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Moving to Delhi

Modern New Delhi, just south of the old and original city and said to have been built on seven ancient cities, is a tangle of crowded streets, diverse languages and beautiful architecture. This megacity teems with different industries and cultures, which add to the eclectic nature and diverse community that the Indian capital is known for.

Living in Delhi as an expat

The city's cultural differences can feel confusing and overwhelming for some expats, while others embrace the wonderfully multicultural melting pot that is Delhi. Perhaps more than any other major expat city, Delhi has no single culture expats are expected to conform to, and instead welcomes foreigners from all over the world and all walks of life.

Delhi's economy has been growing, and the city centre now boasts robust industries and a skyline spiked with modern skyscrapers. Boasting India's busiest and largest metro rail system, the city's public transport system is continuously improving and is testament to Delhi's rapid development. Meanwhile, the accelerated growth of Delhi's key industries, including IT and telecommunications, means they are in high demand of experienced employees, many of whom are recruited from abroad.

When house hunting, expats have a vast range of neighbourhoods to choose from, each with their own unique vibe and traits. Housing comes in various forms, from luxury Western-style accommodation to affordable studio units. 

Cost of living in Delhi

Expats living in Delhi enjoy a surprisingly reasonable cost of living, especially in comparison to Mumbai. For a fraction of the cost, expats can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in New Delhi with access to luxuries they might not be able to afford back home.

Expat families and children

Becoming increasingly popular among expat families, Delhi is a wonderful place in which to raise children. Though public schools lack funding, most expats send their children to one of the many excellent international schools in the city. Private healthcare in Delhi is also superb, and parents can rest assured that their families will be well looked after in case of illness or injury. The city also have plenty to do for families, with an abundance of green spaces, sport facilities and a multitude of fun attractions and interesting sights.

Climate in Delhi

The climate of Delhi is both humid subtropical and semi-arid. Winters are generally mild, while summers can get scorching hot, exacerbated by dry, dusty winds. The hottest months of the year are May and June.

Ultimately, living and working in Delhi has its pros and cons, and expats who move here with an open mind enjoy it the most and end up staying the longest. Delhi offers the unique sights and smells of a quintessential Indian experience alongside the excitement and fast pace of a megacity.

Weather in Delhi

The climate of Delhi is both humid subtropical and semi-arid, and there is a vast difference between summer and winter temperatures. During the long summers, the city's temperature soars, and the heat is often exacerbated by a dusty, dry wind. The hottest months of the year are May and June.

Winter weather in Delhi arrives in November. Delhi's winters are generally mild but the city's proximity to the Himalayas can result in cold spells. Winter also brings heavy fog, which can decrease visibility and disrupt air, road and rail travel. January is usually the worst month for fog but the problem generally abates in February.

The rainy season in Delhi begins in early July, lasting until the end of September. This is when monsoons deliver most of the city's annual average rainfall.

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Delhi

Moving to bustling New Delhi provides plenty of opportunities for expats. The low cost of living, rich history and fascinating culture, as well as a growing economy, are major drawcards. But, as is the case with any expat destination, Delhi has its downsides too. Expats need to consider their safety, cultural differences and the opportunities for children if they want to make an informed decision on moving to Delhi.

Here are some of the main pros and cons to bear in mind when considering a move to the Indian capital.


Lifestyle in Delhi

+ PRO: Rich history and culture

Each year, thousands of tourists come to Delhi to experience the city’s rich culture and history. Expats living in Delhi are surrounded by beautiful architecture and an eclectic mix of cultures. There is so much to discover in Delhi, that new arrivals won’t know where to start.

+ PRO: Low cost of living

Expats who relocate to Delhi will find that the cost of living is generally much lower than in many other parts of the world. On a typical expat compensation package, it's possible to live well in Delhi, as accommodation, utility and food costs are relatively low. The availability of affordable domestic staff also gives expats the option of freeing up some time to spend with family or enjoy everything Delhi has to offer.

- CON: Pollution is hazardous

According to the World Health Organization, Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities. A noticeable smog descends on the city whenever there is a significant drop in wind and temperature. Being outdoors isn’t pleasant with such high levels of pollution and many people report experiencing respiratory issues as a result.

- CON:  Food hygiene standards and ‘Delhi Belly’

A rich cuisine is one of India’s many assets and it’s no secret that the locals love spicy food. That said, local Indian food is something that expats have to get used to. Hygiene standards aren’t always up to scratch and it's common for new arrivals to experience bouts of gastric discomfort, or 'Delhi Belly'. But if expats avoid drinking tap water and build up their tolerances for local food they should be able to find ways of enjoying Indian cuisine without getting ill. In case an expat does get sick, there is a host of excellent private medical and healthcare facilities available.


Culture shock in Delhi

+ PRO: English is widely spoken

English is taught to a high standard in most schools in India. So, especially in a more cosmopolitan city like Delhi, expats shouldn’t face much of a language barrier. Most people in Delhi can communicate fairly well in English.

- CON: Patriarchal society

Despite the progress made in recent years with regards to the rights of women, India remains a highly patriarchal society. Although Delhi may be more progressive than rural parts of India, things remain difficult for women, and they often have to contend with sexism in various areas of everyday life, such as catcalling in the street.

- CON: Local attitudes to personal space

While expats living in Delhi generally find locals to be friendly and eager to help, some have reported that locals' behaviour can become a little intrusive. Requests from locals to be photographed alongside expats can become annoying. Constant questions about one’s personal life can often make new arrivals feel quite uncomfortable.


Getting around in Delhi

+ PRO: Public transport is improving rapidly

Delhi is surprisingly well connected in terms of public transport. The continually developing metro network makes it easy to get from one place to another. Buses can be slow, but they cover areas that aren’t yet serviced by the metro lines. Taxis and rickshaws are also a good alternative and aren’t particularly expensive either.

- CON: Traffic is a nightmare and local driving behaviour can be dangerous

Traffic in Delhi, especially during rush hour, is terrible. So getting around on the road can often be slow and stressful. Local road users can also be quite aggressive so new arrivals often opt not to get behind the wheel.


