What’s the cost of living in India?

11 Jun 2021 - Category: Blog /
Cost of living in India

India is home to over 1.3 billion people. It is a beautiful, enormous country that is a world unto itself. From its southernmost tip to its northernmost region, the diversity of the country is astonishing.

Life on one side of India may be almost unrecognisable from life on the other side.

So, what makes Delhi so expensive and Chennai more affordable?

Why is the cost of living the same across certain regions and vastly different in others? And how have recent economic developments changed the prospects of some cities while leaving others behind?

In this blog we’ll be exploring the cost of living in India.

We’ll touch on what the average cost is and we’ll also show how the cost of living differs from city to city.

What is the average cost of living in India?

The cost of living can be calculated in a number of ways. And not everyone’s standard of living expectations will be the same. We thought it is important to first look at the average salary across India.

According to SalaryExplorer, a person working in India typically earns around 31,900 INR per month. Salaries range from 8,080 INR (the lowest average) to 143,000 INR (the highest average). This average monthly salary includes housing, transport, and other benefits. As you can see there is quite a large gap between the highest and lowest average salaries in India.

Now we have the average salary, the cost of living in India can be put in context. According to Numbeo, the estimated monthly costs for a family of four without rent in India amount to 84,048 INR. For a single person the average cost of living without rent is 24,159 INR. As you can see, after rent costs are factored in, this doesn't leave a lot of expendable income for the average Indian household.

The good news is that this average is trending upwards.

In the next few years, nearly 55% of the Indian population is expected to join the ranks of the middle class. By 2025 India is expected to have the largest middle class population in the whole world. This means that millions more people in India will find the costs of living less burdensome.

In most countries around the world the size and prosperity of the middle class population is a good indicator of the economic progress of the country as a whole. Right now the cost of living is relatively good.

The cost of living in India is, on average, 65.37% lower than in the United Kingdom and rent in India is, on average, 82.70% lower than in the UK too. Accommodation in India is steadily improving and is far more affordable than many other countries around the world.




Average monthly salary

₨31,900 ($430.62)


£1,950 (42721.04)

Estimated monthly costs for a family of four

₨111,739 ($1,545)


£3,632 ($5,132)

Estimated monthly costs

for a single person

₨47,501 ($657)


£2,034 ($2,875)

A litre of milk

₨52 ($0.73)


£0.82 ($1.16)

12 eggs

₨73 ($1.01)


£2.48 ($3.50)

A beer at a bar

₨435 ($2.62)


£4.60 ($7)

Monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 sqft) in furnished accommodation in a normal area

₨19,892 ($275)


£1,101 ($1,556)

Utilities 1 month for 2 people in an 85m2 flat

₨4,541 ($63)


£145 ($204)

Indian cities are growing at an exponential rate into metropolises that will rival any country in the world. So how do cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai compare?

Most expensive cities in India

  • Delhi

The average monthly cost of living for a family of four without rent is 94,869 INR. This makes it one of the most expensive major cities in India to live in. Delhi’s standard is above the average monthly cost of living in India.

Delhi is the base of operations for many of the biggest tech and financial companies in the country as well as being the centre for many of India’s largest governing bodies. The size of the city means you can find some of the most expensive restaurants in India here as well as some of the cheapest. And they’ll both serve great food!

While expensive, the city also offers more lucrative job opportunities than many other regions of India.

  • Kolkata

Kolkata contributes around 150.1 Billion INR to India’s GDP. It is home to many of India’s largest corporations such as ITC Limited and Coal India Limited. Because Kolkata is a centre of economic activity it has also become quite an expensive place to live.

The average monthly cost of living without rent in Kolkata for a family of four is 88,236 INR. This is above the national average and shows how the city has developed into a hub of industry and tech innovation. You will have to spend a bit more than usual on transportation, utilities and leisure if you want to live in Kolkata.

  • Mumbai

Mumbai has for a long time been one of the costliest places to live in India. Today it is the most expensive, just beating Delhi and Kolkata to the top. The average monthly cost of living for a single person is 29,968 INR. That’s not cheap!

Almost every part of life in Mumbai will drain your wallet more than anywhere else in the country. Many of the most famous celebrities and the richest business people are based in Mumbai. Whether you want to go out for a meal and a movie or just pay rent, the cost of living is high in Mumbai.

  • Chennai

Life in Chennai can be a lot of fun and it is a popular tourist destination. Some of the most beautiful and picturesque spots in all of India can be found in Chennai. The estimated average monthly costs for a family of four are around 91,604 INR.

In order to enjoy the beauty of Chennai as a long term resident you will need to be earning a reasonable salary. It is one of the best cities in India to live in and millions of Indians consider the cost of living there worth every Rupee.

Send Money to India with Small World

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Remittance, during these difficult times, is important than ever before to ensure the loved ones are able to meet the cost of living and dream for a better tomorrow

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To ease the burden on your family and friends in India you can send money via bank deposit or cash pickup. It is the safest, easiest and most efficient way to transfer money and support your family. Even if you’re on the other side of the world you can rest assured that we’ll get your money where it needs to be.

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