Tuesday, August 08, 2006

R2I # 4 - Moving

R2I - Moving
I am continuing this series after a long gap. Here comes my fourth post in the R2I series. You can access my previous posts on this subject here here & here.

Moving is never easy, so be prepared for the usual grunt work and more. Moving across the continent requires more effort than just the back breaking packing and moving work. Several things have to be considered if you are moving lock, stock and barrel.

When to Move?
This must be decided well in advance. If kids are involved in the move then that might dictate the move dates. If you are moving from US then you might consider after the school closes in June. One thing to consider though, school year starts in India around June first week and that no summer break. So, be considerate and give them sometime to adjust before making them start their school year in India. First few weeks will be challenging for the kids, so that must be taken in to account as well when deciding 'when' to move.

What to Move?
Everything you have been using and is part of the household can be moved. However, I would avoid shipping stuff like car,refrigerator, lawn mower, freezer & washing machine etc.,. These items can be made to work in India but generally not worth the hassle, particularly if you are moving from US. Customs duty on cars is prohibitively expensive in India and one of my friend who did bring the car felt that he could have gotten a new car for that money. Also, due to left / right side driving issues, this imported car is just sitting in the garage.

The amount of stuff to be moved will depend on the family, length of stay and the amount of accumulated junk. This is also a great opportunity to get rid off unwanted stuff. There are charities on either side that would love to hear from you on this. So, give yourself ample time and start sifting through your stuff well ahead of the move date. We started 3 months prior to the actual move and to sort, pack and inventory the stuff. We first did it over the weekends and spread the work load over a period of time. This gave us an opportunity to gauge the workload and assess what we really needed to move.

As you decide on things to move, start packing them as well. I suggest buying boxes in bulk (from Sam's Club or Costco?) and start packing and labeling the stuff that can be put away. You might also consider taking digital snaps of the items packed and creating some tags. This might help you search through stack of boxes at the other end.

As you start packing, pay attention to the stuff your kids are using now and the stuff you would need immediately after landing in India. You might consider bringing them with you as the container (assuming you go that route) will take several weeks to get to India by ship.

How to Move?
There are numerous movers available all through US, who can provide end-2-end service. Look for a mover who provides total service rather than engaging several of them who might just provide point services. The customs clearance process in India is cumbersome, so it is important to engage someone who can help in this process also.

The only realistic option for moving all your household stuff via ship. So, look to engage a 20' or 40' container which can be brought to you door step by the mover. Some sub-divisions / cities might restrict the duration of having such big containers in a residential area. So, know your local regulations and act accordingly. I was able to load all my stuff in a 20' container under 6 hours.

Where to Store?
This might be a problem if you are moving ALL your stuff to India. Depending on where you are moving to, you might have to rent a temporary place to store all the stuff as the living quarters in India tend to be smaller than the ones you had at your 'other place'. In my case, I had to basically forego one large bed room in the house to stack all the stuff and we sorted out things over a period of 6 months, till then the bed room became a store room.

Next Post on R2I - New Home


  1. Very thoroughlly presented. I guess some personal matters also have to be dealt with professionally. Inevitable.

  2. I moved temporarily to India for 8+ months to take care of my ailing mother. I did not carry anything from US other than my dresses, saran wrap, aluminium foil, handyman tools and first aid medicines. I bought everything in India such as fridge, tv, microwave, stove, gas, fan, dining table, cooking utensils and sofas etc within 2 days and I started living with my mother within 4 days. I was particular that I kept the house dust free and clean to avoid any insects crawling in the floor or food items. I always drank cold water after boiling. For first 3 months, I restricted eating out to get acclamatized to the environment. I also arranged a doctor, a dentist, an electrician, etc within the proximity of my rented apartment so in case of emergency I could get their help.

    For an outsider without a ration card, it is very hard to get gas cylinder, BSNL landline, etc. Ration card is issued to those who have a permanent address and who have in their name phone bill or electricity bill. So what I did was to establish my address through a police verification and ID card.

    Foreign citizens cannot stay in India more than six months at a stretch unless they take special permission from the local District Superintendent of Police. This permission has to be sought within 14 days of ones arrival in India otherwise per day of delay excessive fines may be imposed by the authorities.

