Earlier this year, after about 2 years of thinking about it and not acting upon it, we decided to relocate to India. I have been in the US since 1996, and my wife has been since 2000. So for both of us, it has been a long time and we are quite settled here, so this is going to be a tremendous mental move on top of an already big geographical/physical move.
If all goes well, I will be able to move within my company, which has a big R&D center in Bangalore. That would be ideal, because I already work with folks there. It would be ideal if I can avoid the work place “settling down” while we settle down in our personal lives.
We have told the kids (4 and 6) about this and they seem to be excited but I suppose they have no idea what is coming up. Of course, by now they have also formed some close friendships with some of our friends’ kids and in their school, but I am assuming for them it won’t be as hard a move as it seems for us.
Excited. Apprehensive. Anxious.
So, why did we decide to move away from what is clearly a thriving Silicon Valley?
My parents and my wife’s parents are all getting old very fast. From just a few years ago when they visited us and now, we can see they have physically slowed down and that is only going to get worse. We’d like to be closer to them so they have someone to support them if and when needed. They are still able, but as months and years go by, they won’t be.
We are currently sending both our kids to private school and it is freaking expensive. The second income in the household ha become a must, rather than a nice-to-have. It is either that, or we move to a place where public schools are excellent. The issue there is that we have to shell out more for the real estate and those areas a total sellers’ market, making it hard to get a bargain.
Having gone to school in India, and hearing about the newer schools and newer forms of education, it seems clear that the quality of education in India is high, especially primary and secondary school. Despite the tuition being much higher than what we paid decades ago, it is still very, very affordable compared to the Bay Area. The second income is most certainly a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.
The Indian economy
India’s economy has been growing and many reports suggest that it is only the beginning. Bangalore felt like Silicon Valley from the late 90s when I visited last year – many startups with great ideas, many angels willing to invest, venture capital getting organized, etc. Of course, there are also the big multinationals with varying levels of presence there, so in general, the tech scene is booming. Inflation is a worry and so is the weak Rupee, but there is real growth (i.e. revenues and profits), so there is reason to be optimistic about the next 10 years.
Every rose has its thorn
The reason we could not finalize for so long is we kept thinking of the downsides, and there are many. At our age, it is hard to make new friends and we have a bunch of friends now with whom we regularly hang out. We will miss having close friends there. Corruption is rampant and poverty is unavoidable. Pollution and population growth/density creates a disease-spreading melting pot in and around the big cities.
On a macro level, politicians are a joke and because of the Parliamentary form of democracy practised in India, and the fragmentation of the big, national parties into smaller, regional parties invariably creates coaltition governments and as a result very little gets done.
Making the leap
All these factors were making us wary of taking the big step. For now, the benefits have overtaken the possible downsides and with certain assumptions made, we are going to try to make it work there. Not everything will be easy, not everything will be straight-forward, but we could actually benefit big time in the long run.
So here we are, about a month away from starting the next chapter of our lives. We are excited and cannot wait to get it started!