Hyderabad, India Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad, India 07/15/19

Background:

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

No, we've lived in a variety of places overseas - Mexico, South Africa, Argentina, Egypt, Israel, and now India.

View All Answers


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?

Two answers: Washington, DC is our base, and that is fairly straightforward on a one-stop flight on British Air passing through London for 4 hours. Getting to where our parents live can take anywhere from 12-48 hours or longer, with multiple connections. We recently stopped trying to do it in one shot and have taken long layovers in London to get through part of the jetlag. The prolonged period of time it took to get home meant my spouse missed his father's funeral.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

View All Answers


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

US Department of State

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing with the consulate is adequate. In our case, it was luxurious. We had a 4 BR / 5 Bath apartment in a residential neighborhood close to the Consulate (15 mins). The "neighborhood" was unlike the housing for other members of the community who live further out in houses; they have actual neighborhoods, with neighbors. We lived more "downtown" - if we left our apartment complex (which was very well manicured, but had very little space to hang out outside - lots of the locals hang out in the garage), we were a few steps from a busy intersection with lots of life, construction, chickens, camels, food stalls, etc. But given the short commute time to/from work, I wouldn't want it any other way.

View All Answers


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

Again, two answers: if you want local food, it's super cheap. If you want international food (i.e. granola, peanut butter, etc.) it costs a lot more because of the cost of importing it here. Better to ship all of that stuff through the pouch. Household supplies are never as good as they are in the US, where the paper products are always of a higher quality - we shipped all of that stuff with our HHE, including laundry pods, toilet paper, paper towels, party cups, and napkins. Very glad we did - one Costco purchase lasted us the entire tour.

Groceries were a let-down, to be honest. The produce was very unpredictable (yay! seasonal!), but to the point where staples were missing for a week or more, like salad greens, cheese, yogurt, bananas - always to be replaced with something unrecognizable. It's a lot of experimentation with lots of mixed results. The produce is JUST NOT TASTY and explains why Indians cook all of their food to death and add lots of spices. We were never impressed with the quality of raw foods in India with the exception of a few items: seasonal mango (6 weeks), strawberries (twice a year), and a few types of rare bananas (minis and red). Cereals, grains, pasta, canned goods - we tried, but ended up shipping all of those items.

Wine is exorbitantly expensive ($30 for the cheapest international bottle of garbage wine) and the local product is terrible.

View All Answers


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

What we couldn't find, we could ship. We came armed in our HHE with hundreds of pounds of groceries and supplies, so that helped.

View All Answers


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

Obviously, southern Indian food is where you should be dining, as it's what tastes best and is what people know how to cook. The local food is like 9 chilis out of 10 on the SPICY scale. Even if you ask for less spicy, it is still fire-level spice. This is WONDERFUL if you like spicy! Lots of people end up avoiding the local cuisine because it's too much, but I thought it was phenomenal.

International cuisine is mostly a miss, though occasionally it's "fine." We never found authentic Thai, for instance, and Chinese food tasted exactly like the Indian cuisine. Hotels often have the best international cuisine, with Westin offering a Western style buffet breakfast and the Park Hyatt offering the best Italian in the city, and I've heard a good pan-Asian cuisine.

Take-out is very common, quite cheap, and usually efficient (~45 minute delivery times), with Swiggy and other apps.

View All Answers


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

We didn't have problems in our apartment, but mosquitos are certainly a problem. Dengue is a real disease that can affect you for weeks! So if you're prone to mosquito bites, you'll want to take precautions. Otherwise, ants and occasionally termites posed indoor problems, but both are treatable with poison or more organic methods.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Post offers a package facility that operates through Delhi. In practice, this means we have to pay to get our mail first to Delhi before you can send it back to the States. No DPO here! Dropping off letter mail is fine, and you just put a stamp on it. But any Amazon returns will first require a postage fee to get it to Delhi before you can avail the "free return."

View All Answers


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

Household help runs in many forms - from nannies, cooks, and cleaners to household "managers" and all of the above. We hired a cleaner for two days a week (~6 hrs) and we paid approximately 8000 rupees/mo. She was willing to cook and we were very satisfied with her service. Many people also use their hired driver to perform lots of other types of functions, including anything to do with the car, but also picking up groceries or dry cleaning and running other errands. We didn't have a car/driver.

View All Answers


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

Many apartment buildings have very modest gym facilities and sometimes pools. They're perfectly fine if you want one or two kinds of cardio machines and perhaps a few free weights, but little in the city offers more than that. The consulate has a fairly substantial gym with lots of equipment (though free weights don't always match up).

View All Answers


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?

Credit cards are such a problem!!! Many places will tell you they accept credit cards only to not accept "international" credit cards, but this is not consistent. Getting a local credit card is practically impossible. Lots of people pulled out cash from the consulate ATM or by cashing checks at the consulate "Bank of America" (same logo, but unaffiliated). We did not risk taking out money at local ATMs unless doing so with a local checking account. That process took 13 visits to local branches to open and 6 visits to close - deposits have to be done in person, but then you have a way to pay if you don't want to carry cash. Few people (taxis, market vendors, etc.) will make change for bills bigger than 200 rupees.

View All Answers


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

Christian services are available.

View All Answers


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

English is usually sufficient. A little Telugu or Urdu will make you a friend with a taxi driver, but everyone has some level of understanding of English, while many people are fluent. The consulate offers periodic classes in Telugu, Urdu, and/or Hindi.

View All Answers


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

Absolutely. There are no reliable sidewalks. Many streets and sidewalks are little more than gravel and rubble.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Taxis are a big part of a lot of people's lives. Despite what others might think, you can absolutely live in Hyderabad without a car, using only the taxi companies (Uber and Ola, currently; Grab might be trying to make headway, which would be great). Uber works for some; they permanently banned me when I tried to change my credit card. Ola was okay. Customer service for both companies is terrible. The costs per ride are very cheap, but the cars are beyond unreliable. The drivers work 24 hour shifts, split their cars with other drivers, change cars, the cars are usually filthy, the drivers are untrained and unlicensed, often smelly, do not have working seat belts, call you before every pickup, deny you rides, inexplicably travel in the wrong direction, and a myriad of other issues. I hated every moment of it, but without a car I had no other option until I started carpooling.

Despite all of that, I'd still probably choose taxi over buying my own car because it's so much cheaper. The cost of the car, plus repairs, insurance, gas, and a driver is an enormous expense whereas I spent roughly $100 on taxis to/from work each month. That said, riding with my friends who had cars/drivers was a GREAT luxury and I was always so grateful because the personal drivers were always safe and well trained.

Buses do not appear safe (I never took them). The new above-ground metro was a hit with locals and foreigners alike, cutting down a lot of traffic time to the suburbs, though its one line doesn't go very many places yet. Once it goes to Gachibowli and the airport, Hyderabad will be infinitely more navigable. Trains to other parts of the country are slow, dirty, and would take days, so that's not a great option unless you're hunting for an adventure.

View All Answers


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?

Cars are probably the number one cause of complaint for members of the community. The only real option is to buy from another diplomat, unless you're willing to spend money on a new car locally (a whole other series of potential problems there, not to mention expensive). If you do find a car available at the time you arrive, there's a good chance the car is old and will be in constant need of repair. Buying from another post is a huge pain and not at all recommended - it took almost 8 months for my car to arrive, at which point (it being old) it was no longer working, required more $ to fix it than it was worth, and it took another 12 months to get authorization to sell it for a few rupees.

All that said, driving here is atrocious, though some do it (many don't last longer than a few months). Few abide by traffic laws. Streets are a competition of motorbikes, tuk-tuks, taxis, buses, people trying to cross the street, and sometimes livestock.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, very fast internet is available. Most people use ACT if the hookup is available, and we didn't have problems. We did have to pay the entire annual cost up front each year - and in CASH - which was collected at our house by a person from the company who didn't carry ID and spoke little English, but the internet did work and went out very infrequently.

View All Answers


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

We brought unlocked cell phones and paid pennies for a local plan which included unlimited calls and an enormous amount of data we could never use. The issue here was getting it all set up. Everyone has this problem; Airtel asks for different things from every person who sets up service. They do address checks which can take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks before they turn your phone on. ("Make sure you're home all the time!") We did a family plan, and one phone turned on within 48 hours and the other inexplicably took almost 2 weeks. Customer service, as mentioned before, is terrible and did not resolve any issues. Once it's working, though, it works everywhere.

View All Answers


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?

While there are multiple jobs at the consulate, they are not created equally. Some are part-time, some are boring, some deplete brain cells, and others are a tremendous amount of work and responsibility. Local jobs are usually not possible. (They are NOT possible for same-sex spouses.) Local salaries can be a tenth or less of what you'd make in the US, so most people aren't searching for paid jobs, but rather volunteer opportunities.

View All Answers


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

"Business casual" is a fair assessment. Some men wear jackets/ties, but that's not customary in India (though not unexpected when meeting contacts, even if they are under-dressed). Indian formal wear is different from Western formal wear, and Americans can choose to buy/wear Indian wear (which is great fun!) for formal events. Formal dress is required at the national day event, but rarely outside of that.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

This is one of the safest places I've ever lived. Most of my female colleagues were not bothered by taking taxis alone. It's not a nice city to walk around, but if you did, it's safe, even at night. I never heard of any reports of burglaries or crimes. People are very friendly.

View All Answers


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

Health concerns include pollution, water, food, and insects. Precautions must be taken to prevent illness for each of those broad categories, and new residents quickly adapt. You hermetically seal your apartment, drink only filtered water, clean all fruits and vegetables (we bleached everything and never once got sick), and take care with bugs (mosquito spray if you need it).

Medical care is pretty poor. Dental care was widely revered as cheap and of good quality, but we each had a really uncomfortable experience with a regular dental cleaning. Several people were hospitalized with conditions that went undiagnosed. Lots of people with health issues get medevac'd.

View All Answers


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?

Many locals refer to bad air quality days as "bad weather." There is a real lack of education about the seriousness of pollution in India in general. Air quality in Hyderabad is better than in Kolkata and Delhi, but on par with Mumbai, and slightly worse than Chennai and Bangalore. It runs above 100 AQI almost every day of the year, and is near or above 200 from Diwali in late October through the summer months (March). Those without lung problems won't notice it, and with lower temperatures may even speak about how lovely the weather is -- this is a big problem. The air is unhealthy and everyone should come prepared with masks and minimize time outdoors during the heavy pollution season. Every year, more and more information comes out about the deleterious effects of pollution, so I don't buy that it's not affecting you if you "don't feel it until it's over 200 AQI."

A good percentage of Hyderabad's pollution comes from construction projects (which are everywhere and all year) while the Dec-Feb period see the highest incidences of burning, including garbage, leaves, and sewage -- the whole city smells bad, the sky is ugly, the rain is gone, and anyone with pulmonary sensitivities won't last more than 15 minutes outdoors.

View All Answers


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

Pollen allergies are far less frequent here than in other parts of the world, so that's a plus. That said, colds are often a result of pollution or other environmental factors. Germs are everywhere - there are a lot of people! And Indians do not widely conform to Western standards of cleanliness or sanitation, unfortunately.

Nice restaurants with owners who've lived outside of India may come back with concepts of "gluten intolerance" and "peanut allergy" but most regular restaurants won't understand, nor will their menus list ingredients.

