Given its large size, the cost of living in India varies considerably. Many new arrivals are surprised to find that living costs in major cities can be pricey, though perhaps less so than in large European and North American cities.

The 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai and New Delhi as 60th and 101st respectively out of the 209 cities studied. The cost of living in Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata is significantly lower as they were ranked 143rd, 171st and 185th respectively. The cost of living in these cities has respectively risen in recent years.

Expats who negotiate a lucrative relocation package in India can often afford luxuries that they wouldn’t be able to at home, such as domestic services, chauffeurs and having home-cooked lunches delivered to the office.

Cost of accommodation in India

Accommodation is likely to be an expat's biggest expense in India, with property in New Delhi and Mumbai being particularly expensive. Wherever possible, expats should try to negotiate a housing allowance or complimentary housing into their employment package.

Expats without assistance from their employers will likely need to factor in the costs for hiring a real estate agent or relocation company to assist with the home search and lease negotiations. These expenses may be high, though varied.

Cost of healthcare in India

Expats moving to India will have access to relatively cheap healthcare services with good standards. They will, however, have to factor in the cost of health insurance if it isn't covered by their employer. Medical insurance packages may vary in terms of cover, and it's often best to invest in an international company that includes most hospitals and facilities.

Cost of education in India

Expat children can attend public schools in India, but their standards aren't in line with what most expat parents would expect. Instead, expat children usually attend international schools. Fees vary between private schools but they are generally high. Securing a place at popular international schools in India is difficult, and calling upon contacts or even paying bribes to secure a place isn't unheard of. The latter is not advised, instead, however, expats should try to negotiate a schooling allowance into employment contracts.

Cost of groceries and eating out in India

Expats who buy local produce will find that everyday groceries are cheap in India. Shopping at vegetable markets allows expats to eat fresh seasonal produce while supporting local vendors. Those who buy imported Western foods will have a considerably higher bill.

The cost of entertainment and eating out in India will vary according to an expat’s personal preferences. It's possible to eat out inexpensively in India, especially if expats are willing to try local cuisine and streetfood.

Cost of living in India chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Mumbai in January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

INR 122,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

INR 54,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

INR 41,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

INR 22,000


Eggs (dozen)

INR 71

Milk (1 litre)

INR 56

Rice (1kg)

INR 59

Loaf of white bread 

INR 36

Chicken breasts (1kg)

INR 276

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

INR 350

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

INR 300

Coca-Cola (330ml)

INR 38


INR 156

Bottle of local beer

INR 169

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

INR 1,500


Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

INR 0.90

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

INR 830

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

INR 3,900


City centre bus/train fare

INR 20

Taxi (rate per km)

INR 22

Petrol/gasoline per litre

INR 81