Cost of living in India: Your guide

Gert Svaiko

So, you’re moving to India from the UK. The affordable cost of living in India can often mean having a superb quality of life, with high-quality entertainment options, and even help around the house coming for a low cost.

India is the world’s largest democracy, with over 1.4 billion people living across a diverse array of urban and rural cities and towns. The cost of living varies a lot as you move from urban to rural areas of India. Most expats, though, live in the urban centres of India because of the opportunities and infrastructure it offers.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to an Indian city for good, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about your cost of living in India.

And, if you want to manage your money easily in both India and the UK, check out the Wise account. Wise lets you manage your money in multiple currencies – including British pounds and Indian rupees – always at the mid-market exchange rate.

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What’s the average wage in India?

While cost of living in India is typically comparatively low, you may find you’re taking a hit to your salary as well. While this won’t mean any reduction in your quality of life, it’s important to understand what your salary might look like in India.

Here’s a list of average annual salaries for a variety of jobs in different Indian cities:

JobMumbai¹New Delhi²Chennai³Bengaluru⁴
Financial analyst£25,058£25,058£25,058£25,058
Graphic designer£6,732£5,940£5,940£9,028
Mobile developer£11,041£20,022£11,041£15,605
Product manager£16,160£15,633£15,457£17,741
Software engineer£19,920£19,920£19,920£19,920
Web developer£13,908£13,908£13,908£15,577

What are the most expensive and cheapest major cities?

The cost of living in India’s cities can vary greatly. The five most expensive cities in India are:⁵

  1. Mumbai
  2. New Delhi
  3. Chennai
  4. Bengaluru
  5. Hyderabad

The cheapest city for expats to live and work in India is Kolkata. You can find that the city of Pune is also relatively cheaper than Mumbai or New Delhi.⁵

How expensive is India in comparison to other countries?

Money in India, Indian rupees, is usually written as ₹ or INR. The following list will give you an outline of how much rupees are worth compared to some of the world’s other major currencies:

  • £1,000 = ₹101,141
  • $1,000 = ₹82,213
  • €1,000 = ₹88,913
  • A$1,000 = ₹54,849

Let’s also look at how Indian top cities’ costs compare against other metropolitan cities around the world:

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid range restaurant, three course)Transportation (monthly pass)
New Delhi, India⁶£194£17.80£10
Mumbai, India⁶£442£14.80£3.60
London, UK⁷£2,057£70£160
New York City, USA⁷£3,164£81.20£105
Berlin, Germany⁸£1,082£52.70£74.60
Sydney, Australia⁸£1,586£70.60£118

Cost of living in India vs. UK

Once we’ve finished comparing the two countries, it’s more than clear that India is the drastically cheaper one. Moreover, it’s the cheapest country in Asia, so the cost of life here will only be a fraction of your UK expenses.⁹

Everything is more pricey in the UK, including rent rates, education and food. It’s certain that you’ll easily get used to the low Indian cost of living!

But, one of the biggest financial hurdles you face in your move to India will be converting your home currency, the British pounds, into Indian rupees. While many banks and third-party services will take care of this for you, they often not only charge exorbitant fees, but also mark up the exchange rate to shave more of your money off the top.

A good way to make sure you don’t get taken for a ride is to use an online currency converter to check on the exchange rate ahead of time. To be extra safe, you can also use Wise to ensure you’re getting the fair mid-market exchange rate - the same one you see on Google - and low, transparent fees, leaving you with more money to enjoy yourself.


What are general living expenses like in India?

Let’s cover the basics first - monthly household expenses in India. These are the averages in a few major Indian cities:

Total Living Expenses in MumbaiAverage cost⁶
1 person, per month (without rent)£303.90
1 person, per year (without rent)£3,646.80
4-person family, per month (without rent)£1,047.40
4-person family, per year (without rent)£12,568.80
Total Living Expenses in New DelhiAverage cost⁶
1 person, per month (without rent)£299.40
1 person, per year (without rent)£3,592.80
4-person family, per month (without rent)£1,020.70
4-person family, per year (without rent)£12,248.40
Total Living Expenses in ChennaiAverage cost¹⁰
1 person, per month (without rent)£269.80
1 person, per year (without rent)£3,237.60
4-person family, per month (without rent)£926.60
4-person family, per year (without rent)£11,119.20
Total Living Expenses in KolkataAverage cost¹¹
1 person, per month (without rent)£261.60
1 person, per year (without rent)£3,139.20
4-person family, per month (without rent)£897.50
4-person family, per year (without rent)£10,770

How expensive is housing and accommodation in India?