View All Answers


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

There are four seasons in Hyderabad:
Nov-Feb: Pollution Season: lows in the 60s at night, but days are in the 70-80s.
Mar-May: Extremely Hot (average: 110 degrees), but low humidity
June-Sep: Monsoon Season (doesn't rain all day, but rains almost every day for a short period), warm, high humidity
Oct: The Pleasant Season - 80s-90s, with low humidity

There's no real "winter" and if you don't like heat, this is not the place for you.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

The expat community is larger than expected given the high number of American and international companies based in Hyderabad (Boeing, Ikea, Microsoft, Google, etc.). There's a whole Latinx community that gets together once a month and there are tons of people! The diplomatic community is tiny: the US consulate is the mega-presence, but there are one or two Brits, Iranians, and Turks here as well.

View All Answers


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?

Those that have kids and live in the Gachibowli area tend to have an easy way of socializing because of the number of events and size of the international schools. There's an elite social club that costs a lot, but they don't take non-traditional families (i.e. gay people or Muslim spouses), from what I understand.

Meeting locals is complicated. Most Indians live at home until they get married, meaning they have responsibilities. There are often cultural barriers for men and women. Lots of people don't drink, though bars are becoming more common.

View All Answers


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

Singles: not really. Couples: it's okay, though not in terms of entertainment. Living here is easy enough. Families: the school usually receives high marks from students and parents.

View All Answers


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

It's not great for the LGBT+ "experience" in the same way that Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore are. There are barely bars, let alone gay bars. Pride is held on a secret day in February, ostensibly to prevent unwanted gruff. That said, many of the big Westernized companies have LGBT/ally groups with great attendance, so younger generations are beginning to learn about LGBT+ presence.

For us, we were benefited by the fact that few people in the community knew of our relationship. Our educated neighbors knew and were fine with it. When traveling and staying at hotels, we would sometimes be asked if we wanted two beds, but no one was pushy or assuming. But drivers and tour guides never assumed we were together (we'd regularly get questions like "how many girlfriends?"). We never once felt any animosity towards our sexuality. On the whole, it was much easier than I expected, given that we were in the conservative (and more Muslim) south.

Two more points:

1) Delhi and Mumbai are much better for a more scene-y experience, but are still far from an American understanding of LGBT-friendly.
2) Gay spouses do not get diplomatic visas, immunities, or rights to work on the local market. Several gay spouses (not necessarily affiliated with the consulate) had problems securing long-term resident visas. So gay spouses have to compete for consulate jobs, or work from home after getting local and post approval, which is absurd.

View All Answers


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

It's not easy, but working at the consulate makes it a lot easier. Westerners - white, black, and I imagine non-Indian Asian, though I'm not sure - in general are treated respectfully in Hyderabad, and mostly ignored when walking on the street. That said, in any other city or at any tourist attraction (even in Hyderabad), I'm taking at least a dozen selfies with strangers and answering lots of questions. Westerners are celebrities here, which is fun at first, but gets exhausting after a while (poor celebrities!), particularly if you have kids, who are often subjected to the same kind of civilian paparazzi.

View All Answers


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

We wanted India for the travel. Hyderabad was never on our radar, but I'm glad we ended up here because the airport was easy to get to (usually a $10 cab ride) and usually efficient. They have a special door for domestic carry-on-only passengers who checked in online - you're through security and at your gate in no more than 10 minutes! We took more than 2 dozen domestic trips and over a dozen international trips in two years. Super cheap and serves as a psuedo-hub for lots of major discount airlines, including Jet, AirAsia, Go, and Vistara, but particularly INDIGO which was always the most affordable, great service, on time, and had a very reasonable food program. We used them a ton.

Best domestic trips: so many... Holi in Mathura, the Ellora and Ajanta caves, the Chola temples in the south, Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, our 10-day tour of Rajasthan, our Golden Triangle tour, visits to the Portuguese towns on the west...

Best international trips: Sri Lanka is a dream, Maldives were a dream, Nepal was a dream, Thailand we went four times, UAE is only 4 hours away, as are Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and those are direct flights overnight. Wake up and start your day!

Also, as a vegetarian, every menu is clearly delineated with vegetarian and meat options, with most having a majority-vegetarian menu. Many places are vegetarian-only. Fast food places even have multiple vegetarian sandwiches - with McDonalds and Subway, for instance, each having 5-6 different sandwich options!

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad is surprisingly enjoyable...for two days. Beyond that, it is not old enough to have a well-established arts or cultural scene and is dreadfully dull, honestly. But for a weekend, my friends who visited (and had never heard of it) were beyond pleased with its offerings. There are a few downtown attractions that are must-sees, including the Charminar, the Chowmahalla Palace, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Golkonda Fort, and the Taj Falaknuma Palace. All of those require 1-2 hours of sightseeing time. There's one renowned museum: Salar Jung. Definitely plenty to keep visitors entertained for a long weekend before they go explore other parts of the country.

The food is some of the spiciest on the continent (and planet!). There are a number of great Indian restaurants: Chutney's, BBQ Nation, and Rajdhani were our weekend standards. When you visit other places in India and tell them you're living in Hyderabad, the first question is always: "Have you tried Hyderabadi biryani?" And of course you have, because it's a rite of passage, and eaten everywhere. It's very spicy, cheap, and comes in a couple styles, both vegetarian and meat-eater-friendly.

View All Answers


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

There are lots of things to buy if you have time to look for them. Pearls are weirdly local and dirt cheap. Bangles are popular at the Laad Bazaar by the Charminar. We bought several pieces of wood furniture which are stunning. Lots of people have clothes made, which takes a week or two when considering all of the alterations, but that's a fun and addicting pastime for foreign residents. We had a bunch of things framed - turned out amazing and was 1/4 the price to do the same or less quality in the US. All of the popular Indian clothing brands are available: Indian Terrain for men's clothes, FabIndia for great local dress for men and women, but you can get H&M and all those stores at any of the big malls.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad is inexpensive, a good regional hub for travel, with a few very good local restaurants, two days' worth of sites to visit, and friendly people with huge housing. The same can be said of Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata (not really Chennai, in my opinion), but I don't think it's expected of Hyderabad. It's not charming, but it's unexpectedly livable.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

We didn't know anything about Hyderabad before moving there. We had never even heard of it until it showed up on the bid list! Most of our friends who visited had never heard of it either (except those who work in tech or with call centers). That said, we kept our expectations low and our expectations were always met or exceeded!

I did not know how hard it would be to get wine. The commissary is 25% more for Hyderabad folks because we pay for shipment from Delhi (absurd), and the wine through commissary is about $10 for the cheapest bottles (when considering the shipping markup, which you pay later) and $12-15 for an average bottle. It's mostly terrible and spoiled, but we got used to it. You can't put any wine in your HHE. Local wine is not recommended. Buying on the local market is the equivalent of $30 for a bottle of Yellow Tail. I know it's bratty and "rich people problems" of me, but that's been the hardest part of the experience. Followed closely by the mostly tasteless produce (I eat 80% produce).

View All Answers


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

Career-wise, it was a good move. Plus, I wanted to experience the region. Also, Hyderabad is a two-year post, which was a big sell.

If we had to live in Hyderabad again, versus any other city in India, I would say yes. The pollution in Kolkata and Delhi is so terrible that I can't imagine living in 400+ AQI. Mumbai traffic makes it hard to leave your neighborhood and I'd argue it has fewer cultural attractions than Hyderabad. And many people complain about living in Chennai. So yes, I'd pick Hyderabad of the five U.S. post cities in India.

View All Answers


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

Car! right-hand-drive only
Wine! it's not allowed for import, which is sad.
Sweater collection: you won't need more than one or two.
Dishwasher detergent: most houses don't have dishwashers, sadly

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Paper products: toilet paper, paper towels, napkins
Costco essentials: love black olives or protein powder or bulk cereal or your favorite toothpaste or canned tomatoes or italian seasoning or tinned tuna or garibaldi pasta or anything else you can get there? Buy it before you come and put it in your HHE. You will thank yourself later.
All-weather clothes: you'll still need pants and long-sleeves in public, and coats if you ever go up north (Nepal, border region), though it gets hot there too.
Costumes: theme parties are impossible to shop for locally.

View All Answers


5. Do you have any other comments?

Vegetarians (who like spicy Indian food) will be in heaven here.

We earn our 25% differential, unlike other 25% posts I've been to. Living in Hyderabad is hard - the pollution, the traffic, the availability and quality of food, difficulties connecting with locals, lack of good bars/clubs/social spaces for young folks, the streets, the dirt, the smells, the poverty, the bureaucracy, the bad customer service, the fact nothing can get accomplished on one try... There are certainly ways to make the two years work - and work well - but it's no cake-walk. I spent a lot of time holed up indoors because the thought of dealing with the world was too much that day. And yet I've made wonderful memories and have a lifetime of anecdotes to carry with me forever. It was certainly challenging but ultimately rewarding.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 01/24/19

Background:

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

No, we have been posted in several other European and Asian countries.

View All Answers


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?

East Coast, USA with just one connection thru London. It was a very smooth travel experience with just one stop and enough time to have a bite and stretch in between (and the London airport is great).

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Less than a year.

View All Answers


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

Work at the US Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Really great housing! We love our house as it's very spacious, modern, and it's located in a fantastic community with lots of green space, kid-friendly amenities, and nice neighbors. Those with children are usually housed between the consulate and school, so it's around a 45 min-hour commute in either direction. That said, the new consulate will open in 2020 and then the commute will be 15 minutes from the housing. Those without children are housed closer to the consulate.

View All Answers


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

Very reasonable, and if you are with a diplomatic mission you can also order from Amazon/Target/Walmart (wherever you get your staples) via pouch. And the commissary in Delhi does monthly or quarterly orders; you can get frozen items, wine or liquor (which is phenomenally expensive on the local market). There are big grocery stores here, which surprised us. There are great delivery services, so we order groceries for delivery from Big Basket, meats/eggs from Licious, and fresh milk from Kiaro. You could get everything from Big Basket also for delivery. You can find things like American and European cheeses at a grocery store that had a ton of international products (for a price:)

View All Answers


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

We can get everything we need on the local market or by ordering thru the diplomatic pouch. If I could more easily get cheeses and bacon, life would be grand. The key is to bring wine/liquor with you when you travel internationally (2 bottles per adult) as it's very expensive here. Again, if with the US Consulate, you can also order through the Embassy commissary.

View All Answers


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

There are great delivery sites, like Swiggy. Dominos also delivers (under thirty minutes), delivery is very popular in India. As noted earlier, you can also get all of your groceries delivered, fresh milk, eggs, etc.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitos are your main concern, throughout India. Take precautions to avoid malaria, dengue, etc. We've had a few ants here and there but it wasn't anything more than you might get in the U.S.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

View All Answers


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

Full time help is around 20,000 - 25,000 rupees (or US$300-350/month) for a nanny, housekeeper, or driver. Those that pay less are really doing a disservice and should remember they are paying for someone's livelihood (this seems to be an issue). People must also note that Hyderabad is becoming an increasingly expensive city; the day to day costs are increasing (rent, food, medical care, clothing) every year and this should be taken into consideration as they discuss a salary with their staff. Of course, one should also continue to pay your staff when you travel, even if long-term.

View All Answers


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

Gyms, yoga, and other classes are available. Many exist in housing / apartment complexes.

View All Answers


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 and yes. Cash is always important to have on hand as well, of course.

View All Answers


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

English is fine.

View All Answers


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

Yes.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

There is a new elevated train system being built that looks rather remarkable. I think this will make traffic better and public transport better. I would not recommend buses. Uber and Ola are common, we have used Uber a good amount.

View All Answers


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?

