Settling Down & Living in Darjeeling: Page-2

Hi Raj, 
I have been reading your blog ever since I typed the words "settling in Darjeeling" in google about a year back. I am very grateful to you, like many others , for all the practical guidance you provide to dreamers like us. 
I am planning to take an early retirement by 2021 and settle down in Darjeeling. I am not particularly looking at earning a living there, at the most I may open my doors to youngsters who want to get a glimpse into the world of AI and robotics(you know kind of motivate them and kindle the fire in them). Being a Himalayas addict (specifically the eastern Himalayas), I and some of my friends do have a plan to open an eco friendly camping ground with no bells &áwhistles, but very clean and self sustaining bathroom/toilet complex and a basic canteen facility somewhere near Tonglu. 
But that is a plan for another day. The main reason I am writing is to understand if I can buy a small plot somewhere within the vicinity of Darjeeling as a US citizen. If so , is there a checklist to ensure that I am dealing with a genuine seller ? Regards 
Sanjoy Das (January 2019) 
Hi, good to see that life is making you to think differently :) 
Hope you are aware that foreign citizens are not allowed to purchase land in India unless one is a resident of India as per FEMA guidelines. Assuming you get around that, there is no checklist as such. Best option is to engage a bonafide lawyer (preferably from Darjeeling district) who knows the laws of the land. Good luck! 
Raj ( January 2019 
Hi Raj,  
I have been following your website for quite some time. I have made trips to Darjeeling with the information you have provided. I appreciate for the good work you have been doing.  
We are Bengali NRI couples planning to return back to India soon. We have been planning to settle down somewhere which is close to our heart. We never had any intention to settle down in Kolkata as we both are not actually from this city. We are in our thirties and we can survive without any active income/job. We are not looking for early retirement rather we would like to engage more on the things we would love to do. We have been working really hard to make the life more meaningful. We would like to contribute to the society, working with people who are helping others and for the people who need help. Although, we can do this living anywhere in the world but it would give us pleasure/meaning when we live in the mountains where we can see the mighty Kanchenjunga everyday of rest of my life, where we can breathe the fresh air, where life is simple, where everyone smiles.  
I believe, getting a rented apartment and start living isn't that complicated but the email I am writing to have some of your suggestion/advise on how we can start this new phase of our life. Are there in reliable NGOs whom I can volunteer to teach, share experiences of my life, struggle, success, failures, mistakes.  
We are also well aware that we may not like living in Darjeeling. We may find out that living like a tourist and loving the place is not same as living like a local. But still, we would like to try if we have some guidelines how to start. All our plan to pursue this might just fail but we won't lose anything. Whatever experiences, we would have good or worst, we must want to take this risk.  
Looking forward from your reply. 
Toufiq (July 2019) 
Hi, there are several NGOs that operate in Darjeeling. One of the active ones is Hayden Hall who runs programs on education, health, food etc for the poor women, children and the aged. Their programs are mostly run through volunteers. It could be worthwhile contacting them and see if there is any area where you can meaningfully participate. You can get some insights into their activities through my website page on Hayden Hall. You can use the following contact information to get in touch with them: 
Phone: (0354) 2253166 
Raj ( July 2019 
I am of 73 years retired engr &ámy wife is housewife of 67yrs. staying in Kolkata. Kolkata is now-a-days very hot in summer (we suffered a lot this year), which will increase in the years to come. We two like to go to colder places during May-June-July starting with Darjeeling in the coming year 2020. But the problem is money for staying so long. Are there any paying guest type accommodation available in Darjeeling closer to Darjeeling railway station / Ghoom area or nearby ? We shall be grateful to have the information from you. 
S K Bhattacharya (August 2019) 
There is no paying guest accommodations in Darjeeling that operate on monthly rentals. There are many homestays which operate like hotels on daily rates along with food... some might call themselves paying guest accommodations. These are not very cheap... in fact you might find some low budget hotels that are cheaper. You can however negotiate a better rate for longer term stays, but they will not come close to anywhere near something like a rented accommodation, if that is what you are looking for. Having said that, there are proper rental accommodations that are available in Darjeeling area (although quite limited)... and for this you need to engage a broker, pay deposit fees etc etc and this is unlikely to work for stays of 2-3 months. 
Raj ( August 2019 
Greetings. I am exploring the possibility of retiring in Kalimpong to spend time communing with nature. So, would like to buy an accommodation for two in an area surrounded by nature. Is this possible? I am born and raised in West Bengal and am now in Bangalore. I know Bengali and Hindi. 
R V Ramani (June 2020) 
Yes, that's quite possible. I know there are land areas which have been purchased by outsiders recently, mainly in the Delo (Deolo Hill) area for making small resorts/homestays. You need to go there, stay for a while and get hold of a local broker. Be mindful, there are plenty of disputed lands too. Regret, I can not help you further in such matters. 