Kids and family in Delhi

- CON: Expensive schooling options

While private schools in Delhi are a viable option for expat students because the language of instruction is English, spaces are limited and fees are high. International schools are the most popular option for expat families, but fees are even more expensive here. Many of these schools also have long waiting lists in place.

- CON: Delhi isn’t the most family-friendly city

While Delhi might offer great career progression opportunities for young professionals and good business opportunities for entrepreneurs, it isn’t the best place to raise a family. There is a lack of child-friendly facilities, air pollution is a concern for most parents, and there are plenty of safety issues to bear in mind when relocating to Delhi with kids.


Working in Delhi

+ PRO: Dynamic economy

India as a whole has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. As the capital, New Delhi is establishing its commercial presence at a rapid rate. Many global business enterprises have seen the potential of the city’s growing economy and skilled workforce and decided to locate operations here.

- CON: Poor work-life balance

To get ahead in the workplace in Delhi, people are expected to put in a lot of overtime. The average workweek is around 48 hours, but most locals put in extra hours to impress their superiors and improve their chances of career progression. This work culture may be somewhat different from what Western expats are accustomed to.

Working in Delhi

As the capital city, New Delhi’s economy is incredibly diverse and welcomes skilled expats in a variety of fields. Whether job seekers are looking for entry-level or graduate posts, freelancing gigs or office-based work, they are likely to find something suitable. Large employers include communication, media, sales and marketing in both the government and big multinational companies.


Job market in Delhi

IT and telecommunications are the major employers in Delhi. As the city grows in affluence, local consumer appetites grow and the its retail industry flourishes. A large proportion of expats hired to work in these industries will be of senior management level, though graduate and entry-level jobs are also available. Contracts are usually fairly short term as the intention is for expats to train local staff to eventually take over those roles.

As the capital of India, Delhi is home to numerous foreign embassies, and diplomats make up a sizeable portion of the expat population in the city. There are also various international organisations and regional UN offices based in the city.

Finance and import/export companies may be more inclined to set up shop in Mumbai, while the real IT heavyweights are often diverted to Bengaluru. Nevertheless, Delhi plays host to both industries and many more, including manufacturing, media, tourism, and there are plenty of opportunities in engineering and design as well.

Expanding the job search to areas surrounding New Delhi broadens a job seeker's options significantly, and jobs in real estate, marketing and the automotive industry can be found in cities such as Noida and Gurgaon.


Finding a job in Delhi

Many foreigners who relocate to Delhi do so through an intra-company transfer. Networking is also important when it comes to the job hunt in Delhi, and having personal contacts who can make useful business connections will no doubt help.

For those without any connections in Delhi, job opportunities can be explored using online job portals, such as Placement India, Monster India and Adzuna. Online resources provide a good overview of the job market and are usually available in English. Companies may also advertise positions on their websites, so it is also worth checking individual company sites as well. 

Recruitment agencies and relocation companies may also be able to assist expats in their search for employment, but they should take care to ensure that the recruitment agency is reputable as recruiters have been known to charge large sums without any results. It's best to go with recommendations from colleagues within the industry and avoid making any payments upfront.


Work culture in Delhi

Expats moving to Delhi to take up a job should make the effort to have at least a basic understanding of Indian culture, especially concerning workplace behaviour.

While company structures are changing as a result of the increasing presence of multinationals, there are still many companies that maintain traditional hierarchical structures. Expats hired to work in top management positions may be expected to give clear instructions to their subordinates rather than expecting people to use their initiative.

Accommodation in Delhi

Finding top-quality yet affordable accommodation in Delhi is not always simple. The high demand for housing and rapidly expanding population have sent prices through the roof.

That said, the National Capital Region (NCR) has experienced lower increases in rental prices compared to other major cities, so expats in Delhi may be able to save some money on their rent.

Lucky newcomers may receive support from their employer to look for a home in Delhi, but those who do not should ideally hire a real-estate agent to assist with their search. To start, it's helpful to get an overview of the property market, and tips on finding accommodation and dealing with rental contracts.


Types of accommodation in Delhi

An individual's choice of accommodation in Delhi will depend on their lifestyle and the neighbourhood they wish to reside in. Most of the housing in and around Delhi's city centre consists of modern high-rise apartment complexes, independent floors, and condos. In some suburbs, expats might find villas and old colonial properties available as well.

Independent floors, also known as builder floors are one of the most popular types of property in Delhi. Independent floors can typically be found in low-rise buildings where tenants can rent an entire floor rather than just a section or unit of it. While tenants staying on an independent floor arguably have more privacy than in an apartment, extra amenities are not always available, such as gyms and swimming pools, unless the buildings are located in high-end gated complexes.

Apartments are also commonly available, while independent houses and villas are in shorter supply and tend to be more difficult to find. While prices vary drastically across property types, villas and free-standing houses are usually expensive.

The BHK acronym, meaning bedroom, hall and kitchen, is frequently used in India. Single expats may settle on a one-BHK property (meaning a one-bedroom apartment with hall and kitchen), while families may search for two or three (and so on) BHK.


Finding accommodation in Delhi

Many expats who relocate to Delhi for work purposes will find that their employer is willing to assist in the accommodation search. In many cases the employer will, in fact, have accommodation already secured for their employees. Although this limits the expat's choice to some degree, it saves them a lot of hassle. Usually, the accommodation provided by employers is comfortable and located close to the expat's workplace.

Alternatively, it is possible to do some research online before arriving in India. Expats can make use of property portals and expat groups to become more familiar with the options available. This ensures that expats have some basic knowledge about Delhi's property market.

Once in India, internet and newspaper listings are a good source of property information, but the best option for an expat is to enlist the help of an estate agent. Real-estate professionals do charge a fee, but they have intimate knowledge of the property market and understand the process of securing a rental property in Delhi. 