Whatever you can figure out. Getting a car sorted can be very complicated. Those with a diplomatic mission should consider buying from an outgoing officer as it will save significant (months) time and many headaches. Best case scenario is to have a car upon arrival so you can get moving here, it can be a bit tedious relying on Uber/Ola, esp when you don't know your way around yet. Having a car and knowledgable driver makes your transition so much better.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, seems like it can be done in a day.

View All Answers


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

Bring one so you can get going as you arrive, you'll need to get your local SIM card which requires your dip ID.

View All Answers


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?

Getting pets in and out sounds quite complicated, but doable. No quarantine. Vets and pet goods available locally.

View All Answers


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?

Jobs in the US Consulate for family members seem to be greater than applicants, a first in all of our tours, so a great situation for most family members who want to work.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

I imagine many - orphanages, blue cross, centers for the disabled, etc.

View All Answers


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

Business casual. Modest.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

We feel very safe here, but of course common sense should prevail.

View All Answers


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

Mosquito born illnesses. Medical care seems good here, doctors often train abroad in the west.

View All Answers


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?

Better than most Indian cities, worse than most American cities. Worse in the winter. Overall we haven't been too affected.

View All Answers


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

Long commutes can wear on some.

View All Answers


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

Gorgeous Oct - Feb, and then hot hot summers.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

We have loved our experience with the International School of Hyderabad. They have been wonderful as we have worked through some challenges with one of our children, caring and invested in our child's well being and development.

View All Answers


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

Some, but I don't know the full extent.

View All Answers


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?

Yes, typically they are half day. Good quality - look at ISH, NYA, etc.

View All Answers


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

Yes.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Relatively large and good morale.

View All Answers


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?

There are a lot of great breweries here! And good restaurants. Nice malls. Big parks.

View All Answers


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

All.

View All Answers


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

Not sure, I think so.

View All Answers


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

Yes, the people here are very welcoming and friendly

View All Answers


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

Not on the surface at least that I have witnessed.

View All Answers


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

Travel is amazing in India, easy quality of life and access to goods.

View All Answers


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

Golconda Fort, Qtub Tombs, Falaknuma Palace Hotel, Botanic Gardens.... on a consumer level: InOrbit Mall, Ikea, Good Earth, Anoki...

View All Answers


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

Yes, it's India!

View All Answers


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

Overall good quality of life....household help, access to goods, friendly people, amazing travel.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

View All Answers


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

Winter clothing.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Mosquito spray.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 11/18/17

Background:

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

View All Answers


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?

Washington, DC. No direct flights; best options IAD-LHR-HYD on British Airways or to go on any of the options through the Middle East.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

More than a year.

View All Answers


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

US government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is INCREDIBLE! Options are 6,500+sq ft huge houses for families with school aged kids to 3 bedroom 1800 sq ft apartments for non-school age families/no kids. The apartments are approximately 15 minutes commute to the US consulate each way, while the houses are approximately 30 minutes commute in the morning and 45 minutes in evening. We've never minded the commute.



It's also important to note a new consulate is being built out near the large houses and expected to open in January 2020; at that point, the families will have a 5-minute commute and those in apartments will have a longer commute until all housing eventually moves out that direction. Where the new consulate and family housing is in the city is the new area of the city: lots of US company headquarters, US hotels, restaurants, shops, golf courses, etc.

View All Answers


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

You'll definitely spend more on groceries here for a few reasons. First, stuff spoils A LOT faster, so if you don't use right away it goes bad and you'll be buying again. Second, any Western-style stuff is imported, so it'll be higher cost. You'll need to go to multiple shops to get what you'd normally get in one grocery store in the US; manageable, but sometimes you just wish for the ease of a "one stop shop".



There are a few small Western-style grocery stores and prices will be a little high, but not obnoxious. You can get your produce, chicken, turkey, ham, breads and cheeses at any of the western hotels' deli counters. Beef is not available locally, but can be ordered monthly through the commissary in Delhi. Most of us order from Amazon for our non-perishables and it takes about 3 weeks to arrive.

View All Answers


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

We loaded our HHE up with plenty of liquids of our favorites, knowing this was a pouch-only post. Don't bring dishwasher detergent because none of the housing has dishwashers. Otherwise, load up on liquids or aerosols you regularly use. I'd encourage bringing hair spray (not sold here).

View All Answers


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

Swiggy does food delivery. There's plenty of options on restaurants if you like Indian food. If not, all of the big American chains of hotels have wonderful restaurants with familiar food from home.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes are prevalent during the rainy season, so wear DEET mosquito repellant. During April-June, ants can be annoying, but GSO is responsive to requests to spray for them.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

All mail is through the consulate mail room. This is a diplomatic pouch only post.

View All Answers


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

Cost of housekeepers varies. Just expect that you'll pay more as a foreigner, but you should also be firm so as not to be taken advantage of. Housekeepers range from $125-175/month for F/T and less for part-time.



A driver is a must here. Most of us have them 10 hours/day, 6 days/week and pay average of $250-300/month.

View All Answers


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

Only at the consulate; basic but adequate.

View All Answers


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?

Safe to use credit cards at the hotels, grocery store and some restaurants that bring the card running terminal to the table. We've got a Bank of America at the US consulate to cash checks and also a safe ATM there.

View All Answers


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

Lacking beyond LDS.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Uber and local company Meru Cabs are cleared to use. We don't use buses or the tuktuks; both are unsafe.

View All Answers


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?

You can't import a vehicle to India. It's a right hand drive (left side of road) country. Plan for the process to purchase and register a vehicle to take 3 months. The easiest option is to purchase from a departing officer.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, available, fast and MUCH cheaper than the US. On average we pay $20/mo for unlimited data and easily stream Netflix on different TVs at the same time with no issue.



It's a hassle for install (multiple visits), but once installed it's fine.

View All Answers


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

Everyone uses Airtel. Bring an unlocked phone and purchase a SIM card from them. Average of $10-12/mo for unlimited calls/texts and very large data package.

View All Answers


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?

Talk to management about importing a pet. Many of us have cats and dogs we imported; it's a paperwork process, but doable. No quarantine required. Veterinary care is sufficient.

View All Answers


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?

With the current hiring freeze, it's tough. There are definitely positions available, just can't hire currently. One spouse just got a waiver so he started about a month ago. There's another 5 EFMs currently working, a few more waiting for waivers. One spouse works on local economy, but heard it's a difficult process for approval.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty!

View All Answers


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

Business and business casual.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Just being aware of your surroundings at all times. For the most part, you'll just be stared at a lot. People will try to touch white children, so just watch out for that.

View All Answers


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

Definitely follow DOS's advice on vaccinations, wear mosquito repellent and properly clean produce/fruits prior to eating and you'll be fine.

View All Answers


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?

This post BY FAR has the best air quality of India posts year round!

View All Answers


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

Bring antihistamines and you'll be fine.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

From late October to late March, it's sunny blue skies, low humidity and low 80s-high 70s daily (think SoCal weather). From April through June is summer and the temperatures rise to low 100s F, a bit of humidity, but still manageable. July-October is rainy season, so it'll cool off, air is clear, but overcast a lot. All that to say, when people visit from other India posts they all comment on how much better the weather and air is here.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

INCREDIBLE International School of Hyderabad! It's the only North American accredited school in Hyderabad, is K-12 (with full IB HS program), wonderful arts-drama-music programs, full sports program and modern large campus. The school faculty is very communicative and the school surpasses even many US schools on technology used. Check out the Real School Report section for more info. Also, noted that post hasn't updated info on the school in several years, so contact the school for accurate information. The website is www.ishyd.org.

View All Answers


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

See the Real School Report for more info.

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

ISH has a full sports program, teams, daily PE classes, Olympic sized pool, full gymnasium, soccer field and basketball court. This is all included in the tuition.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Fairly large. There's 140+ US companies with Indian corporate offices here, so you'll find many American expats outside of the consulate, in addition to the US consulate community. The expat community is wonderful here and definitely the highlight of living here!

View All Answers


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?

Sunday brunches at the hotels, house parties, volunteering, charity events, etc.

View All Answers


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

I'd say better for families. Most local singles end up in arranged marriages, so dating is limited.

View All Answers


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

India doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, so keep that in mind. Hopefully that'll change in the future.

View All Answers


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

Women are definitely second class citizens in the local culture. However, expat foreign women are treated better.

View All Answers


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

The local staff at the US consulate are AMAZING! Morale with the current staff is high. When we leave, we'll miss the friends we've made here most of all.

Highlights: International School of Hyderabad (ISH), inexpensive regional travel, most things are cheaper here, the people.

View All Answers


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

There's some interesting local temples, forts, historical sites. The malls are large, modern, with US and EU stores.Travel within India and in the region is very easy as well.

View All Answers


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

I'd say no.

View All Answers


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

The weather, air quality (compared to rest of India), ease to travel to other areas, the people you'll meet.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

That I couldn't buy hairspray or hair dye for non-dark brown/black hair here (or ship via pouch), that non-Indian food options are still somewhat limited here.

View All Answers


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

Yes.

View All Answers


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

Winter clothes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

HHE with your favorite liquids!

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

It's overall a great post for families and we're glad we've come here.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 09/20/16

Background:

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

No, 5th. We lived in Latin America and Europe.

View All Answers


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?

It takes about 24 hours to travel from Hyderabad to Washington, D.C. or San Francisco. Connections through Doha, Dubai, London, New Delhi.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

View All Answers


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

Foreign Service.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most people live in spacious apartments, although there are also a few houses. Apartments are fairly large, located 20-25 minutes from the consulate. Houses are at the half way point between the consulate and the International School - minimum 60 minutes commute but more like 90 minutes during rush hour. Houses are big, but have recurring maintenance issues. None of the houses have adequate yards, and few allow dog walking on premises -- consider this when bringing a dog. Traffic is the worst part about living here, it takes way too long to get anywhere - it takes the fun out of everything.

View All Answers


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

Shopping is basic and expensive at the 2 stores that cater to expats. "Q-Mart and Nature's Basket" import some products that Americans are used to; the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables can be disappointing. You can never find everything you need in one place. You can order food items from the commissary in New Delhi but you have to wait 2-6 weeks and pay charges for shipping. Alcohol can be bought from the commissary; Kingfisher beer can be bought locally. We supplement a lot with Amazon. Chicken and mutton are available at most supermarkets. You can find some pork bacon at Q-Mart. Beef is available if you can find a Muslim butcher, but it is very tough. Some cured meats such as ham and bologna, as well as fancy cheeses, can be bought at premium prices at the Living Room, which located in the lobby of the Park Hyatt in Banjara Hills. You can find pork, but again, it tastes rather different.

View All Answers


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

This is what I shipped and I was very happy I did: coffee, hot sauces, good BBQ sauce, salsa, jasmine rice, flour, pastas, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, canned beans, lots of broth, detergent, dryer sheets, liquid soap, garbage bags, zip lock bags, aluminum foil, saran wrap, vanilla essence, instant yeast, toilet paper, paper towels, lotions and shampoos, hair dye, contacts solution, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, kids toothpaste and mouthwash. Liquids and aerosols cannot be ordered through pouch, so plan ahead. The rest you can order from Amazon in the U.S. Bring heavy duty UPS as the power goes out several times a day.

