We have been in India for more than 7 months in total. And during this period of time we have been on both sides – there was a period of 4 months when we were traveling from place to place almost every day, this way exploring quite a big part of this country; and there have been periods when we were living mostly in one place for more than 2 weeks at one time.
When we look at costs, the main difference is transportation costs, which is obviously. When you are moving around more, you pay more. Next come accommodation costs. When you are staying at one place for a week, few weeks or more, it’s possible to get better rate and save money, which, again, is obviously.
It is cheap to live in India. You must have heard it a lot of times. While it’s partly true, because cost of living in India is much lower than it is, for example, in Germany or UK. It’s not the same if you are coming from, let’s say, Latvia or Romania.
And especially if there is some level of comfort you are used to and want to retain while traveling or living in India. With this I mean, if you want to have amenities like Wi-Fi, air conditioner and you don’t want to rely on local public transportation system only.
It’s still not that expensive. But it’s not cheap either. It’s really cheap only if you live like a local. And it can be cheap also if you stay at one place for a month or more, because then it’s possible get a room, apartment our house with even a 50+% discount.
How much we spend in one month in India?
Our 2-person monthly budget in India is about 600 euro or, as of March 2016, about 45 000 INR.
Looking at how much we spent in India in 2013 – 2014, there haven’t been any significant changes in prices. In 2016 everything costs more or less the same.
Let’s look more into details, how much do we spend in India. How much we usually pay for a room in hotel and guest house? What’s the cost of our typical lunch or dinner? How much do things like internet and mobile service costs in India?
Accommodation costs in India
In India we have stayed in more than 100 hotels and guest houses. Sometimes they are called lodge or tourist house. And sometimes hotel doesn’t mean hotel after all, but just a restaurant. So don’t be surprised seeing vegetarian hotel. Even if you are a vegetarian you will not get a room there, haha.
Our typical double room in India costs on average 650 Indian rupees (INR). Sometimes having no other options or willing to save some more euros we have stayed in a rooms for 300 – 500 rupees. Some of them were really OK, some – well, there we would sleep only in the sleeping bag and would not take off our shoes in the room.
There have been cities, where we weren’t able to find anything cheaper than 1000 – 1200 INR, too. For example, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Surat.
Accommodation costs for a month – 30 x 650 = 19 500 INR.
If you take a room for a month it shouldn’t be a problem to find something for 12 000 – 15 000 INR. For 18 000 INR/month we got a really nice hotel room at Lazy Frog hotel in Goa, which normally costs around 1200 – 1400 INR/day.
Food costs in India
In all bigger cities of India you always have a choice between Indian food and Western food. Outside major cities more likely you will not have that choice. But prices…,well, they differ. Though for western tourist they may look like the same – cheap and cheap.
You know, there kind of isn’t a big difference between 1 euro and 1,5 euro for a meal, when you are used to pay 5 or 10 euros for the same at home. But still it’s a 50% difference.
Our typical meal in India costs on average 120 Indian rupees (INR). Usually we eat outside at least 1-2 times daily. When you are in hotel and you don’t have kitchen, there aren’t really any other options. It’s about the same what we spend on average for a meal, that we make ourselves.
Food costs for a month – 120 x 3 x 30 x 2 persons = 21 600 INR.
Transportation costs in India
Like I mentioned earlier, transportation costs make up some bigger part of your monthly budget for India only when you are moving around quite a lot and for long distances. For example, when you are traveling from one city to another every day or every second day. When you are living at one place and moving around only locally, it’s really not expensive.
For example, in Goa local bus ride for 30 kilometres costs about 30 INR.
Traveling by train in India is not only convenient, but it’s also the cheapest way to travel for longer distances. 600+ kilometer overnight journey from Mumbai to Goa in January 2016 cost us less than 400 INR. Though, this kind of traveling (we chose Sleeper class, which was the second cheapest option) falls into “living like local” category and might not be that kind of experience some of you would want to go through.
Traveling by bus in India mostly is about 50 – 100% more expensive than traveling by train.
Traveling by plane also is an option in India. There are more than 30 international and about 100 domestic airports in India. Prices of flights usually start from 1000 INR.
Transportation costs for a month – from few hundred Indian rupees (INR) to few thousand rupees (INR).
Mobile internet and other things
For most of the time in India we use our phones only for internet. No calls and sms. Though, sometimes we call to restaurants to order a food with delivery. When we are calling to our families in Latvia we use Skype or Facebook. Because it’s just way cheaper to call using internet instead of calling directly to mobile number.
Prices of mobile internet in India are very good, and about the same for all the mobile operators here. 1 GB of 3G/4G data costs about 250 INR, 3 GB – 650 INR, 5 GB – 850 INR.
Note – prices of internet and other mobile services differ from state to state. Wherever you will be in India, you will have the same tariffs like in the state, where you bought your SIM card. Sometimes it’s in your favor, sometimes no.
Even if you are not planning to use mobile internet on your phone it’s still worth to get an Indian SIM card, because international calls with it will be cheaper (sometimes even like 10 times cheaper), than with your foreign SIM.
What’s nice in India is that most of the products here have at least few different sizes. So you can buy a very little bit of washing powder or small chocolate for 5 INR, 2 times bigger package for 10 INR, 3 times bigger for 15 INR and so on. And these prices are fair. For half of the price you get half of the product, not one third or even less.
As a lot of international companies have their factories also in India it’s possible buy products of the same brands like in Europe or USA, but cheaper. Sometimes much cheaper.
Traveling alone and having the same level of comfort like we do, I would say, that you will spend about 1/3 more. Mostly because of accommodation costs. Because quite often in India room rate for a single occupancy is about the same or even the same like for a double occupancy.
If you have any questions about India, contact us!
Read more about things you need to know, when traveling to India!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.