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Moving to Delhi

Are you planning on relocating to Delhi? For many expats, moving to Delhi means dealing with lots of unknowns — preparation is key! Using our guide to Delhi — which includes information on visas, transportation, and healthcare — you’re on the right track to making the best out of your move to Delhi.
India’s capital is full of famous sights.

At a Glance:

  • India’s capital is a kaleidoscope of culture, language, and climates and may come as a shock to most new expats, though once you find your feet, it is well worth it.

  • Before your move, visit your doctor and ensure you have the correct vaccinations to stay healthy in Delhi.

  • There are many categories of visa, which you can apply for online — though you must have an appointment at your nearest embassy to hand in the required paperwork.

 

Like most cities on the subcontinent, India’s capital is filled with contrast and urban bustle, something which may be overwhelming at first if you’re not used to such a sensory overload. Foreigners moving to Delhi often remark the exceptional diversity and sheer variety of life they encounter there.

Delhi — Past and Present

In the early 20th century, the British administration in India decided that the capital of what was then called the British Indian Empire should move from Kolkata to Delhi. Beginning in 1911, New Delhi was built south of the old town, to host all government and administrative offices. Following Indian independence in 1947, New Delhi was declared the capital of India and remained the seat of the central government.

With its fewer than 300,000 residents, New Delhi forms part of sprawling Delhi (aka the National Capital Territory). The latter is the second largest metropolis in India after Mumbai, with just over 19 million inhabitants. It has a large expat population, not least thanks to the presence of so many foreign embassies and international organizations. As a consequence, expats moving to Delhi should expect higher costs of living than in other major cities on the Indian subcontinent.

Climate in Delhi: Four Seasons and a Monsoon

Delhi has a humid subtropical climate influenced by the monsoon. Effectively, this means that a move to Delhi will bring you long, hot summers and cold, but dry winters. Summer, with temperatures up to 40°C, lasts from April to October and includes the monsoon period from July to mid-September. During the short winters, temperatures can drop down to 7°C.

Expats moving to Delhi — if they are not used to this sort of climate — may find it hard to adjust at first. The excessive heat during the first part of the summer and the high humidity during the monsoon period are definitely a force to be reckoned with. There is not much you can do, except be sensible, avoid staying in the sun a lot, and drink more water than you would at home. It’s not uncommon to feel ill for a couple of days at first.

Health Precautions Before Traveling to Delhi

When it comes to your health, the same rules apply as for most places with a subtropical climate. To be on the safe side, you should check that all your standard vaccinations are up to date well in advance of moving to Delhi.

To find out what additional vaccinations might be recommended, consult your doctor or a travel health clinic six to eight weeks before relocating to Delhi. Your doctor’s advice will be based on the length and nature of your stay, e.g. whether you will be spending time in the countryside or just the city, etc. Usual immunizations include

  • hepatitis A and B;
  • rabies;
  • tetanus;
  • diphtheria and polio;
  • Japanese encephalitis;
  • meningitis;
  • typhoid fever.

Expats moving to Delhi should be aware of the following health risks, which are more or less common throughout India:

  • vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya, and malaria
  • TBC and less drastic respiratory diseases, especially those caused by the high air pollution in Delhi
  • cholera
  • gastro-intestinal diseases

You can keep these risks at bay by taking sensible precautions against mosquito bites and paying particular attention to food and body hygiene. Also keep in touch with your embassy in Delhi to see if they publish any health warnings for sudden outbreaks, e.g. the recent air pollution public health emergency.

Staying Safe in Delhi

In November 2017, there were no specific travel warnings in place for expatriates moving to Delhi. However, you should always consult the website of your country’s foreign office for any updates on the security situation before you relocate. There is a high threat of terrorism throughout India. Explosions in Mumbai as well as New Delhi itself in 2011, as well as in Hyderabad in February 2013, have caused a heightened state of alert in many major Indian cities. Travel in Jammu and Kashmir is advised against, as terrorist attacks have been frequent in this area in 2016 and 2017.

Expats should be aware of the potential threat of terrorist attacks but not let it govern their lives. Exercise caution when visiting public places or events which attract large crowds. Inquire about the possibility of registering with your embassy in Delhi, just in case any complications arise during your time in Delhi.

Delhi has the highest crime rate (for crimes under Indian Penal Code) of all Indian metropolises. Some of these figures refer to property crime, like tourism scams, pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and robbery, but they also include a large amount of violent crime. Compared to an average violent crime rate of 40.6 per 100,000 residents across all Indian metropolises, Delhi city’s violent crime rate stands at more than double this (93.8 per 100,000). The 2012 Delhi gang rape case — where a 23-year-old student was sexually assaulted and killed — made the headlines in all of India and around the globe. The young woman’s death led to heated debates about the safety of women in India, especially in the capital, where the number of reported cases of sexual violence is increasing.

Expat women moving to India should exercise particular caution. Upscale hotels and expatriate accommodation often have good security measures, like CCTV cameras, interphone systems, and sturdy locks. When you leave your house, though, you should avoid isolated areas and preferably use your own car with a trustworthy driver to get around, regardless of the time of day. On public transportation, always use the women’s car, and only take registered, numbered cabs. Even then, make sure to send an e-mail or text message with the car number and license plate to family or friends, while ensuring the driver is well aware of you doing so.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jonathan Brown

"The great events organized by InterNations helped me get to know Delhi expats from all over the world."

Sophie Poirier

"When I moved from Canada to Delhi, InterNations helped me connect with fellow Americans and feel more at home."

Global Expat Guide