View All Answers


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

There are very few consistently good restaurants for Westerners. McDonald's, KFC are around, Hard Rock Cafe, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Pappa John's. No beef or pork products are served. Cost is comparable to the U.S - not so much the taste. The large hotels have some decent restaurants - cost is comparable to the US.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes are a huge problem for most of the year and they carry Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases. Prevention is key. I use repellent on all family members every day.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Mail comes through diplomatic pouch and it takes an average of 3 weeks. Note that when you send packages to the U.S. or receive commissary shipments, you have to pay an additional freight charge - and it is a hassle to return anything. We just don't do it.

View All Answers


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

Everyone hires a driver, as traffic, road and driving conditions are illogical and dangerous. The traffic rules that are normal to us Westerners do not apply here. People also hire a full time or part time housekeeper/nanny. Costs are US$250 - $300 for each plus overtime pay. Quality is often not great; it takes a while to find the right person.

View All Answers


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

Many apartment complexes have basic gyms, but they lack a lot. In fact, even the die-hard active people avoid them. The consulate has a decent gym.

View All Answers


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?

ATMs are plentiful and we use our credit card in stores with no problem.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

Technically none, but I find it difficult and frustrating to communicate. Talking about being lost in translation! Far too often we can't communicate with locals or we mis-communicate. Telugu or Hindi are not easy to pick up.

View All Answers


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

It is not a good city for people with disabilities. There are no sidewalks in the city, no ramps; you can never walk anywhere without risking your life with local traffic; very sad.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

No, trains and buses are unsafe. Uber and Meeru taxi companies are affordable, but language is an issue when giving directions; they sometimes can't find your place, as roads are never marked. Some use the GPS, others don't. It is hit and miss; before you even realize it, you end up in a part of the town you should not be in.

View All Answers


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?

The bigger, the better: it shelters you from accidents and it simply handles the streets and potholes better. You cannot make it in the city without a car. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a car in a place where distances are large and the city is not walk-able. Import restrictions, right-hand drive, and red tape make purchasing a car challenging - 6-7 weeks; the best bet is to buy from a departing officer and even before coming to Hyderabad. If you buy a new car you should expect to have dings and scratches instantly.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

One of the many disappointing aspects of living here is the internet. Contrary to common belief, Internet in India is not fast, but unreliable and expensive for the speed. It is partly due to the fact that there are millions on people surfing on it at all times, partly due to the lack of infrastructure. We pay about US$40 a month for the fastest speed available in our community and we find ourselves disappointed every day.

View All Answers


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

A prepaid rechargeable SIM card from Airtel. Of course, you need a ton of paperwork to get even a SIM card. There is no such thing as "unlimited" here. Data packs are available from 2-13 GB; the most expensive data pack would be about $25 and it lasts for 28 days.

View All Answers


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?

There are no decent vets. There is one kennel that people use when traveling. No quarantine. Bringing a pet is a cumbersome process. People often drive to Bangalore/Chennai, about an 8 hour drive, so they can fly out with their dog/cat on the same plane. If I recall correctly, there are restrictions to bringing your pet in cabin or excess baggage. Cargo seems to be fine. Check with the shipping department.

View All Answers


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?

Not on the local economy. Local salaries are low. Part time EFM jobs at the consulate are available and they go unfilled for months.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are lots of NGOs, orphanages, one animal shelter. Plenty to do if you like volunteering.

View All Answers


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

Business casual at work; conservative Indian ware out in the streets, with long sleeve shirts and long pants for men; saris and kurtas for women. Shorts are uncommon as are skirts or dresses.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

India has had its share of terrorism, but it is not evident. Wherever you go to a public place, you will be frisked for guns or explosives. Women are generally at risk; gender disparity leads to sexual harassment, eve-teasing, rapes and violence. Constant staring from every direction is very annoying. Beggars hassle you. People of African origin are discriminated against. For the first time in my life I feel uncomfortable here.

View All Answers


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

Yes; everyone gets sick here, some more often than others. Strands of disease here seem to be much stronger than anywhere else we have lived. When you get sick, you are pretty much down for days. Most common illnesses are stomach-related and then there is the flu. A simple cut takes twice as long to heal. Medical care is horrible, and the consulate med unit is no different. With that said, some people elect to have surgeries here because of the low cost.All serious cases are medevac'ed to Singapore or Bangkok.

View All Answers


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?

Quality of air varies from unhealthy to very unhealthy. You can smell the pollution. Some people develop respiratory issues. The smell of India is always in the air i.e. open sewers, burned garbage, body odor, human waste - you name it, it is here.

View All Answers


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

It is very dusty here all the time and so everything is the house is always covered in dust, from floors to walls. The air quality is bad, so some develop respiratory problems.

View All Answers


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

Respiratory issues; depression.

View All Answers


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

There is a dry season and a monsoon season. They say that the hot season is May-June, but it is hot as early as March and as late as September. Temperatures easily reach 120+ F, which means that it is unpleasant to be outside. The rest of the months are in the low 90 F's. It rains in the monsoon season, sometimes quite a bit. The city has no drains, so it floods every time there is a bid rain.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

None of the schools in Hyderabad are vetted by the State Department. Basically, there is one choice as far as international education. The International School of Hyderabad is located on the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) campus, outside Hyderabad, which is 60-90 minute commute on the school bus each way. The school offers an IB program. It has been OK for elementary school; we supplement with private tutoring. High school may not be the greatest and gender ratio may come into play. Although far from being a real International School as far as organization and management, it is the best choice for Westerners.

View All Answers


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

None.

View All Answers


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?

Yes, several choices.

View All Answers


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

None. It is sad. The school offers soccer once a week as ASA and volleyball in MS.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Expat community is small. Some Americans work for large firms in High Tech City. There is a small expat association, called TEA. Overall, morale is affected by the quality of life; everyone has different coping mechanisms and different degrees of depression at different times. At work, morale is not too bad. We all try to support each other the best we can. People do curtail, it is a not an easy posting.

View All Answers


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?

People sometimes host parties in their homes, or game nights, or go to happy hours, get together for brunches, or hang out at the Park Hyatt and the Westin. There are several decent movie theaters, which show U.S. movies for the first 2 weeks of the release. There are several malls if you are into shopping. There are 2-3 golf courses and one horseback riding club - which we never tried, it is too far away. Some get together to play soccer once a week. That's pretty much it. Most travel for real fun.

View All Answers


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

Life is Hyderabad is challenging in every way. This is a hardship post and for good reasons. There is nothing to do for entertainment besides going to brunches or malls on weekends. Quality of life is not that great, which is why getting out of the country is a must. I would say this city could be OK for families with babies, or empty-nesters and it is a good option for tandems.

View All Answers


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

No. Being gay is a crime in India.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad has a religious mix of Hindus, Muslims, and a few Christians. You would think that everyone can live together peacefully. Gender prejudice is huge; so is violence against women and people of African descent.

View All Answers


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

Saving money, buying furniture and carpets, cheap domestic help. The city is not a tourist spot, there is very little to discover. It is big, dirty, crowded and polluted. The triangle - New Delhi-Agra-Jaipur is of course a neat experience, so are Goa and Kerala.

View All Answers


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

No hidden gems. Spending the night at the Taj Falaknuma Palace, a 6 star hotel converted from a palace is the highlight of Hyderabad, at US$300 per night. Social gatherings at people's houses, Sunday brunches and massages at 5-star hotels seem to be common pastimes. There are a couple of golf courses that people use whenever it is not unbearably hot.

View All Answers


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

Antique furniture, carpets, tapestries, Kashmiri shawls, pashminas, wood carvings, colorful fabrics.

View All Answers


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

Saving money, buying furniture and carpets, cheap domestic help. The city is not a tourist spot, there is very little to discover. It is big, dirty, crowded and polluted.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Everything is hard to accomplish and takes several tries. Nobody cares about anything. Don't try to understand it. India has been a constant assault to my senses: the pollution, the smell of the city, the rampant poverty, ignorance, the amount of people, the body odor, the traffic, the lack of common courtesies, lack of personal space, the constant staring have make it difficult for me to live here. Add the numerous daily power outages, water outages, maintenance issues, limited entertainment options. Life here grinds you down. If all of the above don't bother you, then you should be fine.

View All Answers


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

No. Never.

View All Answers


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

Expectations of any kind; your independence and sense of privacy; your winter clothes, bikes, camping gear; your hopes for breathing clean air, walking or biking, or any outdoor time; your hope that your kids would do any interesting after school activities or sports. You will run out of patience, tolerance, and will look forward to the day you leave.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Meds - Pepto Bismo, Tums, Nyquil - sunscreen, mosquito repellent. Strong VPN, gadgets to boost your router signal, DVDs, AppleTv, Ipods, UPS.

View All Answers


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

Shantaram.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

You need to mentally prepare yourself for this assignment. Think hard and weigh all your options before you decide to move here.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 03/16/15

Background:

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

No, I've lived in some Asian and European cities for a bit too.

View All Answers


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?

Florida, technically. I haven't done the connection, but I imagine it's near 20 hours. Best flight would probably be with Emirates or British Airways, but both have two connections, at the least.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Been living here about 9.5 months now.

View All Answers


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

I work at the U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

They are moving more people out towards where the new Consulate is going to be, so people are kind of spread out. Some people are out in Banjara Hills, an older, more established place, about 20-25 minutes from the now-Consulate. Some people are out in Hi-Tech city with a lot more expats and all the new, shiny things, but it's about a 40-45 minute commute to the now-Consulate, with it being probably a 10-15 minute commute to the new Consulate. Some are in-between. All the houses - even the apartments for singles - are huge and spacious with multiple guest bedrooms.

View All Answers


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

You need to work around what you can't find, or bring a lot in your HHE. It depends on if you want Western name brand or go with an off, maybe different tasting Indian brand as to cost. You can find Doritos, but it will be US$10/bag. Or eat Indian biscuits for US$2/bag. You can find some vegetables, but not a lot of greens/salads/kale or the like. Household supplies are fine and easy - pretty cheap too. You can also order from the commissary. All alcohol should come from the commissary in Delhi. Salad items, lemons, and cheeses you'll have to get through the Park Hyatt, which will be a bit more expensive.

View All Answers


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

More peanut butter M&Ms and chips. Other than that, haven't run into needing much of anything. Probably just more liquid-like items. I brought a lot of stuff with me though.

View All Answers


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

Cheap and cheap. Fast food: KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, Papa John's, and McDonald's. They will deliver to your house in about 30 minutes. The Pizza is better than the States, I find. The cafeteria in the Consulate is super cheap and delicious. We go for a buffet on Friday at the local Chiron Fort Club Palace and it's about US$5 for a full buffet. Sunday brunch at Olive will be US$30 for all you can eat and sangria. Park Hyatt will be US$50 for all you can eat gourmet and mimosas. Cost range for every level, but even a nice dinner will only be about US$15-$30/person. There are American chains like Hard Rock and Chilis, but not quite the same.

View All Answers


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

Just lots of mosquitoes. Lots of them. I haven't used much repellent and been bitten a lot and have been lucky thus far. But come rainy season, you needs lots and lots of repellent wearing it and in the house.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Through the Consulate pouch. I sent something by DHL once to Germany and it was really expensive.

View All Answers


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

Very, very inexpensive. I have a driver and a housekeeper (daily and 3 times/week) for about US$250/month. I didn't think I'd get a housekeeper at first, but it's really, really nice and easily affordable.

View All Answers


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

Almost every housing compound has a free gym that's pretty good. The Consulate also has a gym that is good. You can get a membership to Gold's Gym, but it's really expensive. Yoga and Pilates, even for a class by yourself, is much cheaper than in the States.

View All Answers


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?

ATMs are everywhere, but they just might not work at times. Credit cards can be used in most grocery stores, hotels, and higher-end stores. Carry cash, as it's easier.

