Shockingly Cheap, And In Some Places, Incredibly Beautiful

Fast developing India is home to one of the world's largest populations. Living in the major cities here could leave you grasping for breathe and eager for more personal space. Or at least a place where there's less garbage strewn about.

However, there lay in other areas beautiful beaches and quiet backwaters…simple villages and lively towns…delicious eats and plenty of friendly smiles.

As one of the two official languages, English is widely spoken. Add to that the extremely low cost of living, and India lands itself as a potential destination on many an expat's list.

Again, beyond that, the failed infrastructure challenges even savvy travelers. For example, most local maps are wrong. Not just out of date, but drawn wrong. So you need to ask people how to get from place to place. Indians, like so many others in poor countries, tend to make up answers rather than admit they don't know where you're talking about.

It's frustrating and difficult…but temptingly cheap. Quality lunches can often be found for around 50 cents, and you can set yourself up in a hotel for around US$9 a night on the beach (see Kovalam).

Even though Indian law permits foreign ownership of real property, in practice, the infamous Indian bureaucracy can keep it from happening. We don't recommend buying property in India, but with rental prices so low there's no need to buy.

For city life, we recommend Trivandrum. We like Kovalam Beach in Kerala as a beach destination.

Our favorite tropical paradise in India, however, is Goa. With its broad white sand beaches, gentle waves, seafood shacks, and tropical weather, this area is a gem.

Goa could also be one of the cheapest place in India, which is very cheap indeed. No wonder it has become expat central. Several thousand expats live in a dozen or so towns stretched along some 60 miles of white-sand beach here. If you're looking for expat living at very low cost on a tropical beach, start with Goa. 

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Population  1,189,172,906 (July 2011 est.)
Gross Domestic  Product (GDP) $4.06 trillion (2010 est.)
GDP Per Capita $3,500 (2010 est.)
Inflation Rate 12% (2010 est.)
Currency Indian rupees (INR)
Exchange Rate Versus U.S. Dollar  46.163 (2010)  Indian rupees (INR) per US dollar -
Language Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%
Capital New Delhi
Population of Capital City 13,800,000 hab. (2001)
Time Zone UTC +5:30
Seasons varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north
International Dialing Code 91
Electricity 230V, 50 Hz
System of Government federal republic
Name and Party Affiliation of Current Leader President Pratibha Devisingh PATIL (since 25 July 2007)
Income Tax Rate for Residents Normally taxed on worlwide income, rates are progressive up to 30% plus the applicable cess. 
Property Tax No
Capital Gains Tax 10%-20%; depends on wheter he gains are long term or short term.
Inheritance Tax No
Rental Income Tax 20%
Transfer Tax Yes, to financial instruments and transactions with rates varying significantly by state
Sales Tax 12.50%
Restrictions on Foreign Ownership of Property Will be permitted by Reserve Bank, on application, to acquire immovable property in India if the property to be purchased is for residential use only.
Local Chamber of Commerce
American Chamber of Commerce
Primary Exports petroleum products, precious stones, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, vehicles, apparel
Residency and Visa Requirements All foreign nationals who wish to come to India must have their own country's valid passport and an Indian visa. 
Special Benefits for  Foreign Residents or Retirees no
National Airline