Chennai - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing was ok. We lived on the second floor of a large home that was converted into two units. Very spacious. The other houses in our community were also nice/large. Commute times were very good, only about 10-15 minutes to the Consulate, and that was for just about everyone. - Jan 2024

Housing is terribly difficult to get used to because it's always dirty, something is always falling apart, crumbling and things just stink. Commute from anywhere in the center is not too bad. People should not expect high standards for housing and maintenance. - May 2023

In my opinion, absolutely awful housing. Damp, dark and depressing. New modern apartments are the way to go in Chennai if you are assigned here. Endless maintenance issues. - Apr 2023

Depressing. For such a challenging post in India, do not expect housing will compensate for choosing to come to India. Lower your expectations. Staff appear to be untrained and in my opinion, are not able to keep up with the workload due. I found repairs were often denied or would take several failed attempts to fix to a standard not seen elsewhere in the world. Expect your residence to reflect the same shabby and decaying infrastructure you see in the streets. Housing is extremely overpriced and so underwhelming. My residence was in what one visitor from the US called a slum, although it was not. - Apr 2023

Housing was awful, in my opinion. Families will tend to live in spacious homes in "well to do" neighborhoods. Anyone else is likely to be placed in a mismanaged apartment building. Those living closer to the Consulate have greater access to better supermarkets, shopping, etc. Drive times will be anywhere from 5-30 mins depending on where you live. In my opinion, streets are disgusting and the lack of infrastructure in this old, decaying city makes this the most difficult post in India. - Aug 2021

Most people seem happy with their housing. There are a number of large, older houses mixed with new modern apartments. - Apr 2021

If you are coming to serve in the U.S. Consulate the housing has improved considerably. It seems to have been a priority to let go of old apartment units and find modern, new construction apartments. Commute ranges from 10 minutes to 25 minutes. - May 2019

150 square meter flat with 3 bedrooms. The building is new but poorly constructed. No green space. Noisy (never-ending street horns) and cave-like inside. frequent power outages. commute times vary depending on when you leave home (most folks seem to work 9-18 or 10-19, so if you avoid those times -- not too bad). folks living in the expat areas along the ECR can have longer distances to cover depending where their work place is. - Aug 2018

For the USG community, housing varies quite a bit. Singles, couples, and some families with one small child live in fairly nice, modern apartments that are leased. The options for such units have gotten steadily better over time. Larger families, however, live primarily in government owned homes--some SFHs and some former SFHs that have been split into upstairs and downstairs units. These are clustered in different parts of town, so you will likely be near at least a few other consulate families. There are a few nice options, but by and large these homes not great (sometimes because they are small, other times because of shoddy construction, smells, frequent maintenance issues, strange layouts, etc.; all seem outdated and unattractive). Many say the housing in Chennai is the worst they have seen in the foreign service. However, as these homes are USG-owned, unfortunately they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. - May 2018

A mix of housing types. Typical commutes from ten minutes and up. - May 2016

There's a variety of housing, from single-family homes with yards to spacious apartments. I can't count the times I've heard the refrain, "this is the worst housing in the State Department I've ever seen." Quality does vary. It's all extremely spacious, though. Traffic is heavy in the evening, but less so in the morning. Commute times vary from 10 to 30 minutes on average. Driving is crazy -- not traffic per se, but driving. - May 2016

Huge mansions, modern condos, derelict apartments, you have it all here. Commutes are mostly short, traffic actually moves. - May 2015

Consulate owned houses are split into 2 units. Apartments are rented. Commute is usually 15-20 minutes to the Consulate, 30 minutes to AISC. - Mar 2015

Housing is located in the city mostly 15-25 minutes from the Consulate and 30-40 minutes from the school. Combination of free standing homes and apartments, and most were clustered so you had consulate neighbors nearby. - Oct 2014

The housing was large. It's a very small city so everything was within 20 minutes away. There is no public transportaiton so almost all expats had a car and a driver. - Oct 2014

Most people live between 15-30 min from the Consulate. A mix of houses, apartments and duplexes, many significant and recurring maintenance issues. Most of the properties are old so just plan on spending a lot of time dealing with maintenance. - Jun 2014

The government provides both apartments and houses in a central location. Most are happy with their housing assignment. Many of the apartments have balconies. Houses will have a garden, some with fabulous fruit trees! Commute time is 15 - 30 minutes, depending on traffic and where you live. - May 2014

Housing includes Consulate owned and rented. Many of the 'houses' are split into two units that are Consulate owned. All true apartments are rented. Commute is usually 15-25 minutes to the Consulate. Nearly everyone lives near other U.S. Consulate folks. - Aug 2013

Housing is comfortable and most people in our community live very close to the US Consulate. The American School is a little further away, but still within a 30 min drive from most residences. - Jul 2012

A 20-minute commute for USG folks to the consulate. For corporates, there can be some long drives. Traffic heats up fast. - Aug 2011

Housing is spread out in the nice neighborhoods around the city. I lived the farthest from the consulate but closest to the school. It would take be 15 minutes before 830 in the morning to get to work. Then 30 minutes before 600 in the evening. After 600 the commute would take more than an hour. Other housing is much closer to the consulate. Most are homes, single family or duplex. There are nice apartments as well. All concrete construction. - Jun 2010

Various options. - Sep 2009

For consulate families, people without children are assigned to spacious apartments normally and those with children usually get houses. Other expats usually have very nice houses. - Aug 2008

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More