Raj ( June 2020 
Dear Raj, 
Myself is 58+ a retired person in Kolkata willing to stay at Darjeeling or in its neighbourhood along with my with my wife. áObjective is to enjoy the climate and its flora and fauna. As we both are still able to work, willing to work in a homestay / eco tourism oriented organisation to pass our time and earn a part of our living. May also work in a school for guiding the kids. However, our main objective is to shift our livelihood from Kolkata to the hilly areas of Darjeeling / Ghum / Kurseong or any similar place you can suggest. 
Kalyanbrata Biswas (July 2020) 
In my view, you need to wait for the right time to arrive to make such plans. All homestays, hotels, tourism business and even schools have been closed in Darjeeling hills since long, and it is uncertain when they will actually open, function normally and be able to fully recuperate... it might take months or even years before they can imagine of accommodating any new outsiders in their business, if at all. 
Raj ( July 2020 
Hi Raj, 
I wish to own a small home in hill area of Darjeeling or Kursheong or Kalimpong area. I wish to go there for few days in two or three months to rejuvenate. Later after retirement I want to settle down there. I want to know your view 
Abhijit Basak (August 2020) 
Hi, many Bengalis have similar dreams, but I haven't seen a single instance where this has become a reality in the recent past. There are many practical reasons or rather difficulties due to which making a summer home or a vacation home in the hills here do not work out well these days. Availability of suitable and undisputed lands, high maintenance issues, reliability of caretakers, miscreants causing damages, political problems, safety are some of such issues. 
While I shall not discourage you from pursuing your dreams, I would personally prefer to avoid such hassles, and instead, stay in a nice homestay run by a local family and enjoy their hospitality, homemade food, and cozy and homely atmosphere with adequate privacy, if my intent is to feel at home while holidaying in the hills here. 
Raj ( August 2020 
Hello sir, 
Thank you for reading my mail. I am from South Korea who is a Christian wishing to open a charity school for the local kids who have no opportunity for the basic education. It will be a free charitable school for the locals. Having read all the previous mails sent to you it sounds like almost impossible to buy a property but still possible to rent a property/building for school. 
My questions are 1. Can I get a visa for such NGO worker who wants to help the poor local children? 2. If I hire teachers or caregivers for the school, on average how much per month should I pay them? 3. áIs a Christian school would be welcome in a Buddhism or Hinduism nation? 4. Is Opening a bank account for a foreigner possible? 
I just want to do God's work helping kids educating whose parents are too poor to give them a proper education. I believe that it is my call doing so. 
Please share your insight with me. Highly appreciated. Thank you very much. 
Angie Kim (August 2020) 
Hello Angie, 
It is not impossible for outsiders to buy land in Darjeeling area, but it needs a lot of work and patience to find something right for one's purpose. Foreign nationals who want to visit India on voluntary/charity work can get visas, however, they need to be appointed by a registered NGO in India. Such visa is initially issued for 1 year but can be extended for a total period of 5 years, after which a new visa can be applied for. 
But the first step should be to get associated with an Indian NGO and get an offer to visit India for a specific purpose. Since your interest is in Darjeeling, you can try to get in touch with Hayden Hall, a long-time charity organization in Darjeeling, who can guide you through the next steps. They might also be able to guide you on expected salaries of teachers depending on skill and experience requirements and part-time/full-time job appointments. 
You can get details of Hayden Hall including their contact info through this web page on my site
There are countless Christian schools in India, and Darjeeling is no exception... in fact, most schools in Darjeeling district are Christian schools, however, they are all open to all kinds of students irrespective of religions, gender, caste and creed. 
Foreign nationals can easily open bank accounts in India (known as FA resident savings or current account), but they need to furnish all necessary (KYC) documents that include passport, visa, letter of appointment, Indian and overseas address proof, photos, FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) Permit, Form 60 or PAN Card etc. 
Raj ( August 2020 
Hi Mr. Raj, 
Thanks for creating this wonderful website and i enjoy coming to this website for information. 
My Query is regarding my long term plan to completely move to that part of the world ( Kalimpong/Darjeeling) being in love with the Himalayan life , the culture and the peace which comes alongside. 
I and my wife ( From kalimpong) are currently in IT jobs in Bangalore , however do want to permanently move to preferably Kalimpong or maybe Darjeeling. I was interested in doing a small tourism related business and my personal interest was to start a small cafe in Kalimpong. However i am not really sure if this is a good idea, especially post Covid . However we are absolutely sure of moving to the mountains and i am determined to make it happen. What type of Work could you recommend to make a modest living in Kalimpong? I was thinking if not tourism then maybe Floriculture . Any helpful information will be really appreciated. 
Kind Regards, 
Vikas L (September 2020) 
Hi, both cafe and floriculture are good ideas. I personally believe that tourism is a very resilient sector and will gradually get back its traction, particularly in Darjeeling/Kalimpong... it might take a while though. Tourism, however, is a seasonal business while floriculture combined with domestic sale/exports can be done most part of the year, but requires larger space. 
I have observed that in both Darjeeling and Kalimpong, businesses that have a specific theme have done well compared to the others. 