Rent is typically the largest part of any monthly budget, and India is no exception. This table will give you an idea of how much you can get for your money in a few of Indian cities.

MumbaiAverage monthly cost⁶
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre£442.10
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre£247.50
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre£1,164.60
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre£609.30
New DelhiAverage monthly cost⁶
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre£194.00
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre£115.00
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre£475.80
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre£270.20
ChennaiAverage monthly cost¹⁰
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre£151.20
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre£92.10
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre£364.60
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre£212.40
KolkataAverage monthly cost¹¹
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre£117.50
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre£70.40
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre£322.30
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre£192.50

What about healthcare and dental prices in India?

If you’re an Indian resident, you’re guaranteed free healthcare in government facilities.¹² However, those facilities are often times understaffed or lacking in supplies, so you should consider private healthcare.

Some vulnerable groups, such as those with low income, can turn to certain government programs that allow them to get partially private healthcare for free. One of them is the National Health Protection Scheme.¹²

While the price can be somewhat prohibitive for Indian citizens, the cost of healthcare will likely seem pretty low for most expats moving to India. The following table lists some average prices for healthcare:¹³

Healthcare serviceAverage cost
Cold medicine for 6 days (tylenol, frenadol, coldrex, or equivalent brands)£1.37
1 box of antibiotics (12 doses)£2.49
Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)£12

How much is travel and transportation in India?

When it comes to getting around in India, there are plenty of options to choose from. Local transport includes everything from buses, metros, boats and different types of rickshaws.

When travelling through the country, the main means of transport you can choose between are buses, trains and aeroplanes. There are even some budget airlines available.

Here’s an overview of average travel and transport prices:¹⁴

Transportation and vehicle prices for IndiaAverage cost
Petrol (1 gallon)£3.90
Monthly bus/transport pass£7.90
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)£0.25
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff)£0.49
Toyota Corolla, new£18,206
VW Golf, new£9,877

How much does education cost?

Education for expats in India is not a problem since there are hundreds of international schools in the country. Also, local private schools are a good option if you plan on staying in India for a long time and want your child to fit in with the locals completely.

College-level education in India is of good quality across public and private universities and so expats choose from both, depending on the location, cost, reputation etc. The university fees vary greatly between a private and public college, and also across different disciplines.

Here is a snapshot of some costs of education in India:

SchoolAverage yearly cost
The British School nursery¹⁵£10,902.20 or ₹1,101,000
The British School - years 12 and 13¹⁵£8,246.00 or ₹832,750
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (dual degree (B.Tech. + M. Tech.), international students - public)¹⁶£3,214,.20 or ₹324,600
Tuition fee at Shiv Nadar University (School of Engineering - private)¹⁷£32,181.80 - £51,490.90 or ₹3,250,000 - ₹5,200,000

No matter your reasons for moving to India, you’re sure to find that the new experiences in combination with the low cost of living can lead to a fairly luxurious lifestyle. Now that you understand the costs, enjoy living in India!

And, if you’re looking for ways to manage your finances in multiple countries, check out the Wise account. You can send and hold money in 40+ currencies, and spend in 150+ countries around the world using the Wise card.

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Sources used:

  1. Teleport - Salaries in Mumbai
  2. Teleport - Salaries in New Delhi
  3. Teleport - Salaries in Chennai
  4. Teleport - Salaries in Bengaluru
  5. Mercer - Cost of living survey 2022
  6. Numbeo - Cost of living in New Delhi and Mumbai
  7. Numbeo - Cost of living in London and New York City
  8. Numbeo - Cost of living in Berlin and Sydney
  9. Expatistan - Cost of living in India
  10. Numbeo - Cost of living in Chennai
  11. Numbeo - Cost of living in Kolkata
  12. Commonwealth Fund - India
  13. Expatistan - Cost of living in India
  14. Numbeo - Cost of living in India
  15. British school - Fee schedule for 2022/2023
  16. IIT Bombay - Fee structure
  17. Shiv Nadar University - Fee structure

Sources last checked on date: 28-Mar-2023

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