From a neutral or foreign point of view, Indian subcontinent may be one of the worst places to live (especially for women) and one of the most dangerous places to travel as tourist. This is valid for all India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc.
The economy of India can be compared with Philippines and other south-east Asian countries, but even poorer according GDP per capita, corrupt government (especially in Pakistan), high crime rate and even more poverty (especially in India). The economy is booming since 2005, but only few cities offer good jobs thus most people do not benefit from this. Income inequality doubled last 20 years, but surprisingly it is still more equality than in United States. The economy felt into uncertainty in 2013.
Real estate industry is booming. in India. Unfortunately, only in housing for middle class. There is major deficit of good housing affordable for working class.
Most people who contacted me for architecture services say “We are poor… can’t afford your prices“, but occasionally I get also messages “hey, don’t call India poor, we are fast developing country“, especially from people in IT industry. There are few areas in rapid development, but if you leave Delhi metropolitan area, you will see the real India… widespread poverty, slums everywhere, non-paved roads, animals wandering around city, etc. Half of population live without electricity and water. Moreover there is a psychological problem to pay as little is possible for any service, even free if possible.
What really makes India bad to live in, is the lack of human rights, crime against women (violence, rape, forced marriages, etc), outdated infrastructure, chaotic traffic due to easy driving tests, overcrowded trains, etc.
Surprisingly, the Indians which I met during running this website, told me that are proud to live in India, or that they have a great culture (unlike people from Philippines who most hate their country). Maybe the crimes are part of their great culture so this is why Indians are proud of their country? Maybe they do not travel out of country to see how a proper world looks like (as comparison, 10% of Philippines population is working overseas).
Mumbai is the biggest city in India, home for 14 million people, a city of contrasts featuring a very rich area in the south but also Dharavi, largest slum in the world. Construction of high-rise condominiums boomed in 2008. 61-floor The Imperial is the tallest building in India since 2010, 117-floor World One was scheduled to be completed in 2016, but as 2017 is still under construction. According Skyscrapers Database, out of 342 buildings over 100 meters in India, 260 are located in Mumbai (as January 2016, including under construction and planned buildings).
Antilia, the tallest private house in the world, was 4th tallest building in India at the time of completion in 2010. 27-storey, 173 meters tall skyscraper owned by a single family, probably most expensive residence in the world, valued at over $1 billion, is located in South Mumbai… in the same neighborhood with the slums shown the photo at top of this article. It is also a subject to mockery, called the ugliest skyscraper in the world.
New Delhi, the capital of India, feature most beautiful architecture and highest standards of living, having many bungalows and no slums, but this paradise is just for 250.000 people. Delhi suburb, Noida, may be the best city in India, thanks to numerous IT companies who made headquarters there, making the city some kind of Silicon Valley.
Chandigarh, a medium city with 1 million people, is one of best cities to live and most beautiful city in India when viewed from satellite photos, a master planned city since 1960s with wide avenues in a grid layout, it feature large house plots that attract affluent people. Other planned cities include Durgarpur, New Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida.
Other cities where significant part of population enjoy high standards of living, and good jobs can be easily found, are Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune. The list can continue, but the living conditions deteriorates once you look to smaller cities.
Despite of continuous migration to urban areas, 69% of India population of 1.2 billion people still live in rural areas (2011 census), where standards of living are much lower than in cities and formal employment is almost non-existent.
According Times of India, average house size in India is 494 sq ft / 103 sq ft per person in rural areas and 504 sq ft / 117 sq ft per person in urban areas. “In fact, a majority of Indians have per capita space equivalent to or less than a 10 feet x 10 feet room for their living, sleeping, cooking, washing and toilet needs“. The space per person dropped over last decades due to rising population and low construction ratio.
