Friday, April 07, 2006

R2I - Planning

R2I – Planning

This is my 3rd post in the continuing series on R2I. Previous posts are here and here.

Now that you have made the decision, where do we go from here? If you have decided to continue living in your adopted country, Congratulations, a decision has been made now, so move on with your life without constantly going back on your decision. This will only put you and your family in uncertain territory on a prolonged basis and that is not good. Learn more about the adopted country and contribute positively by joining some social / charitable activities of interest. Good Luck and you can skip rest of this post and the series.

But, if you have decided to move back to India, How do you make it happen? There are quite a few things to consider from location to laundry man, from job/s to janitorial assistance, from comfortable housing to Cars. Proper planning and ample lead time is critical to make this work. This will definitely be one of the major projects one would undertake and it important to pay close attention to logistical and emotional needs of various family members involved. Not everyone will move at the same speed and due attention must be paid to kids and their emotional needs. Interestingly, kids will adapt to the new environment faster than the adults.

Moving is always stressful and laborious regardless of the distance and it is even more challenging to move across countries / continents. In this post we will see some of the areas that need adequate planning.

Citizenship: This might apply only for people who are migrating back from western countries, Australia and in particular from USA. Depending on the resident status and length of stay, you may be eligible to become a citizen of the country you are staying now. With India slowly inching towards a complete dual citizenship status, this option should be given serious consideration.

If you hold foreign citizenship, then get the Indian version of dual citizenship for everyone in your family. This will come handy for employment and financial dealings.

Finance: From Bank accounts to trading account to insurance to credit cards there are lot of things to consider and plan here. You might want to consolidate various holdings in the foreign country in to one or few accounts that give you online access. This might include your pension / 401k accounts and things like that.

As you move to India, you will need a bank account and credit /debit card at a minimum. Make sure you have them taken care off in time for your move in to India. Lot of Banks offer credit cards in India now and biggies like ICICI & SBI also offer online trading facility. So it should be relatively easy to do one stop shopping for all your banking / financial needs.

Location: This perhaps one of the single most important decisions you will make after deciding to move back. With the booming IT market in Bangalore, it seems to be the choice destination for lot of returnees. However, the ‘where to’ decision must not be made on job alone. There are enough jobs to go around in other cities as well and few other factors like social / family network, housing, schooling must also be considered. I would submit that in the larger scheme of things, housing and family network must weigh heavily in the location decision than job market.

Job: Once the location / city has been identified, then starting looking for a job in that market. If you are in to entrepreneurial things then hat off to you and you can skip this section. There seems to be lot of jobs in every major city now, but it will take good amount of digging and networking to land in a job to your liking. This jump will be crucial as this will set the stage for all your future moves and negotiations so spread your net wide and deep.

School: If you have school going kids then this will be one of the challenging things you will do as you look to return. There is intense demand for admission in to good schools in India. Most schools start the admission process around December for the next school year which starts in June. So shortlist 3 or 4 schools and start focusing on them early. As you narrow down your choice, look for schools that are close to where you will live.

I didn’t pay close attention to this aspect when we moved. I believed then that regardless of the search and time spent on this, we will always end up shifting schools. But that was not to be. Once kids started going to a school, they didn’t want to leave for obvious reasons (not to me then!!) like familiarity, friends etc., So, pay close attention to this and get in to a good school the first time.

Housing: Look for housing close to where kids schooling will be, even if that increases commute time for the elders to their jobs. It is a common practice is Chennai to ask for 10 month rent as ‘advance / deposit’. There are lots of folks who do ‘house brokering’ as their part time or full time job. I found them to be unorganized and unreliable. They don’t keep up their appointments and time. Watch out for situations where one house is offered to you by multiple brokers. If you don’t speak up early, you could end up in an ugly situation where many brokers are fighting for the ‘agent fee’. As with many things, networking leads you to good housing which generally operate stealth.

Also, if you own a property where you live now, then you need to think about what to do with it as well.

It is quite possible that I have missed umpteen other things that should be planned for. It is important to go about this as methodically as possible. Start a ‘To Do’ list at the earnest and start executing. There is nothing like taking baby steps and start seeing things fall in place.

My two cents:

  1. Give yourself at least 12 months
  2. Make it a family decision and involve all members in planning. Pay close attention to kids needs.
  3. Choose a city where you / spouse have some social network.
  4. Expect everything to take more time than normal and used to.
  5. Have lot of patience.

Next: R2I - Moving