Hyderabad, India Report of what it's like to live there - 04/22/24

Personal Experiences from Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad, India 04/22/24


1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Prior posts included Moscow, Mumbai, Tashkent, and Frankfurt.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Austin. It's a slog to get home and back. How hard depends on which direction - there's a BA flight through London that's direct Austin-Heathrow-Hyderabad, but it doesn't work in the other direction because the Hyderabad-London flight arrives after the London-Austin flight has left. If you can stay over, it would work, but that's not usually an option for R&R. The other ok choice is Qatar through Doha. You still have to change in the US, though. However, Lufthansa has recently added a direct flight to Frankfurt from Hyderabad, and there's already a direct flight FRA-AUS. We haven't used it yet, however.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Nearly three years.

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4. What years did you live here?


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5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Everyone is either in a high-rise or a villa and the housing board works very hard to get people into places that fit their family size and needs. There's an effort not to put single people where they'll be alone, so housing tends to be grouped. The apartments aren't giant, but they're a pretty good size.

Depending on where you are, there are a lot of amenities like small shops, etc. The villas are in nice leafy neighborhoods, some have pools, generally they have clubhouses with gyms of some kind. For USDH, the commute ranges from 5 min to 20 min under normal circumstances. If your commute is 20 min on a regular morning, it might be long in the evening when there's more traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most things are available, especially if you shop at the fancier grocery stores, like Q-Mart. Prices vary: extremely inexpensive for things like onions and tomatoes, and very expensive for things like cheese. Beef is only available from small shops in the Muslim part of town, but pork, chicken, mutton (really goat) is easily obtainable. You can also have groceries delivered very quickly and cheaply: hit the right time of day, and you may wait fewer than 10 min for Swiggy or Zepto delivery. Overall, groceries are cheaper here than in the US.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

There's not really anything I wish I'd shipped but didn't. We sent some leftover canned goods from our last post. You can order on Amazon for things that aren't liquid or perishable and the employee association (ACSA) has a monthly commissary order, so you can stock up on frozen goods and liquids that way too.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Swiggy and Zomato are popular for food delivery. We use them all the time for everything from pizza to Asian fusion to kebabs. There are a few US choices, like Chili's, too. McDonald's exists, but except for the fries isn't like what you're used to in the US. There are actually quite a few nice restaurants here and people go out to them frequently.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of mosquitos. There's no malaria in Hyderabad, fortunately (it's just about the only place without it), but there's plenty of dengue and chikungunya. We have electronic bug zappers in the house that we put on at night and sometimes use bug repellent on our sheets or ourselves before going to bed.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I don't send anything, generally, but I could use the embassy program that sends packages through the pouch for an additional fee over the cost of postage. We get our mail through the pouch. Usually it comes one to two times per week, and packages from the US take around 3-4 weeks. I wouldn't try to use any kind of Indian post, but you could use DHL or Blue Dart if you needed to.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Most people have at least a housekeeper and a driver, although some people also drive themselves at least occasionally. It's very easy to get help here and it doesn't cost more than a few hundred dollars a month for full-time or nearly full-time. Some people also have nannies and gardeners.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The consulate has a work out room and so do most of the housing areas. There are a lot of gyms around, but I don't know what they cost.

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4. Do you feel that it is safe to walk, run or hike outside? Are there areas where bike riding is possible? What is the availability and safety of outdoor space for exercising? Are these easily accessible?

Women walking alone should be on their guard, especially in crowds. It's called "Eve teasing" here and that can mean everything from being ogled to being groped. That said, I don't know anyone who is afraid to go out. There's a large park with a walking path nearby and a dog park.

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5. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I can generally use my U.S. visa card in large stores. For Swiggy and other apps, you really need an Indian account. There's an ATM in the consulate that's safe to use, but otherwise I would hesitate except for maybe large hotels. If you want to use cash, it's probably best to cash a check at the Bank of America window in the consulate. Many people use electronic payments like PayTM and GooglePay.

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6. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are at least a few Christian congregations. No synagogues.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

There are several "local languages". Telugu is most prevalent, but it seems like nearly everyone also speaks Hindi. English is widely used, but if you have some Hindi, that will make some things easier. There's a post language program for Hindi. Pretty much none of the jobs here now are language designated, so nobody's getting sent to FSI anymore.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. There aren't sidewalks, some places (most?) don't have elevators and when they do, they're tiny. The villas are all multi-story.

