Wild Goose Chase? Business in S India?

#1 Feb 27th, 2018, 09:25
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  • candr is offline
#1
Short Version:
What are some nice places in South India where you think it might be nice to run a small cafe?

Long Version:
This is probably a nutty question, but I thought I'd throw it out here and see if anyone can help me out.

I'm US citizen, husband is Indian citizen but US resident. His family is in India and he works from home but goes to India with work several times a year. Also, the health insurance situation in the US is horrible. We can't change jobs or living situations here b/c we'd lose insurance, and as we get older, it becomes more and more daunting to try to figure out how we'll ever save up enough to cover insurance into retirement. Plus the political situation in the US is alarming, but there are plenty of alarming things about Indian politics too, so that's less a concern just because it seems like there's craziness everywhere on that front!

My husband would like to keep his job but at half time b/c he has some personal projects he'd like to work on. I'd like to work on something for myself. We've looked land and business ideas here in the US, but we keep getting stumped on the health insurance question. We can't change our situation b/c of it.

Logistically then, it makes sense to move to India. We have family there, husband has work there (would eliminate his need to travel so much), he could go part time there and we wouldn't have to worry about insurance. The question is where and how? I'd really like to run a little cafe or a hostel- I have some experience helping a friend set up her cafe in the past and we have a little bit of money to get us started.

Originally we thought it would be lovely to do this in the mountains as we like the trekking, but we spent a month there looking in the fall and could not find anything that we liked. It must be relatively safe at night, relatively clean air, and I'm terrified of those narrow winding mountain roads. So we're pretty sure Northern India is out of the question.

Now we're looking South which makes sense anyway since husband's work (when he is not working from home) is in Bangalore. We've lived in Delhi (where husband's family resides) and Goa in the past, but Goa's all very different now, and aside from Bangalore and some casual travel around Cochin, we've never really spent much time in the South. The people we know in Bangalore and Goa aren't much help as they are all wrapped up in business and are wealthier than we are and have a different sense of lifestyle than we do and besides, they don't travel much.

Therefore, with full knowledge that I'm asking a very broad question about a very big and diverse region of the world, is there any suggestions someone wants to shoot out about where it might be a nice life to run a little cafe/hostel that affordable and safe and pleasant in Southern India? I know it's a ridiculous question, but I don't even know how to get started looking.

Or perhaps I'm chasing a pipe dream? I mean, Americans looking to escape current situations are not exactly new.

Thanks for reading!
#2 Feb 27th, 2018, 10:53
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  • theloststory is offline
#2
Itís not a ridiculous question. I myself have been toying with that idea for years.

If you do not prefer northern india for whatever reasons, you have many other options as well.

- Bangalore is an excellent vibrant city with a never needing demand for cafes and hostels. The weather is excellent too. I would go for BNGALORE.
- Rajasthan: cities like Udaipur and Jaipur are excellent for quLity of life, plenty of tourist footfall, very good local doctors and hospitals and you can get anything you want (ingredients, lifestyle, healthcare etc). They also need more cafes and hostels.

- Pune : A vibrant (though now densely populated) city, has good weather, easy accessibility, a vibrant international community and plenty of student community as well. Cafes will do very well here as also hostels.

- Pondicherry : a lovely city by the sea, a Union Territory, has plenty of tourist footfalls, and great scope for cafes and hostels.

- there are plenty of more places but it depends on some background, Id est, some connection you have. For example, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Shillong, Kolkata, Bhopal, Khajuraho, Aurangabad etc.

- there is a lot to still like about Goa. You can keep that in the consideration list.

Since both of you have half your lives in the US you should consider a city not very far from an airport. International airport if possible.
Travelling. What else? Theuntourists.com
#3 Feb 27th, 2018, 11:08
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#3
Thanks LostStory. It's a common dream, I think. We should all get together and make a collective!

I can't afford to set up shop in Bangalore, I'm afraid. Though I like that city, even for long visits, I think I'd need to live somewhere with a slower pace.

I'm hoping for a smaller city in the southern states, perhaps slightly off the beaten track, that some tourists have visited recently and thought to themselves, "hey this is a great place for a little hostel/cafe" whatever. I think it would have to be South.

I have not been to Pondicherry at all though it is a place I have wanted to visit. What places do you think are nice in Goa still? Probably I'm being unfair because we always want places to be as they were when we left them, and Panjim was a quiet little family town when I left it, and now it's very busy though not really by Indian standards!

I need to crack open the travel guide and read journals here and make an itinerary, but the region is so large and my visit time is so limited that it's overwhelming! I was googling and found this site and thought, what the heck.

You say you've been toying with a similar idea for years- where would your dreams take you?
#4 Feb 27th, 2018, 16:52
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#4
Southern states are good. If you like hills there are places like Munnar, Wayanad, Coonoor, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Chettinad towns, there's plenty.

My dreams would take me somewhere not too far from Mumbai because my primary job is around this city
#5 Feb 27th, 2018, 19:49
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#5
How about Mysore ?
#6 Feb 27th, 2018, 20:13
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#6
You are not only looking at change of location but also change of the way of working. Earning daily bread as an employer is a completely different ball-game in comparison to doing the same through a job. Many have succeeded and a lot more have failed. So it makes sense if you plan for a) one pilot project , to test yourself as well as the water and 2) to have a Plan B to fall back on in case it doesn't work out. My 2 cents.
#7 Feb 27th, 2018, 23:08
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theyyamdancer, I really enjoyed Mysore last time I visited. It's definitely on my list- I was hoping to look maybe around that town, slightly outside? What would be good about that region is that you'd have customers both from tourism and also from nearby tech campuses.

