Who are you?
My name is Amanda, and I am an Australian born and raised 32-year-old female.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Chandigarh, India in June 2019 to get married. My husband is Indian, and we were in a long distance relationship for around 15 months before I moved to India. We got married in November 2019. I decided to make the permanent move here, because I really just wanted a fresh start away from Australia. I have a YouTube channel, where I document my life here, and the first video is about why I moved here.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Language barrier – while a lot of people can speak English, my in-laws don’t, and neither do most of the people I interact with on a daily basis. That made it really difficult. Also, it took time to make friends and create a support network here. I was used to working in a social company and socialising every day in Australia, and then when I moved here it was really isolating not having that.
Not having a routine to follow was also a big challenge for me, as I’m someone that needs routine and structure. I also wasn’t allowed to work, so filling the days began to get quite tough. Also, there was a very big sense of loss of independence. I was very independent in Australia, and I expected to have that exact type of independence after moving. I didn’t for a long time, and that was incredibly hard.
Did you need to obtain a visa, residency permit or work permit? What was the process like?
I came to India on a multiple entry tourist visa, and after marriage I converted that to an entry / X1 visa, which is essentially a spouse visa. Neither of these visas give you working permits, but once you’ve been married for two years, you are eligible for an OCI card (overseas citizen of India card), which gives you all the rights of an Indian citizen, besides voting, owning of agricultural land and working a government job.
I have since started working as an English tutor online, an English transcriptionist, and I also do some freelance work on the side.
Is it easy to open and use an account with a local bank?
It’s actually very difficult to get a bank account here. So much so that my husband opened one in his name for me. Foreigners have a lot of limits and restrictions for a simple savings account. Now that I have a tax card and Indian ID, I am able to be a joint account holder on that account and even open up my own account without restrictions.
Are there many other expats in your area?
There were a few before Covid, but then most left. Now they’re starting to come back again, which is really nice. Most are usually in the bigger cities, but now there’s a lot in my city.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I have been living in the same neighbourhood since I moved here, so I’m very familiar with the local market workers, salon staff, our household staff, etc. I’ve been learning Hindi for over two years, so it’s made communication a lot easier, and I find that everyone is very nice and patient when you try and speak their language.
What do you like about life where you are?
I like that it’s a very laid back and relaxed life for me compared to Australia. Sometimes that’s also a struggle, but I love having the freedom and flexibility to be able to explore who I am as a person and to be able to do things in my own time.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
There’s a lot of differences between Australia and India, and some days those differences are menial and I’m fine, and other days it just gets too much. Tasks that should be simple and are simple in Australia are just SO difficult here, and on days when I’m feeling mentally low or homesick, I get really affected by these differences.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
You need at least a year to figure everything out and to feel settled. Find expats in your city asap, and try and meet with them regularly. Also, create a routine which is in your control. India is such a busy country, and things can and almost always do change last minute, and you need to learn to adapt to that change. But by keeping a routine, you are keeping something within your control.