Hyderabad, India Report of what it's like to live there - 06/26/24

Personal Experiences from Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad, India 06/26/24


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


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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?

Virginia is home. The total transit time was about 24 hours with a transfer through either the Gulf or London.

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3. What years did you live here?


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4. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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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?

Housing is in gated communities with either villas or large apartments. The villas tended to be older and primarily for families. Apartments were newer and slightly smaller but tended to have more amenities. Our complex had a playground, two pools, a gym, a movie theater, a library and a restaurant. We lived in a four bedroom, five bathroom high-rise apartment overlooking the botanical gardens.

People were scattered between Banjara Hills and Gachibowli during our tenure. Commute times were around 45 minutes to one hour from Gachibowli to Secunderabad. The Consulate moved to a new location in 2023, so commute times should be at most 20 minutes if you live in Gachibowli.

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

Local produce is inexpensive. If you want western products, it’ll cost you. A small jar of maple syrup cost ~$25. It is really hard to find good quality cow's milk cheese. You can buy imported cheese at Qmart, but it is very expensive.

You will eat the best mangoes of your life during mango season. Hundreds of different varieties. So good!

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

-Bread and pastry flours
-Tomato paste
-Maple syrup
-TJ spice mixes, taco seasoning
-Vanilla/almond/peppermint extracts
-Duke's mayo! (the mayo in Hyderabad is weirdly sweet)
-canned tuna/anchovies/sardines
-canned artichokes
-bone broths

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

Zomato and Swiggy can get anything delivered. The food options are expanding a ton as Hyderabad is a rapidly developing city. There were many more takeout and restaurant options than when we first arrived.

There were several brew pubs opening when we left. You could also get decent Mexican (California Tortilla), Japanese (Taro), Chinese, Lebanese and Italian.

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

We lived in a high rise and never had issues with mosquitoes. Some of the villa complexes tended to be swarmed- and I mean swarmed- with mosquitoes. Fogging was not a regular occurrence. There was an outbreak of Dengue among the community while we were there. My preschooler got it and was hospitalized.

We went on vacation and rats took up residence in our car. The maintenance team was responsive and the issue was solved quickly.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch through the Consulate.

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

We hired a driver, a nanny and a part-time cook/cleaner, and they were all wonderful. The Consulate community tends to pay their employees at a higher rate, but you are getting very high-quality people who can read, write and speak English well. Our staff made our time in India infinitely better. They know the culture; they know the best prices; they will barter and translate on your behalf. Treat them well. Pay them well.

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3. 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?

I walked alone or with my two young kids around Gachibowli; we would walk to my son's preschool, Sarath City Mall, Qmart, the botanical gardens, the Wednesday neighborhood produce market or to get ice cream from Almond House. There were no sidewalks, but the traffic accommodates pedestrians. I always felt safe, but nine times out of ten we would get stopped for a selfie, or someone would pinch my son's cheeks, or someone would ask for money, etc. I didn’t mind. Indians are very curious, hands-on and friendly. Westerners value personal space. Indians do not. Know your comfort level and plan accordingly.

I jogged in KBR park or Durgam Cheruvu Lake Park with no issues.

One officer rode his bike to work daily. That is outside my comfort zone, but he did it!

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

We had a full gym and yoga studio in our complex. The apartment complex also had weekly Bollywood dance classes, personal fitness instructors, personal yoga instructors that would cost ~$5-10/session.

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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?

Get an AmEx for online purchases. Always carry cash. I felt safe using ATMs, but they would often run out of money at the end of month.

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

English is widely spoken. In a pinch you can use GoogleTranslate or have your driver translate for you. There were language classes for awhile at the Consulate, but participation dwindled.

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

It would be difficult to get around the city.

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

We used auto/tuk tuks daily with no issue. Have patience and be prepared to barter. I generally paid 100 rupees ($1.20) for rides within Gachibowli. I also got a few WhatsApp numbers of auto drivers to reduce the headache of flagging one down. They liked the regular work and I liked knowing I could rely on someone to actually show up.

Some people took the Metro. It was inconvenient to my housing, so I never did.

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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?

Bigger is better. We got into at least 3 car accidents and you want more protection than less. Some people drove motorbikes. Don’t bring an expensive car as it will get dinged up.

We never worried about burglary/carjacking because our driver was always with our car.

During monsoon season, you will be happy with a high-clearance vehicle.