Renting accommodation in Delhi

Rental prices vary according to the neighbourhood and often depend on the age of the house. New buildings can be up to double the rent of older buildings. There is no ‘rule of thumb’ for price calculation of the rental of a property, as in many Western countries. Landlords generally ask whatever they want – the agent should then be able to tell the tenant if the proposed amount is in line with the rental costs of comparable properties in the surrounding area.

Leases

It’s critical to understand all stipulations in the lease. A lease of 11 months is common in Delhi. Longer-term rental agreements are available and these must be registered with the relevant housing authorities, including registration costs and stamp-duty charges.

Deposits

In the past, landlords often demanded hefty deposits to the tune of six to 11 months' worth of rent. This has been made illegal, as legislation now stipulates that deposits are limited to a maximum of two months' rent.

Utilities

Expat tenants should expect to cover the costs for utilities, including electricity, water and any maintenance charges.

Notice periods

Tenants and landlords must give and be given notice at least three months ahead of time if either party wishes to terminate the lease early.

Areas and suburbs in Delhi

The best places to live in Delhi

Delhi is a sprawling city woven into a web of dozens of areas and neighbourhoods for expats to choose from. While each has its own unique and charming characteristics, expats looking for accommodation should take the time to familiarise themselves with the pros and cons of each, as well as where it is in relation to their workplace, children's schoolsand so forth.

Expats moving to Delhi will most likely be drawn to neighbourhoods in South Delhi where other foreign nationals tend to settle and have formed communities over the years.

Below are some recommended suburbs in and around Delhi.


Trendy and vibrant areas in Delhi

Lodhi Road

As India’s capital city, Delhi offers a cosmopolitan environment with lively neighbourhoods. This animated atmosphere is not limited to the city's modern districts – Delhi’s historical neighbourhoods undoubtedly add to the city’s energy.

Hauz Khas Village

Young expats and those with a desire for a fun and buzzing lifestyle should not overlook Hauz Khas Village. This area has earned recognition as the ‘National Capital of Ethnic Chic’ as its old houses have been transformed into trendy new ones as well as contemporary boutiques and art galleries. While lively bars, cafes and restaurants are drawcards, Hauz Khas Village also boasts historical charm with ruins of ancient tombs. The area is also largely pedestrianised, and Deer Park and its lake is a nice escape from the city traffic.

Shahpur Jat

For a unique mix of old and new, Shahpur Jat is a vibey area to live in. This neighbourhood stands as the remains of an ancient city in Delhi, but in recent years has been gentrified and is now a popular, and rather bohemian, place to live, with plenty of trendy cafes, restaurants and indie shops.

Lodhi Colony

Though Lodhi Colony has largely been known to house government officers and top politicians, the area boasts much more than just that. Lodhi Colony has recently blossomed to life with colourful murals and street art. The colony is also home to the India Habitat Centre, which hosts conventions, concerns, plays and dance performances among a wide variety of cultural events. A short distance from Khan Market and Golf Links, the area’s public park, Lodhi Garden, is a perfect spot for picnics among roses and bonsai trees.

Old Delhi

North of New Delhi city centre lies the historical area of Old Delhi. Part of the Mughal Empire in the 17th Century, the district is home to magnificent historical monuments and buildings, including the iconic Red Fort and breathtaking Jama Masjid. Within this district, Chandni Chowk stands as one of the world’s busiest and oldest markets, and it offers an authentic Indian feel with its diverse, lively and colourful cultures and historical richness.


Family-friendly areas in Delhi

Cityscape

While rental prices vary across the city, expats may find that the family-friendly areas are also some of the most expensive ones. Getting around in Delhi can be challenging; fortunately, some neighbourhoods are centrally located and well connected to amenities, schools and workplaces, so residents won’t have to travel far.

Jor Bagh

Jor Bagh contains a large, well-established expat community. Properties here are spacious and suitable for expats moving to Delhi with families. Jor Bagh's main market is a good place to shop and the area has several parks and open spaces, which is great for expats with children. 

Vasant Vihar

Vasant Vihar is southwest of New Delhi and is home to many diplomatic missions as well as several good private schools. For these reasons, it is one of the most popular residential neighbourhoods among expats. Housing here is luxurious but pricey, and it ranks as one of the most affluent areas in India. 

South Extension (South Ex)

South Ex, as it's commonly known, is a popular and posh neighbourhood. Here, expats have lots of modern accommodation options to choose from, including small apartments and larger condos. South Ex's residents have access to some great shopping facilities as well as restaurants and bars. Families with children will be happy to discover the range of international and private schools and daycare centres nearby too. There is plenty to keep people entertained here and it's a good choice for young professionals as well as wealthy business families.

Chanakyapuri

Right in the heart of New Delhi, Chanakyapuri is home to some of the top politicians and civil servants in India as well as foreign diplomats. Nearby Lutyens' Delhi houses some of the city’s most expensive and important bungalows. As a diplomatic enclave, the area hosts numerous international schools including the British School and the American Embassy School. This proximity to schools and workplaces makes this neighbourhood perfect for wealthy expat families with children.


Luxury living in Delhi

Connaught Place

While rent in Delhi may seem substantially more affordable compared to Mumbai and other major expat destinations, it still contains super affluent areas with sky-high prices.

Golf Links

This is one of the wealthier neighbourhoods in Delhi. The homes are large, luxurious and well guarded, and many businessmen and diplomats call this area home. Golf Links is well situated with regard to amenities such as shops, restaurants and various other entertainment facilities, and is a stone’s toss away from Khan Market. The area is popular with a range of different demographic groups, from well-off young professionals to expat families.

Connaught Place

Connaught Place lies in the heart of Delhi and is one of the most popular neighbourhoods to visit and stay in. A major financial and business hub, Connaught Place has everything from shops and cinemas to lively bars and restaurants. This area stands out in New Delhi and its British and European-inspired architecture adds to the aesthetic along with its spacious Central Park. While this area is more commercial than residential, expats may be able to secure luxury accommodation nearby.

Saket

Expats looking for a posh residential suburb close to amenities may want to consider Saket. Located in South Delhi, Saket has easy access to some of the more prominent malls in the city around the Press Enclave Marg, which is great for an expat’s shopping needs.

