Retired in India and living on USA social security pension


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#1 Jan 24th, 2017, 15:22
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  • salima is offline
#1
i would like to know about anyone else living in india on a foreign pension.

this is my story:
i have been in india since 2003. by 2006 i achieved my OCI status and the right to become a permanent resident.really glad to end my tourist category!

when i first came to india i needed less than 5000 rs per month to live on, but now i find myself spending four times that much. if i were in america i could not survive at all.

the other side of the coin is that in those earlier days the exchange rate was very different, even as low as somewhere in the 30‘s if i remember right, and for the time when i was active in money matters about 43. so my pension over the years has doubled in value, but that is way behind inflation. i dont remember there being any inflation at all in india until maybe 2010. it started out slow, and then, wham!

everything is contingent of course on your lifestyle and location. i prefer small cities or towns. since i have been here i have bought two refrigerators, and that only after 2006 (one died after about eight years), one desktop (still wheezing along), and a laptop, (ready to take first place as soon as i find time to set it up).

the things i never spend money on are such as a/c, washing machine, geyser, television, people to do my work around the house, traveling, any of the things most people do for entertainment that are expensive...and more that i cant think of right now.

i have found an excellent dentist and an excellent general doctor in town so i dont need any trips to other cities or high fees for my healthcare going to fortis, etc. in fact there is an excellent but somewhat expensive bone doctor, which is a necessity in life if you live long enough.

i made three trips to usa to see my son, 2005, 2008 and 2010, and have not been back since.

hopefully i will die before inflation catches up with me. i am 70 now.

anyone else have a story to tell?
Last edited by salima; Jan 24th, 2017 at 15:25.. Reason: spelling
#2 Jan 24th, 2017, 16:19
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by salima View Post this is my story:
Thank you for telling it
Quote:
i have been in india since 2003.
Me: 2005
Quote:
when i first came to india i needed less than 5000 rs per month to live on,
That was just my rent back then. And I was amazed to be able to get an old but very decent place in a nice area for that much back then! It would have barely got me a room in London.
Quote:
but now i find myself spending four times that much.
Well, I guess I spent four times that much back then. But I got myself an AC machine, a car, did some travelling including regularly back to UK. And a wife! And a house: I'd be better off in the old place,, even at triple the rent, taking into account the expense of maintaining a house.

Now, my monthly expenses are two to three times that much, and more overall. But, likewise, I'd be literally poor back in London.

Quote:
everything is contingent of course on your lifestyle and location. i prefer small cities or towns. since i have been here i have bought two refrigerators, and that only after 2006 (one died after about eight years), one desktop (still wheezing along), and a laptop, (ready to take first place as soon as i find time to set it up).

the things i never spend money on are such as a/c, washing machine, geyser, television, people to do my work around the house, traveling, any of the things most people do for entertainment that are expensive...and more that i cant think of right now.
Ah yes... I have spent money on all those things and more. And made some bad investments.
Quote:
i have found an excellent dentist and an excellent general doctor in town so i dont need any trips to other cities or high fees for my healthcare going to fortis, etc. in fact there is an excellent but somewhat expensive bone doctor, which is a necessity in life if you live long enough.
I do wish I had health insurance, but I left it too late and now they quibble about stuff that is of no consequence and won't cover me. So anything serious is likely to kill me. But hey... I'm not exactly ancient but I'm no youngster either.
I have some good doctors who mostly charge very little.
Quote:
i made three trips to usa to see my son, 2005, 2008 and 2010, and have not been back since.
I travelled regularly in the first years. Expected to be able to make a trip to UK annually, but that turned into five years between my last one and the one before. Was able to take advantage of budget airlines a few times when family was living in Singapore.
Quote:
hopefully i will die before inflation catches up with me. i am 70 now.
There is a heap of room for us to simplify and make our lives cheaper, and we know it. I plan that this will be my last car, and hope that it will outlive, not me, but my ability to cope with the ever-worsening traffic. I think I may survive inflation even if it decimates my living standard. But I hope that I don't outlive serious or long-term illness!

Having said that, I can afford at least one heart attack.

One great thing: my major pass-time is music, and the vast majority of the concerts I go to are free.
Quote:
anyone else have a story to tell?
Probably, I told too much of mine over the years on this site: some of it might get used against me one day! Thank you for telling your story. I should take a leaf out of your book in terms of lifestyle. But hey, I can afford what I do at this time, so best I enjoy it.