For example, in Kalimpong, presently the most popular cafe is 'Art Cafe' which blends artwork and artistic ambience with its cafe offerings. They also have a nice location with views which too is important for a cafe... you can see my findings on this link (scroll down a little): 
Similarly, Pradhan's Pine View Nursery, which has been a long-time stoppage point in a regular Kalimpong sightseeing tour, specializes in cactus. There are several other such themed nurseries in Kalimpong. You can see my findings on this link under the section 'Flower Nurseries' (scroll down). 
Good luck! 
Raj ( September 2020 
Hi Raj Sir, 
Thanks for the blog and the time, energy and efforts you put up for reviewing each query and replying to it. 
I have been thinking of getting myself a leased / rented property in village of Kurseong/ Kalimpong, ásolely for the purpose of spending "me time" or for detox. I can live without internet connectivity and would rather appreciate disconnection for a while. 
Homestays can be a good headache-free option but does become costly affair on "per day price basis". 
There cannot be a better knowledgeable person who can guide in any matter related to the hills of Darjeeling. 
So, I am looking forward to your guidance. What are the areas/ villages where there will be no/ negligible tourist flow but have public transport connectivity. What can be an approximate cost for 1-6 month rent/ leased independent basic property? 
Rakesh (November 2020) 
Hello Rakesh, 
Villages in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts have been so far geared to offer accommodations only as homestays to outsiders or tourists. For long-duration stays, most homestays would be willing to offer discounted rates, but that won't be anywhere close to rental rates. And the homestay rates are usually packaged with meals. The option of renting out houses in Darjeeling hills, particularly in rural areas is more like an exception and limited only within the village community or known circles. 
There are lovely villages like Chimney and Bagora in Kurseong where tourist footfall is negligible, and these places have nice village houses too. You can also find similar such small houses in Dello hills of Kalimpong. The owners might be willing to share a part of their properties on a rental basis for 3-6 months, but you need to approach through somebody you know in the community... this is more of a trust and credential issue. This is not an organized sector and you won't get any broker who can meet such requirements. 
Rental or lease option for 3-6 months for personal stay is not quite practical in the hills here, particularly in the villages. On the other hand, I am aware of a couple of cases, where city residents have rented out houses in Chimney village on a continuous basis through their known sources for the past few years and use the accommodations occasionally as their vacation/summer residence. But this as I said, is more like an exception. So in short, being an outsider if you like to stay in the hills temporarily, you should be prepared to contribute to the local economy as a tourist and not as a native. 
Raj ( November 2020 
Thanks Sir.  
You have so much informed knowledge on Darjeeling and its surroundings, nobody needs to search anywhere else. 
As you have pointed out, there has been a few cases where city dwellers have rented village houses, although through credential references and the instances are quite negligible. I look it as a silver lining and hope something still can be tried.  
I will try next year to visit the villages around Kalimpong / Kurseong to see if anything can go through! Bagora is quite good for solitude seeking people.  
Thanks once again for your time and energy in helping out so many queries of so many people. 
Take Care and Stay Safe. 
Rakesh (November 2020) 
Hi Raj, 
I came across this forum while researching on pros and cons of building a house in Darjeeling. We are planning to retire and settle in the hills next year and being from Kolkata, Darjeeling seems to be the convenient option, rather than looking at Uttarakhand/ Himachal Pradesh as the base. 
However, friends and family are asking us to think twice - given the past political turmoil in the hills. Since you are based out of Darjeeling, and have been giving very prudent and practical advice to one and all about the place, would like to have your honest opinion about the current political situation and local sentiments. We will be investing our hard earned money into a property and plan to spend our life there, hence are asking around for some advice/ opinion on the situation. 
Thanks in advance. Stay safe. 
Kind regards, 
Saswati Dutta Gupta (December 2020) 
Just to let you know that I am not based out of Darjeeling, but I do have deep roots and frequent connections with the place. 
In my personal opinion, political sensitivity in Darjeeling will remain for several reasons. Firstly, there seems to be a deep-rooted feeling within the Nepali residents that over the years they have been deprived of certain rights which some of the other north-eastern states happen to enjoy, and therefore the demand for a separate 'Gorkhaland' is a genuine sentimental issue which the leaders here have repeatedly leveraged to take political advantage. 
Second, the proximity of Darjeeling to so many international borders is big enough a reason for political matters to remain sensitive in the area. Siliguri corridor is the 'Chicken's Neck' of India and connects Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Northeast India and the rest of India. 
While good governance can keep the political situation in control, I won't be surprised if political turmoils resurface in the future. And as for setting up a home here only to live a retired life without any expectations to make earnings... that should be okay. Other than Nepalis who are the majority, there are many Bengalis and even Marwaris who are settled in Darjeeling and some through generations... and they will all vouch not to leave Darjeeling in their life-time whatever may be the difficulties. They are all used to weather the storms of temporary financial difficulties and restrictions of movements during the political disturbances. It's really up to you how you look at things. 
Raj ( December 2020 
Thanks Raj, for your honest opinion. Gives much clarity. 
