Friday, May 27, 2016

Reasons for R2A - few cases ...

I am pretty sure many of the folks thinking about R2I have this question on mind - how successful other R2Is have been. Want to jot few lines on my exposure on this area, which might be of help.

I have seen many cases where people who did R2I have settled down, kids have grown up and have returned to US for education, even parents have moved back. Also, there are cases where only kids have gone outside and parents are content in India, where they got a chance to spend good amount of time with their families and parents.

Here are few of the cases where R2I folks did R2A (or R2 any other country) in a shorter amount of time...

Case #1: Funds for kids education in US: As you might be already aware, kids primary education in cities like Bangalore is expensive (anywhere from 1.5 - 4 lakhs/year). Once they are out of 10+2, there is a lots of competition for undergraduate courses (like Engg/Medicine - however, there are lots of options as well). Getting to IIT is out of reach for many kids due to severe level of competition (and reservation seats). If you are thinking of undergraduate studies for kids in US(or other countries), it can be quite expensive- think of 30-40K $/year in USCs. Hence, you may need $$$ earnings (or enough $$$ savings) instead of rupee earnings!. This was the reason one of the families went back after few years so that they have enough funds for kids undergraduate education.

Case #2: Work atmosphere: In a second case, a family did R2A due to uncomfortable work situation. As you might guess, the work environment is not as professional as in western countries here in India. So, if you are getting to a new job, you may have to deal with work dynamics (and lots of political environment, which offsets many people). In this case, family decided to go back rather than fight with the environment in a new company.

Case #3: Kid went for undergraduate studies: Kid got into a very good school in US and parents followed him, kid being the only one. 

Case #4: Kid started in 9th grade and only one spouse moved to India: In this case, the kid was pretty grown up. Dad had to stay back due to work opportunities. They had a home back in US. I am sure kid missed the US friends and atmosphere, having been grown up there. And, it was easy to move back - R2I was more like a vacation!

I am sure once folks do R2A, they stop reading R2I blogs. However, if you one of the R2A cases and your 'heart is still here' (!), please add few lines as comment to reflect on why you did R2A. That will help other readers to make their choices.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

R2I Budget Spreadsheet ...

In the previous blog entry, I mentioned about doing a budget when you are evaluating R2I to see how much funds you have, how much you will earn over the years and save, how much you will need over the years. 

If you are planning to return after doing few years of R2I, it is critical that you need this evaluation to see whether you will have enough $$ when you return overseas again. Without doing this exercise, you might get caught off guard only to realize that you don't have enough funds to get back - staying in a country like US can be expensive unless you have enough funds to support you.

Following is a spreadsheet that I am providing as a sample for you do such calculation. Please try and provide any feedback to improve this sheet for others.

First sheet tracks US funds in $
Second sheet tracks India funds in Rs.
Third sheet tracks any real estate investment you have, in Rs.
Fourth sheet shows your overall long term/short term positions.

Fifth sheet is the key sheet - which calculates your needs over years + earnings. You will have total needs at a certain point of time using this method.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

R2I thoughts in 2016 ...

One of the readers asked this question, which made me to write after a long time. Those comments indeed help to spend some time again on the blog :-)

Anyway, looking back in 2016 - not many things have changed from my perspective. On the +ve side, I still feel this was the right decision to move back and stay here. On the -ve side, you see progress in India but at a very slow pace, which doesn't give a good feeling about doing a permanent R2I. In places like Bangalore, you can see lakes are dying, pollution/traffic is increasing, roads are getting worse, trash everywhere and you don't see not much happening from the government side - they are still debating about expensive watches! Unfortunately, these are the things on which you don't have much control, as I had mentioned in one of the previous posts. 

Hence, as I mentioned in one of the earlier posts, don't burn the bridges - do R2I once you have the option of returning if R2I doesn't suit you or some factors change in India. But, at the same time, don't take the approach of keeping legs in 2 boats during R2I - I have seen many R2I case failing and people returning in a year or so.

