Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Move 1-2-3 (Part 2)

..So my stuff got to India, I was in India. We were staying with family in the interim, time to ..

5. Rent / Buy
We moved to Bombay, so buying is a hard proposition right out of the gates, in our situation we had some uncertainities so we decided to rent. However, if you can afford it, buying is always the better option IMO. Renting was funky - there are a lot of random "so-called" real estate agents, very few dependable and who know what they're doing. Essentially, figure out where you want to live, you can go building to building and ask the watchmen / managers and they will give you information about open houses - its a bottom up approach - but quite effective. You also get a buzz for who the better agents are. Get an agent, it makes it easier. Typically landlords are gunning for long term company leases so you're already down in the order, typically people will give you 1 year leases, depending on paranoia - your landlord will either ask you to register the document (registrar office) OR just sign it and be done with it - registering it is in your interest as well as the landlords because your agreement becomes an address proof for items you want to do later (bank, cc etc). You have to put up a deposit equal to 2/4 mths rent, varies. Insist on wardrobes, paint job - standard stuff in Bombay. You pay for parking,electricity, gas - your landlord picks up the society maintenance, any non-occupancy charges.

6. Bank Accounts
We previewed 3 banks, ICICI/HDFC/HSBC - ICICI had hordes of people at the bank, not a pleasant banking experience, here I can be perceived as a snob with my dollars coming back home! :) Truth is that we were looking for some 1:1 banking system - which abounds in India - you will get it by default since you will come in with all your USD's - and heck you've earned it. I found out later that ICICI has a separate cell for high net-worth individuals (HNI), yes, thats you now - atleast till you make giant purchases like a home! :) Anyhow, so checked out HDFC, seemed very sarkari but was able to get into the bank and see faces - very sarkari - bored. HSBC met our requirements, small crowds (they have a min balance requirement) - instant 1:1 attention and smiling non-sarkari faces - I've been with them for 2 years now - very good experience so far - recommended. I opened an account in HDFC as well, thats useful cause
1. you can pay your taxes there
2. HDFC interfaces with almost ALL online outlets in India (websites, bill payment, ticket vendors) HSBC does not.
3. They supposedly have better loan products.

Its a good secondary account so far, best of both worlds as it were.

6. Move your money
You can only move it in smaller chunks if you transfer online - RBI has some norms. A good point to note is that you are NOT liable to pay taxes for any monies earned before you returned home, but bring it back in good time.

7. Find a good CA / PAN Card / Enter into the tax structure
I actually did this as #2 (after I decided to move!), found an amazing CA - Kamdar Desai & Patel - - I've not met these guys since I moved here - all my interaction has been over email / phone - they've filed my returns - gotten all my tax related items done thru them. Very highly recommended! Young team of people - they get the concept of service and provide it without having to travel to all corners of the city! Convenient! Apply for a PAN card ASAP, this is India's answer to SS # - everyone will ask you for this - so get it. There is a loophole - some Form 60 - but I hear that they are discontinuing that practice now.

8. Get a cellphone
Need I say more. Get tons of passport size photos and figure out what your address proof will be. Hold on to your old voter ID card or ration card if you had one. If your passport has the same address that you are living at - excellent - use that. Essentially to give you a cellphone line - you got to give photographs, address proof - if you aint got it, ask a relative to help you out - get an add on SIM card or a pre-paid card. You can always get your own later. Note that India does NOT have number portability yet.

9. Vehicle
Buy a car, a small car / hatchback preferably - why small - when you can afford much more. Couple of reasons - parking/parking/parking/small streets/fuel efficiency - my wife talked me out of buying an expensive giant ass car - good move on her part! :) A set of people might think less of you (seeing how your foren returned and all) - seeing that you've bought a small cheap car - I had a driver in my buiding (observant) - asking me why I didnt buy a Honda City - his exact words were "Saab, aapke gaadi mein sooo (show) nahi hain!". Ha! Incidentally we bought a Maruti Swift - love it - recommend it - peppy and fun to drive, seats 5 people - gets into small roads and takes little parking space - is also a looker (think Mini Cooper) - but these things are subjective. I've owned that car for 2 years - no issues, they came out with a Diesel version - supposedly rocks and has great reviews as well. Maruti really have re-invented themselves since I was last in India - I think they are a very smart company.

...more to card, dual part 3


RA said...

Having a PAN card is important in India, but it doesn't prove your existence. You'll still need at least 5 additional documents to prove your status. Paperwork in India is still a long drawn process. They've taken to newer processes but without letting go of the old.. So if PAN card is required as per the new rules, and some other documents as per the old, everyone ends up asking for all the documents!

RA said...

A mumbaiya driver very wisely said to me:

"aage piche mat dekho, bas saamne nikal chalo, peeche wale apne aap dekhenge"

Something to keep in mind for everything in apna desh.