We are looking at areas like Samthar, Sitong, Pedong, etc. and intend to live a retired life and working with and helping out local communities, if possible. Bandhs and political turmoils are part of Indian lives, so that shouldn't be a problem, I guess. As long as there is no anti-Bengali sentiment brewing- but like you said, many Bengalis are already settled in the hills.  
Thanks again for the advice, much appreciated. 
Stay safe. Stay well. Kind regards  
Saswati Dutta Gupta (December 2020) 
Hi Raj, 
I chanced upon your website and proved to be such a wealth of information. Thank you for such a gem of a website. Now the question: I want to build a house either in Kalimpong or in Kurseong. Which one would be a better option? I would love to have the cottage where if possible view the hills, and also close to the rivers (Reilli, Teesta etc.). I read your Q&A thread and looks like Darjeeling is out of the question so I am not considering Darj as an option at all. Moreover, I rather stay in a quaint area than a very well developed one. I plan to use this as a second home. Any suggestions as to which of the two K's would be a better option? Much appreciate all your help. 
Rapti Khurana (February 2021) 
let me give you some pros and cons of both places rather than choosing one for you because after all individual preferences can vary. 
Kalimpong is now a separate district while Kurseong is a subdivision under Darjeeling district. Overall infrastructural development in Kalimpong including living conditions is better compared to Kurseong. However, as with Darjeeling, getting a land in the main township area of Kalimpong will be difficult too... you will probably need to stay in the outskirts or nearby developing area such as Deolo. 
While Kurseong is well known for several sprawling and world-renowned tea estates, the infrastructures such as road conditions in the interior of Kurseong could be a problem. But an advantage of Kurseong is... it's much closer to Siliguri, NJP and Bagdogra than Kalimpong... the highway NH-110 passes right through Kurseong and reaches Darjeeling town in one and half hours. Kalimpong, on the other hand, is a little isolated and located on the other side of the river Teesta. Rishi road that offshoots from NH-10, leads to Kalimpong, and sometimes there are heavy traffic jams on NH-10 as well as near Siliguri town. 
When it comes to Kanchenjunga views, both places have such views from their respective vantage sites, but Kalimpong offers better views. From some parts of Kurseong, you can see the river Teesta and Mahananda, while Relli river flows through Kalimpong area. Teesta is also viewable from several parts of Kalimpong. 
Kurseong's main assets are its tea estates, several famous boarding schools, and off-late a few upscale hotels including a large tea resort by Taj group. Residents in Kurseong are mainly tea garden workers and farmers. The villages within Kurseong area still suffer from poor living conditions. Kalimpong, on the other hand, is a business hub, has a township of its own, and there are many hotels and resorts of various categories. Being a subdivision, Kurseong is much smaller compared to Kalimpong which is a district, and therefore, options and choices would be a lot more in Kalimpong.  
Good luck! 
Raj ( February 2021 
I am 30 years old, single lady, software engineer. Due to this pandemic I am working from home since more than a year. Now I am planning to work from outskirt Darjeeling for few months. For that I need basic food basic furniture and good wifi connection to continue my office work. Can you please suggest me which area will be best for me ? I am searching non crowded calm and homely atmosphere. Thanks in Advance, 
Nandita Roy (April 2021) 
If you are planning on rented accommodation in Darjeeling for few months, most likely you won't get one, more so in the outskirts... monthly rental system is not quite common in Darjeeling particularly for outsiders. You can get some homestays in the outskirts with basic amenities and negotiate the rates based on your stay duration. Internet connections in the outskirts will be quite poor to almost nil and the homestays in Darjeeling usually do not offer wi-fi. 
In order to work remotely over the internet, you need to stay within the town limits or nearby (for example between Darjeeling town and Ghum/Jorebungalow... there are a number of homestays along this route). Depending on the exact location of stay, you need to buy a local SIM or a dongle from an operator that has the best coverage in that area. Airtel, Vodafone, Jio and BSNL have coverage in Darjeeling, but all do not work equally well in all places. Overall, the internet stability in Darjeeling is questionable. 
Raj ( April 2021 
Hi Raj, 
I'm looking for places around India where I can move to. I only work remotely so I can move to a new place without it affecting my work. A friend suggested Darjeeling and I was looking to get some answers. It will be great if you could help me with that. 
1. How is the internet situation in Darjeeling? Are there good local ISP? 
2. How hard is it for someone from outside to buy a piece of land or property(house/flat etc.)? Are there any local restrictions similar to places like Arunachal where a non-tribal cannot buy into real estate and can only rent. 
3. Sorry if this sounds rude, are there any hostile conditions( racism, etc.) towards people from outside? Especialy north India like UP/Bihar. 
4. What else should I consider when I'm making the move to Darjeeling for long term( possibly retire from there)? 
Thanks a ton! 