About the first point - multiple factors here. One thing you need to consider is whether you are doing R2I permanently or have thoughts of getting back after few years once kids have grown up. I personally think giving a change for kids to go back outside of India is a good thing - they need to see and learn in the education system outside India. (by the way, whoever said Indian education system is the best is totally wrong, IMO, at least as compared to US system. That is a topic by itself). If have concrete idea of staying here and kids settling down in India, you are normally ok since you will have enough funds to take care of yourself and kids. However, if you with the second option, you need to consider your funding needs - kids UG/Graduate education is US is a costly affair and note that you are not earning in $$ anymore in India!.

Also, if you are thinking of going back when kids are out of India, consider the funding needs for yourself. If you return late, you need to consider the scenario that you may not be able to earn anymore. Best option is to do a spreadsheet - your $$ savings, your Indian earnings/savings over however years you are going to stay here, your Indian needs, your $ needs if you go back (including kids education, home etc). You will get a fair idea on whether you can comfortably return if you want, after few years.

Coming to current feelings about R2I, most of the things remain same as earlier on the personal side - being close to the family is a great feeling (feel happy that I can do a quick travel and meet them, without months of prep), whether is just great - you can walk outside anytime without worrying about whether, kids are doing great in school and love the school etc. However, the things you can't do much about like roads, lack of good parks, pollution, driving in the city are still a pain. Don't expect a great work environment since Indian work culture is still improving (and politics, which is not surprising, since we are born politicians!).

Another key thing is work flexibility - if your workplace demands a strict schedule, that can be troublesome. Commute can be long in the peak hours with no predictability. Hence, adhering to a strict work schedule can cause lots of pressure. 

Also to consider - the education options in India. This is something you should have good understanding of, before you move. That is also a topic by itself - if I see some interest in that area, will do a new post.

About 'keeping legs in 2 boats' I mentioned earlier - these are things like one person moving back here with kids, having all attachments active back there so that you can return at any time etc. It takes time to get used to India again with the pain points I mentioned earlier. If it is easy to go back, you will pick that option too early, without giving enough time for R2I to work out. I have seen many of these cases.

One thing for sure - we spent already close to 5 years already after R2I. That really went fast !!!

Hope this post helps many ...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Thanks for 50K page views ...




Monday, April 28, 2014

Trip to Dubai and Indian elections ...

You might think what is the connection between these 2 topics but let me explain ...

As part of summer break, took a week long trip to Dubai - visit to Dubai will be an eye opener for any Indian. The city has transformed itself within the span of 10-15 years and what you see now is a glitzy, clean city, which can be compared to any city in the western world. Cities in the western world have taken time to evolve but Dubai is built on nothing but sand. You will be surprised to hear that city now depends on tourism for revenue generation - not oil. This place doesn't have any natural resources, not much natural water, no natural forests, no heritage/age old structures but still attracts visitors in droves.

They have beautifully done free-ways, well done wide city roads, greenery, parks which make you really wonder whether you are in the middle of a desert, enough water, well planned walkways etc. Basically, a city where you can live without struggling with infrastructure issues.

One of my friends said once - India is a young democracy and it will take time to get to the state of western democracies. Looking at Dubai, I really wonder whether that is true. Dubai was built and is getting built in a short amount of time, doesn't have democracy like India has. However, is a world class city. Agreed, they built all of these on oil money but India has enough money as well - we have large number of educated, tax paying citizens, richest businessmen, richest temples, tons of heritage structures (which are truly visitors delight), enough natural resources, very good climate etc etc. However, we don't even have a single world class city, with world class infrastructure! New Delhi is the capital but a visit to old Delhi will scare you away. Bangalore is the IT capital but full of pot holed roads, uncontrolled, unplanned growth.

Now, coming to the elections part - this is the only hope India has. Congress was given almost 50 years to change the country but things changed at snails pace. Corruption took away what can be changed and only politicians got rich. Hopefully, a government led by Modi will get a chance this time, with a majority, so that they can take drastic decisions to change things. Country has seen things change in Gujarath and same model needs to apply in other parts of India as well. This is very relevant for R2I folks since we have seen best of the world and know how things can be different and our hope is always to see a progressive India. When a country like UAE without democracy, natural resources can build such Dubai, why can't India do it? After all, the city is built using Indian labor itself!