DLF Cyber City

For a contemporary feel, DLF Cyber City is a great place to stay. Not far south of New Delhi, in the city of Gurugram, Cyber City is full of all things hot and happening. Home to both local and foreign-owned companies, expats employed in the IT sector may find themselves working in this business district. The area is geared towards those who work hard and play hard – when the evening comes, Cyber City hosts a vibrant nightlife with bars and restaurants. This tech hub is also close to upscale malls and expansive golf courses.

Domestic help in Delhi

For most people considering moving to Delhi, the idea of having domestic staff is highly appealing. The very thought of no longer having to make beds, cook, dust, wash dishes and do laundry may sound like heaven. If one adds the possibility of hiring reliable nannies and securing affordable childcare for those with children, it becomes irresistible. This extra domestic help also allows expats to have more time to take up new hobbies or enjoy leisure activities.

From the moment of arrival in Delhi, expats will be given advice on hiring and finding household staff. Unemployed workers may come to an expat's door with dog-eared letters of recommendation from long-departed, but still well-loved, families in their past. The estate agent, relocation company, telephone engineer and more or less everyone an expat meets will have some advice regarding domestic help; it is a confusing start to a new country and certainly an element of culture shock.


Tips for finding and managing domestic staff in Delhi

Before hiring, do full reference checks

Newly arrived expats should regard anyone simply coming to their door with the same due caution that they would in any major city. This includes doing full reference checks. Going door-to-door is the hardest way to find a job and often a last-ditch effort for those who have found the doors of the community closed against them for prior behaviour.

Many of the letters handed over will not represent the entire story of their time with previous families. Some may be forgeries, so do not take these references at face value. Always contact the former employer for a full and candid reference. There are also several domestic staff training and placement agencies in Delhi that expats can go through to hire domestic help.

Research the market norms

There is limited government regulation for the domestic staff sector. Expats considering employing household staff should refer to the legislative act on domestic workers which concerns registration, social security and welfare.

Employers should also take guidance from market norms. Word of mouth is an easy way to get information on this. 

Domestic staff may prefer to live in quarters (attached to one's apartment or home) and many could expect to have all living costs covered, along with a full salary. The salaries of domestic workers have unfortunately been shockingly low, and expats who can afford to should arrange a reasonable and liveable wage for their staff. Domestic workers are normally entitled to 15 days of paid annual leave and enough rest between shifts, and this can be discussed at the outset of the relationship.

Managing household staff

Be clear about duties and expectations – consider creating a contract complete with salary, benefits, time off, duties, etc. Set objectives and expectations, and monitor their capacity for tasks. Create personnel files on all staff members including a photo, full name, residential address and mobile number.

Treat staff respectfully and as professionals – it's not essential to get over-friendly or too involved in their family matters. For staff living on the premises, set boundaries and be clear about how they should conduct themselves. Consider drawing up a code of conduct.

Take nothing for granted – even if hiring English-speaking staff with experience in other expat homes, make sure that they are shown how to go about performing their duties.

Healthcare in Delhi

As in most destinations, healthcare in Delhi is divided among private and government-run facilities, but middle-class locals and expats generally opt to bypass the city's public hospitals in favour of private hospitals.

It’s generally easy to find well-qualified English-speaking medical professionals in Delhi. Given the elevated level of treatment at private practitioners in India and the relatively low costs, it's no wonder medical tourism is growing in popularity. As a result, private hospitals tend to be familiar in dealing with foreigners.


Private healthcare in Delhi

There are many private hospitals in Delhi, but these do vary in standards. While some hospitals have below-par levels of hygiene and patient care, there are some excellent medical facilities available too. Keep in mind that waiting times tend to be long regardless of the hospital, even after scheduling an appointment. So be prepared to devote a few hours to a hospital visit.

The better hospitals in Delhi are well equipped with modern facilities and usually excel in certain areas, such as cardiology, oncology, minimally invasive surgery and orthopaedics. There are some challenges in the more mediocre institutions, such as proper accreditation, equipment quality and the qualifications of the doctors. It is best to stick to the hospitals frequented by other expats.

Since very few Indians actually have health insurance, the norm is to pay in cash, with most hospitals requiring a deposit or full payment in advance. Most private hospitals offer payment options by credit card or cash. Even holders of health insurance may be expected to pay some amount of advance deposit, so make sure to keep all receipts for reimbursement.


Private hospitals in Delhi

Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital

Website: www.fortishealthcare.com
Address: Sector B, Pocket 1, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg,Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital Delhi

Website: www.rainbowhospitals.in
Address: FC-29, Plot No.5, Geetanjali, Near Malviya Nagar Metro Station Gate No.1, New Delhi

Park Hospital

Website: www.parkhospital.in
Address: Meera Enclave Outer Ring Road Near Kashopur, New Chaukhandi, Vishnu Garden, New Delhi

Primus Super Specialty Hospital

Website: www.primushospital.com
Address: Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi


Medicines and pharmacies in Delhi

There are many pharmacies around Delhi where treatment for minor ailments is usually available over the counter. Some of the medicines available go by the generic name, rather than the branded, labelled version expats may be accustomed to.

Pharmacies should be able to help customers with imported medicines and local substitutes, as long as they can provide the generic name (for example, ask for ibuprofen when looking for the equivalent of Advil).


Health insurance in Delhi

Although medical treatment in India is generally inexpensive, it is always best to have health insurance. Costs for complicated or emergency treatment can become expensive relatively quickly.

Expats can expect health insurance companies to cover treatment in a select number of hospitals; this selection usually includes one or two of the top facilities and service providers. However, coverage may be limited and the process of obtaining approval for certain treatments may be cumbersome. It's important to keep all receipts and collect all medical reports if needed for reimbursement from the insurance company.

Expats moving to India with a corporate employment contract are generally offered health insurance as part of their remuneration package, but coverage may be limited for family members.