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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?

High-speed internet is available. It took a few weeks for it be installed.

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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?

We used GoogleFi and a local sim.

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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?

We didn't have pets, but people seemed happy with vet care.

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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?

Some individuals worked at the Consulate. A few telecommuted. I had an expat friend who was an American OT and she charged US prices for her services. There are plenty of wealthy Indians in Hyderabad who will pay a premium for a rare commodity if you are a small business owner looking for local clientele.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons. There is so much need.

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

A blend of Indian and western wear. Largely casual. Dress modestly.

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Health & Safety:

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

I always felt safe.

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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?

Medical care is okay. Hyderabad is a medical tourism destination for certain treatments (primarily for Lasik and cosmetic surgeries). There is a doctor at the Consulate who does her best to take care of us. No one during our time was medevac’d. I was pretty disappointed with the pediatric care locally. One person delivered at post and said the care was fine. Another was pregnant and liked her OB-GYN.

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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?

From November-February the AQI is around 150-300. My kids had respiratory issues both years but nothing major. We used our air filters and planned mostly inside activities during 'bad air' season.

Hyderabad consistently had the best AQI compared to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai. If you are considering India, I would strongly suggest Hyderabad.

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

Labels are not consistent.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

People at post either immediately extended and dreamed about curtailing. Living in India is a full sensory experience and that can feel overwhelming sometimes. I would say festival season is particularly exhausting as there are parties’ all day and all night. We lived by two large temples and a mosque and there were fireworks at 2AM and drumming to greet the sun for weeks. I loved the enthusiasm at first, but it got tiring!

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

The weather is generally nice from October-February. March-June is dry and hot. June to September is monsoon season, which can bring cooler temperatures- just be prepared for a downpour usually in the late afternoon/evening.

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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 were mostly preschool aged kids while I was there. The older kids went to International School of Hyderabad.

Schools to look up:
Oakridge International School
International School of Hyderabad
Anthea Montessori (serves kids up to 8th grade)
New York Academy (serves kids up to 8th grade)

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Our children went to Anthea Montessori and Blue Blocks for preschool. Most families sent their kids to Blue Blocks as it was closer to their homes, but I think Anthea was the better school.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

We had a few kids’ classes offered in our apartment complex. Some sent their children to the Little Gym. I had young kids at post, so I am not sure what K-12 activities there are.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community in Hyderabad is small. My American friends outside the Consulate enjoyed living in Hyderabad. Morale varied within the Consulate. We had a tough tour due to family illnesses stateside and COVID, but overall we enjoyed living in Hyderabad.

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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?

I found random friends mostly through my daughter’s preschool and within my gated community. There was also a wine club and small expat WhatsApp group. Put yourself out there and you will find people.

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

One single person married an Indian. Another was extremely unhappy and curtailed. Flexibility is key.

The couples all seemed to do well.

The families for the most part did well. Our family took a trip about once a month. If you plan far enough in advance, you can travel very inexpensively and see a ton. We flew all over the country and had a ball.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I made several local friends within my gated community and through my daughter’s preschool.
Hyderabad is one of the most liberal cities in India and many of the locals have worked abroad for tech companies.

One of the black members in our community was harassed in my gated community when he was swimming at our pool. I did not witness it firsthand, but heard what happened.

Being a woman can be hard here. I took a girl's trip with my daughter and was constantly asked where my husband or "sir" was, if I needed an escort, or if my husband knew where I was.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I am not sure. Southern India tends to be more progressive than northern India. There was a small group of transgender women in my neighborhood, and the locals either ignored them and thought they were a curiosity, but I never witnessed malicious behavior.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Please see above.

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

Kaziranga National Park
Valley of the Flowers
Meghalaya to see the double-decker root bridges
Andaman Islands

See the cities, but make sure you get out into the countryside, do a safari and go to the national parks. They are stunning!!!

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of activities/places to see.

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

Absolutely, yes. Fabric, art, handicrafts, it's all beautiful and very affordable.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's a great jumping off point to see the entire country as it is centrally located.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That road trips would not be much fun. There is virtually no hiking around Hyderabad and not a lot of nature.

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

If given the choice of any Indian city, I would definitely choose Hyderabad again.

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

sense of tranquility.

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4. But don't forget your:

noise-canceling headphones!

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Anything by William Dalrymple. There is so much literature about India.

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