Moving back from UK to India-“In search of a perfect life”- Is relocating back to India a good Idea?

This is for all my fellow Indians living out of India. The thought of moving back to India would have surely crossed your minds at least once. Like most of you, I love this country for what it offers and yet hate it for all it doesn’t. India, a country full of the good, the bad and the ugly.

A country divided by languages, culture, religion, beliefs, caste, and incomes yet united. A country which makes it to the list of the world’s richest people and is still struggling with millions having no food and shelter forget about the Ivy League colleges, superior infrastructure, health, and safety. Certainly, all these factors are big enough for forcing many of us to accept opportunities out of this country and leave a part of us behind.

Having spent most of my life in India and a small stint in London, today I am making an attempt to see India wearing different hats and hoping that I am able to pen down my thoughts in an unbiased manner. And I leave it for you to share your thoughts on a perfect life, whether to stay abroad or relocate to India.

No matter which country one belongs to, the place we are born and brought up makes the foundation of who we are. We evolve with time but somewhere a part of us is always attached to our roots.

The Dilemma Begins

A situation came into my life when I was in this dilemma to move out of the country or not. An extremely tough decision of leaving my parents and in-laws back in India but at times it’s not your choice. Though my husband and I had decided that we will be back in a few years( don’t most of us go with the same thoughts?).

So the roller coaster began. To give you a gist of my life then, for all those who have read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, both my husband and I are the poor dad’s kids. Worked hard all our student life to enter top business schools of the country and eventually have decent jobs. I had all the luxuries an upper middle class Indian could afford in terms of comfort. Rarely I had to juggle my head on jobs like cooking, cleaning etc. My clothes were washed, ironed and arranged in my cupboard. The grass was cut, plants groomed, the garbage was out of the house and the bins lined again. My laptop bag in the car before I left for office and I returned to a spic and span house with a cup of tea waiting for me. Wow, doesn’t it sound like a queen- “Raj yoga” is what it is called in Indian Vedas. Little did I realize that I was actually living life ‘Queen Size” till it all changed.

The Unseen Land

The day finally arrived, I took off from an all dusty land and air and landed in the lush green terrain, my new home. At this stage let me introduce you to my little son who was 5 years old then. My companion through this flight and one of the reasons for me agreeing to move as I wanted to spend all the time in the world with him which I deeply missed until then.

And what a welcome I got at the airport. I was stopped at the immigration, why? Because as per the guidelines then, all third world nation citizens had to go through a chest x-ray to ensure that they are not carrying Tuberculosis. Thank God!, I got spared since my little one was with me. How I wanted to take the next flight back home and never enter the country. Their guidelines made me feel humiliated but emotions have to be controlled and I see my husband waiting for us.

With eyes popping out, I enter my new home as I was curious to see how  London houses are. My husband had chosen a gem of a house, it was love at first sight. With the rising sun, ( though it never rose, London weather you see ) began the real life. Operating a rather mechanised house, from the heating system to the oven to absolute manual labour. If I will not cook, my family will starve. Blue, green and brown bins right outside the house and I committed a blunder, wrong type of waste in the wrong bin, clean it or the council won’t take it. No help, from shopping to cooking to gardening to laundry to mopping to bathroom cleaning, you name it and I did it. So from “Raj yoga”, I started with the ” Bai yoga”( Bai is a term used in India for house helps)

The new normal

But was London all about the “Bai yoga”, certainly not. There was a much beautiful side to it. The three of us gelled back as a family together. People respected work-life balance. Humans were treated like humans no matter how rich or poor they were.Kids were living their childhood to the utmost.The education system was extraordinary, my son bloomed every passing day. The environment and surroundings can easily be termed as “heaven”. Those beautiful parks where my son could cycle and play for hours(weather permitting). That cooking time together to exploring the country and the rest of Europe. Bar-be-ques at home to those summer evenings near The Thames. To the most beautiful day of experiencing my first snowfall, the snowman to snow sledge. I could just go on and on. But, one of the most beautiful things were the friends we made, they were family to us.

 relocating back to India
moving back to India from the USA

So, isn’t it sounding like a perfect life? Yes, it was but within this heaven was an emptiness. There was something or I can say a lot missing. I am sure my fellow Indians staying abroad will be able to relate to this emotion. A year passed and I felt a little settled with the systems and processes. Passed the driving test and got comfortable with the fact that 4 tomatoes cost 2 pounds.Got to interact with “mums” in school and enjoyed some coffee mornings and end of year dinners.Got acquainted with medical system where you might be sick today but the appointment available is a week or two months away.We got used to the good and the bad there.