Our house was a bad investment and would not be easily saleable (yet: it will be one day. This is inevitable with anything not too far from the centre of an expanding city) otherwise it might be plan B to swap city for village life. It would put capital in the bank. But the major cost would be my music --- which is not just music, it is the basis of almost all my social life too. What would I do? The internet only goes so far!
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#3 Jan 24th, 2017, 19:22
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  • Keith H is offline
#3
Interesting post, Salima, thank you. I guess your situation is something many of us consider.
#4 Jan 24th, 2017, 19:23
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#4
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i dont remember there being any inflation at all in india until maybe 2010.
There was always higher-than-western-world inflation in India. Close to double digit usually and often exceeding it. 12-14 percent inflation has hit often. During the 70's oil shock, it went up to 25% or so, and was close to 17% early 80's (all figures from fading memory)

On the flip side (for western residents of India), the USD in the seventies was less than 8 rupees, so....
.
This is computer generated drivel. No signature is required.
#5 Jan 24th, 2017, 22:02
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#5

inflation and share market

Quote:
Originally Posted by capt_mahajan View Post There was always higher-than-western-world inflation in India. Close to double digit usually and often exceeding it. 12-14 percent inflation has hit often. During the 70's oil shock, it went up to 25% or so, and was close to 17% early 80's (all figures from fading memory)

On the flip side (for western residents of India), the USD in the seventies was less than 8 rupees, so....
maybe the year i got here (2003) it was so close to american inflation that i didnt even notice it. i only started keeping records of my actual expenses since about 2011, all i know about before that is that it cost me only 5000 rs a month. at that time, my rent was about 1800 for a really nice two rooms with kitchen and bath attached to the lower story of a house in a middle class neighborhood in ratlam, which to me is a middle sized town, but by indian standards i dont know what it would be.

i lived in bhopal for the first 16 and a half months but no one was willing to rent to me-a single lady and a foreigner. the people i stayed with were internet friends who had previously visited me in america. but when things got difficult for me and i wanted to go out on my own, i stayed in a hotel for seven months before i realized i would never find any place. it was fortunate for me that the owner and other employees there looked out for me all the time so that i wasnt harassed. one place i did stay at was a ladies' hostel that those friends introduced me to, but i had a very bad experience with the man who rented it to me.

then i lived with other indian friends i had met on the internet in delhi in 2005 for eight and a half months before coming to ratlam. delhi is not for me.

i love bhopal, but it is too big, too political, too stuffy or snobby for me. the first day i saw ratlam, i loved it. there is no visible class or caste distinction here as compared to what i saw in bhopal. and here i can walk from one end of the city to the other if i want to and only take an autorickshaw when i have a lot of heavy things to carry or i am not well. in bhopal i had to go only by a route where i didnt have to cross any streets, or take an auto.

but over the years the traffic has gone up so much here that i am finding it hard to navigate. the rural areas are getting a lot more accessible than they were, and i thought maybe i could find one that had all that i needed, somewhere in madhya pradesh which i am deeply attached to. it would pain me greatly to have to leave here. i remember when i first got here, how happy all the people were and how well fed and healthy all the stray cows were. pretty much they still are...

today i am paying 9000 rs for the top floor of a house that has a balcony all around, and the landlord is very agreeable and there are no other tenants for me to have a problem with. renting here can be a great problem for me, anyway, like when and how does the water come and will i have my own tank and is there a private entrance i come and go that i will be the one to lock, and so many more things i couldnt begin to list them all. there is even a large garden downstairs which i am happy to look out for and putter around and free to what i choose while the landlord is away which is about half the time. it is the best situation i could imagine.

but my social life is mainly composed of going to market, where i sit in various shops and tea stalls, whose owners i know well by now, and if i were unable to get out and around i would become a recluse, which is not healthy.
#6 Jan 24th, 2017, 22:13
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#6

oops forgot share market

so i was dabbling in mutual funds in the years when i had the money and picked up some money which i was able to live on for a number of years. that way i could save the 'inheritance' for my son. but then everything crashed in america and i had to support him for many years, even giving him my pension as long as i didnt need it, and everything is gone now but my pension.

it was fun playing the big tycoon, i used to call it my 'play money' and i had to make out all these government forms to send to america, the foreign accounts, the gift tax, income tax on the distributions, two years even had to file indian tax reports to get my tds back.

my lifestyle is incomprehensible to most people here, when they ask where is my gold i show them my teeth. i used to have eleven beautiful golden caps when i got here, but over the years lost them as well, only four are left now i think. easy come, easy go. they all probably will expect to find a buried treasure under the garden somewhere when i die...
#7 Jan 25th, 2017, 00:12
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#7
Amazing, Salima.

All that single handed too! I believe that I could have done it. I had my own home --- in fact, I had rented it from the owner in London before I even came here for what might have been my 6-month trial period. Twelve years ago. But I got married anyway!

I wish I was not a language dunce. If I could have picked up Tamil, I would have extended my social life to gossip at the tea shops etc etc. I get by quite well. The music crowd is highly educated and it's not a problem to the majority of them to speak English --- but of course, Tamil would be their choice. Practical stuff can almost all be done in English. But I have become something of a lazy dependent .

Probably people look at us, local lady and her foreigner, and wonder where our gold is. But we do not live in a fashionable posh place, and I think people understand that, if we were wealthy, what would we be doing in this corner of Chennai!
#8 Jan 25th, 2017, 11:23
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#8

ssa and other benefits

Salima
I am curious about health care. As a US citizen you would be eligible for medicare
at your age.
Have you tried to use any of the Medicare benefits, or is it impossible to use them outside the US? Also, could you use them when visiting the US?