    Living in India gets smooth once we live as locals and mingle with the locals.

  3. Ambrose Bierce in 'Devil's dictionary' defines IMMIGRANT as "An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another."

    Now, that my kids have grown up, I was planning on picking a fight with my spouse of 30 years and seeking dissolution of marriage on the grounds
    of 'irreconcilabale differences' and move to Varnasi, India to seek Nirvana and be part of the 'sadhu' groopies.

    Will the Govt. in India grant me a visa
    to live there until I find Nirvana or do I have to hover around elsewhere until the Hindu govt. comes back to power again.

    Anyhoo, I do read your blog daily to remind myself as how different I could have been or become.

    Do enjoy them.

  4. Good one ,sir.... !

    Would love to hear more about R2I !

  5. Hiren
    Thanks.. Quite a few things to take care. personal / professional side.. so some pre-planning would help..

    Yes.. immgiration related issues are crucial.. I am planning to do a post on that..

    Exile from the real world
    You can at least visit India and reconcile if that's the India you have in mind..

    Definitely.. few more to come.. hopefully I will be regular this time..

  6. Just curious : Are you and your family - legal aliens in India right now ?
    Do u need a visa to stay at India?

  7. Anonymous

    Regular rules apply to everyone who is NOT an Indian citizen.

    Foreigners of Indian origin can get a PIO or OCI card and work others must get work visa. more on this soon..

  8. Ram,

    Should be very useful for movers..Keep it up.

  9. Hi Ram,

    I have been a passive visitor to your blog for the last few days. I find it extremely interesting and informative. I admire your passion for blogging. way to go.

    I luv'd those interviews especially and am eagerly awaiting the Crazy Mohan Podcast.


  10. Visu,

    Please write something about why it's ok to live in foreign lands? What are the pluses of living outside India.

    You have been there done that..and so I feel you can definitely write about it.

    Barani - Glad you found Visu.! He is also one of my motivators to start a blog !

  11. Visu,

    Thanks for the detailed advise.
    Hope to C U in this part of the world.


  12. It is very emotionally draining experience for an immigrant to move out of his mother country to another country; but in 99% of the cases immigrants make such a decision as a temporary one and they think that they would go back after saving enough money in about 5 to 7 years. When the children are within 1 year to 10 years such a decision by parents to move back to mother country becomes easy to implement as parents decision is accepted by the children. Once the children reach the age of thinking and reasoning, parents cannot make an independent decision and they fall into a trap when their stay in adopted country becomes permanent as the children practically are already grown up in adopted countries culture, food habits, etc etc. If the children are grown up and would not follow the parents, parents will have follow their children; after all that is all the legacy they have left to own and cherish because:

    1. Their parents may have been called to the heavenly abode and the only cementing force between the sibiligs were parents;

    2. Their sibilings are all grown up and the sibilings are more concerned with their own progeny.

    I wonder how of the parents are in this situation and I like to her.

  13. One of my Uncles - He came here in the 70's and went back home since he didn't want to raise his kids here.

    Like many kids - His children came to US to study....married natives here and have settled down.!

  14. Ram,iwas there a reason as why you moved to India ? your Job sake or for your kids ?
    Just personal..

  15. Raman,

    Interesting topic and Ram we need another post for the same. Probably we can exchange our ideas there.

  16. Balaji

    Thanks.. I have a few more post/s coming..

    Thanks.. I am still working with Crazy Mohan.. He has been out sick.. I will hopefully connect with him this weekend..

    I will do that..

    Pl. see my post (R2I # 5 - Right Decision)..

    Is it Columbus Rao? Hello there..

    Each case is different.. my you have captured the essense of every Indian immigrant/s dilemma..

    I know of few cases like that too..

    Definitely.. what do you have in mind ? (rviswana at gmail dot com)

  17. I got to your Blog yesterday just surfing. Really enjoyed reading.

    Rao from Columbus

  18. Rao


    Hope all is well at your end..

  19. Hi,

    If you are looking for a forum to discuss Return to India (R2I) issues please check out Indian Students Network http://www.IndianStudentsNetwork.com Please forward this message to your friends.


  20. ISN

    Thanks for the invite.. I request you to link to my posts here.. wherever possible..