Burj Kalifa - tallest tower in the world

View of the city from Burj Kalifa

Another view of the city from Burj Kalifa

Yet another view of the city from Burj Kalifa

Abudhabhi skyline - buildings are so nicely done, not just a heap of concrete!

Gold Souk - everything that glitters is gold or dimond !

Burj Alrahb in Dubai

Monday, February 10, 2014

School curriculum - ICSE or CBSE or State syllabus?

If you are planning for R2I and have school going kids, one of the major questions in your mind would be about school - which school I should choose? Other major decision about where you are going to stay rides on this choice as well since you don't want kids to commute long distance everyday. On the top of that, there is another variable that you need to be aware of - which curriculum the school is offering. Mainly two things to choose from - ICSE versus CBSE. State syllabus may not be of a big concern since you don't see that getting offered in private schools and you wouldn't be considering a government school anyway (if you are, you have serious homework to do, before you can do R2I!). Let me expand a bit more on what ICSE and CBSE offer, which might help you in making the choice...

ICSE(Indian Certificate of Secondary Education):
To quote from wikipedia: "The subjects that are offered are divided into three groups. Group I includes Compulsory Subjects - English, History , Civics & Geography, and Indian Language, Group II which includes any two from Mathematics, Science, Environmental Science, Computer Science, Agricultural Science, Commercial Studies, Technical Drawing, A Modern Foreign Language, A Classical Language and Economics, and Group III has any one from Computer Applications, Economic Applications, Commercial Applications, Art, Performing Arts, Home Science, Cookery, Fashion Designing, Physical Education, Technical Drawing Applications, Yoga, and Environmental Applications. "

There will be multiple tests and internal assessments. Marks are given for the final exam and internal assessments. For smaller grades like, only letter grades are assigned. Some of the extra activities like swimming are offered in some schools, based on the facilites available. In general, there is enough focus on basic subjects like Maths, Science and additional focus is given on language. It is common to find langauge like French being offered, which makes the transition easy for kids doing R2I.

CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education):
There is no point repeating the details here. Your best source is the CBSE website:

Fortunately, if you are considering your kids to pursue professional career(which may or may not happen since kids choose these days versus parents!), the core subjects are offered both on ICSE and CBSE. However, the 'claim' is that CBSE syllabus is 'closer' to entrance exams since these papers are set based on CBSE syllabus. I haven't validated this myself but that is the 'claim' at least. Another factor that might offset this is - invariably you will be sending the kids to some professional training course outside of school(like FITJEE, BASE or Aaakash etc in Bangalore), to get some focussed learning for entrance exams.

You might be thinking you will start with some school and decide about settling on a school once you are here, say in 2-3 years. Unfortunately, that doesn't work well. As-is, it is a big move for kids from the safety net of US environment. Once they are here, they re-build their friend's circle and that provides the cushion on day-2-day basis. It takes a good 1-2 years for that and even here, kids are shuffled in each year. Asking them to move to a different school as they build their friend circle and re-do all of that in a different school is a hard thing to do and you should avoid that, if possible. Hence, the initial choice of school is a crucial decision and can make or break your R2I decision - you don't want to be in a situation where you have to pull the kids forcefully everyday out of home to school!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Wishing all the readers a very happy new year 2014 ...


If you are planning for R2I during this year, wishing you good luck for the move.

Very good to see new year starting with winds of change in India, with AAP holding power and showing that true Democracy prevails in India and change is possible.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rain Water Recharge and Harvesting(RWH) In Bangalore

Since many of the people reading this blog might relocate and make Bangalore their home, want to spread this message in the R2I community - this is one area where I was able to contribute and tried to make some difference. Unfortunately, there is not much awareness in the general community about this ticking time bomb for Bangalore and as always government is least bothered, leaving people to handle this on their own. You can see lot of debate about turning the water from Western Ghat to Bangalore etc, which are mega-mega projects but not much about making Bangalore self-sufficient on water. Why? - since this is not where these politicians make money but with mega projects! BDA/BBMP mandates RWH for all constructions beyond 30x40 area sites but that is in the plan - nobody checks about implementation or proper maintenance once it is in the plan. For all the reasons you know, there may not be any rain water flowing into the RWH pits! 