View All Answers


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

All types. Catholic, Christian, probably Hindu and Muslim as well, though those may be harder to find outside the local language.

View All Answers


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

Not really much of any - especially if your driver speaks English. Most things are in English and most places have English menus/speak English.

View All Answers


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

Hmmm...probably. Most places have elevators, but they are tiny. There are no sidewalks, and smaller restaurants/stores will not have a wheelchair ramp.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I've heard a lot of people taking 1st class A/C trains having a fine experience. Taxis and tuktuks are fine, same with uber. I have not - and will not - try the buses. Affordable: yes to all.

View All Answers


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?

I would just buy one here. They're cheap and more suited to the roads here.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yup! And really really cheap! It'll drop at times, but it's reliable and they'll come fix stuff right away.

View All Answers


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

I just use the Consulate provided phone. I would say buy one here, as they are generally substantially cheaper than the U.S.

View All Answers


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?

I'm not sure. Yes, the pet care is pretty good. We have a local vet most people use - and while they can be harsh/crass in customer service sometimes - they are clean, efficient, and helpful for the most part; and moreover, they're 24/7. Most people at post have animals or get animals here.

View All Answers


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?

Most of the expats I know work at the MNCs and are transferred here from the U.S. - so I'm not sure about local economy.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Tons. India has a vibrant civil society, and you can find any cause you want here to help out with.

View All Answers


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

More conservative than Delhi/Mumbai. You will see women in full hijab and burka. Then you will see women in saris. There aren't very many people wearing Western-style clothing outside of the younger people in the malls. Best to wear the very comfortable salwar kamez or kurta and leggings if you're a lady. Men can get away with slacks and a t-shirt/button up.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

There was a terrorist attack in 2013, but nothing since then. I think some people are waiting for Hindu-Muslim violence to break out, since there are a lot of Muslims here - but nothing thus far, and I'm not sure I actually anticipate that happening.

View All Answers


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

I think medical care is hit or miss. There are some really good, really cheap procedures. But there are horror-stories of inadequate sanitation standards. Just be really careful on which hospital you go to, and make sure you watch them clean/sterilize the instruments.

View All Answers


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?

I would say it's good in the summer, moderate in the fall, and moderate/unhealthy in the winter. Honestly, it's probably 10x better than Delhi in the winter. There were only a few days where you would look out and tell that it was smoggy. The rest of the day: blue, clear skies.

View All Answers


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

Be careful. Probably a lot of dust pollutants from the smog. Hard to get around a gluten allergy, I would imagine too. Peanut allergies might be difficult too.

View All Answers


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

The rainy season last year wasn't very rainy. Occasional thunderstorms outside of the rainy seasons. Hot, hot, in the summer: but it's a dry heat, at least. Somewhat humid in the rainy season. Very, very nice - nearly perfection - in the winter.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

I know that people seem to like the preschool - but I don't know anything more than that.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

I think it's pretty good in Hi-Tech city, from what I've heard. At the Consulate, morale ebbs and flows with the visa applicant workload. The size is pretty small, but growing as more and more companies come to Hyderabad to set up shop.

View All Answers


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?

Honestly, most people either hang out at the hotels (Park Hyatt, Westin) or entertain in their homes. Not a big club/bar scene in Hyderabad, though there are a few. There are some good restaurants open fairly late that have open-patios that are nice. Most people entertain at their homes, which is really nice and easy clean-up when you have a housekeeper!

View All Answers


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

Yes, good for all types. Couples can explore. Single life is harder, but most of the couples and families are still welcoming and we travel/hang out more as a group than anything. A lot of whole Consulate get togethers, which are really nice. Families have easy childcare with good daycare and housekeeping help. I would not expect to date here. Most people in their 20s are already married.

View All Answers


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

I wouldn't think so. Most of India isn't - and especially conservative, Muslim leaning Hyderabad.

View All Answers


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

As with most of India, women are ignored when there's a male present. Waiters will talk to the male specifically, and expect him to order. Just ignore it and order for yourself and stand up for yourself as a woman. I haven't seen religious prejudices: it's a very mixed city since the Nizam's first ruled in the 1700/1800s. Indians tend to favor lighter colored people - I did see an African-American coworker at the airport get pulled into extra security that I imagine is racial in tone (as I didn't get pulled and I was right next to them). I wouldn't go out at night as a woman alone, but would be fine most other times of the day in most places.

View All Answers


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

Traveling, honestly. Both in India and outside of it. It's REALLY cheap to get to the Maldives and Andaman Islands from here - some places that only the super wealthy can ever go to. Take advantage of that. There's so many places in India to see, with all kinds of things for whatever you like. I really liked Pondicherry, and I'm really looking forward to going to the Maldives in April, going on a tiger safari in May, and hiking the Himalayas next March.

View All Answers


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

There's the standard tourist fare in Hyderabad which are good: Chowmallah Palace, Taj Falaknuma, Charminar, etc. Some good Western-style eateries, which is nice. KBR Park is a good stroll in the evening or weekend. Definitely go to Taj Falaknuma. There are also some good weekend trips to Warangal and Bidar.

View All Answers


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

Bidri-ware is the most common, and is local to the region. Very beautiful gifts. Also, textiles (quilts, scarves, bags, clothes) and dishes/china.

View All Answers


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

Compared to the rest of India: the weather, for certain. Hyderabad was just ranked highest in India for standard of living. There are some days that are smoggy, but there are almost always blue skies and very little rain (even during the monsoon season). It doesn't get very humid either, so even when it's hot, it's not bad.
Specific to India: It's pretty cheap - even with having a housekeeper and driver, you can still save a lot of money. And it's REALLY easy to travel. Hyderabad isn't a hub itself, but there are flights all the time to Doha, Dubai, or Abu Dhabi that'll connect you to pretty much anywhere in the world. Not only that, but it's really easy to get to any of the other major cities in India through Hyderabad, any time of the day. Really, really easy jumping off point from travel. So, I could probably save more money if I didn't travel so much! But there's so much to see!

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Oh yeah! Tons! Even if you splurge and travel a lot, it's easy to save.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

I'm not sure - haven't been too surprised by much, honestly.

View All Answers


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

Yeah, it's not too bad.

View All Answers


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

Winter clothes - unless you plan to travel, but keep them stored most of the year!

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Low expectations - honestly, it sounds bad, but it's not. India can be rough, but it can be a lot of fun and it's not that bad. Just, when you want to ask yourself "Why," ask "why not" and be surprised when they have something on the menu!

View All Answers


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

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/014200412X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=014200412X&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=NGUV4WZA3QOFIELL

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 01/18/15

Background:

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

I've lived all over the world, mostly Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

View All Answers


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?

It takes about 24 hours to go from Hyderabad to Washington, D.C., with a layover in Dubai. It's a long and exhausting trip.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

I've been in Hyderabad for about 4 months.

View All Answers


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

I work for the U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most people live in apartments, although there are a few houses left in the pool. I'm lucky to live about 20 minutes from the consulate. Others live a bit further away and it can take between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic and time of day to go to or from work. Once the metro rail opens in 2016, traffic should reduce significantly.

View All Answers


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

We can get pretty much everything we need. The fruits and vegetables are tastier than what I remember in the U.S. We can find local equivalents, e.g. ketchup, mayo, etc., which are about one-sixth the cost. For example, locally-made tortillas and corn chips are pretty good. Beef is somewhat hard to come by. However, the Park Hyatt sells beef and cheese are reasonable prices. You can also order food from the commissary in New Delhi but you have to pay for shipping. We only buy alcohol from the commissary. Someone explained that Hyderabad is the farthest southern city that one can buy meat. Chicken and mutton are available at the most supermarkets. We've bought pork bacon and pork chops at Q-Mart. Beef is available if you can find a Muslim butcher. Cured meats such as ham and bologna, as well as fancy cheeses, can be bought at the Living Room, which located in the lobby of the Park Hyatt in Banjara Hills.

View All Answers


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

Plenty of coffee; the local coffee isn't very good. Indian rice is basmati, which is large kerneled. I prefer Jasmin rice, which is more Southeast Asian, so I wish we would have packed several large sacks of this type of rice.

View All Answers


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

McDonald's and KFC are here, Hard Rock Cafe too. Note McDonald's doesn't serve hamburgers, only chicken and paneer burgers. French fries are about the same. I haven't tried KFC. I prefer to go to the Indian restaurants instead. Our favorites are Paradise for biriyani and Chutneys for vegetarian food. Both are great. Hyderabadi biriyani is famous. We've eaten street food (samosas, dosas, masala tea) without any problem.

View All Answers


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

In certain housing areas mosquitoes can be a problem. I live in an apartment and don't use a mosquito net. One of the houses had so many cobras in the yard, they had to move to a different house.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Mail comes through diplomatic pouch from the Embassy. Note that when you send packages to the U.S. or receive commissary shipments, you have to pay an additional freight charge.

View All Answers


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

Everyone has a driver and a housekeeper/nanny. Costs are reasonable, between US$200 - $250 per month.

View All Answers


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

There are lots of gyms all over the city. Many apartment complexes have a gym and a pool.

View All Answers


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?

ATMs are plentiful and we've used our credit card in stores with no problem.

View All Answers


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

Christian churches are available. Mosques and Hindu temples abound. I don't know about any synagogues.

View All Answers


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

I don't speak the local languages, Telugu or Hindi. I get along fine in English.

View All Answers


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

In many places there aren't any sidewalks. In places that do have sidewalks, they're somewhat in disrepair.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I've not taken a local train, bus, or taxi. There are several taxi companies, including Uber, that seem reputable.

View All Answers


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?

Most people buy second-hand cars. A few have bought brand new Indian-produced cars.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

The Internet is the fastest and most affordable I've ever had, 15 MB per second. Beam Telecom service is pretty good.

View All Answers


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

The consulate provided me with a cell phone. My wife easily got a rechargeable SIM card, which doesn't seem too expensive. I like this system better than the U.S. because you aren't locked into an annual plan.

View All Answers


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?

I don't know about incoming pets and quarantine. However, certain airlines are better than others about shipping your pet. Recently, when someone who had a dog departed Post, they had to drive all the way to Bangalore, about an 8 hour drive, so they could ship their dog on the same plane. They bore the expense of renting the car and staying in a hotel prior to departure.

View All Answers


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?

The Mission has a reciprocal agreement with the Government of India that authorizes employment on the local economy.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are plenty of NGOs around.

View All Answers


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

Business casual at work. Outside, people dress pretty conservatively. Men never wear shorts, except perhaps to the gym. Older women wear saris and the younger women wear salwar kameez.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

I haven't heard of anyone having a break-in. Security in my apartment complex is pretty good. A local person told me her phone was picked from her purse but I haven't had such problems. Nobody bothers me. That said, this is India and there are beggars who can hassle you. As long as you're polite and ignore them, they'll pretty much leave you alone. Wherever you go, you'll be frisked for guns or explosives. India has had its share of terrorism.

View All Answers


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

The Consulate doesn't have an RMO. However, they just hired a new doctor. I've found the medical care here to be adequate. Many Indian doctors have worked in the U.S. before. Prescription drugs are very cheap.

View All Answers


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?

Compared to other places I've lived, the air quality is actually pretty good. Even in the winter months, when places like New Delhi have really bad pollution problems, we have blue skies here. Because we're on the Deccan Plateau, there's very little humidity.

View All Answers


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

Because it's so dry, those with dust allergies may suffer.

