Mumbai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 02/05/23
Personal Experiences from Mumbai, India
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
I have lived overseas on-off for about 25 years. It started when I did an exchange program in university and continued since then: Hong Kong, Ouagadougou, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Freetown, Rome, Paris, Durban, Lome, and Mumbai.
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?
United States is home. It is a long trip, but not hard. Take the rest day and layover.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Large apartment, plenty of bedrooms, the city is huge. Most expats have certain areas like Worli, Malabar Hill and Bandra.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
same or less
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
We have found almost everything.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Zomato and Swiggy can get anything delivered. I have found donuts and baguettes, cheese and local fruits and veggies are all online.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Fulltime housekeeper 5 days /8 hours a day $200-250
2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Many apartments have gyms and there are several in Bandra.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
American Express is widely accepted and visa. Get a local bank account and set up Gjpay or Payme: there are a lot of online payment options. They work best. We transfer money to people and pay for food and Ubers using the electronic money.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
India is an English Speaking country, so lots of options, all faiths.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can get away with English, knowing greetings and basic instructions for a driver (left, right, stop, just further) yes classes are available
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, there are little to no sidewalks and most stores have 1-2 steps up from street level to enter.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Lots of options: Uber, ola, rickshaws, and taxis are around. They are mostly safe, but lack seatbelts. You can choose to pay more for AC or not. Many folks have a favorite car service you can book for a day, Uber has an "outstation" option. trains have different classes. People say Mumbai is safer than most other parts of India.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, my building provided it, so I had it from the start.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Everyone uses WhatsApp so keep that number. Use a local provider, there are several. Ask around where you live and work which provider has the best network there. Depending on tower placement you may or may not have reception at home.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
There are a few, it takes time. Don't expect to arrive and find that XXX NGO needs you every Tuesday. Get to know some locals and what they do and where. Traffic can get really bad, so you might not want to drive to volunteer. There might be online options doing marketing materials. ASB has several service days and have worked with kids, served food in a hospital and volunteered in an animal shelter.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Everything goes, it's an international city. Dress appropriate for the activity. Fashion is fun: lots of great shopping and opportunities to buy fabric and design your own. Several stores offer the best of Indian cotton and design with dresses and shirts that you would wear globally. You can also get local clothes and not be stared at.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Like anywhere in a big city, women need to just be aware where you are going and with whom. The news carries more stories of rape or attacks in the North than here, but I don't know if that is a police fact or media choice. I feel fine walking around, getting transport. I do not let my teenagers go alone, but allow them with a group of friends in uber to a place nearby.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care seems to be available. Air pollution can be a problem at certain times of the year. Homes should have air purifyiers and filters to ensure health.
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?
Yes, some folks get agitated and have coughs.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Lots and lots of vegan and vegetarian options.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
ASB junior high and high school have been fantastic. Lots of options for travel and interaction with other schools internationally. There are built in community service requirements and dedicated staff. We moved here because of the schools and are not disappointed.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Most are run by the schools. There are lots of coaches available for private hire.
1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It is a HUGE city and like NYC, LA, Chicago Paris, there is something for everyone and something going on all the time. There is a planetarium, museum, beachfront restaurants. You have to talk to people and find out who and where they get information about events. Once you get on some mailing lists, you will never be bored.
2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
I found it easy to get information and meet locals, harder to get invited to family event or activities.
3. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
There seems to be a strong community, but not completely visible.
4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
It is overwhelming how many possible trips there are. So many historical sites and lots of geographic diversity. I was encouraged to use travel agents/tour companies because then you just sit and enjoy the trip. However, there is ample information to plan your own adventure, take the train, get a hotel, see sites etc. It just depends on you and your time. Food is always excellent.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Yes, lots of fun everything listed above.
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
International travel is easy, interior travel is very affordable.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I was not aware of the air quality issue. I had come with great ideas of hanging out on the balcony. So purchasing plants, creating a reading/sitting area by a window has been important to bridge the loss of outdoor living. It is also very easy to get out and hike for a day.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, and I really encourage people to consider it. Each day there is a surprise: learning about an event, trying a new food, seeing a new store. The economy is moving and there are stores from high level luxury to hand made local. I find people friendly and genuinely helpful. There are long, painful bureaucratic processes and you need help to do them. Once things start to work and you have all the apps for transport, food, theater, shows, shopping, expat events, sports, etc., you will find your place and be welcomed.