India also experience a booming automotive industry, production increased from 800.000 in year 2000 to over 4 million in year 2012 (see automobile production – source: OICA). India currently produce some of the cheapest cars of the world. India is also known for having the easiest driving school test in the world, one of worst drivers, because any idiot can go on roads, but the roads… where they are? From satellite photos you can see that the few paved roads existing are already jammed even with the current low number of cars (41 cars per 1000 people as 2011, according Wikipedia), many intersections are uncontrolled and traffic accidents happen daily.
Study of Indian housing
Housing in India is dominated by low-rise apartment buildings, houses with high land coverage (back-to-back terraced-like houses) and slums. Some houses are inner lots, access being via 1.5-meter wide passages under other houses, and ventilated only by small airwells). All them being mostly gray and ugly… Indian cities are ugly compared with cities of Malaysia, Thailand, Latin America, etc, even uglier than the cities of Philippines, a country with similar poverty level.
Most houses are being built over many years by multiple family generations, adding extra floors over time, with no architect and engineers. Multi-generation families, 10+ people sharing same house is common, each floor belonging to another branch of family, or even worse, each family branch having just one room.
India and surrounding countries are known for poor construction standards. YouTube show numerous buildings collapsing… even without any earthquake. Park View Horizon, one of the few high-rise and luxurious buildings in Nepal, was advertised as “earthquake resistant towers” but suffered severe damage at the May 2015 earthquake (video), although it resisted from collapse to save the life of residents. I am confused: was it completed and occupied at the time of earthquake?
During my studies for architecture, I search apartment floor plans on Google Images, I frequently see results from India, and I am sick of them… India have the worst apartment floor plans in the world. Most common apartment type is 3 bedrooms plus separate living and dining, but the floor plan layout lacks any logic, bedrooms are spread over corners of apartment, some rooms have view to outside, other rooms have view to a courtyard sized like 2×3 meters. If this was not bad enough, identical apartment layouts are repeated in same direction instead of mirroring as would be normal. This make some rooms to have view into neighbor rooms, to blank walls, etc. There are apartments with NO view at all, all rooms facing to courtyards (I have showed few Indian floorplans to several friends, architects and students from around the world, and most of them commented “what kind of idiot architect have designed this!!??”)
In 2014 (after 2 years since originally writing this page) I found the explanation for Indian apartment layout stupidity. There is a superstition called Vastu shastra that suggest position of each room by geographical orientation. If in the rest of world we prefer having living room at front (facing street) and kitchen at rear, in India people prefer to have kitchen in the south-east corner of home, living room in the north side, even if it will have view to a blank wall, etc, regardless of surroundings.
There are dozens of Vastu rules, sometimes various websites providing contradictory rules, that suggest everything starting from room layout to position of furniture inside each room, to garden around house. Probably no house can follow every rule, but following as many Vastu rules is possible give a premium valuation.
Even if not all indians are superstitious, real estate developers follow Vaastu rules to maximize apartment sales. To keep kitchen orientation to south-east, you can see in same block apartments with kitchen near entrance and other apartments with kitchen diagonally opposite from entrance.
6 billion people outside India never heard of Vaastu and are happy, half of India population of 1 billion people is superstitious and would not buy a house that do not follow Vaastu rules. Pretty stupid, isn’t?
The only GOOD thing about Indian apartments is their generous sizes for a third-world country with such high population density, being twice as big compared with apartments in Philippines, Brazil, and similar with European standards. But do note that these apartments are affordable for middle and upper class only. When the modern housing developments will reach the working class, the apartments are likely to be downsized.
Typical apartment size are 900-1100 sq ft for 2BHK and 1200-1600 sq ft for 3BHK (2-3 Bedrooms + Hall + Kitchen). 2-bedroom always have 2 toilets while 3-bedroom usually have 3 toilets (2 being attached to bedrooms), which is impressive considering that in other more developed countries such as Hong Kong and South Korea you can see some 3-bedroom with a single bathroom. 4-bedroom apartments are very rare and offered only in high-end condominiums, having 3000+ square feet. Minimum ceiling height in India is 9 feet / 2.70 meters according building code (in most countries ceiling is 2.40 – 2.60 meters).