Health hazards in Delhi

While expats do not need to be worried about contracting yellow fever or polio in Delhi, there are some concerns about water-borne, food-borne and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Preventative measures should be taken, including using bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth, or otherwise boiled or filtered water.

It's best to minimise opportunities for insect bites, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If outside at these times, wear clothes that maximise coverage (full-length sleeves and long trousers for example).


Emergency services in Delhi

Emergency and intensive care services are better in the larger, private hospitals than in government-run or smaller hospitals. Ambulance services are available at most hospitals, but the services and treatment offered may vary in standards. Road congestion can also hamper response times, so expats should be prepared to make other arrangements to get to the hospital if need be. It is a common practice among locals to take those who require emergency care to the hospital in a private vehicle.

India's national emergency number is 112, and to call an ambulance, 102. Contact details for private emergency services are available on hospital websites.

Education and Schools in Delhi

Most expats, particularly those staying short term, prefer to have their children attend one of the international schools in Delhi, as the curricula and environments in these schools are more familiar to foreign students. There are plenty of these options on offer, along with a healthy selection of private schools that use English as a teaching language.

Delhi schools are known to be some of the best in the country, so expats may find that the more popular institutions are flooded with applicants, and admission is difficult.

Parents should consider the proximity of the school to the home and workplace when making their choice. Getting around in Delhi can take time due to traffic congestion. Thankfully, several private and international schools offer bus services for daily transport. Still, it's best to try and select a school close to home or focus the search for accommodation in areas close to preferred schools.

Although public schools in the city are better than in other areas around India, they are not often considered by expats nor Indian families who can afford private education. As well as exploring private and international schooling options, expat parents may consider homeschooling and extra tutoring sessions.


Private schools in Delhi

Delhi is one of India's most prominent education hubs, and its private schools have a track record of producing great talent. One key advantage of private schools in Delhi is that the language of instruction is primarily English.

Integrating expat students into Indian private schools can be a good opportunity for children to learn about the culture, languages and people of Delhi. The Indian curriculum is relatively strong and is assessed by varying exam boards, mainly the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations.

The disadvantages of Indian private schools are the limited number of available seats and the tedious admission process. For most parents, trying to get accepted into a prominent Indian school is a huge struggle as, typically, there will be far more applicants than available seats. Expat parents should also be aware that courses can be rigorous in Indian schools, and expat students are sometimes not as accustomed to dealing with the pressure to succeed.


International schools in Delhi

One of the most pronounced advantages of international schools in Delhi is that they maintain an expat's respective home country's teaching language and curriculum. This provides students who are geographically mobile with more continuity in their studies.

The range in tuition for international schools in Delhi varies widely, so it is best to visit the individual school websites for this information. Fees can be high, so expat parents lured abroad by an attractive employment package should try and negotiate an education allowance in their contract.

Seats are limited in most international schools, so it is best to start the admission process as soon as possible.


Nurseries in Delhi

Expat families with young children in Delhi will come across a wide selection of nurseries and daycare centres. This includes kindergartens that are a part of a larger international school and various other private nurseries, such as the EuroKids chains of preschools. 

Most kindergartens are found in areas and suburbs just outside of the city centre, and we recommend that expats consider location as well as fees when choosing a nursery for their children.


Homeschooling in Delhi

Typical school environments are not always the best fit for every child, nor are the exorbitant fees for every parent's budget. Expat parents may very well be curious about homeschooling their children in Delhi. Laws on homeschooling in India are not explicitly clear, but there are nonetheless parents who pursue this avenue.

Using forums and groups on social media is the best way for parents to connect with the homeschooling community in Delhi. Homeschooling is not easy and there are pros and cons to it, but through conversations and connections with other families, parents can learn from each other, select an appropriate curriculum and create a healthy and happy learning environment for their children. 


Special-needs education in Delhi

In theory, both government and local authorities in India should promote inclusive education across all schools, including providing access to specialised facilities and individualised support. In reality, expat parents will probably find that private and international schools in the NCR offer the highest quality and widest scope of support for children with disabilities.

Delhi schools have varying policies and processes on inclusivity and special-needs education. Some may offer holistic services including counselling, specialised educators, assistant teachers, extra time and in-class support, and assistive technology. Others may be limited in their scope of cover for students with different physical, mental, emotional and behavioural difficulties. We recommend looking through the selection of private and international schools, exploring their websites and contacting them directly.


Tutors in Delhi

Many children in Delhi receive extra tuition or classes, along with their typical school or homeschool environment. Tutoring can provide great support close to exam time but can easily be found and contacted via online platforms, such as BharatTutors, TeacherOn and FabTutor.

Private schools in Delhi

Expats moving to Delhi long term might consider sending their child to a private school. The language of instruction at private schools in India is English, and the standard of teaching is generally excellent. Sending expat kids to a private school also encourages integration by allowing them to interact with local children and embrace more of the local culture.

Note that children at Indian private schools can be put under a lot of pressure to achieve high grades, something that foreign students may not be accustomed to. Admissions procedures vary across schools, but extensive documentation is generally needed and we recommend starting the application process early.

Below is a list of prominent private schools in Delhi.


Private schools in Delhi

Delhi Public School RK Puram

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: CBSE
Ages: 12 to 18
Website: www.dpsrkp.net

GD Goenka Public School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: CBSE
Ages: 1 to 18
Website: www.gdgps.gdgoenka.com

Modern School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: CBSE
Ages: 12 to 18
Website: www.modernschool.net

Springdales School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: CBSE
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.springdalespusa.com

Vasant Valley

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: CBSE
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.vasantvalley.org

International Schools in Delhi

Expat families will find that international schools in Delhi are as diverse as the city itself. Many of Delhi's international schools are British, with schooling leading up to the IGCSEs and A-levels. Students of the city's American schools can take AP subjects and the SATs. The globally recognised International Baccalaureate is another frequent offering. Some schools teach a combination of different curricula.

One of the major advantages of international schools in Delhi is the assurance of high-quality education. Well-qualified teachers and excellent facilities can be expected from most schools. Student bodies tend to be noticeably multicultural, with dozens of nationalities attending any given school.

