier and cheaper. Be ruthless when you declutter.
  • Set a closing date for your internet and other home utilities like Electricity. Call customer care as early as you can because it can take time to convince them to disconnect.
  • Close out your phone connection. If you have a locked phone make sure you either return it or pay what you need to get it unlocked so you can continue using it in India.

After Moving

Ayyy welcome back. Now begins what can be the most frustrating part because you’re used to the American way of doing things. But if you let that go and submit to the way things work in India, it doesn’t have to be difficult. One thing that works for all of these is to ask for help. People are happy to give you recommendations.

  • Get a passport size photo taken and have lots of copies of that and copies of your passport/ID on hand. Almost all the paperwork you’ll need to do will require ID proof, address proof, and passport size photos.
  • Get a PAN card. You’ll need this to give your employer before your first paycheck and to get a credit card or loan. You can apply online for this.
  • Get an Aadhar card. I know there’s a lot of speculation on the safety of Aadhar but it will 100% make your life easier if you have one. There are centers all over most large cities and you can look them up online or ask people in your area to recommend a center.
  • Be a good citizen and get a voter ID. You can apply online for this.
  • Get a driver’s license if you don’t already have one. It is possible to do this without paying an agent, just follow the process and ask as many questions as you need till it’s done. Getting familiar with the process will help if you want to buy a car or bike.
  • Open a bank account that has great netbanking/mobile banking options. If you’re used to the US banks like Bank of America you’ll want to open up at ICICI or something equivalent. The smaller/local banks that your family might have used years ago are not yet up to speed in terms of their online presence and that can become annoying to deal with.
  • Find the best way to commute from home to work. Some companies have cab pickups, others don’t. Also check public transport options or if you can find a cabbie to pay monthly for pick up and drop. Depending on where you are you might be able to get by on a two wheeler but you might need to look into buying a car.
  • If you need a car/bike — If you’re buying a NEW car/bike, showrooms are the best option. If you’re buying something used, facebook groups are the way to go. As always, ask around for recommendations.
  • Adapt to work culture ASAP. Do not expect things to work like they used to. Observe and adapt to work ethics and timings to minimize frustration. Also try to use adapt your style of communication to what’s used most commonly in your workplace.
  • Try and find temporary housing with a friend/relative for when you just reach. For at least 2–3 weeks so you have time to settle in and adjust.
  • Get a prepaid phone connection if possible. Pre-paid plans are WAY cheaper than postpaid and you get plans that have up to 2GB a day for what feels like dirt cheap compared to US phone plans.
  • Join facebook groups for flats and flatmates in your city, that’s the best way to find housing. Also make sure you visit the apartment before committing to anything. Photos on websites can be misleading.
  • Ask for help to set up your house. Things here run on word of mouth over what’s online. So talk to people in your area to figure out where to get or rent furniture. This can be a slow and painstaking process but asking for help does make it easier. People here are also more willing to help because they have done it themselves at some point.
  • Optional but try and learn/use the local language as much as possible. People can smell the NRI vibe from a mile away and will quietly charge you double for things if you’re not careful.
  • Optional but do not convert everything to dollars and be like ‘OMG WOW SO CHEAP’ because I guarantee that there are cheaper options available. Cost of living in India can be really low once you figure out where to get stuff and how to get stuff done. As always, talk to locals about this.
  • Optional but get involved in the local scene. Facebook events, Little Black Book, BookMyShow, and Zomato are great resources to find things to do in your city. Taking classes and attending workshops are always great ways to meet people who share common interests.

This is everything I can think of for now but I will continue adding to this list if I think of anything or if something useful comes up in the comments.

BUT HEY WELCOME BACK

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Actor, Struggler, Agony Aunt