Property in India provides the opportunity to live in the third of the BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – which have all experienced substantial economic growth in recent years and are widely expected to become dominant forces in the world markets in the not-too-distant future.

For Britons, India provides a link back to the colonial past of the British Empire, when the sun never set on one part of the nation’s lands without rising in another. Those days may be gone, but the touch of colonialism is an integral part of India’s own national heritage now that could help to make it a more significant destination for British expatriates than for those relocating from any other country of the world.

Buying property in India

The advice when buying property in India begins the same as with all other non-English speaking countries. You may want to appoint a representative who understands both languages, as well as the local laws relating to Indian property transactions.

On this point, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office makes a note of telling Britons planning to buy property in India to exercise extra caution. That does not mean that it is a bad idea to buy Indian property, simply that you should be certain that you are working with reputable professionals when doing so.

Some less scrupulous agents have helped Britons to buy property in India, only for the sale to be rendered illegal due to issues relating to visas or non-compliance with the demands set out by regulatory bodies.

A particular point to remember is that you cannot buy an Indian property while visiting the country on a tourist visa; flouting this or other laws could result in losing the money paid for the house, with potential prosecution as well.

The Association of International Property Professionals can help you to find an expert familiar with the Indian property market and able to advise you on how to go about buying a home there legally. Its member directory lists 16 UK-based organisations able to provide such advice to househunters looking in the Indian market.

Living as a British expat in India

While living in property in India, there are some things to remember. The British High Commission in New Delhi points out some of the major life events that might cause confusion for expatriates who have not done their homework.

Births and deaths that occur in India but are related to an individual of British birth, registration or naturalisation can all be registered with the British Consular Officers located in the FCO’s posts in India, apart from in Chennai. A fairly lengthy list of paperwork is required to register a birth, including divorce certification if the parents are no longer together.

When retiring in India, meanwhile, Britons are told to make sure they know how much their pension is likely to pay out, any tax obligations they will still face back in the UK and any National Insurance contributions they may have to make.

However, some of the recommended steps to take for all people relocating to India could actually help to get involved in and accustomed to the lifestyle of the country – such as adhering to social norms regarding dress, learning local customs and respecting other people’s privacy when taking photographs or videos.

Property in India’s cities

Living in property in India’s cities has some advantages; the FCO advises that the major metropolitan areas are the best places to find private healthcare and that psychiatric care may be impossible to get beyond the main built-up areas of the country.

Of course, there is also the monsoon season to take into account, which can cause disruption to travel in rural areas. Sticking to the cities could help to compensate for this, as ways of coping with the weather are more widely implemented in areas with higher populations.