Lost Story, thanks so much! I'm going to sit down with my travel guide on Thursday and really have a long perusal. I'm highlighting places I see pics of and suggestions people give. I admit that I have not even heard of most of those places, so I appreciate the suggestion. Yes I like hills, also beaches, also jungle trekking, also rivers, so it seems like the South has everything!

Iamsomnath, Yes thanks for your common sense advice. I know small business ownership is an endless job. I have a little experience with it here in the US, but I'm sure doing work like that in India will include its own set of problems. As for right now, we are thinking we'd probably rent, so exiting would not be difficult if we get into something that doesn't work out, and alternately if we purchase a place, it will only be if it's somewhere that would work for us regardless. We're pretty careful with money, so I think worst case scenario would be I'd get myself into something very stressful for a couple years and then pull away. Our reasons for moving to India are not to run a business- that's tertiary, more like something I'd like to do while there. We'd be moving anyway. And my husband is looking to go half time with his current job b/c he wants to work half time on a personal project, so we'd always have that income. As for employees, I have not had trouble finding help in India in the past for basic things, especially if you can handle inconsistency in schedules. But as for larger tasks, I've found it's much more difficult to find people who are competent and reliable and accountable. But there's no reason to scratch my head about that now when I don't even know where to move yet. Once we work that out, then I think it would be wise to network with other small business owners for references and to rely a bit on help from known people in India. I'm really hoping that by the time we are ready to open shop, some friends and family would be ready to help out or join us. But again, it's hard to know at this stage what is a pipe dream and what is a possibility.
#8 Feb 27th, 2018, 23:27
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#8
What visa are you planning to get?
#9 Feb 27th, 2018, 23:42
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OCI for me, Indian citizen for husband. As best I can tell, OCI gives me right to work and own property (if we choose to do that) though I know there are some restrictions about residency in some states so we'd have to research that. I think my work is only restricted to public sector jobs, not private or small business ownership? And I can employ people? Obviously I'd have to confirm all of this, but this is how I understand it right now? I'd like it to be legit for both of us and not have it all in husband's name exclusively.
#10 Feb 27th, 2018, 23:54
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Sorry I meant, I think OCI restricts you from working public sector jobs so you can't be employed by gov't. But can take private employment or open a business. Correct? Of course this is something I will have to research further, but I know a few people who have OCI status who work in India. Husband is a citizen so naturally he can reside, work and own property (after checking state rules about residency), but he also holds a US green card and will continue employment with that US company which does a lot of work in India. This has been the case for many years now so there's nothing to alter in his visa status- he can continue that work as well as his permanent residency status in US even if he does not return to the US for a long time. It just prevents him from being able to apply to US citizenship unless he wants to return to the US and reside there a certain percentage of the time for 2-3 years, but he has had a green card for a couple of decades and has never shown interest in becoming a US citizen, so we aren't really worrying about this too much, though I think it's foolish since he's going to miss out on SS benefits, yet that's a different story.
#11 Feb 28th, 2018, 00:22
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#11
Hi,

A very interesting project, if I may say so!

I would imagine setting up some type of "homestay" business might work well.

Foreign visitors may well enjoy the idea of staying with folk who understand the needs of international tourists.

You have a foot in each camp with Indian relatives and a western background.

I have no idea of the economics of running a cafe, but maybe that is more of a discretionary spend, than offering accommodation... Folk all need somewhere to sleep!

Maybe offering accommodation would allow you to "test the water" before you jump in at the deep end?

Good Luck!

Ed.
#12 Feb 28th, 2018, 09:05
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#12
@Candr also try Kochi. Since you mentioned you like beaches and not particularly partial to mountains. An excellent city full of culture, the lovely backwaters and great food.

Mysore is a fabulous suggestion as well.
#13 Feb 28th, 2018, 12:04
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#13

Wild Goose Chase? Business in S India?

Once your husband becomes resident-for-tax-purposes in India, he will have to pay tax in India on his global income. This could somewhat substantially reduce it. That might be fine... But get informed by accountants in both countries.

Plainly, there are lots of successful businesses in Kerala, and they include ones owned and run by non-Indians. Is and can be done. But please get acquainted with labour relations and ethos in the state before getting too attracted to its undoubted beauty and other positive aspects.

I'd also suggest that you restrict yourself to places where you both speak, or can very quickly learn, the local language.
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#14 Mar 2nd, 2018, 14:37
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by candr View Post I'm hoping for a smaller city in the southern states, perhaps slightly off the beaten track, that some tourists have visited recently and thought to themselves, "hey this is a great place for a little hostel/cafe" whatever. I think it would have to be South?
I donít think any city, anywhere can be described as off the beaten track. Thatís exclusively the reserve of towns and villages.

Have a look at Vattakanal which is ripe for tourism related development (and could be the next Ďthingí on the travel circuit. The other would be Tiruvanamalai.

In terms of more established places itís the usual suspects and price may be prohibitive. Munnar or Periyar might be good if you like trekking / nature.

Alleppey or Kochi if you want a constant stream of tourists.

NB
"See the World, then see India - because the World is an anti-climax"
#15 Mar 3rd, 2018, 13:48
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#15
Quote:
This could somewhat substantially reduce it.
Maxime Bernstein, the author of some excellent Marathi learning texts, if any gray cells remain, I met her in the income tax department in Poona. She was trying to explain that the modest royalties she earned abroad from the book shouldn't be taxed in India at the Indian schedule. I was so happy to express my gratitude..

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