Finally, do you buy health insurance in India, or pay as you go along?
#9 Jan 25th, 2017, 12:37
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#9
Medicare benefits are not available outside America. If one is receiving Social Security benefits, Medicare cost is deducted from Social Security benefits every month. In this case, one can use Medicare anytime one is in US.
#10 Jan 25th, 2017, 14:35
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#10

medicare and health insurance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston123 View Post Salima
I am curious about health care. As a US citizen you would be eligible for medicare
at your age.
Have you tried to use any of the Medicare benefits, or is it impossible to use them outside the US? Also, could you use them when visiting the US?


Finally, do you buy health insurance in India, or pay as you go along?
as far as i know, i am still able to use medicare if i am ill or injured in america, but it owuld only be the hospital insurance (part a) which is given to every usa citizen over 65 (i think 65). i never bought part b, and i assume that is the part they would deduct from social security benefits. nothing has ever been deducted from mine and when i initially came to india i was not yet eligible for social security.

and no, i never bought health insurance here, i am more worried about having none were i to visit usa. i feel that the cost of healthcare here is low enough that i would be able to afford whatever catastrophe might befall me. considering my age, there are a lot of surgeries and treatments that i would refuse anyway and just let nature take its course.
#11 Jan 25th, 2017, 14:37
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorm View Post Medicare benefits are not available outside America. If one is receiving Social Security benefits, Medicare cost is deducted from Social Security benefits every month. In this case, one can use Medicare anytime one is in US.
do you have part b on your medicare and is the deduction the same as what you would be paying for it? i never bought part b knowing that when i left usa i would not be spending much time there ever again.

hey, my little brother lives in austin!
#12 Jan 25th, 2017, 16:10
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#12
My friend's heart attack cost 3 lakh. This was emergency care and inserting stents. I imagine that surgery might put a zero on that. So, whilst understanding that it is still a lot less than some places in the world, it is not hard to imagine medical treatment wiping out my savings.
But hey, sure, there might be bad days, but this is not what I spend my life thinking about.
#13 Jan 25th, 2017, 16:13
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#13
In case of heart attack or stroke, the nearest hospital is really the only option. That would be Apollo, not cheap, but I won't be taking a luxury vip room! For anything else, there are hospitals at much lower prices.
#14 Jan 25th, 2017, 20:56
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#14
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post My friend's heart attack cost 3 lakh. This was emergency care and inserting stents. I imagine that surgery might put a zero on that. So, whilst understanding that it is still a lot less than some places in the world, it is not hard to imagine medical treatment wiping out my savings.
But hey, sure, there might be bad days, but this is not what I spend my life thinking about.
that is an example of one of the things i would pass on.

so far i have already had two mini strokes and cataract surgery. i bought the most expensive lenses since my eyes were very very bad since birth, and again i did not leave the city i live in for this like so many locals here do. i honestly forgot what i paid, but it might have been 50000 rs, and that is about what i consider an emergency. three lakhs i would have to say 'so long, see ya!'

i am not implying that i am too cheap to pay for treatment, i mean to say that i feel my life is too close to the end to bother and furthermore that my current health situation would cause too much complication in recovery.

sure, a young healthy person would want to consider insurance. but i am a little jaded because i worked in insurance for twenty years, and i know how it is.

also i notice that there was no conception at all of saving for a rainy day over here until just lately. only now are there life insurance and health insurance companies which indians are looking at. not most of my friends of course, but the wealthy ones. i often wondered why that was, it made me very nervous because i always lived by the rule that your savings should be at least equal to one year's salary when i was in usa. but in time i got used to it and it became a habit with me to spend every cent i had, on me and anyone around me who needed it. i literally was living from pension deposit to pension deposit.

i think the reason savings isnt considered important is because the majority of the people would die if they didnt use all they had. like when i was living in usa and a single parent, i had not a single dime i could save and there were times when i was waiting for payday when i would roll up the loose change in the house so i could buy a pack of cigarets. what is the use of saving money for a rainy day when it is raining all the time?

but sometimes age becomes a factor in the opposite direction. now i feel i have to have some money saved for my will, to cover what i want to bequeath as well as services and fees and costs incurred, and enough for a small emergency. at the moment everything i have is new-for awhile i had an old frig and an old computer and i thought what would i do if they both died at the same time? but now they have been replaced and i probably have all the clothes i will need to last me the rest of my days. i do try to save enough money for a ticket to america if i find it needful to make a trip there, but so far have not been able to manage that.

i tell myself that these things-frig, computer, trip to usa-they are not necessities or emergencies, and when i look around myself i KNOW what 'need' means. it is hard to strike a balance between all of this, one that i can stick to and believe in.
#15 Jan 25th, 2017, 22:31
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#15
Interesting lifestyle the past 13-14 years. You've chosen some off the tourist trail places to live. You don't get bored?

btw in 2003 $1 US=50 rs
"Travel is fatal to prejudice,bigotry and narrow-mindedness" Mark Twain
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