Mumbai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 05/10/18

Personal Experiences from Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India 05/10/18

Background:

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

No, lived in various cities in Europe, South America and Asia.

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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?

Long trip back to the US, over $1,000 with long connections, 15 + hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

US Consulate.

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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 scattered between Bandra and BKC, very few in South Mumbai. Commuting is crazy so BKC people seem to be better off than Bandra.
Housing is very low quality, things are always breaking or not working.

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

Cheap produce however most cleaner places cater to foreigners like Pali Hill, are similar to US prices. Same thing with meat, low quality stuff for cheap meat is available but then it's sitting in the heat and sun all day so most people shop at higher end stores for expats like Nature's basket and Pali Market upscale shops (expensive).
Mumbai prices were a complete shock to me.

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

Alcohol, paper products, all condiments, even mustard, ketchup, etc is pricey here.

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

Higher end restaurants are very glitzy, hygienic, but so-so and pricey.
Very few mid-level options for expats, as most food is indianized and extremely spicy.
Street food is cheap, but spicy and easy to get sick on, actually.... plan on getting sick from it.

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

Mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch

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

Can be cheap if shopped around but most household help being passed on from previous officers charge way above the market, full-time help at 40 hours per week can be $400.

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

Consulate gym is good, some buildings have their own gym.

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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?

Yes but only in proper shops, not the street ones.

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

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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?

Can get by without.

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

Yes very much so.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is available but slow at times

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Higher clearance. But you will likely buy locally as importing one is not an option.

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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?

Costly and unreliable.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone. cheap plans available.

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Pets:

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?

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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 EFM jobs are available.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes plenty

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

Regular suits, etc, local kurtas are acceptable.

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Health & Safety:

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

Mostly for women when on their own, especially at night, cabs, uber, etc.

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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, malaria, respiratory infections due to poor air quality. Stomach issues, endless health concerns.

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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?

Terrible.

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

Low Morale due to filth, air, low quality of life.

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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?

Very hot, most of the time.

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Schools & Children:

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

I hear ASB is good.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. 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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Low morale due to unsanitory conditions, extreme heat, high cost of living, air, dirt, dust, etc.

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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?

Consulate has a few events, but a bit insular as singles only socialize with singles and families with families...

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

No I don't think Mumbai is easy for anyone. I recommend do your research before coming here and don't just believe the incredible India campaign.

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

I don't think so, although Mumbai is supposedly more liberal, there is still a big taboo here.

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

Huge problem with hierarchy, specially caste based. The lower working class is treated quite badly by the upper class.

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

Unfortunately the highlights are all outside of India like traveling to Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Dubai etc.

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

Not much to do in Mumbai. Commute is so hard that although there are events, spending 2+ hours in an Uber for a 1 hour event is not worth it.

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

Yes so I hear, but I keep getting higher expat prices only

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

I personally have not experienced any but some people seem to like it.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That living in Mumbai is an intense experience, the constant noise, dirt, heat, traffic, and pollution really gets to you after a while.

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

No, I would not.

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

Sanity :-) Cold weather clothes, outdoor sports equipment.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sun screen, bug repellant.

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

Maximum city & slum dog billionaire

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Do your homework and manage your expectations.

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