Cost of living in India: Your guide

Zorica Lončar
20.12.21
5 minute read

So, you’re moving to India. The affordable cost of living in India can often mean having a really good 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 close to 1.4 billion people living across a diverse array of urban and rural cities and towns, stretching across 1.269 million square miles. That massive geography makes for a lot of choices, and a lot of options when it comes to how much you want to spend on your life in India. 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.

How expensive is India in comparison to other countries?

One of the biggest financial hurdles you face in your move to India will be converting your existing money 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 real mid-market exchange rate - the same one you see on Google - and the lowest possible fees, leaving you with more money to enjoy yourself.

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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

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, India²₹17,544₹1,500₹1,000
Mumbai, India³₹41,047₹1,500₹375
London, UK⁴₹168,349₹5,985₹15,960
New York City, USA⁵₹227,540₹7,436₹9,629
Berlin, Germany⁶₹89,371₹4,255₹7,148
Sydney, Australia⁷₹144,658₹5,452₹11,853

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:⁸

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

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 couple major cities:

Total Living Expenses in Mumbai³Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₹29,267
1 person, per year (without rent)₹351,204
4-person family, per month (without rent)₹103,010
4-person family, per year (without rent)₹1,236,120
Total Living Expenses in New Delhi²Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₹27,492
1 person, per year (without rent)₹329,904
4-person family, per month (without rent)₹95,788
4-person family, per year (without rent)₹1,149,456
Total Living Expenses in Chennai⁹Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₹25,290
1 person, per year (without rent)₹303,480
4-person family, per month (without rent)₹89,226
4-person family, per year (without rent)₹1,070,712
Total Living Expenses in Kolkata¹⁰Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)₹25,037
1 person, per year (without rent)₹300,444
4-person family, per month (without rent)₹88,186
4-person family, per year (without rent)₹1,058,232

What are the average salaries 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.

Salary averages for Mumbai¹¹Average salary
Cashier₹246,430
Copywriter₹1,171,467
Financial analyst₹2,075,067
Graphic designer₹557,461
Mobile developer₹914,336
Product manager₹1,338,227
Receptionist₹188,767
Software engineer₹1,649,551
Teacher₹1,347,702
Web developer₹1,151,705
Salary averages for New Delhi¹²Average salary
Cashier₹192,215
Copywriter₹718,500
Financial analyst₹2,075,067
Graphic designer₹491,877
Mobile developer₹1,657,996
Product manager₹1,294,589
Receptionist₹190,395
Software engineer₹1,649,551
Teacher₹1,135,704
Web developer₹1,151,705
Salary averages for Chennai¹³Average salary
Cashier₹190,572
Copywriter₹905,935
Financial analyst₹2,075,067
Graphic designer₹491,877
Mobile developer₹914,336
Product manager₹1,280,043
Receptionist₹188,767
Software engineer₹1,649,551
Teacher₹1,135,704
Web developer₹1,151,705
Salary averages for Bengaluru¹⁴Average salary
Cashier₹223,429
Copywriter₹585,734
Financial analyst₹2,075,067
Graphic designer₹747,654
Mobile developer₹1,292,261
Product manager₹1,469,141
Receptionist₹221,313
Software engineer₹1,649,551
Teacher₹1,741,412
Web developer₹1,289,909

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 couple of Indian cities.

Mumbai³Average monthly cost
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre₹41,047
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre₹22,246
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre₹115,258
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre₹52,229
Internet₹775
New Delhi²Average monthly cost
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre₹17,544
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre₹10,259
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre₹43,103
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre₹24,214
Internet₹740
Chennai⁹Average monthly cost
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre₹14,587
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre₹8,196
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre₹36,590
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre₹20,308
Internet₹841
Kolkata¹⁰Average monthly cost
Flat (1 bedroom) in City Centre₹11,306
Flat (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre₹6,903
Flat (3 bedrooms) in City Centre₹28,405
Flat (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre₹15,743
Internet₹651

What about healthcare and dental costs in India?

If you’re an Indian resident, you’re guaranteed free healthcare in government facilities. 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.¹⁵

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

Healthcare service¹⁶Average cost to you
Cold medicine for 6 days (tylenol, frenadol, coldrex, or equivalent brands)₹122
1 box of antibiotics (12 doses)₹230
Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)₹608

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 airplanes. There are even some budget airlines available.¹⁷

Here’s an overview of travel and transport prices:

Transportation and vehicle prices for India¹⁸Average cost
Petrol (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)₹90
Monthly bus/transport pass₹600
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)₹20
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)₹16
Toyota Corolla, new₹1,686,713
VW Golf, new₹900,000

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.¹⁹

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
British school nursery²⁰₹1,066,000
British school - years 12 and 13²⁰₹782,750
Tuition fee at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (dual degree (B.Tech. + M. Tech.), international students - public)²¹₹324,600 per year
Tuition fee at Shiv Nadar University (School of Engineering - private)²²₹3,370,500 per year

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.¹⁶

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!

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!

Sources:

  1. Wise - currency converter
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in New Delhi
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in Mumbai
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in New York City
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Berlin
  7. Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
  8. The Economic Times - Mumbai remains most expensive city for expats: Mercer survey
  9. Numbeo - cost of living in Chennai
  10. Numbeo - cost of living in Kolkata
  11. Teleport - salaries in Mumbai
  12. Teleport - salaries in New Delhi
  13. Teleport - salaries in Chennai
  14. Teleport - salaries in Bengaluru
  15. Commonwealth Fund - India
  16. Expatistan - cost of living in India
  17. Lonely Planet - Getting around in India
  18. Numbeo - cost of living in India
  19. Expat Arrivals - education and schools in India
  20. British school - fee schedule for 2021/2022
  21. IIT Bombay - fee structure
  22. Shiv Nadar University - fee structure

*All sources checked on November 19, 2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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