Rahul (May 2021) 
While most of the major ISPs operate in Darjeeling, only 3G network is available currently. The coverage is not uniformly good and will depend on your location... outskirts often have poor coverage and stability. Outsiders can buy land, but there is practically no land available within the proper town limits. You need to go to the outskirts or to the smaller towns/settlements of Darjeeling district like Mirik, Kurseong etc. The whole of Darjeeling district, in general, is a friendly place... there is no racial issue as such. But it is not easy to get accepted as part of the local communities... the local culture is quite conservative. 
For a long term stay, you should consider learning Nepali language (which is the main dialect across Darjeeling), participating in social welfare activities and work towards creating opportunities for the locals and/or their children in terms of education, skill development etc. This is one way you can get close to the local communities... otherwise, you will likely remain alienated as an outsider. 
Raj ( May 2021 
Hi Raj, 
I, and many others here and elsewhere, would like to explore the opportunity of living a few months a year in the mountains or foothills of West Bengal or in a neighbouring region. I am originally from Kolkata. Seeing the number of practical and very useful advice that you gave your readers, I was wondering if you might have some advice in this matter, e.g. if the idea is viable at all, and if so, then what are the things that we need tom be aware of. Any advice will be greatly appreciated of course. If you need further information from our side, I am happy to provide the same. If you like, we can continue our discussion over email, or in another suitable format, if you like. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance. Best Regards, 
SD (May 2021) 
I can't guess if your intent is to purchase a property or rent one. Rental accommodation is unlikely to work in short term stays of few months... getting a rental accommodation in the hills is anyway a little difficult. Buying a property in your case is also not quite practical because leaving a house unattended in the hills for a prolonged period of time is not a good idea. On the other hand, keeping flexibility on the location whenever you come will give you wider options. 
You can work out an arrangement with a homestay... you should be able to bargain a good rate for a stay of few months at a stretch. There are a large number of homestays/guesthouses in Darjeeling and in its outskirts. Since you mentioned foothill, you can also look into homestays in Dooars... there are plenty of them. 
Raj ( May 2021 
Hello, Raj sir! First of all, thank you for all the information that you provide with such tremendous sincerity. I am 27 years old, from Bankura district, West Bengal and I've done a PG in English and B.Ed and currently I am waiting for the lockdown to be over so I can move in Darjeeling. While making this plan, my idea is of course to join some school over there. Now I've already seen most of your answers regarding the settlement or job prospects and I already almost get my answer, BUT still it's always more supportive when hearing something first hand. 
I've a bank balance that should support me for around 5 months while I can apply in all these schools I've shortlisted. Now the question is, as it is mid-June and lockdown too, I guess there are winter vacations in the hills and if it happens, then for how long, as my target should be to enter any school before that, and move right after the lockdown. Do the school offices remain open now if not the classes or any possibility after the lockdown? 
Another question is, I've seen you've said, always locals are given preference for a job, so in that case what could be the possibility that I can land a job if I try hard(my choice is just the hills, be it anywhere; not Darjeeling in particular). Is this feasible enough to look for 5 months at a stretch for this living at a single place? 
I've several contacts and made friends too, along with that, a paying guest home is already kept and we keep in touch. I JUST WANT TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTION regarding this school job thing, and in that case if you know things about Sikkim too, that is also welcome. Your help will be deeply appreciated sir! Thank you. 
Arindam Sinha (June 2021) 
Hello, these are difficult times and it's hard to give any suggestions regarding jobs. Schools in Darjeeling had remained closed for months due to the surge in Covid and subsequently for lockdown. They recently re-opened only for new admissions. The school offices had also remained closed. It remains to be seen how they open up after the lockdown period based on the state directives. As for the applications, you need not be physically present in Darjeeling... you can send out your applications by post or even by email wherever possible. You need to be there when you get a call. There are plenty of schools in Kurseong as well (which is essentially a school town)... so, you can also consider applying to schools in Kurseong. By the way, your qualifications look promising... few years of experience would have helped a lot. 
Raj ( June 2021 
Hello Raj, 
Congrats on this excellent blog. Ideating on this for a long time. Hope you will shed some light. 
I am 35, an engineer, a coder; my plan is to settle with my family and run my tech firm from Kurseong. Our forte is Digital Automation &áRobotics. We deal in manufacturing, construction, oil &ágas, retail &áagriculture. And lately, we manage 99% of the workload through WFH. 
1. Own a 2.5 or 3 Katha land in a gated community(security concerned, else not needed) with Kanchanjanga view or a place with snowfall or near a snowfall area. 
2. Build a steel prefab house surrounded by a fruit garden. Slowly build a chicken farm for eggs, a soilless precision farm around the house for terrestrial veggies, fruits, nuts &áfish. Install solar, wind, or hydro for electricity &áfog catching net/rain harvesting for water. 
3. Collaborate with tech institutions, educate locals, who could be the future hires. Hire from local tech colleges. 
4. Will also try to automate local community &ábusinesses, as a source of our revenue. 
5. Will need co-ed schools; which I understand are available at immaculate standard. 
6. By the time, I make this happen, Elon will get Starlink running in India; thus Internet sorted. Else need whatever best ISP available. 
