Quite a few folks asked me to send them a list of things to get from US while returning back to India.
The below is the list I had emailed a friend who moved back a couple of weeks ago to Hyderabad. You may need to tweak it a bit if you are moving back to Mumbai , Delhi or Banglore where generally more things and variety of NRI friendly things are available. You may leave out a few things if you are returning back to your hometown (as Facebook calls it ), as you would be familiar with shops/quality/services available. Lastly, I knew that the apartments/condos in Hyderabad are typically bigger than in Mumbai, especially the kitchens. So I didn’t worry too much of getting things back and being worried about lack of space. Even then,we knew we would be moving into an apartment here and downsizing from a single family home to an apartment is not easy – you don’t have that giant black hole called a ‘garage’!
So we sold all our outdoor furniture ( patio furniture, sun umbrella and grill), sports gear ( cycles, ski’s) and whole bunch of stuff that was generally in the garage.
Also, we were not able to get any liquids ( oils, paints, thinners etc), batteries (even rechargeable ones), alcohol ( no vino or beer either) as part of the shipment. So we had to give those away.
WHAT TO GET:
Furniture: Bedroom and Living room furniture ( especially if it is contemporary and sturdy stuff that will not accumulate dust in its nooks and crannies).
TV’s:If getting them , check to see if it supports PAL signalling. Else geta TV signalling converter as well. The ones available in US is of better quality/reliable.
Other electronics: Printer, Professional grade stand mixer, Home theater system, Phone
Small electronics: Iron, alarm clock, kitchen electronics such as toaster/blender , slow cooker, crock-pot, immersion blender etc. If you are willing to use a converter, bring it along. Else best to donate it.
Latest gadgets – Cell phone, tablets, DSLR (with its lens, filters, diffuser, cleaning kit etc)
Baby Diapers: Especially if you use ‘Sensitive’ or any ecofriendly ones due to irritants issue. You do get Pampers and Huggies in India but you will not get larger package sizes and so will need to stock often.
Baby Needs: Diaper cream, infant/toddler safe sunscreen, baby toothbrush and training toothpaste, mosquito or bug spray like OFF
Baby Clothes , Shoes and Toys: Daily wash and wear clothes that are 100% cotton, age appropriate toys, Books, starter puzzles. Generally you will get more age appropriate, kid safe and non toxic versions of toys in US for cheap. If shipping is not an issue, stock up on these for 6 months.
Baby Feeding needs: Kid safe forks/ spoons, sippy cups/bottles etc. Avent brand is available everywhere but I haven’t seen Dr. Brown’s. So if you do use that then best to stock a few extra. Non perishable snacks like Cheerios, teething biscuits etc
Baby swimming gear: Do get SPF swim clothes, pool toys, sand toys, inflatable arm safety bands, inflatable pool ring etc. We didn’t have this in our list and to get a size 0 swim ring was such a pain in Hyderabad. Oh, and don’t forget swim diapers if your kid is not potty trained.
Other baby gear: Small foldable stroller, a good diaper bag, potty and car seat.
Food: Any artisanal food item that you love ( cheese, chocolate, hot sauces, mustard, dressings, balsamic vinegar) or specific brand you or your kids like (especially for chocolate and cheese, pancake, waffle, cake mix that you swear by) or even specific version of standard product ( aluminium free baking powder, sodium free soy sauce, low sodium spice mixes etc). If you love cooking, trust me, you will miss US.
Kitchen ware: Non stick cookware, baking pans and molds, cupcake liners, measuring cups, knife set, non-Indian spice mix etc. They make great gifts as well.
Party supplies: Michael’s and Party City– I miss you. Also get paper plates, disposable spoons and forks – the quality in India is pathetic ans they droop in hot food. when the maid doesn’t show up second day in a row, you will thank your stars for having good quality disposable stuff.
DIY supplies – My pinterest board is full of arts and craft activities that I can do by myself or with Varun if only I had small canvas-es, glitter, non toxic glue, non toxic paint etc. You can get them here, just not in one store.
Perfumes and Makeup – Again, based on our brand of choice you may find that with a 15% luxury tax here.
Other stuff – Curtains, fitted sheets, contemporary frames etc. We got what we had and didn’t buy anything new. But I know folks who stock up on fitted sheets, quilts, frames etc before moving back. They make great gifts as well.
WHAT NOT TO GET
Electronics – Fridge, Washer, Dryer , microwave, Cooking range – Some folks who did bring them back experienced issued within months of bring them here. Best to sell them. Fairly decent variety available here for almost the same price.
Other electronics – Fans, Lamps, vacuum cleaner
Woolen Rugs – Unless they are expensive which you want to save for future use. Most likely you will end up storing them to protect them from dust.
Baby food – Gerber bottles are yuck. Having a cook to make fresh baby food everyday is so much easier.( Other than sweet potato and berries which you don’t get in India, but can’t really bring back either ). Also string cheese, yogurt puffs melt in the heat here.
Diaper pail and liner – Everyday garbage collection makes it easier to dispose diapers.
Formula – I have seen Similac at most medical stores.
Baby Wipes – After much trial and error, we have settled on Johnson and Johnson ones. Single packs, no economy or costco sized versions here. But pretty similar to Kirkland baby wipes in texture and ahem…wetness.
A lot of this may vary by your hobbies, family needs, kids age ,willingness to adapt to Indian versions and by the city where you live. For now, we still miss US and have got a few parcels thanks to generous friends. Over the months we hope to adapt better. Else, we know who to ping 😉