Key point with RWH is proper implementation and doing it in mass scale so that not even a single drop of water is wasted. With the current state of 'growth' (if you can call it that, I would say 'mess' or 'unplanned expansion' is a better word!), reality is that Bangalore will need to depend on Borewell water and complete Kaveri water supply is a 'pipe-dream'!. Fortunately, during normal years, Bangalore gets good amount of rains and is more than enough for the populace. With more and more concrete, most of this water flows into lakes, which are fully chocked and polluted. Most of the larger size apartments have STP(Sewage Treatment Plants), which recycle most of the water and that reduces the need for fresh water greatly. However, many of the mega apartments with 300-1000 families depend on tanker water, which is disaster waiting to happen.

Doing community RWH is simple - in the rain water drains, dig a pit, say 3' or 4' wide. Depth depends on the type of soil, you need to go up to a depth where you get soil that can absorb water quickly. Bottom is left open for water absorption and cement rings are used to cover the side walls. Between the cement rings and mud, granite stones(Jelly) are packed so that there is a 'breathing' gap for water to seep in. Top is covered with a removable slab, which can be opened up for cleaning of sludge every few years. 2 concrete mesh filters are placed - one right next to the pit with a pipe to feed the water to the pit and covered with small granite rocks to filter out debries. Another one is placed 5' away up on the drain, again covered with granite stones to filter out large debries like leaves etc.

Some people plaster the cement ring walls and bottom as well so that they can collect rain water and re-use for non-potable purpose. This is good for rain water collected from roof tops but not rain water drains. A good filter needs to be used in case of reuse of rain water. Also, it is necessary that the water doesn't get contaminated with construction dust or bird droppings etc in these cases. Also, water from first few rains are not used but left out. I have seen people going to elaborate level, where water from roof top is fed to a syntax tank (for gardening purpose, without the use of a pump), overflow fed to a collection sump, overflow from collection sump fed to a harvesting pit for ground absorption.

If you go with 3' rings, it would cost you around Rs. 1000-1500/feet. For community level pits, it is better to go to a depth of 15-20' and 4' rings. A 20' deep, 4' wide pit would cost around 25K, which is not at a lot for the value you are getting out of it. 

Some of the useful websites with information on RWH:

There is a theme park as well, maintained by BWSSB:

Please feel free to drop an e-mail if you are involved in this effort, need contact information for some RWH contractors or need more information.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

UPDATED: R2I - what are the things to take to India?

Here is the revised list of items that you might want to consider, based on my 2 years of R2I experience. Some of these might strange but it is true that these are hard to get here:
- Large size LED/LCD TVs(42 - 55" or larger): Price of LED TVs hasn't come down much in India and they are worth it, from cost saving point of view. I believe these are not free anymore from custom point of view (earlier, you could bring one, without duty) but even then these would be worth it. You are looking at 3 lakhs+ for a 55" LED 3D TV here, which is in the range of $4600+. No need to worry much about 110V or PAL signal, since you can get a good voltage converter and HDMI signal converters.
(see my earlier post: Looking back: Items brought back versus left behind)

- Specific electronic items like iPADs/iPODs, headsets, modems (if you can get a 220v, that is better), voltage converters, good car Sterio add-ons. As far as cell phones are concerned, if you a iPhone fan, you can bring one but this unlocking business becomes an issue + I think Andriod phones have caught up or even have exceeded in feature set. A good Samsung Andriod phone will offset you only by 12-20K or so. Better avoid digital clocks since they get reset whenever there is a power cut.

- Leather sofas & furniture

- Good display/showcases: Again, you have to custom order, which costs a lot or you have to do lot of search to get a good one.

- Good copper bottom vessels: Hard to get good quality ones or they are expensive

- Spring mattress: You can get the frame done here but if your kids like spring mattresses, worth bringing them since you don't get them here.

- Branded items like Shampoo etc: You do get most of the items these days but not some specific brands.

- Some simple items like shower caps(surprised? yes, it is hard to get good ones here since not many people use shower!). 