7. A location that has access to caf? food, KFC similar, coffee within 30 mins to 2-hour drive away. But groceries &ápharmacy within 5 minutes walk away. 
1. Personally, I do not socialize much, neither like it. Most of my time is spent in the study or lab, unless with old friends. How well the locals react to an outsider resident, who likes to spend time with pets, animals &áfeed birds in terms of socializing and proactively misses human social gatherings? Given the curious nature of the locals; as I read. 
2. I understand for an extreme medical condition, Kolkata or beyond is the goal; how practical is an airlift for senior citizens &áto where? 
3. The land has to support an underground room for my main lab. Is that possible in that geography? 
The big picture: When I am 65 around, that 3 Katha land and its surrounding would look like a high-tech Leo Tolstoy?s Farm ( Vision: The Venus Project ). After my death, that underground lab will be a museum. 
Could you guide the best way to approach this lifelong project in The Hills? 
Max (June 2021) 
Your requirements seem to be quite unusual and I don't think I am the right person to guide you on the approach to such a project of a lifetime. Here are some comments for you to think through: 
  • At present, there are very few gated communities in Kurseong (one or two are in Giddapahar area) and all of them are fully developed... there could be some properties for re-sale but I doubt if there is any land available for development in such a gated community. 
  • I don't think residents, in general, would bother you if you choose not to socialize, in fact, being an outsider, it would be difficult to socialize with the locals anyway. However, any effort towards the upliftment of the society or contributing to their economy would be appreciated. Except for a small class of people, the natives in Kurseong are not well off and unemployment continues to be a huge challenge. 
  • An airlift directly from Kurseong is not quite practical. There is an Indian Air Force Station at Bagora village (located within Kurseong subdivision) which has a helipad. If you can strike a special arrangement with the Indian Airforce unit here, it might be possible. Otherwise, one can always go down to Bagdogra Airport (1 hour 20 minutes by car) and take a pre-arranged chartered flight to Kolkata, Delhi or wherever. 
  • On your desire to have "A location that has access to cafe food, KFC similar, coffee"... Kurseong doesn't have any such thing... you can get that in Darjeeling which is only 1 hour 15 minutes away, or in Siliguri (similar distance). There are of course a couple of large luxury resorts that have come up in Kurseong recently (including a Taj Resort on Makaibari Tea Estate)... they would be running cafes and restaurants which you too can avail. 
  • Multi-storied houses in Darjeeling Hills (including in Kurseong) are often done in steps on the slope of the hills... which means even a basement or a lower floor would have its own separate entry/exit at that level. I haven't seen a room that is totally underground without access from outside... it might be possible, but you need to consult a Civil engineer who has a good understanding of the topography and soil conditions of Kurseong. 
    Raj ( June 2021 
    Although I plan to make some trips to both the places (Kalimpong and Kurseong) before I decide however to initiate the process I would definitely like to know your advise on Kalimpong or Kurseong? 
    To set the context, as you are already aware and mentioned in your post most of the people want to do that and I am no other. I plan to settle down in mountain( not extreme climate places) some day when I plan to retire from corporate/business world, and I am confused between these two places or may be I don't know the third or fourth place (please suggest)....looking for tranquility, some activity to keep me engaged, quality school for kids, wife is a good cook so some engagement for her as well, safety and hassle free stay. 
    I want to own rather than rent so suggest if good apartment or owning a land/independent house is feasible (am a Bengali from Murshidabad settled in Bangalore if that allows me to buy) also if any good builder with essential amenities sells apartment there. The last thing is sensitive however important, I am a Muslim and would like to understand if both the places or may be the third one you may suggest are safe and habitable for us? 
    Shan (June 2021) 
    Between the two, Kalimpong could be a better choice given the crowding that has already taken place in Darjeeling. Kalimpong still has some serene places like the Dello hills but doesn't have so many quality schools that Darjeeling or Kurseong has. It is possible to purchase a plot of land, an apartment or a house on resale. I do not keep track of builders, so I can not comment on who might be a good builder. You can also find some online listings, but not sure how reliable those will be... disputed lands /properties are quite common in the hills here. So you should do detailed due diligence and engage a proper lawyer in the matter. I haven't seen communal issues at either of these two places, so your last point may not be of great concern. 
    Raj ( June 2021 
    Thanks Raj. 
    One clarification, what do you mean by purchase on resale, can't I buy new apartment? 
    Shan (June 2021) 
    Yes, you can purchase new land or an apartment, but practically all land areas within Darjeeling/ Kalimpong proper are already fully developed and sold out... it would be hard to find a new property. You can get one in the outskirts though... but the outskirts/remote areas have a lot of disadvantages in terms of infrastructure and basic amenities. 
    Raj ( June 2021 
    My wife (60 yrs) and I (65yrs) currently live in the southern most state of India, KERALA in Trivandrum. Though we belong here, we have been living across India for almost 3 decades. I am in the Entertainment Media Industry, in the field of Animation &áVisual Effects. I am a writer, educationist, painter and theatre person besides my profession. My wife is a successful Reiki Practitioner busy healing and teaching people across the globe. Our only daughter is in post-graduation and is living in Bengaluru Hostel. 