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1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

I don't know anyone who uses the buses, but people do take the metro. There are autoricks/tuk tuks and Uber and Ola are widely used. Most people have their own car and employ a driver, although there is also some car-pooling going on with the FASTOs.

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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?

You can't really bring anything, as India doesn't make it easy to import a vehicle. Your best bet is to get on the CLO newsletter distro early and look for cars for sale. People also buy new and used on the local market. There's a variety and a lot of people have small-ish SUVs, but people also have sedans. Scooters and even motorcycles are also popular.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

You want to get your local bank account set up ASAP so you can get your internet set up. It took a week or so. You can pay by the year, so I don't remember exactly how much ours works out to a month, but it's not expensive. If you don't have a local bank account, you'll need someone to be willing to let you use theirs to make the initial payment. It also requires a personal visit by a tech to get set up.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I kept my phone because T-mobile used to have a plan with unlimited data overseas that I am holding onto for dear life. All officers are given an iPhone which you can use for anything that requires a local phone number. Plus you can get a phone from Airtel or put a local sim card into a phone you already have. Everyone in the household will want/need an Indian number.

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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?

No quarantine. We have cats and it was kind of a pain to bring them in, but some of that was due to covid restrictions that have been lifted. The expediter from the consulate will help you get your animal admitted. India just created a long-ish list of banned dog breeds, so check that carefully. It has the 'usual suspects' like pit bulls and cane corsos, but it also says "all terriers" and it's not clear at the time of writing if that's going to include little breeds like Jack Russell. We have our housekeeper take care of them when we're away, so I don't know about kennels. There are a lot of vets, though.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Remote work with their prior company or EFM work in the consulate, for the most part.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual in consulate, generally. It's common to wear Indian clothes both at work and in public (shalwar kameez/kurta pajama). There's a Marine Corps Ball every year that's formal.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Be aware of your surroundings. If you're a woman or female-presenting, be especially aware in crowds. Hyderabad's pretty safe, though.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue, chikungunya, covid, problems with pollution (although the air here is MUCH cleaner than most of the rest of India). There is a pretty good level of medical care available, good large hospitals, etc. We currently have local medical providers in the consulate, but there's an effort afoot to get a direct hire American, now that we're growing so much.

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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?

Moderate. Worse in 'winter' when people burn things for heat. It's much cleaner here than Delhi or Mumbai - MUCH better. People do sometimes have some respiratory issues and allergies. There is a lot of pollen, etc because there are a lot of trees and plants.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you tell someone you're allergic to a food, they're just as likely to encourage you to eat more of it as they are to help you avoid it, so be vigilant. I'm allergic to something in the air and take allegra every day, so if you're prone to hay fever, prepare to take meds.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's hot. This is India. It breaks 100F most days for more than half the year. During monsoon, it can be extremely wet. Winter means 70F, but everyone local thinks it's freezing.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is a good school that everyone seems to like, but I don't have personal experience with it.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

We are the only diplomatic game in town, for the most part. There is a small Turkish mission, Iranians, and a one-person British mission. If you think you're going to hob-nob and rub elbows with the diplomatic elite, think again. It can be nice though, if you're not into a lot of representational events. The consulate is growing, as we just moved into a huge new facility last year and are in the process of filling it up.

Morale really depends. If you didn't want to come to India, and you're upset about the lack of the diplomatic lifestyle, you may have a hard time. But if you're open to new experiences and don't let crowds and weather and India-ness get you down, you'll be fine.

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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?

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) arranges events and people form their own groups and do things. There's a wine dinner some people attend several times a year.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it's probably hard for single women, since they're not very likely to want to strike up romances with local people (arranged marriages are still extremely common, and people don't just 'date'). Better for single men, as Indian women might be interested in a relationship. For couples who are self-sufficient, it's good. Families need to get together with each other or the families from their kids' preschools or schools, from what I can tell.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

India is an amazing place and it's very hard to be bored. Travel! Go places! See things! It's not hard to travel throughout the country with a private car/driver/guide, but just work through a travel agent.

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Textiles, jewelry especially pearls, woodworking, art, carpets.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

This is my second tour in India, so I mostly knew what to expect. Before I ever came to India the first time, the best advice I got was to keep an open mind and not to expect things to work like anywhere else. India is unique!

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES. I extended pretty much as soon as my feet hit the floor. I love India and was thrilled to get another chance to live here.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Boots. Winter gear (save some for trips to colder places though!) Germphobia - it really isn't clean, and if that's going to upset you, India might not be the place for you.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, open mind, adventurousness. Also sunhat, bug repellent, and sandals.

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