View All Answers


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

I love the weather here -- no humidity thus far, pleasant breeze, blue skies. It's only rained one day since the day I arrived four months ago.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

While there are several reputable "international" schools, none are accredited by the Department of State. Consulate kids, none of whom are in high school, attend the International School of Hyderabad, which is located on the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) campus. The school is located outside Hyderabad, which I understand is a 45-minute commute for most kids.

View All Answers


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

I couldn't say.

View All Answers


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?

I don't have young children but I understand folks are happy with the preschool and daycare options.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

The consulate has about 25 Americans. Morale is quite good. The consular workload is ever increasing. There's no doubt it has become a visa mill.

I don't know many people outside of that community. I understand that there are many Indian-Americans who work in the hi-tech industry, so many live in Hi-Tech City.

View All Answers


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?

Many people have parties in their homes. Folks get together for brunch. There are several decent movie theaters, which show first-run U.S. movies. For about US$4.00, you can sit in a Lazy-Boy type chair in the back row. It's easy and cheap to travel around India for a long weekends.

View All Answers


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

I'd say it's good for adventurous couples who like to explore. Singles tend to hang out with each other. No matter their religion, most Indians have arranged marriage, which means the dating scene can be quite limited. I don't know of anyone dating someone local.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad has a religious mix of Hindus, Muslims, and a few Christians. I understand it has the highest percentage of Muslim population in India. While it's fairly conservative, e.g., it's common to see women wearing burkhas, I don't feel any animosity towards me for being a Westerner. In fact, out and about in the city, the people couldn't be more curious or kind towards me.

View All Answers


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

There are interesting historical/cultural sites to visit in Hyderabad -- Charminar and its surrounding markets, Chowmahala Palace, Falaknuma Palace/Hotel, Golcanda Fort, Salar Jung Museum, Birla Temple, Qutb Shahi Tombs.

Since Hyderabad is so centrally located in India, it's very easy and cheap to fly to other parts of India.

View All Answers


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

Spending the night at the Taj Falaknuma, a 6 star hotel, is pretty special. Having the Sunday brunch or a massage at the Park Hyatt is something a lot of people do. Given its history as a very wealthy kingdom, there are certainly lots of regal palaces to visit. Wandering around the old town near Charminar is fun.

View All Answers


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

There are plenty of nicknacks to buy. Saris and bangles are plentiful. People with larger stature won't be able to find clothes or shoes. It's easy enough to buy clothes through the Internet.

View All Answers


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

Before coming to Hyderabad, Indian friends told us that Hyderabad is their favorite city. We were surprised that what they said was true. Compared to other places I've lived, the traffic isn't that bad and the weather is really very pleasant. Despite having some very interesting and historical sites, Hyderabad isn't as touristed as other parts of India, which is nice.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

If you like luxury, you can certainly find it at the fancy hotels for brunch, dinner, or overnight stays. If you have simpler tastes, you can save a lot of money.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

It's easy to find an Indian equivalent food item, e.g., Lays potato chips, Oreos, granola.

Indian-produced wine and coffee is not very good. You'll have to purchase your alcohol through the commissary.

View All Answers


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

Absolutely! We love it here. You won't regret coming here.

View All Answers


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

Worries, snowshoes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, sense of adventure, open-mindedness, positive attitude, friendliness, favorite coffee.

Jacket, sweaters and blankets. Northern India does get cold, so if you travel to New Delhi, you may need to dress warm.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

It's not uncommon for people stare when they see a foreigner, They're not meaning to be rude; they're just curious. Especially at tourist sites, you will feel like a rock star as many people will ask if they can take a photo with you. Enjoy your moment of fame.

If you're respectful and polite, people are OK with you taking photos of them.

Some people live in dire poverty. It is very common to see people sleeping on the sidewalks or begging.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 11/20/14

Background:

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

No. One prior expat experience.

View All Answers


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?

U.S.A.

It's a very long trip from the U.S. Especially if you are trying to import a pet. Depending on your Fly America availability, connections are through London, Frankfurt, or Dubai.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2012-2014.

View All Answers


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

Government.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Hyderabad has enjoyed a boom in residential construction providing some good housing options. For U.S. government employees, housing may be stand-alone houses within a gated community or a spacious apartment. Commute times differ and can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

View All Answers


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

There are some small supermarkets where pricey imported goods can be found. Good beef is understandably hard to find. The open air markets have fresher produce but leafy greens are very difficult to find. Many expats grow their own lettuce. Filling your grocery list can be a full-time job as you may have to hit up multiple grocery stores or markets to find everything. For those without access to the Embassy's commissary, alcohol is limited and incredibly expensive.

For those with access to the commissary and the diplomatic pouch, you should be able to get almost anything you need. The quality will be questionable but it's better than nothing.

View All Answers


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

Having the diplomatic pouch made things easy but you can't ship liquids or certain things with batteries. You will want to ship battery back up units for the frequent daily power outages, lots and lots of booze, liquid medicines and personal care items like soap, shampoo, deoderant, etc. We shipped TP and trash bags as the local brands leave much to be desired.

View All Answers


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

Plenty of both but forget about finding a decent hamburger. Hyderabad is a hidden gym of quality restaurants. Explore widely.

View All Answers


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

Tropical diseases such as dengue and chikungunya are major problems. We invested in a number of electric bug swatters and had a nightly ritual of ruthlessly hunting down mosquitos in our bedrooms. This is a tropical climate with tropical insects - expect there to be bugs.

Although they aren't insects - reptiles can also be a problem. Specifically snakes. Hyderabad is in India and yes, there are cobras. Sometimes in your back yard. If snakes are a problem for you then you should strongly consider living somewhere that is not India. Or adopt a mongoose.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

The diplomatic pouch can require anything between one and four weeks for one-way travel.

View All Answers


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

Variable quality but very cheap. US$200 to $300 a month for maids, cooks, drivers, etc.

View All Answers


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

The U.S. Consulate has a serviceable gym for employees and many of the apartment complexes also have gyms. I can't speak as to the quality of commercial gyms.

View All Answers


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 real problems with either. ATMs that accept your card may be scarce and may also have a ridiculously low withdrawal limit. The U.S. Consulate has a Bank of America inside where employees can cash checks.

View All Answers


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

For Christians, some Catholic and more protestant services are available. Plenty of both Sunni and Shia mosques and, of course, Hindu temples. Sorry Jews, you are out of luck.

View All Answers


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

None. Some Hindi and/or Telugu to be polite and amaze your audience but not necessary.

View All Answers


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

Very much so. Accessibility is not a priority.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Rickshaws are cheap and plentiful but you won't get very far.

Radio and airort taxis are safe - I wouldn't hail one off the street.

City buses - lol. Intercity buses and trains are available for the adventurous and those with lots of time. Women should avoid these unless traveling in groups or looking to test their self-defense skills.

For US$50 more you can take a cheap local flight and arrive at your destination 20 hours earlier. Your call.

View All Answers


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?

Buy from another diplomat unless you are a masochist who enjoys byzantine government paperwork requirements. Most of your driving will be in the city on tolerable roads so you won't need a truck.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Available? Yes. Expensive? No. Reliable...not so much. The broadband is fantastic for the five or six days a week that is works. We purchased a 3G wireless plan for backup.

View All Answers


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

Cell coverage is generally good in Hyderabad. You will have to get a local sim card.

View All Answers


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?

Pets do not need to be quarantined and there is a good vet in town. On a side note, for those of you subject to Fly America, shipping a pet out of Hyderabad can be an expensive nightmare.

View All Answers


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?

No.

For diplomats, the U.S. and India technically have a bilateral work agreement. Good luck with that. There is employment available at the Consulate for accompanying spouses. Some of the jobs may be more intellectually rewarding than others.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Infinite.

View All Answers


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

For work - business casual. For public it's quite conservative for both men and women. No shorts and flip-flops here. Women tend to wear long skirts, dresses, pants, or leggings and tops with sleeves.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

There have been a number of terrorist attacks in Hyderabad during the past 10 years including a bombing in 2013. Westerners are not specifically targeted but you will notice that security is tight at places such as hotels and shopping malls.

Women should take extra precautions when going out or traveling, especially alone.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad is relatively healthy compared to Delhi. As a personal anecdote I was sick far less wile living in Hyderabad than I was in D.C. Dengue and other tropical diseases are a concern. Delhi belly is inevitable.

Medical quality is very good with some good private hospitals and doctors trained in the U.S. Dental care is also quality and inexpensive.

View All Answers


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?

Very poor but excellent by Indian standards. You will want air purifiers for your home.

View All Answers


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

Warm and sunny most of the year round. Hyderabad has the best climate in India if you can stand the heat. June through October is the monsoon with almost daily showers. April and May can be brain-meltingly hot but the rest of the year is pleasant.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

There are a number of international schools available and most parents seem pleased with the quality, at least at the primary level. The high schools also seem pretty good but definitely do your research on any accreditation issues.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

No personal experience but a number of preschools are available and frequently utilized by expats.

View All Answers


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

Many of the schools have programs available but it's nothing like the interscholastic programs of the U.S.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Expat community is small and varied. American expats seem to be either executives with families or young bros who are there for the money. The latter can usually be observed unwinding from another 80 hour work week on Sundays sitting poolside chugging vodka and reinforcing American stereotypes. There is a large French population whose friendship should be cultivated in order to be invited to their dinners. There are a few Brits, Aussies and now Turks. Oh, the Iranians are there too so you have that going for you.

There are some very active expat groups such as the HYTEA group. For any trailing spouses without jobs, groups like the HYTEA can be very supportive and useful.

The Consulate's morale was variable. In the two years we were there, post experienced five curtailments. This is a post with only twenty-some officers.

Some people love India but for many it can be a difficult place to live.

View All Answers


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?

Hyderabad isn't known for its cultural highlights. Social life is rather limited in comparison to Delhi or Mumbai. Travel as much as you can and get a Netflix account.

View All Answers


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

This is a good city for families, especially those with small children. You can hire an army of domestic staff to help with children and still save for their college funds.

Couples who enjoy travel and don't mind a little hardship also do well, especially if both have incomes. However, if work is an important consdieration for your other half or he/she faints at the thought of being more than one mile from the nearest Starbucks then Hyderabad is probably not for you.

Singles will probably find Hyderabad wanting on a number of levels. The expat community is small and tends to be families. Dating, especially for women, will be challenging. Nightlife locales and other cultural hubs where singles tend to mingle are scant. On the other hand, for younger folks this can be your opportunity to pay down any debt you have and get a good start on that retirement. And Bankok is only a few hours away for your, ahem...needs.

View All Answers


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

Homosexuality is illegal in India. No, seriously, it's against the law and punishable by imprisonment. That being said - it's not usually an enforced law. But for anybody without diplomatic immunity it should be a consideration as you never know when some local politician might decide this law needs to be enforced to score political points.

Hyderabad does have an underground LGBT scene but it is far underground. Inside the closet under a trapdoor hidden in a bunker underground. Single LGBT expats will have an even greater challenge than straight folks in finding comfortable locales to mingle.

The one advantage of India's conservative approach to LGBT issues is that, at least in Hyderabad, those who are gay likely won't face public discrimination because homosexuality is so far out of the public conciousness that it's not even a consideration. Being foreign makes you queer enough that nobody is going to consider your sexual preference.

View All Answers


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

Yes, yes, and yes but generally not for foreigners.

In India, caste, race, religion, and gender define your identity. Your identity as "foreigner" will trump the rest of these issues but be prepared for very blunt questions from strangers asking about your race or religion.

