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India in bottom 10 among list of nations expats like to live, work in

Despite high wages and low living costs, pollution and culture shock make expats' lives difficult

Bhaswar Kumar  |  New Delhi 

Khan Market
Expats come visiting Khan Market often. File photo

India is one of the least favourite places to live and work in for expats, according to InterNations' 2017 survey. (Link to the full survey)

Sitting at rank 57 on the list of 65 nations, India features in the 'bottom 10' of the list, along with Turkey (56), Qatar (58), Ukraine (59), Italy (60), Saudi Arabia (61), Brazil (62), Nigeria (63), Kuwait (64), Greece (65).  Compared to the 2016 survey, India slipped by eight positions in 2017. 

In the current survey, Bahrain leaped from the nineteenth spot to the 1st due to "ease of settling in and career satisfaction". Costa Rica (rank 2), Mexico (3), Taiwan (4), and Portugal (5) were also among the top destinations for expats.

According to the survey, while high salaries, combined with cheap living costs, can allow expats to lead a "life of luxury" in India, they "still struggle with pollution and culture shock". 

The survey is conducted each year by InterNations, a network of 2.8 million expats based in Munich. It aims to capture the views of millions of executives, skilled workers, students and retirees who live outside the country where they grew up.

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Further, according to respondents to the survey, it appears that India is not a welcoming place for female expats. The most popular reason, according to the survey, among female respondents (31 per cent) for moving to India is their partner’s job or education. "Sadly, life is not always straightforward for women in India: over half (52 per cent) say that there were instances where they felt unwelcome due to their gender," the survey said. 

Saying that it was difficult to find childcare options in India, one respondent from the Philippines told the survey: "It’s hard for a woman to work and progress in her chosen career." 

Also, according to the survey, expats face serious security problems when moving to India. "Before moving to India, over one-third of respondents (36 per cent) believed that the move could have a negative impact on their personal safety. This did not change upon arrival, and nearly three in ten respondents (29 per cent) continue to be unhappy with this aspect," the survey said. 

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Other problems include dealing with pollution, a 'poor work life', and a 'disappointing family life'. 

However, despite the "culture shock", the survey found that "are relatively content with their friendships". Over half (54 per cent) of the respondents said that it was "generally easy to make friends in the country". 

Further, while expats are satisfied with the quality of healthcare facilities and services they can avail of in India, with 62 per cent rating this aspect favourably, 80 per cent said that they are "dissatisfied with the quality of the environment".

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As reported earlier, in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO's) 2016 ranking on pollution levels, thirty-plus Indian cities made their way into the list of hundred most polluted ones. Twenty-two cities in the country parked themselves in the top fifty. Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna, and Raipur came in second, third, sixth, and seventh, respectively, among the top 10 most polluted cities in the world in the WHO rankings. 

According to the survey, expats are happy with India's low cost of living and the high salaries they command in the country.

Here's a quick snapshot of what ails India: 

  • Poor performance in Family Life Index
  • Long working hours with 47.7 hour full-time working week
  • 9th place in Personal Finance Index
  • In bottom 5 for quality of life
  • Nearly 30% unhappy with personal safety
  • Culture shock makes it challenging to settle in

First Published: Fri, September 08 2017. 12:45 IST
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