Cost of living What does the world cost: This is how expensive life is in India
- Jessica Wille
This article was published on 15. March 2019 published by Orange – the young portal of the Handelsblatt newspaper.
The country with the second most inhabitants in the world is at first sight above all: colorful, dusty and noisy. Wherever you look you can find gigantic construction projects. I landed three months ago for an internship in Pune (India), a student city of three million near Mumbai. With this article I take you into my new daily life.
Working in India: What is the income per capita??
Salaries in India vary, sometimes widely. There is a minimum wage, but it is only the equivalent of 4.50 euros per day. According to the International Monetary Fund, the average per capita income is around 157 euros a month. Who earns about 600 euros a month, can already afford a very decent life.
A typical German student job in the restaurant trade would hardly be worthwhile here. However, you can turn your German skills into money by offering private language lessons or trying to get a job at the Goethe Institute.
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Living in India: How expensive is rent in Pune??
A room in a student dorm costs the equivalent of about 500 euros per year, which is just under 42 euros per month. For this rent, you usually get a shared room. Every student hostel has a canteen included in the price. The rooms have no kitchen.
Some residents install themselves a water boiler, which is actually forbidden. With this, they regularly cook themselves instant noodles from Maggie for about 16 cents per serving, in addition to the traditional chai tea (tea).
Hostels are divided by gender and strict visiting rules apply. Private hostels with kitchens more comparable to German dorms are few and far between, and they cost a bit more too. Otherwise, you can also find a room in a four-person shared apartment (WG) in the city for about 60 euros a month.
Shopping in India: How much are the prices for food?
Prices for food vary greatly according to the type of store, season and origin of the goods. Fruits and vegetables are mostly bought from small roadside stalls. As a guest you should definitely ask local acquaintances about prices, otherwise you will be ripped off.
However, even that is not so easy. Because Indians are very loyal to themselves and often insist on their price to tourists. A kilo of tomatoes can be bought for about 40 cents, a kilo of apples already costs 2.50 euros. Walnuts I happened to see on sale for 7.50 euros.
For everything except fruits and vegetables you go to the supermarket. The star market is more western in design and expensive. But you still pay less for Indian brands than for comparable food in Germany.
The D-Mart, Reliance and Big Bazaar are a bit cheaper, but you should have good nerves and time for shopping. Because with so many people around, it’s often hard to put one foot in front of the other.
However, near many student dormitories there are so-called canteens where you can eat twice a day for about 25 euros a month.
Public transport in India: What is the price for bus and rickshaw in Pune??
Local transport in India is extremely cheap by German standards. A bus ride usually costs 25 cents, but unfortunately the destination of the ride is only displayed in Hindi. Also an actual timetable has apparently not yet caught on.
By 2021, the city of Pune wants to build a metro system. The railroad is to run partly underground, partly above ground and in some sections even as a suspended railway. Currently (as of March 2019), there are large construction sites in many streets.
Otherwise you can get around in rickshaws. They look like a cross between a moped and a minibus. The base price per rickshaw ride is 20 cents and then about 15 cents per kilometer. I always paid just under 100 rupees (about 1.20 euros) for my walk of about eight kilometers to my institute.
You can find rickshaws quite quickly and most drivers speak little but enough English. You should always insist on going "by the meter". Offered fixed prices are practically never to your advantage.
Uber also has a strong presence in India, prices are similar to rickshaws. Indians themselves mostly move around on scooters, which is faster in the heavy rush hour traffic and also cheaper than driving a car. To ride a scooter you need a simple, internationally valid driver’s license. You can get this in Germany at any citizen’s office.
Going out in India: men pay admission, women do not
There are some clubs and many nice bars in Pune. However, since most Indians live at home until they get married (unless they study or work in another city), they rarely go out to such locations. It’s more common to take a vacation in Goa and then party there extensively.
Club prices are very expensive – and tiered. Girls or women coming alone do not pay anything. A couple together pays just under 20 euros. A staj (single boy) pays up to 40 euros. To get in cheaper, many guys look for girls in front of the clubs pretending to be their girlfriends.
Drinks at the bar are also extremely expensive compared to the per capita income of Indians. You pay between two and four euros for a large beer – depending on where you go. Cocktails usually cost around five euros.
Shopping in India: What are the prices for clothes and mobile phones??
Clothes cost the same in department stores and normal stores as in Germany. At street stores you will find cheaper prices. Jewelry can be bought there in masses and especially in the old town there are many great offers.
You should be careful with clothes at the street stalls. You can seldom try on clothes and often everything is sold in strange standard sizes.
For a cell phone contract you pay very little in India. With the provider Jio, I paid only 1.80 euros per month for a SIM card with 1.5 gigabytes of data volume per day. However, the Internet is usually slower than in Germany.
Leisure activities in Pune: Bollywood cinema or a visit to the park
Although many offices in India are open on Saturdays, life in Pune is relatively relaxed compared to other big cities. Regularly, Indians work from 10.00 to 18.30 o’clock. Depending on the length of the trip home during rush hour, there is not much time left to do anything afterwards. For students, of course, it is a different story.
On Sundays or the quite frequent holidays, people often meet for hiking on surrounding mountains, from there they enjoy beautiful views, a bit of nature in the big city and even peace and quiet. Indians also like to meet in the parks. The Khadakwasla Dam is particularly popular with students.
I can highly recommend the Osho Garden. Although everyone in Pune is familiar with it, it is still considered an insider’s tip for tourists: a beautifully prepared green landscape with a small river in the middle of the city.
Especially in the early morning you can meet many passionate runners, cyclists or walkers on the streets or in the mountains. They escape from the heat during the day and the rush hour in the evening.
Cinema is also a highlight for Indians. While most movies are in Hindi, they are still worth a visit. India has its own film industry, Bollywood, and other western films are rarely shown in cinemas.
If the movie is good, one goes to the cinema several times. It is not uncommon for viewers to clap for scenes in the cinema or to stand up and speak along with individual sentences. Prices vary between 1 and 8 euros depending on the length and age of the film.
Otherwise, people like to get together for lunch or dinner. At the same time, Indians usually order a lot of different things and then share them. People rarely pay more than five euros. Cooking together is hardly common among young people.
Insider tips for Pune: Here’s how to save money
For food, clothing and drugstore items, it depends on whether the products are Indian or imported from abroad. You can save money mainly by buying seasonally and regionally, i.e. Indian food. Also, one should negotiate.
"Pune Smart City – Pune Safe City" is a new project that aims to make the city more attractive and at the same time safer through street art, exhibitions and concerts. Events take place mostly on Sundays, rarely one pays entrance fee.
The author Jessica Wille did an internship abroad in Pune (India).