View All Answers


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

Sampling Indian cuisines and a lot of travel. India offers an unlimited variety of travel opportunities and when you've had enough of India (which will happen), it's a short flight to Dubai or Bangkok.

View All Answers


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

Travel, travel, and travel some more. There are two hidden gems in the region - Hampi and Aurangabad. Visit them both.

View All Answers


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

Bidriware, textiles, art, and typical Indian gegaws.

View All Answers


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

The food is fantastic, living is relatively cheap, you can afford a small army of domestic staff, the climate is (usually) great and Hyderabad is a perfect launchpad for tourism throughout India and South Asia.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Yes but you probably won't. Employing domestic staff, eating well, and lots of travel will sap your budget.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

If I had one word to describe India it would be "intense."

From the moment of your first arrival to your wheels up, life is a full-on assault on all your senses. You are constantly bombarded with the most intense sights, sounds, smells, taste, and feels and there is no escape. It can be disorienting, terrifying, depressing, delightful, frustrating, exhausting, and exhilarating - all at the same time.

India is many things but it is never dull. I was relieved to complete my time in India but now, sometimes in a quiet moment, I find myself missing the colors, the tastes, the sounds, and the general insanity that is India. Compared to India, life back in the U.S. can seem technicolor. Then I take a breath of fresh clean air as I contemplate the clear blue skies and think again.

View All Answers


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

Yes. But would I do it again? No.

View All Answers


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

Preconceptions about India, human nature, the value of human life, and what constitutes human happiness and human dignity. Spaghetti straps, miniskirts. Personal space.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Patience, compassion, and sense of adventure.

View All Answers


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

Stealing from a previous poster:

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India,

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure,

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

I thought I was a seasoned traveler and expat. Then I went to India. Life there can be tough. Some people thrive on it - they live for the intensity. Most find it challenging. Many just can't hack it. Life in India is raw and uncensored. You learn what poverty is, what humanity is, and what humans are capable of doing to other humans. You also learn that humans are capable of great and beautiful things - when they try.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 07/18/14

Background:

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

Not first posting. Others in Eastern Europe and Asia.

View All Answers


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. Trip home is looong. About 20 hours in the air. Only good connections out of Hyderabad are to Doha, Dubai or London. Do whatever you can to avoid connections in India (Mumbai/Delhi).

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

View All Answers


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

Government. Posted to U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large and fairly decent housing. Many singles and small families are in apartments roughly 20-25 mins from consulate. Families in larger, rambling, older homes about 40 minutes away. No swimming pools except at the apartment complex. This is a shame, because there's little else for families to do here on the sweltering weekends. We have access to a UN research facility about an hour outside of the city, which has a nice pool. But that's about it. Traffic is India. Enough said.

View All Answers


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

Surprisingly expensive. Local products are cheap (onions, ghee, lentils, curd). But very expensive for anything western and fairly limited. You can find a bag of Doritos at one of the handful of western stores, but you'll pay $10 for it. Overall, you can find most things here. But not without a significant price hike. Post recently lost a huge chunk of its COLA and this really hurt.

View All Answers


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

Peanut butter, booze, sunscreen, good mosquito spray, backup power source. We can get most things shipped through Amazon Prime and Netgrocer, apart from liquids. Bring lots of your favorite shampoos, hand soaps, and any liquid medicines you might need. Drugs are very cheap here since most are manufactured in Hyderabad.

View All Answers


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

McDonalds, KFC and Subway (no beef/pork). Some decent vegetarian options at McDonalds. Local speciality is biryani, which is good the first few times, but gets a bit old after a while. Andhra cuisine is very spicy, even within India. The dosas and idlis are decent. Some people like the local cuisine, but most foreigners prefer Punjabi-style Indian food. A handful of very good western restaurants here, but prices aren't cheap. Similar to what you'd pay in the U.S. Brunches are very good -- about $30 per person for a massive spread, including Indian-made booze.

View All Answers


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

Dengue is a serious issue. No malaria. Lots of biting red ants. Some apartments here are truly plagued with mosquitoes. But we have cobras! Several have been found at consulate houses. No joke. Houses come equipped with a snake pole and we were all given snake training about two years back.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch.

View All Answers


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

Highly available and fairly cheap. About $200-300 month for a good fulltime maid/cook. Same cost for drivers. Quality varies widely.

View All Answers


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

Consulate has a great gym. Some private clubs here, too, but not sure of cost.

View All Answers


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 problems overall.

View All Answers


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

Catholic and maybe a handful of Protestant. Lots of mosques and Hindu temples.

View All Answers


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

None. Some telugu might help, but most people speak some level of English.

View All Answers


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

Tons. Even an able-bodied person has trouble walking here in the city. There are basically no sidewalks. And the places that have sidewalks are covered with unmentionables.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Affordable? Yes. Safe? If you are a man, then yes. Apart from relatively high frequency of rape, many of the buses are in rough shape. Earlier this year, a toddler girl died when she was riding in the bus and fell through a hole on the floor.

View All Answers


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?

Buy local. If you're posted to the consulate, buy from a colleague. If you are working for a multinational, but locally. Roads are in so-so condition, but you will spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. Make sure the AC works.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, it's fairly cheap and fast. I think we pay about $30/month. When it works, it's great. But ours cuts out 1-2 times per week for 24 hours at a time. Reliability has been a nightmare.

View All Answers


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

Local carriers do the trick. Getting a cell phone here is a headache -- you must fill out a permit.

View All Answers


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?

No. Rules seem to be changing, though. One local kennel for dogs is used by most. At least one good local vet.

View All Answers


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?

A lot of multi-nationals have huge operations here (Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte, Google). Getting work permits can be frustrating, though.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many local NGOs.

View All Answers


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

Not as formal as the Embassy in Delhi. Ties are relatively rare here for men. Women, in general, tend to wear longer dresses or pants to avoid the stares. Many women do not feel comfortable wearing shorts or short sleeves.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Some bombings last year by a homegrown terror group, but not targetted against foreigners. The Indian Govt runs a pretty tight ship, security wise. The consulate also provides security guards for our homes at night. It's a different tale entirely for women, though. None of the females at post would dare to go out alone. Harassment (so-called "eve teasing" and "eye rapes") is rampant and a serious issue. What you read in the newspaper is not an exaggeration. The opposite, in fact.

View All Answers


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

Dengue fever, cholera, typhoid and nasty food poisoning. You will get sick here. Healthcare in general is quite good, though, and very cheap. Many good private hospitals. Dental care is also great and cheap.

View All Answers


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 by global standards, but moderate for India. Many days the air quality readings are above 150 ppm, which is unsafe. It always smells here. You get used to that, even though sometimes the stench from Hussain Sagar Lake (medical waste/sewage) gets overwhelming. For the most part, you get used to the constant odor.

View All Answers


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

Fairly pleasant climate, if you like heat. It's dry for much of the year. Monsoon season (mid-June to mid-November can be muggy) but the rest of the year is fairly dry. Never gets below about 70 degrees. December and January are the nicest months. April and May are fiercely hot.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

I think most are fairly happy with pre-school; the American school is about an hour away. No experience with these.

View All Answers


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

Not sure. Doubt there are many options.

View All Answers


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?

Very good pre-school options; several different schools ranging from $200-$500 per month. Some are filled with children from incredibly driven families -- picture 3 year olds getting homework EVERY night. Others are much more moderate. Overall, very, very good value.

View All Answers


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

American School has sports programs, I think. Not much else. There's almost no green/park space in the city.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Very small diplomatic community (the Americans, Iranians, and now a handful of Brits and Turks). Several hundred expats (mainly british, french and american) at multi-nationals. Not a ton of mixing. Most expats are programmers or accountants; there's a young crowd of frat boy-ish programmers that take over a local hotel pool every Sunday, you won't miss 'em...). There's a good expat group (TEA) that organizes events. Morale is mixed. A few people really seem to thrive in India. Many others have a hard time. Post has had a recent management change that has morale on the upswing.

View All Answers


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?

Although there are a handful of good local restaurants, there is no local bar or pub scene, per se. Weekend parties at homes. Social life is fairly limited, but it's as good as you make it. Consulate is relatively small, so it's a fishbowl. But we manage to have fun; the different cliques even manage to overlap sometimes.

View All Answers


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

Great for families -- childcare is cheap and high quality. Couples seem to enjoy the traveling. Singles have a harder time. Especially single women. Two have curtailed. There's not a lot to do here in the city, so you need to be able to make your own fun at home.

View All Answers


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

No.

View All Answers


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

Big problems with gender prejudice. Female infanticide is still widely practiced in India. Most of us have stopped reading the newspaper because we simply can't bear to read about yet another little girl being raped. This is a highly conservative, misogynistic city. It's not a worldy, open city like Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata.

View All Answers


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

Travel across India. We love this country as tourists. Much to see and so much diversity. We don't like the day-to-day life here. We've hit many of the highlights: Rajasthan, Delhi, the Himalayas, Kochin, Kerala backwaters, Goa, Andaman Islands. The travel has been wonderful. Hyderabad itself has a few interesting sites, but these can be covered in a weekend (Golkonda Fort, Falaknuma Palace, Old City, Chowmahallah).

View All Answers


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

Lots of travel in India. The airport here is new and modern. Fly to any number of great tourist spots in India. Hampi is about 8 hours away by train. Flights are fairly cheap. Not a whole lot that we've found in the area.

View All Answers


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

Bidriware, carved goods, haleem (if you like smashed meat stew with chunks of bone), cloth. The usual Indian trinketry.

View All Answers


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

There were only two advantages for us: travel and climate. The climate is relative to the rest of India. Compared with other posts, Hyderabad is relatively dry and lower pollution. The monsoon is mild. It's still hot here, but manageable. Our air quality is typically 2-3 times better than Delhi or Mumbai, but it's still quite bad. If you don't wash your car here for one day, it will be coated with dust, grime, dirt. We've really enjoyed the travel opportunities throughout India and SE Asia. But otherwise, there are no advantages.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

In theory, yes. But almost everybody here hires a driver and a maid. These costs add up. To maintain some semblance of sanity, most of us travel at least once per month. Those who don't tend to spend a lot of time (and money) at the Park Hyatt -- it's a refuge here. The previous CG recommended leaving the country at least once per quarter for morale reasons. This isn't cheap. We're going to leave here with nothing in the bank, but a ton of great travel memories.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

How conservative it is, especially Hyderabad. There's also much more jingoism here than I had expected. That the consulate had a serious rat problem.

View All Answers


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

Probably not. I've really enjoyed the esprit de corps here at Post and the amount of time I've been able to spend with my family, but the constant onslaught of India (full volume, 100 percent of the time, all five senses) combined with a huge consular workload and overal high cost of living has made this a tough assignment. A new consulate will be built here in 4-5 years, inshallah, and that might be a better time to return.

View All Answers


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

Expectations from "Eat, Pray, Love"... and values of gender equality and personal space.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure, noise-cancelling headset and Pepto Bismol

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

I'm told Tollywood makes a lot of films here. I haven't been able to get through one yet.

View All Answers


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

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India
by William Dalrymple. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
by Sarah MacDonald.

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Although there are some advantages to life here, relative to Delhi or Mumbai (air quality + climate), it's still India. We've loved the tourism here. The people, in general, can be quite friendly. But day-to-day living in India is full of challenges and the grinding poverty surrounding you can really break your heart. Know what you're getting yourself into.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 03/02/12

Background:

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

Second expat experience.

View All Answers


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?