- Good supply of specific medicines like Ibuprofen, Claritin etc - Costco is your friend for these items! And, if your kids are 'Mac & Cheese' friendly, get few Costco boxes of those since we are yet to find that here!

- Cloths like Jeans/pants (mens shirts is not an issue), kids dresses, swimming trunks/goggles, shoes etc - you can get most of these here but good quality one cost a lot

- Bags, backpacks

- Good large picture frames- you can get lot of values from places like thrift stores.

Things you can avoid:
- Bedsheets, rugs etc: You get good quality ones in India itself, Ok to carry what you already have but no reason to buy new ones.
- Toys: Most of the american branded ones are available in India itself.
- Heavy items like treadmill, refrigerators, washing machines etc: Voltage conversion + service is an issue. All of these are available in India now, at a bit higher price but you have local service + no issue of voltage conversions.
- Things like kids stationary items, books etc: For books, there are good pay & borrow libraries like JustBooks. Staples is there in many places for stationary items.

Hope ths list helps with the important decision that you need to make prior to move, If you still have questions on specific items, post a question and will try to help you out....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Planning R2I - should I 'burn the bridges'?

This is one of the common question/debate that most of the R2I prospects have - should I close-off everything before I move to India?

As my heading suggests, that will be 'burning the bridges', which as the common knowledge says is not a very good idea :-)

Several factors to consider here:
  • You never know where the kids are going to be - they may come back to US (or other country) for further studies and having some funds in US can really be of help.
  • Change in government policies: You might have heard that recently Indian government reduced the limit of outflow of Indian funds from $200,000 to $75,000 or so. That is not a good sign. Governments can be fickle and if you transfer entire funds from US(or other country) to India, you might have problem when you need those funds back in the foreign country.
  • You might have to move back for job purpose. Having some funds there will make it easier for you to setup.
  • After all, you or family may not like to stay in India after trying for few years. Going thru' the currency conversion, you will loose some funds in conversion.
List can go on and I know, it is easier said than done - real estate in India is a major cost factor and you need sufficient funds to have something of your own. Hence, it is a delicate balance and only you can make the call about how much you need in India to have a comfortable living. 

In summary, don't burn the bridges - don't rush and move all of your assets to India and close all your links in foreign country. Instead, do that in stages after getting a taste of R2I. For ex, keep a bank account, some funds invested, transfer only needed funds and do further transfers as needed, if you are closer to getting a US citizenship, complete that process before you move etc...

Monday, September 23, 2013

R2I In 2014? Best to start planning now ...

I covered this topic around the same time last year. What you should be doing now for R2I in 2014 is not going to be much different from what I summarized during last year, however, a recap would help those thinking about it!

If you have not read that post, here it is again:

Main item to look into right now is the school planning - this one takes a good amount of time and a crucial factor for success of R2I. Choice of school decides where you stay, whether kids are going to be Ok after R2I etc. If your kids are already grown up(say, above grade 6), my suggestion is to go for a international school - these kids can take a while to settle down and their friend circle makes the difference in the world for them. You might need to make a short trip to visit/shortlist the schools, understand the paperwork needed, tests to be taken, costs etc.

If your kids are smaller, they can adopt to their surroundings quicker. Hence, school choice is not that big of a deal. However, to note, there is a good race to get into good schools and they can fill up fast. Hence, you need to get in-touch with school folks asap.

Also, other factor is - if you own a home, you need to plan to sell/rent etc. This can be time consuming as well and needs good prep-work. Doing these things at last minute can cost you $$$.

If you are still debating, settle the debate. Possibly my post on R2I decision assessment would be of help:

Good luck with your R2I efforts ...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Real estate project reviewed - Prestige Tranquility ...

This is another prestige project that is ongoing close to old Madras road. This is also a large project, with 17 towers of 14, 19 and 27 floors. Total units in the complex is in the 2000+ range.

Disclaimer: These posts are not sponsored by any of the builders or agents. These are based on what I see. Hence, please use your discretion while using the information here.


Location: This location will be closer to the Whitefield area. ITPL access is good. Marathhalli IT belt is not that close by - you will need to get to the Outer ring road first. Mahadevpura/K.R. Puram area is quite close by, via the old Madras Road. Hebbal IT area can be reached within 45 mins. 

