Why do we want to retire in India?
There are two parts to my answer. The first is that my wife and I want to retire early. More precisely, we want to be financially independent, and free to do what we want to do, without being tied down to our corporate jobs.
The second part is driven by the fact that traditional estimates for the amount of money needed to retire early in the US tell us that we have a very slim chance of achieving this in my early fifties. Our best bet is to consider moving, at least temporarily, in our retirement to a low-cost country where our savings will take us farther.
The obvious choice for me is India, since it is the country of my birth, and the country I know best after the US. This may seem somewhat ironic, because I emigrated from India in my early twenties to the US looking for better opportunities. I indeed found them in the US, and I am very happy to be living in America. But somehow, spending some or all of our retirement years in India seems like the right thing to do.
Why? Let me list some specifics:
- Incomes in the US are still among the world's highest. America is a great place to live and work when you are young and healthy. Once you stop working, however, it starts to look less attractive, financially speaking. Without a high income to offset the expenses, you are going to need a considerable nest egg to support a comfortable retirement.
- India on the other hand is a bargain for those with a modest amount in retirement savings. In many places in India currently, a retired couple can live quite well on $1000 a month. Thanks to the bigger labor pool, it is easy to find household and other help in India. This is especially of importance to retirees.
- Health care is quite affordable in India, compared to the outrageously high prices in the US. The quality of care of course is not the same, but this is something you can control when you pick a place to retire. Long-term care (nursing home care), too, is quite affordable in India.
- Most of my (and my wife's) extended family is in India, and this will give us a chance to be in touch with them like we have never been able to do in my adult life. However, our desire to retire in India is not primarily driven by a desire to "return" to India. For example, we have no desire to work or raise children in India.