Typical room size: living room 10×12 ft to 16×20 ft, dining room 10×12 to 12×14 ft, kitchen 7×10 to 10×12 ft, bedrooms 10×10 ft to 12×16 ft, bathrooms from 5×7 ft to 6×8 ft.
Most indians live in landed houses, dense houses that cover whole plot, adjacent to neighbor houses on all 3 sides or even 4 sides, having no view to street, rooms being ventilated through small courtyards and access to house is made via a narrow alley, sometimes alley is covered by other houses. Except the few rich neighborhoods in major cities, most Indian cities looks like huge slums, very few roads visible from satellite photos.
Bungalow in India is synonym with detached house in America and Europe, same meaning like in Singapore and Malaysia, and owning a bungalow is seen like a status symbol.
Horrible examples found so far:
example 1, worse example: Lush country having balconies facing to wall at 1 meter apart.
Sriven Splendour, 12 apartments per floor of which one is in the middle with view to internal courtyard.
Classic-Archana, 15 apartments per floor of which 2 in the middle with view to internal courtyard.
LVS Elite, WORST apartment layout I ever saw! 2 apartments in the middle, with NO view at all??!!
GR Signature, again apartments in the middle. Notice how every apartment have kitchen is in south-east corner and every living room in north side, regardless of view.
For the rich indians: Parsvnath Exotica offers 400-800 sqm apartments. This is NOT the biggest apartment in India, it is just one found accidentally.
Indians are the WORST people to do business with
There is a trend for various American and European companies to outsource to India their work, due to cheaper workforce. Many indians are trying to join the outsourcing business without having skills and ethics, they charge low prices but offer very low quality works. My friends warned me to NOT hire Indian freelancers, I advised them to not stereotype, not all Indians offer bad services, but majority, and finding a good one is quite tricky. Do yourself a Google search “India outsourcing FAIL” and see why they are BAD!
Another problem is the SPAM from India. As website owner, even without being in webdesign field, I receive daily emails promoting Web Development & SEO services, 90% of them are originating from India, from those indians without skills. Webdesign companies from America and Europe are even more spammed with emails and phone calls from India. Moreover their so-called SEO services involve spamming other websites with backlinks in attempt to uprank your website in Google search results, which is against Google guidelines and sooner or later you will get caught and downranked or even banned from appearing in search results. Read more: SEO SPAM from India.
These Indians without skills spamming emails further damage reputation of India, legit and skilled Indian IT companies lose customers as well.
Personally I do not hire Indian freelancers, instead I am myself freelancer offering AutoCAD & architectural design services to customers all around the world, and this is the main reason for which I say that Indians are the WORST people to do business with.
When building a house in India, paying a professional architect is not common. Most people browse internet taking floor plans from various websites for free and try to adapt to their needs. Some people do pay architects, who are offering cheap services but only a simple floor plan rather than a complete project, many details, including plumbing and electrical system, are decided during construction, resulting in numerous construction flaws.
But what is really disturbing, are those Indians who contact websites and request things even if they are not willing to pay. Whenever is a live chat available, Indians send messages on chat within first minute without checking what services I provide and that they cost money. Indians also make requests on multiple websites, and when I am ready to help them, they no longer need my help. Indians often request things on websites that do not offer the things they request, for example I have seen information-only real estate websites from various countries, that do not offer architecture services, filled up with indian comments like “I need a 3BHK house plan x by y feet, please email me at…”.
This create a high number of leads from India that do not convert into paying customers. A pain in the ass for anyone offering services online!
I can tell this from my personal experience, on my House Design page, I get from India 20% traffic and 40% chats, in 2014 over 100 people asked me for house plans and only 1 paid me for my design and this after days of annoyance (for comparison, in other countries 1 of 10 pay, sometimes in advance).
Several architects from various countries, that collaborated with me, told me that are also pissed off by emails from Indian clients asking for advices and house plans for free, with no intention to pay for service. Read more: BAD indian customers.