Access: There is a undivided 80' road next to the project, that connects the old Madras road to the new airport. That is planned to get expanded to two lane highway. Not much traffic as of now but will increase with all of the construction activities. 
You can get to MG Road within 20-30 minutes from here - the old Madras road has been improved like any US highway with no significant traffic. Also, whitefield ITPL area can be reached within 30 mins or so. There is a new columbia asia hospital coming up close by. 
For shopping, there are multiple malls next to the ITPL area. Also, the Prestige Shanthiniketan is adding a large mall next to their residential project. No issues there.

Schools: New Baldwin International school is close by. Schools in the Varthur belt are going to be bit far. The Bangalore International school can be reached via airport access road. There are other schools in the Whitefield vicinity as well.

Setup: As of now, there are few companies like Grindwell Norton, Siemens etc are location close to the place. There was a animal feed processing plant close to the plot, which was supposed to get relocated - not sure that has happened. There are many villa projects coming up next to this area but as of now, not much built up and not dense. 

From apartment point of view, with a total area of 38 acres, there should be enough breathing space. Construction is in full swing, with many towers completed up to 10+ floors. There are many construction contractors working together on different towers. Proposed completion date is 2014 but may go on until 2015. With 2000+ units, borewell water won't be sufficient - they will have to depend on tanker water for sure.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

News article: Housing slump: Realty market in India crumbles

This is a good read for a prospective R2I. Seems like there is a going to be a dip - with the rupee value versus dollar, there might be a good chance to get into something. For the first time, I am seeing buyer referrals being offered from builders now...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Real estate project reviewed - palazza city, Bangalore

Saw that there was lot of interest from readers on the real estate scenario in Bangalore, based on my previous posts. Staying in Bangalore, thought it would help to provide review on some of these bigger projects. Please comment if you like these posts ...

Disclaimer: These posts are not sponsored by any of the builders or agents. These are based on what I see. Hence, please use your discretion while using the information here.

First one that comes to mind is the Palazza City, Sarjapur Road, Bangalore. Website:

If you are looking for a place next to the tech. belt on Outer Ring Road in the Marathhalli area, this location is close by - tech parks of Salarpuria, Prestige Tech Park(PTP), Cisco, Symphony, Intel, Cesna Business Park, Vrindavan Tech Village etc are in the vicinity. You can just walk down to Outer ring road - Sarjapur Road junction and take the Volvo buses from there, even to reach tech parks like Manyata in Hebbal. Wipro Corp, office is within 2-3 kilometers (not walkable but close by).

For shopping, there is a Big Bazzar is closeby (walkable distance) and Total mall is not very far. On the Outer Ring Road, there is the Bangalore Central. Forum Mall in Koramangala is not very far. For schools, there are many choices - including the belt of schools on Varthur road, including DPS, Greenwood High, Oakridge, Inventure, TISB, Gear etc.

However, with all the amenities close by, you are looking at more traffic, noise, sound etc as well. For water, it seems like there will be dependency on tanker water since borewells can only supply so much for this large project. The next door neighbors Springfields and Divyashree Elan use tanker water. 

From apartment point of view, seems like a dense housing option, looking at the number of apartment towers planned. As of now, construction is in progress. Matri Flora apartments are next to this place. Also, the whole slew of apartments on the Bellandur belt are close by.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

TOI article - Startups rise and shine in Bangalore ...

This is a good read for any of the prospective R2Is, who are thinking of coming to Bangalore and doing their own start-up.

I couldn't agree more on this line in the article: "Mukund Mohan, CEO in-residence at Microsoft Ventures - The city attracts good talent because of great weather, job options, and a cosmopolitan and welcoming culture."

I have heard lot about 'outsiders taking over Bangalore'. But, as the article says, that only does good to the place. As US has proven, it gains top talent by welcoming others to come over and by providing an environment to thrive and in-turn thrives itself. Sure, Bangalore has ways to go in providing the right environment, infrastructure but just having the talent pool here creates an ecosystem around that which is beneficial to the local populace as well.