    We are Travellers. Especially hills and Jungles. I am ashamed to say that though we planned for Sikkim a few times, it didn't happen till now. But now we have a wish to spend long stays in Kalipong or any other similar place where we can stay 3-6 months every year. With a clear view of Kanchenjunga. I read in some of your replies that home stays could be ideal to start with. Once we get used to living there we could think living for longer durations or even settling down there. 
    In short, though it sounds clich?, we would like to have retirement on the hills but still work remotely. Nature of our engagements helps us to do so. Our daughter also is passionate about inclusive education, etc. She might also end up doing an NGO in that place. Who knows? 
    Is our wish too much ambitious? Could you give me your valuable advices? 
    BTW, your style of sharing information is absolutely amazing. Thank you in advance. 
    Hari Varma (November 2021) 
    Your plan is quite doable, mainly because you will still be able to work remotely and won't need to depend on local jobs. Yes, homestays can be the first step... they often agree on special long term rates that are affordable, and you will also get the opportunity to know closely the local culture and traditions when you stay with a local family in the same house. They can also guide you appropriately on how to go about buying a piece of land or acquiring an existing property. 
    Good luck! 
    Raj ( November 2021 
    Hi Raj, 
    Thank you for sharing all the information and helping people. It?s really nice of you to invest you time for the welfare of others. 
    I had a question and was wondering if you can guide me a little. I?d like to buy a piece of land or a house and refurbish it for personal stay in Sandakphu or anywhere close to the Singalila ridge. Another alternative could be in Neora Valley. It?s not intended for any business purposes, purely for me and my wife to live in. 
    I have been to and stayed in Kalimpong and Darjeeling districts many many times and always wanted to have a house in the places I mentioned above. I?m 42 now and finally have the means to afford it and a job that allows me to work from home. The time is just right! Can you possibly help me on how should I go about finding properties in these areas? Are there broker contacts available or local websites? I have searched a lot on popular sites like 99acres or MagicBricks but have drawn a blank! Your help will be most appreciated. 
    Sambit Banerjee (May 2022) 
    Not sure if you know about the terrain of Sandakphu and its nearby areas well enough or not, but it's not quite suitable for making a house for living, and that's for many reasons... there is practically no infrastructure, heavy shortage of water &áelectricity, hardly any mobile towers and internet connectivity, and extreme weather... most natives come down to the lower altitude areas during the winters when there is heavy snowing often blocking the routes for weeks or even longer. 
    Moreover, much of Sandakphu belongs to Nepal and Indians are not allowed to buy land there, and most of the Indian territory (the eastern part almost up to Tumling) falls under Singalila National Park, and one can not purchase land there either. Only the native villagers were allowed to make limited huts and lodges. 
    You can of course try to buy a piece of land at a place like Kolakham which is at the entry to Neora Valley National Park but not directly within the national park area. I can not help you with any broker contacts because that's not what I deal with. However, you can contact Prabir Mazumder (Phone: +91 98362 23235, 89102 92775) who is a local and might be able to help you with information, ideas and other liaison work for a fee. 
    Good luck! 
    Raj ( May 2022 
    Dear Raj, Greetings and thanks for creating such a nice forum and your efforts to guide many people like us who loves hills and willing to relocate to Hills. 
    I am a physiotherapist by profession and currently working in Qatar. But my plan is to stay in Darjeeling or Kurseong or Kalimpong and open my personal physiotherapy clinic there. May be everyday a fixed time of my clinic will do some charity to serve poor and needy people. And rest of the time will be paid service for other people. Is running a physiotherapy clinic and settling there a good idea and is it doable? Thanks in advance for your guidance. 
    With regards, 
    Debarshi Das (August 2022) 
    Hello, yes, I personally think this is a good idea and quite doable. Any initiative that can help the community in the hills, either in terms of service or employment, is usually welcome. There is a real dearth of quality clinics in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, mainly because of the lack of quality practitioners. For every little issue, people rush to Siliguri. So, there is a large gap to be filled up. 
    Good luck! 
    Raj ( August 2022 
    Dear Raj, 
    Thank you so much for your quick and positive response. As I don't have much idea, Darjeeling, Kalimpong or Kurseong which one do you think better place for my plan and also easier to settle?  
    With regards, 
    Debarshi Das (August 2022) 
    Hello, Darjeeling town is the most congested out of all the three and finding a property there would be the most difficult, although the business opportunity could be maximum there. Kalimpong and Kurseong towns are the next two most potential places in that order. Actually, you need to spend considerable time at each of these places and figure out which might be suitable for your initiative. All these places are within 1.5 - 2 hours of driving distance from each other. 
