Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things to take care of, after your R2I

Have you made the "hardest" decision in your life? I mean, "Have you decided to Return to India?" Now, the rest of things are going to be easy. Have you already taken care of the things to do before R2I? What are some of the things that you need to take care of after reaching India? I've compiled a list of items to take care of, after your Return to India. This is purely based on my experiences and definitely not exhaustive. Feel free to recommend additional items, if any.

1) School admissions - This is the most important thing, especially if you have kids of 'school going' age. Some schools distribute application forms in October for the following year. So, you may have to ask your relatives/friends to get the applications well in advance. Some schools also have an admission window during "Vijayadasami". You should be able to put your kid in school during that time also. (Also read: R2I school admissions - FAQ Getting KG admission for a kid in school - the math behind it)

2) Ration Card - Ration card is treated as an address proof & may be required irrespective of whether you buy things at the Ration shop or not. So, it is recommended to get one.

3) Driving License - If you don't have an Indian driving license or if your driving license has 'expired', you need to get a new one. AFAIK, you need to go in person for submitting the application & to take the driving test (on a different day) [irrespective of whether you go through a driving school or not] (Also read: Getting a two wheeler driving license)

4) PAN Card - This is also very important, these days. This is very much equivalent to your Social Security number. You have to quote your PAN number for all financial dealings (Banks, Demat trading account, loan, etc.,). There are so many agents available to get you a PAN card for a nominal fee.
I went to the nearest UTI TSL office and submitted my PAN application. I got my PAN card within months. (Also read: Getting a PAN card in India - Not easy)

5) Bank Account - You need to have a Bank Account for keeping your money safe & for ATM access. If you have been having a NRI account, you can convert that into a NRO account and use it. You need to get an ATM debit card. In India, you can withdraw money from any ATM (even though you aren't a member of that bank), without any charge. This is very convenient. There are ATMs everywhere.

6) GAS connection - Electricity is not very reliable in India. So, you need to buy GAS stove and apply for GAS cylinders.

7) PIO stay extension/OCI application - Based on your/your family's legal status, you may need to take care of the PIO/OCI formalities. (Related posts: Extending stay of PIO holder, OCI Hooplah)

8) Credit Card - I would highly recommend you to get a credit card. Using ATM/Debit cards may not be safe in all the locations (Your ATM card provides direct access to your bank account). So, you may have to selectively use Credit Cards in places that are not safe. Also, credit cards give you the flexibility to make payments later.

9) Buying/Renting a property - You would need a house to stay. Renting can be done pretty quick - though the rents have gone up quite a bit in the last 10 years. I heard that home prices have come down significantly in some areas after the 2008 bubble crash. So, it may be wise to "own" a property instead of "renting" a property. There are some HRA (House Rent Allowance) benefits for the "interest" that you pay on Home loans.

10) Finding a physician/hospital - This is important especially, if you have kids. It takes a while to 'identify' the 'right' physician. The penetration of "medical insurance", has made the medical services so costly. You need to start looking for a good physician & hospital before you have some "emergency" health issues. Some hospitals are 'money minded' so, you need to be aware of that.

11) Buying a vehicle - There are ample public transportation options available in India (based on your comfort & price requirements). However, having used to a car in US, you definitely need a vehicle. There are zillion options available. So, this is not going to be a easy exercise. I bought a Honda Aviator scooter, just to get myself acquainted with the Indian roads. I never owned a motor vehicle in India, before. So, it is very exciting to ride a vehicle in India :)  [Also read: Bought a new car - Maruti Swift Dzire]

Related posts:

R2I Checklist
R2I - Salary Negotiation
10 things to know if you are Returning to India
R2I - How can I get my Social Security benefits/money?

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