So what was this emptiness? Foremost our loved ones, our parents, my siblings, close family. One can find everything in these developed nations except the people who made us capable to reach here. Every good and not so good occasions that we use to be together were deeply missed. That psychological comfort of being at a stone throw distance even if you don’t meet is  priceless.Many of us measure this distance by saying, its just 9 hours away but I couldn’t get over thousands of miles.There was a different comfort and confidence with which I could live in India. In spite of having a decent education, it seemed you have to start from scratch, a big dent to one’s confidence.

The Return

Years passed by and the opportunity to go back home knocked our doors. Did my heart not pain even once to even contemplate the idea of leaving London? It did,not once but multiple times. I was leaving behind my son’s bright future with top universities around the corner. It takes a lot to reach these universities from India. I could not justify in my head what I was doing to my son was correct from any angle. My husband’s flourishing career, his working environment and work-life balance was something which does not exist in India. The pollution free clean and green environment.All the joys a developed nation has to offer had to be left behind. But, we stuck to what we had set as the goal- we returned as the pullback home overpowered.

We returned to our country knowing all its negatives- poor infrastructure,corruption, lack of good universities, roads full of garbage and potholes, crime, no work life balance and many more. But why did we choose it over the perfect western world? A question I have been asked a hundred times.

Because, my heart lies where my family is, every joy & sorrow is incomplete for me without sharing it with them. My son gets to spend ample time with Dadu, Dadi, Nana, Nani without uprooting them from their comfort zones and making them travel miles. Just like me, he gets to spend his summer vacations with his cousins and creating memories which hopefully he will cherish for life and value these relations which not everyone gets to experience. So was it just family that bought us back, no there is more to it. I don’t have to put my son in classes to learn Hindi or our culture. I personally feel culture can only be experienced not taught. I enjoy that street food -panipuri round the corner, scrumptious kebabs, the list is endless. Celebrating Holi, Diwali, Rakhi and many other festivals with the entire community and that very day not weekends. Getting into those queues on karwa chauth to get mehndi done, from watching Ganpati to dancing to the navratri tunes.From ringing my neighbour’s doorbell anytime to meeting a friend at a short notice without taking appointments. And not to forget, I enjoy- “Raj yoga” more than “Bai yoga”.My degree and work experience have a higher value here(not true for all, I suppose). All this and much more makes me feel at home.

My home which is far from being perfect but let me tell you one thing, there is nothing like a perfect place in this whole wide world, there will always be something missing. There are people in the western world fighting depression because of loneliness, starving for company and family. There are Indian families out there struggling to make ends meet with no support. Life is never perfect, all one can do is reconcile with your decision.

We reconciled with ours, we tried to learn the good and take it with us back home, whatever we could.CBSE board turned to IB and I believe in holistic education more now. We now understand work-life balance better. I appreciate all my house helps much more and I am more human to them.Thank you London for teaching me so much.

Grass will always remain greener on the other side. If you reconcile with your decision whether it is to stay in India or abroad, life will be perfect and you will be in a happier space.

I am!

Also Read: Common Problems Faced by NRI’s While Visiting India

Written by Anshul


Leave a Reply
  1. Hi Anshul,
    Amazing Article. Very well written. you articulated things very well.

    We are staying in UK from last 15 years. My son is in Uni now and daughter is in 10 year old. We are seriously thinking of moving back to India now. I would like to add one more advantage is medical facilities availability in India. one do need to know the right consultant but if what a quick service availability in India. One need to wait for weeks to get small tests done in UK.

    Your article did help. Is it possible that my wife can get in touch on mail with you to discuss few points in detail regarding education? that would be great help.

  2. Oh God…I’m reading this over and over and crying. I can’t tell how much your article has helped me.
    After spending good 7 years juggling between India and UK. Grass is always greener on the other side but still we need to make a choice and I have made mine. Saare Jahan se accha Hindustan humara

  3. Hi, it’s a very well written article and I can completely see myself in your shoes. I also wish to relocate to India inspire if all the cons because I feel the pros are much more important in terms of old parer, in laws.Kids need to have some quality time with them and the extended family as well which is way more important than spending time in summer camps in UK. Eventually there comes a time when you have to think about relations and not money because no matter how much you earn it is never going to be enough. You need to set a priority for the important things in your life. However my husband does not share my view and he is only bothered about how much money he can earn in UK and is willing to give up family ties for that. I am in a lot of dilemma since it is being an ongoing topic of discussion from my side and I really don’t know what to do. Any suggy, help willbe really appreciated as to how do I relocate to India for good.Thanks

  4. Hi Anshul

    I am considering a similar move soon, so would be great if you can answer some questions. Also could you share your email id so that I can request any information etc without flooding the comments here?
    1. Did you have british citizenship/ILR when you left?
    2. How old was your son when you left? My elder is year 7 so wondering how she should adjust back in India.
    3. Is IB syllabus similar to what’s taught in UK schools? Is it any easier to adjust in that syllabus going from here? Are there any limitations to studying in this syllabus in terms of choices for education later on in india or abroad?
    4. What job industry are you in? Did you manage to get any work/life balance back in India? I guess work from home situation has made things little bit better there.
    5. Do you plan to travel back abroad when you son eventually starts university abroad?
    6. Which city did you settle in in India?