    Raj ( August 2022 
    I have been through your website for quite sometimes... We are based in kolkata with a 5years old boy... we wish to give him a primary school amid nature far from this crowded and polluted city life...we are thinking of Dr.Grahams in Kalimpong... if you could usher some light on how we can admit our son to Dr. Grahams and how we get an accommodation near this for 2-3years... then we will come back to Kolkata... but we want him to have the taste of nature in his tender years of education journey. Your suggestion will mean a lot to me. Thank you 
    Manikankana Bardhan (October 2022) 
    Suggest you go through the official website of Dr Graham's Home. The admission process and the fees are stated there. In fact, they accept applications online. For rental accommodation, you need to visit Kalimpong at an appropriate time, stay there for a few days and find a local broker. If you stay there at a homestay, then the homestay owner may be able to help in the matter and guide you. 
    Raj ( October 2022 
    Thank you for your patience. You are reading and suitably answering a lot of questions. 
    I would like to get advice from you on below. 
    I am 60+. wife -60. Both were in good job. Now retired+going to be retired soon. I love farming. If I buy some land in a village in the hills and make a small house and a kitchen garden for personal use which place will you suggest, keeping in mind good view of mountain preferably Kanchanjangha, if possible, a locality nearby for buying ration and medicine ? áAbove all is it a fantasy at this age or it can be made true ? 
    NB. For living further earning is not essential. 
    Subrata Roy (December 2022) 
    Hello, if you have the passion to realize such a dream, then it can certainly be done, although it might take a while to give it a shape. 
    While getting food provisions and views won't be a huge problem in a village, the main issues with both Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts are the medical facilities... you will need to visit a township to get a medical store and need to come down to Siliguri for any serious treatments. So, if you like to stay in a village, it is better not to stay too far away from a township or even Siliguri. 
    While there can be several options to choose a village area in Darjeeling with views, one of them is Sittong which is part of Kurseong sub-division... there are several villages in Sittong spread over three Pachayats (Sittong I to III). Sittong I and II are developing well due to growth in tourism... many homestays have come up here, but there are still enough open and virgin lands. The place is moderate in altitude, so you won't likely face an extreme climate. Sittong has the ideal weather conditions for growing orange orchards... there are plenty of them. It takes about an hour to reach Kurseong town from Sittong I and lesser from Sittong II. 
    Raj ( December 2022 
    Many many thanks. One more question, whether outsiders can purchase land in Hills like Sittong ? 
    Subrata Roy (December 2022) 
    Yes, one can purchase land in certain areas of Sittong... one such instance is the lodge 'Salamander Jungle Camp' in Mahaldiram (Sittong-II)... the land was purchased by a businessman from Jaldapara who owns the property. 
    Raj ( December 2022 
    Hello Raj 
    First and foremost, thank you for building such a great repository of information on Darjeeling and surrounding areas. While I was searching to get some information about the same, came across your site and almost have consumed every piece of content since then. So a huge Thanks!! 
    Now coming to my question similar to a whole bunch of ones, How and possibly what can I do to settle down in North Bengal, preferably small villages around Kurseong/Darjeeling which offers limited footfall of tourists and serene beauty round the year. 
    To give you a bit background, I live in Bangalore and originally from Kolkata. I visit Sikkim every year but for a very limited time due to my demanding corporate job. Although I have dream to open a homestay in the future, as of now my plan is to open a small cafe and get whatever earnings I can through it while also living there full time. 
    Since you have so many friends/contacts in those areas, could you share some of the contacts with me so that at least I can propel in the direction of settling there in near future? I have around 2-3years before finally making the move so wanted to get the best out of this timeframe that I have. I have looked around for such information but the availibility was very limited and almost could not trust anyone from the handful I got. 
    Sorry for making this message so long!! I really hope you would read it though and would eagerly wait for your reply. 
    Wishing you all the very best in life :) 
    Mumpee (October 2023) 
    Opening a cafe is not a bad idea, but if you set it up in a village or on the outskirts of the main township areas, then in all likelihood you won't get a regular flow of customers, and it may not be tenable. 
    There are already several highly popular cafes as well as art cafes in the main townships of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, and they are all run by the locals. So, in the main townships, you will need to take the competition head-on and do something unique to make it run well. 
    In either case, purchasing a property outright is not easy any longer. Most local businessmen take properties on lease and you too should plan in a similar way to begin with. But for this, you will need to spend a lot of time looking for the right location and property. I doubt if a busy corporate job will allow you to do that. 
    Eventually, you need to get in touch with a local broker. But in order to make a head start, you can do some research to zero down on the location of your choice. And then find a good homestay nearby where you can stay whenever you go there. The idea is to get friendly with the host and take his/her help and advice to find a broker/property... because only locals can help in such matters. In the hills, such information does not easily percolate to the general public. 
    This was exactly how a couple of my close friends from the city had set up their properties in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. But it took a long time and tireless effort to do so. Both realized that they had to quit their corporate jobs first before they could give it a serious shape. 
    Well, that's the only 2 cents I could offer from my side... sorry, that I can not be of further help here. Although I have many close friends in the hills, in order to respect their privacy, I can not pass on their contact information to you... they are busy persons in their respective fields and won't generally have an interest in such matters. 
    Good luck! 
    Raj ( October 2024 
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