Most international schools in Delhi have rolling admissions and accept applications throughout the year. Places can be limited, though, so it's worth applying early to secure a spot.

Below is a list of some of the most prominent international schools in Delhi.


International schools in Delhi

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American Embassy School

With a balanced approach to education, the American Embassy School offers more than just academic excellence – students are encouraged to explore other areas such as athletics, the arts and community service opportunities. Graduating students can obtain either the International Baccalaureate or the American High School Diploma. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Amity Global School, Noida

Amity Global School, Noida was founded in 2010. Alongside top-notch academics, students are also given ample opportunities to explore sporting, artistic and social interests thanks to the school's varied extra-curricular programme. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Ages: 3 to 18

Apeejay School International – South Delhi

Apeejay School International has a range of curricula on offer to suit the needs of expat families. The school aims to cultivate global-mindedness in its students while maintaining local Indian values. A range of exciting extra-curricular activities is available. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and Indian CBSE
Ages: 3 to 18

British School

The British School offers the English National Curriculum adapted for an international context. In the final years of schooling, the International Baccalaureate curriculum is also introduced. With more than 50 years of history, the British School is a great choice for expat families in Delhi. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Deutsche Schule New Delhi

With a respected academic programme culminating in the German International Abitur, Deutsche Schule New Delhi provides a high standard of education to its students. Extra-curricular activities are varied, ranging from robotics and supervised homework sessions to Bollywood dance and Taekwondo. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German
Ages: 1.5 to 18

DPS International School

DPS International School has a good reputation in Delhi and offers the prestigious Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels. Founded by the Delhi Public School Society, DPS has access to excellent facilities and aims to provide an internationally minded education. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 3 to 18

Genesis Global School

The ethos at Genesis Global School (GGS) is one of celebrating the individual and their place in a wider community. The school's teachers are part of a wider team of professionals who will guide, nurture and inspire children to take ownership of their learning both in and out of the classroom environment. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and Indian CBSE
Ages: 2.5 to 18

Heritage Xperiential Learning School

Heritage Xperiential Learning School (HXLS) is known for its commitment to an experiential project-based pedagogy and integrated curriculum. In just over a decade, HXLS has established a formidable reputation for itself as a progressive, innovative school. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 3.5 to 18

Lycée Français International de Delhi

Established in 1962, Lycée Français International de Delhi provides high-quality French education to a diverse student population of more than 40 nationalities. The school's educational offerings focus on cultivating fluency in French while maintaining good English-speaking skills. Students earn the well-regarded French Baccalauréat. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French
Ages: 2 to 18

Metro Delhi International School

Founded on Christian values, Metro Delhi International School runs the American curriculum from Kindergarten through to Grade 12. All subjects are taught from a biblical worldview as the school aims to facilitate holistic personal and academic development in students. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3 to 18

Pathways Early Years

Pathways Early Years provides an enriched environment designed to maximise learning, fun and exploration. The school grounds are home to spacious, bright and pleasant classrooms and a fenced-in outdoor play area with a variety of safe equipment. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Early Years
Ages: 6 months to 9 years

Pathways School Gurgaon

Pathways School Gurgaon has a strong academic programme backed by a wide range of extra-curricular options. The school is situated on a centrally located 10-acre campus with easy access from Delhi, Faridabad and Gurgaon. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2.5 to 18

Pathways School Noida

Founded in 2010, Pathways School Noida is a well-respected school among expats thanks to the school's focus on the holistic development of children. Facilities are excellent and technology is utilised as an essential teaching tool. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2.5 to 18

Pathways World School Aravali

A prestigious institution with boarding and day school options, Pathways School Aravali uses a multiple intelligences approach to teaching. The school is fully accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2.5 to 18

Lifestyle in Delhi

From its boiling summers that end in monsoons to its diverse mix of people, Delhi is a city that is either loved or loathed by expats. One of the busiest cities in India, it’s said to house more people than it can fit.

Delhi is a mix of old and new, with lovely green spaces such as Lodi Gardens, an idyllic place to jog, picnic or people watch. Modern malls are also trendy and fashionable spots to spend one's free time. While enjoying a cosmopolitan lifestyle, Delhi’s rich culture and history can be seen in its architecture and appreciated in the many monuments and buildings, as well as major events and festivals.


Entertainment and eating out in Delhi

Delhi has a diverse nightlife. The neighbourhood of Mehrauli is great for live music, while Greater Kailash has a large club scene and Khan Market has many bars and roof terraces. Paharganj has grown in popularity for notoriously cheap and cheerful bars, and is a great space for backpackers and young expats. Connaught Place (CP), in the centre of Delhi, is home to a vibrant bar and entertainment scene. In the inner and outer circle of CP, there is live music, a revolving restaurant and bars and restaurants with open rooftops.

A diverse mix of cuisine is available in restaurants across Delhi, from street food vendors in Chandni Chowk to high-end restaurants attached to hotels. If expats want the true taste of Delhi, they should be sure to sample the street food. Getting food from roadside eateries straight after work is a Delhi trend, but expats should head to outlets that look busy as this is where food will be freshly cooked. Hole-in-the-wall places satisfy every palate.


Shopping in Delhi

Haggling is the norm in Delhi, especially in the massive stretch of markets across Lajpat Nagar that sell everything a person could ever need. Shoe shops and tailors line the market stands, and kitchen and homeware can also be purchased here. For cheap books, shirts and other clothing, expats should head to Janpath Market.

The more upmarket area of Khan Market has luxury delis and top-class clothing boutiques as well as an ample selection of bars and coffee shops to quench one's thirst in between.

There are several shopping malls in Delhi, each home to plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment options. DLF Emporio, Ambience Mall and The Great India Place are all a shopping enthusiast's dream with lots to explore.


Sports and outdoor activities in Delhi

Adrenaline junkies have plenty of options in Delhi, from bungee jumping and zip-lining to wall climbing and racing through obstacle courses. Various adventure parks can be found in Delhi offering these experiences and more. Expats of any age can also try out go-karting, while camping retreats around the city offer escape.

