Chennai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 04/21/23
Personal Experiences from Chennai, India
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, this was not my first post. I have lived in several countries as an expat over a period of nearly 17 years.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What years did you live here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
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.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
You can get everything nearly in Chennai, however, will have to go to several shops to get what you want. Meat is of a poor quality. Alcohol on the open market is very expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing really. Lots of alcohol as you will need it when you have to put up with the endless hassle and stupidity you see on a daily basis.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Pumpkin Tales, Zhouyu, Pa Pa Ya, The Grand Hyatt, Black Orchid, Madras Square, Xo at the Leela Palace and Down Sterling
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Dengue fever is very real!
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Through the Consulate.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is available, however generally of poor quality. Clean in India is not clean by other standards.
In my opinion, more hassle than they are worth!
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Good gyms however, grubby. You will not be showering at a public gym. Gyms in hotels are fine.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
No, no, no
India has not got its act together with international cards. Either an Indian card or cash.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
All religions are found.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Don't waste your time learning Tamil. However, very little English despite being a former British Colony.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
No provision for disabled. It is a poor and backward country despite Indians thinking it is fabulous.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
2. What kind of vehicle(s) including electric ones do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, infrastructure, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car or vehicles do you advise not to bring?
Don't bring an expensive car to post it will be hit at least five times over two years. No concept of what is appropriate when driving.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Good quality internet and phone service. Can be installed quickly.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Jio was good.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Vets ok, if you go to the right place.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
No security concerns.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Yes, the place is filthyyyyyyyyyyy.
Indian doctors have knowledge however, no infection control. Do not get treated in India. Very poor standard.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air quality in Chennai is fine. Four or five bad days over two years.
However, you will have a lingering smell of feces in the air regularly. No proper sewerage system. You will also have problems with drains in your house and associated smell.
4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
It wears you down! In my opinion, it is the worst Foreign Service post in a lengthy career. The differential does not make up for the constant rubbish you will be subjected to every day.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
AISC is alright. In my opinion, a lot of "frou-frou" teaching, and not much emphasis on academics. And, in my opinion, student-led nonsense.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
French, British, Korean and American expats
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Go for dinner and overpriced drinks!
3. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
No, in my opinion, wealthy Indians are painful, self-important and entitled.
A language barrier exists with the man on the street.
4. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes, India pretends it is tolerant of religion. However, there seem to be major issues with Muslims in South India not being allowed to practice religion freely.
Hindu hypocrisy is real!
5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
India is fun to travel in not live in. Skip the Taj Mahal and touristy stuff. Go off the beaten track.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
The beaches are filthhhhhhhy do not be under any illusion that Marina beach is clean. Locals defecate at the waters edge every day.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I will never return.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Car, buy a cheap car and don't worry if it gets run into.