    I guess I am overloading you with questions so would stop here. But you are in best position to answer (if you are ok with it of course) these questions as you have been through this. I understand completely if you don’t want to answer any or all of these.


  5. What an article . I felt like I was reading the story of my own life. Been in UK for 3 years now , daughter is in Year 3 ( Class 3) here . I think life will never be perfect and grass will always be greener on the other side . Its just about loving and accepting the place one decides to live in . Every place has its unique set of pros and cons.

  6. That is such a powerful article. My husband and I have been discussing, reading, arguing about the best option for my only child. We’ve been trying to figure out if it’s worth continuing igcse or IB india or should we switch to rote system ( which I’m not at all happy about).
    On that note, I have a question for you. What is your son inclined towards post IB? Is he planning to graduate from one of india. Universities or go abroad? I’m just looking at international fees and they ain’t small.
    – Shilpa

    • Hi Shilpa, I am glad that you found this article useful. Well,my son has been studying in an IB school all through since we came back except for the first year after coming when we had put him in an ICSE school. It was very different and yes loads of rote learning hence we switched to IB. At that time all that mattered was how is his personality being groomed and the knowledge that he is acquiring rather than University admissions. But now we are at a stage where university admissions are very near and yes it does look like that he would be opting for one of the foreign universities. But, let me tell you one things there is no guarantee that a CBSE student will not opt for foreign universities( the numbers are only rising). After IB there are ample options in Indialike Ashoka, Jindal, Flames etc which a small percentage of IB students opt for. Hope this helps 🙂

  7. I am 32 years old, doctor with the NHS and am sat at 3 AM in the morning researching online as I have to make my decision of whether staying in Uk or go back to India in the next couple of days. I have been in the UK for a little over 3 years now and while I am single, I hope and intend to settle down soon either ways into a family life.

    This article is beautifully written and resonates at so many levels even though I don’t understand the pangs of the impact of a child at this time in life. I wanted to know if you moved back without the ILR / Citizenship or with it ? Do you think it would have altered your decision in any way ?

  8. Hi Anshul,

    If you were near by, I would have given you a warm hug and said thank you, proper English way.
    Yesterday we took the decision to go back to India after being in this country for 5 years. Main reason being parents being old, need support. Also covid made the situation far too worse with not being able to go and visit them even once a year.
    I have three kids and my elder son is in his year 10. And my husband was just offered a general visa . What a great time to go back, isn’t it !

    Whenever we try to talk about our decision to anyone here, they told the most stupid decision ever made.They are telling us to revert the decision. They are asking us to think about our children as well, the same things you have written, universities, job, life style.
    Well my husband just have to move from an office here to office in India while I will have to leave my teaching job here. And I know I won’t get such a job back in India

    We were both at the edge of madness choosing between parents and our life here

    We finally made out decision to go back but still worry about our life back in India, how much we have to pay for kids IGCSE schools, how I find a job and lot more worries

    That’s when I read your article.

    I have to say, it gave us some hope. At least there are lots people like us who think moving back to Indianis an option .

    Thank you

    • Hi Susan,
      Glad to read your message. I wrote this almost 5 years back, coincidentally my son is also in Grade 10 now and studying in one of the IB schools here in India. It indeed is a very difficult choice and no matter which side you choose, you will miss out on something. Since your kids are grown up now, it might be tough for them to adjust here and in three years time, they might be ready to go back abroad for university. That would again be a difficult choice as you will be far away from them. Please do think about all future permutations and combinations. At the end as I have written- we have to reconcile with our decision as life is not a full plate anywhere. My best wishes are with you and may your decision be the best one for you.I will be happy to help you with any queries you might have. :)- Anshul

  9. I felt like I am reading my own life story. We moved to London in oct 2019 and spend our first year in lockdown and have decided to move back to India. That feeling of emptiness never goes. And if you are fortunate to have a big loving family… stay with them. Me , my husband and kid of 4.5 years are going to miss London but hoping for a peaceful and happy future in India only.

  10. Very rightly said if u reconcile with your decision all will be well…. but its always so tough not knowing and jumping to the future trusting your decision will be correct or wrong. There will always be a self doubt.
    Good luck to u…

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