Active expats can discover a wide variety of sports in the city. Cricket, India's much-loved sport, is a popular choice, while those who prefer hockey, tennis or swimming can also find a venue and club that suits them.


See and do in Delhi

Delhi may be daunting to some, but it's unquestionably delightful. Built on no fewer than seven ancient cities, the present-day metropolis takes in all of them and a lot more. The city is vast and the mantra for expats looking for ways to spend a weekend in Delhi is to try to plan one major outing every day. Below are some of the best things to see and do while in India's capital city.

India Gate

India Gate is a spectacular archway built as a memorial to the more than 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died serving the country in various wars from 1914 to 1921, including World War I.

Jama Masjid

Expats living in Delhi can visit one of India's largest mosques, the Jama Masjid, or Masjid-i Jehan Numa. This impressive building was constructed between 1650 and 1656, and stands as a symbol of cultural and religious heritage as well as a tourist attraction.

National Gallery of Modern Art

Perfect for art lovers, this museum features artworks from the 1850s onwards. It is home to an impressive permanent collection of artworks from paintings and drawings to sculptures and photographs, as well as a number of temporary exhibits on show.

National Gandhi Museum

This fascinating museum features a rich collection of original relics, books, journals, art pieces and memorabilia closely connected with Mahatma Gandhi. Included are personal items ranging from Gandhi's walking stick to his urn and the bullet that killed him.

Red Fort

One of Delhi’s most famous attractions is the Red Fort, or Lāl Qila as it is locally known. This distinctive red stone structure is a reminder of the wealth and rule of the Mughal Empire that presided over the area during the 17th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site cannot be missed while staying in Delhi.


What's on in Delhi

There are lots of fantastic yearly events and celebrations in Delhi that expats can look forward to. Expats can learn about Indian culture and history at these events while enjoying all things bright, colourful, fun and unique. Below are some of the highlights on Delhi's calendar.

Republic Day Parade (January)

Delhi's is the largest Republic Day parade in the country. It takes place along Rajpath at the India Gate war memorial, and expats will be thrilled by this grand display of the culture and heritage of India.

Garden Tourism Festival (February)

In February, Delhi blooms with a riot of colours when Delhi's Garden Tourism Festival kicks off. This chance to take in the city's floral beauty is a must for all Delhi expats, and attendees can also enjoy performances by local bands while sampling fare from the mini food festival at the event. 

Holi (March)

Holi is a celebrated Hindu festival to mark the onset of spring and celebrate the victory of good over evil. The night before the festival, bonfires are lit all over the city. The next day, people throw bright powders of all shades at each other, covering the city (and everyone in it) in a riot of colour. 

Diwali (November)

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is India’s most popular traditional festival. Houses are decorated with oil lamps and candles, the sound of firecrackers echo through the streets, and the skies light up with explosive firework shows. 


Where to meet people and make friends in Delhi

Making friends in a new city can be tricky, particularly when there are language barriers and cultural differences. Joining a club or a group of likeminded individuals who share an interest can be a good way of meeting people and networking. We've listed a few options below.

Delhi Network

Perfect for expats looking to connect, the Delhi Network is a non-profit organisation that supports expats living in Delhi, and provides a great platform on which to build a network of friends and helpful contacts. It currently boasts hundreds of members from more than 50 nationalities.

Delhi Gymkhana Club

The ideal escape from the city bustle, the Delhi Gymkhana Club is set on 10 hectares of lush greenery perfect for picnics, jogging or other outdoor activities. There's also a fitness centre, swimming pools, library, billiards rooms and plenty of other fun to be had. There are also a host of lounges, bars and eateries where expats can connect with other members.

New Friends Club

Situated in the posh New Friends residential colony in New Delhi and especially great for expats into sports, New Friends Club has tennis, squash, badminton and snooker facilities, as well as a restaurant, coffee shop, library, swimming pool and a kids corner. Choose between Corporate, Permanent, Temporary and Ordinary memberships.

Shipping and Removals in Delhi

As in most major cities, there are many shipping and removal companies in Delhi offering complete relocation packages from almost anywhere in the world. Expats are usually restricted to how much and what they can import from overseas duty free, and it is often more cost efficient to buy new items in India.

On the one hand, a lot of accommodation in Delhi comes either fully or partly furnished, meaning it's often unnecessary for expats to ship over their furniture. On the flip side, many stunning pieces of art and furniture are cheap in India and may warrant major shipping back to one's home country when expats leave. When purchasing expensive items, expats should take out shipping insurance and are advised to do so through a company other than the one used for shipping as this ensures reliable coverage.

For smaller packages of essential items, expats should consider airfreight, which is more expensive but much quicker than the several weeks needed for sea routes. 


Hiring an international removal company

When choosing a removal company for shipping to or from Delhi there are several factors to consider. We recommend looking up reviews and selecting a reputable company that also offers insurance. In some cases, it may be best to get insurance cover from a separate organisation.

The extent of the services available should be looked into. Check if the company will pack everything, take inventory, carry out basic assembly of furniture upon arrival in Delhi, as well as deal with all customs formalities.

Costs are a major consideration when shipping goods to Delhi. Removals companies will survey everything that needs to be shipped and make a quote based on the size of the shipment. It's worthwhile to get several quotes for comparison before deciding which company to go with.

We recommend going through a relocation company that offers a complete relocation package with services in global mobility as well as immigration, schools and accommodation support.


Duty-free shipping to Delhi

In some cases, Indian citizens and expats planning on becoming formal residents in India may be granted exemptions on shipping. Importing personal and household goods to Delhi may be allowed duty fee. There are some exceptions to this, so we recommend expats consult their removal company and the Indian government’s baggage rules before finalising their shipment.

An allowance for sea and airfreight may be granted to expats working in Delhi, and it could be worth negotiating this as part of a relocation contract.

India has a strong e-commerce sector, and expats may want to buy products online while staying in Delhi. We recommend always checking the related fees for shipping and delivery when shopping online.


Shipping pets to Delhi

Pets can also be brought to India as long as their documentation, vaccinations, microchipping and other requirements are in order, but it is a good idea to use a pet relocation service to avoid customs hassles. Expats who go it alone are advised to read official regulations closely, as these change often.

Frequently Asked Questions about Delhi

Moving to a new city is often equal parts exciting and stressful. To set expats' nerves at ease, here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to the bustling Indian city of Delhi.

Do I need a car in Delhi?

If expats live in the suburbs it is best to have a car, although most companies that regularly hire expats provide transport for their employees. Even so, this provision may not be full time, and expats may have to make other arrangements for evenings and weekends. 

There are a host of taxi companies in the city, and it's possible to navigate the busy city centre without a car. Ride-hailing applications such as Uber are also operational in Delhi, while public transport is reasonably well developed.

What are some networks to help settle in?

There are hundreds of different clubs that expats can become involved with in Delhi. Many of these are multinational groups, while others are just for hanging out with people who speak the same language. Sports teams and hobby groups are everywhere. Simply browsing around online and on social media groups is another good way to make friends and network.

Is Delhi safe?

Expats should exercise necessary safety precautions in Delhi, just as they would in any other major city. The biggest hazard of living in Delhi is the minor health-related problems associated with local food; a case of traveller's diarrhoea or 'Delhi Belly' is common.

When it comes to treating serious illnesses or injuries, it's best to go to private hospitals.

Delhi is fine to walk around in during the day, but expats should avoid walking alone at night. Also keep an eye out for petty crime such as pick-pocketing to reduce the chance of falling victim.

Are the education standards good in Delhi? What options are there for expat children?

There are plenty of choices when it comes to education in Delhi. While public schools in the city are not a viable option for most expats, the city has a wealth of English-language private schools and international schools. While there are a lot of options, many of these schools are over-subscribed and expats will need to act fast to secure a place.

What's the best way to find suitable accommodation in Delhi?

Expat employers may be willing to help but, most often, a real-estate agent or relocation company should be an expat's go-to in the search for accommodation. Online real-estate listings can also give a good general idea of properties available for rent.

Getting Around in Delhi

In a city as large as Delhi, the daily commute and sheer volume of traffic can be overwhelming at first. Cars, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, auto rickshaws and pedestrians all share the same road.

Drivers tend to disregard standard traffic laws, adding to the chaos. We recommend that expats new to Delhi don't try to drive themselves and instead rely on other forms of private or public transport.


Public transport in Delhi

Buses

The most popular mode of public transport in Delhi are buses, transporting over half of the city's daily commuters. To reduce congestion, the city has been trying to encourage the use of public transport over private vehicles. The Delhi Transport Corporation and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) aim to improve bus networks to meet the demand of the growing population.

Unfortunately, progress has been slow; buses tend to be quite crowded and don’t always have air conditioning. That said, buses in Delhi are cheap and the network of bus routes is extensive. 

Metro

The Delhi Metro is a fast, clean and efficient form of public transport. It serves Delhi as well as surrounding areas, including Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Bahadurgarh and Ballabhgarh. New lines and stations have continued to open over the years, making the metro an easy way to travel about the city.

There are several options for paying to use the metro. For a single journey, expats can buy a ticket, the value of which depends on the distance travelled, while travel cards are best for regular commuters. Travel cards are not only convenient and allow easy recharging of credit, but also offer regular discounts, such as cheaper costs during off-peak hours.

As India's largest and busiest metro, we recommend Delhi commuters avoid this mode of transport during rush hours when it can become quite packed.


Taxis in Delhi

Taxis are easily available in the city and are preferable if one is travelling more than a few kilometres, or on an especially hot or rainy day when an open-sided rickshaw may be uncomfortable. Taxis can be arranged either at a roadside taxi stand or by calling any of the radio taxi services in the city. Another option is making use of ride-hailing applications such as Uber.

Taxis are all equipped with meters which the driver should agree to use, otherwise expats should negotiate and agree on a price before setting off. 

Rickshaws

There are two kinds of rickshaws in Delhi – cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws.

Cycle rickshaws are powered by the driver pedalling in front while passengers ride on a covered bench behind the driver. They have been phased out in certain areas due to the strain they place on traffic, but they are an inexpensive way to travel short distances.

Auto rickshaws are partially enclosed motor vehicles that can be hailed from nearly every street corner in the city. They can fit up to three passengers, plus the driver in front. They are cheaper than taxis and, because of their smaller size, can usually negotiate heavy traffic a bit faster.


Driving in Delhi

While expats have the option to buy or rent a car in Delhi, driving conditions in the city are chaotic. Foreigners who do decide to drive need to do so defensively and consider the erratic behaviour of other road users.

If an expat plans to live in Delhi for an extended period, it may be worth looking into hiring a full-time or part-time driver. Many expats and middle to upper-class Indian families keep drivers on their payroll. Those new to the city will find having a driver especially helpful in negotiating traffic and navigating the sometimes confusing roads. For those expats who work in Delhi, it is often worth appealing to their company for help in arranging a driver.


Cycling and walking in Delhi

Expats keen on cycling in Delhi have several factors to consider. The city launched a public bicycle sharing scheme where residents can rent a SmartBike, and pay for a weekly or monthly pass. There are also some cycling tracks in North and South Delhi. However, despite plans to extend and maintain them, these ‘dedicated’ lanes often become crowded with three-wheelers, putting cyclists' safety at risk.

While cycling to commute to and from work may not be altogether feasible, cycling for leisure is possible in Delhi. Cycling and walking tours are a great way for new arrivals to learn about their host city. There are some great areas for cycling, free from the chaos and pollution of vehicular traffic – the stretch from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate is popular among cyclists and runners, especially in the early morning, and offers a great view.

As with cycling, expats who want to walk around Delhi must be cautious along busy roads. Though walking is a great way to experience life in the city, for quieter areas and leisurely walks, Deer Park in Hauz Khas and Buddha Garden offer more scenic routes.