Home base is on the U.S. East Coast, and it is at least 24 hour trip with layovers. Best route was Frankfurt to Hyderabad on Lufthansa, but that flight has been cancelled. It is convenient to fly through Dubai, Doha, and London.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

One and a half years.

View All Answers


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

U.S. Consulate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

When I first arrived, I spent two months in temporary housing, but now all incoming officers should avoid that. Housing is very spacious and nice. Families have houses and couples or singles have apartments. Commute to the Consulate is 15-20 minutes in the morning when there is no traffic and 30-45 minutes in the evenings when the traffic is awful.

View All Answers


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

Local produce is dirt cheap. Anything imported is more expensive than it would be in the U.S.

View All Answers


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

Lots of beer and wine, toiletries, pet supplies.

View All Answers


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

Quiznos, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa Johns and McDonald's are all here, but none of them serve beef or pork, so it is not the same as U.S. Indian restaurants are very cheap, but anything American is more expensive.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I guess the produce here is organic in that it doesn't contain pesticides and preservatives, but it is important to wash all produce well. The lack of infrastructure in India makes it difficult to find very fresh produce.

View All Answers


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

Dengue is a problem during the monsoon season, so it is important to use bug spray.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

We receive mail through the pouch at the consulate.

View All Answers


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

Drivers, maids, and nannies are readily available, but it can be difficult to find reliable, skilled people. Westerners tend to pay more than Indians for domestic help, expecting them to speak English and be punctual. A maid who can cook Western food will be paid a bit higher. We pay our driver $200/month and our maid $150/month. This is average among the officers.

View All Answers


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

There are more and more gyms opening, but they are pretty expensive. Yoga classes and even private instruction is readily available and cheap. There is an expat Frisbee group here, and a group of officers plays tennis regularly for very cheap. Running and biking are pretty much impossible or very unpleasant.

View All Answers


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?

Most small shops are cash-only, but there are many ATMs all over the city. I haven't had any problem using credit cards or ATMs.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

English newspapers and TV readily available for very low prices compared to the U.S. There are many English books in the bookstores as well.

View All Answers


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

None. Many expats get around fine with English. The only officers who speak local language were trained for their jobs.

View All Answers


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

There is no accommodation made for people with physical disabilities. Walking on the street is hard enough for people who are perfectly able.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Local autorickshaws are definitely affordable. Buses are not safe, and taxis are extremely unreliable. They do not roam the streets, so you have to call in advance, and they often do not show up.

View All Answers


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?

We bought an SUV from another officer, and we really like having an SUV here. On the roads of Hyderabad, right of way goes to the largest vehicle. There are many bumps and potholes on the roads which are easier to handle in a higher car. Also, during monsoon season, when the roads flood, lower cars can end up with the engines flooding.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

The internet here is very fast, cheap, and reliable (as long as the power doesn't go out!).

View All Answers


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

Cell phones here are very cheap.

View All Answers


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?

Technically, incoming pets can do home quarantine and then need to be checked by the quarantine doctor. However, we walked right through the airport with two cats, and nobody stopped us.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

We adopted a dog from the one animal shelter here, Blue Cross, and we found one great vet who helped us raise our puppy into a healthy dog! Dr. Lakshmi helped us through regular check-ups, vaccines, sprained ankles, worms, and spaying. There is a kennel where you can board dogs here, but I have not used it.

View All Answers


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?

There are jobs available with NGOs or English training companies, but people have complained about lack of organization. Spouses of diplomats cannot work on the local economy because there is no bilateral work agreement.

View All Answers


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

At work, dress code is pretty casual. In public, it is also casual, but most women dress in pants and long sleeves to avoid stares and harassment.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Not really. The traffic is probably the most dangerous thing about Hyderabad.

View All Answers


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

The main health concerns are related to food poisoning. Regular stomach problems are to be expected.

View All Answers


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 is poor because of the traffic emissions. Walking on the street or riding in an autorickshaw, you will breathe in fumes and dust.

View All Answers


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

The weather in Hyderabad is the best in India. The winters (October-March) are perfect (80 degrees), then the summer is miserable from April to June, but then the "monsoon" is very light and only lasts from July to September.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Very small. The U.S. consulate is the only foreign mission here (besides Iran, but we don't hang out with them much). There are some expats working out in High-Tec city and some working for NGO's, but not many.

View All Answers


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?

There are very few bars and clubs, and the ones that do exist are usually full of Indian men. Very few women go out. There are some nice restaurants for Indian and Western food. Most entertaining is done at home. The malls and movies theaters are the main entertainment here.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

Low to medium.

View All Answers


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

Most of the families seem happy, but it can be pretty boring for singles or couples without kids. Indians tend to marry early and have kids immediately. Also, there are not many bars or cafes where you can meet people.

View All Answers


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

If there is a gay scene in Hyderabad, it is keeping a very low profile.

View All Answers


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

India is very tolerant of religious diversity. Indians can make remarks that may be considered racist in the U.S., but I don't think it is meant to be antagonistic. The biggest problem is gender prejudice. Women have faced harassment here for merely walking on the street.

View All Answers


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

Traveling around India and around southeast Asia.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad has some interesting cultural sites that you can spend about three days on. Other than that, shopping is great here, and the theaters show Bollywood and Hollywood movies.

View All Answers


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

I spend most of my money on travel. Other than that, unique jewelry, handicrafts, cottons and textiles, colorful Indian clothing.

View All Answers


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

Traveling around India is fun, and there are plenty of places to visit. Hyderabad has an interesting culture with its large Muslim population.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Yes, it is pretty inexpensive to live here.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

View All Answers


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

Nice shoes, black suits, punctuality, expectations of a spiritual experience, need for fresh air and nature.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, Sunscreen without whitening cream, booze, pet supplies, yoga clothes and mat, and laid-back personality.

View All Answers


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

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India by William Dalrymple is set in Hyderabad during British colonial period.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

Hyderabad is what you make of it. It doesn't have as much as the U.S. to offer, but you can find fun ways to spend your time if you look hard enough. For me, it's traveling, shopping, and playing tennis.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 02/27/12

Background:

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

Previously lived in Bujumbura, Burundi.

View All Answers


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?

Home base is the U.S. We can fly from HYD to Mumbai and get a direct flight from there to Newark, NJ. There are flights from HYD to Frankfurt, HYD to Dubai, and HYD to London that connect to the US. Travel to the US takes between 24 to 30 hours depending on where your final destination is.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

We are here from November 2010 to November 2013.

View All Answers


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

US State Department.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are apartments and single-family houses within gated communities. Most are within the city or close to it. The commute to the Consulate is between 20-45 minutes depending on traffic patterns and how far away your home is. The international school is a good 45 minutes away from most houses.

View All Answers


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

Most Western groceries and household supplies, or local equivalents, are widely available. Costs range from surprisingly cheap to about twice what you'd pay in the US. Supplies can be limited sometimes and will disappear for a few weeks at a time.

View All Answers


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

A few more gluten-free staples that are difficult or impossible to find here and more of the powdered formula that the baby used, because her brand cost more than twice what it does in the US.

View All Answers


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

Western chains include McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Quizno's, Dominoes, Papa John's, TGI Fridays, and Hard Rock Cafe. There are always rumors spreading about Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks opening soon and some of us are anxiously awaiting them! Prices are reasonable. The red meat in burgers or sandwiches might be goat or lamb unless it specifically says "beef" on the menu.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Products labeled "organic" are of questionable origin. I don't know of anyone who trusts them to actually be organic. There are plenty of vegetarian options. As a gluten-free person, I've found plenty to eat here as well. One store has started stocking a well-known GF brand from Australia. There is a wide variety of Western, Indian, and Asian groceries and restaurant dishes available.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes year-round. Ants and occasional cockroaches in the kitchen.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

We use the pouch through the consulate, but we've also used FedEx and India post with success.

View All Answers


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

Reasonable. A few hundred dollars a month can provide for a driver and a housekeeper. Nannies are also widely available. Expats tend to pay more than Indians for their domestic help and someone who can speak English and cook Western food will garner a slightly higher wage.

View All Answers


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

Yes, there are plenty of gyms and yoga studios.

View All Answers


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?

Many major grocery stores and other retailers accept credit cards and ATM cards. There are ATMs located throughout the city; some will accept cards from American banks and some won't. Smaller retailers and street vendors will only accept cash, and preferably exact change.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Local daily papers are a few cents a day, including delivery. TV news is rarely in English so you must pay for satellite costing a few hundred dollars a year. Satellite TV includes CNN and BBC news along with many American and BBC series and movies.

View All Answers


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

None. Many people speak English here and if they don't you can get buy with hand gestures.

View All Answers


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

This city is not handicapped-accessible. Many buildings do have elevators, but you have to climb stairs to get into the buildings.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Taxis, trains, and auto-rickshaws are all reasonably safe. I don't know any expats who use buses, mostly because they are so crowded and dirty more than because of safety issues.

View All Answers


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?

India has strict importation rules regarding the age of the car and emissions. They only allow right-hand cars to be brought in. Many people buy a local car upon arrival. For driving in the city, cars range from small hatchbacks to large SUVs. Most of the city is paved well enough for small cars. Toyata, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, Skoda, BMW, Mercedez, Honda, and Hundai are all found here, along with Indian brands. Some expats even buy motorcycles and scooters here, to join in with the locals weaving through traffic.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, cost is about $65 a month.

View All Answers


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

There are many mobile phones and plans available. If you're bringing a phone from the US, make sure it's unlocked.

View All Answers


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?

They can be home-quarantined. A few days after arrival you must bring the animal to the quarantine office at the airport, then after 30 days you must bring them to a vet for a checkup and then bring a health certificate back to the quarantine office.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are vets here; I don't know about kennels. We've only had to get a rabies vaccination for our cat so I can't comment on any other sort of care.

View All Answers


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?

Not unless you've been recruited by an American or other Western company to work here.

View All Answers


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

Conservative. Most women feel comfortable being covered from shoulders to knees. Jeans are fine for casual wear, for both men and women. You'll see a whole range of dress, from burkhas to jeans and t-shirts. Some of us women wear shorts and tank tops for running in certain parks but rarely for running on the streets.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Many Western women feel uncomfortable and there have been reports of harassment. There is often local tension between Muslim and Hindu groups, but targeting each other rather than Westerners. There are pickpockets in large crowds.

View All Answers


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 quite good. Dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis are concerns, but not as much in the city as in the rural areas.

View All Answers


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?

Good most of the year, moderate during the summer with smoke and haze.

View All Answers


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

Summer, from March through May, is hot and dry. The month of May is 110 degrees nearly every day. The rainy season, starting in June, is humid but not as warm as summer. It's fairly comfortable and the rains are not as devastatingly flooding as other parts of India. Winter, December-January, is pleasant, with daytime temps in the 80s and nighttime temps in the 60s.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

There is an international school that many expats send their children to, elementary through high school ages. My daughter is in preschool so I have not had experience with it.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

There are a number of good preschools that expats use. There are traditional preschools as well as a Wardorf school that starts at 2 1/2 years old and a Montessori school that starts at 1 year old.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Large. There are a number of American and other Western companies that have settled in the Hi-Tech City and Cyberabad neighborhoods, bringing in many expat families.

View All Answers


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?

Easy. Many expats have large apartments our houses for at-home entertaining. Even if you don't have a housekeeper or a cook, most restaurants will cater a meal for reasonable prices. Outside of the home, there are many bars and restaurants. There are also movie theaters and a bowling alley.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

It depends. I think those of us who have lived in other developing countries adjust to India more easily than those who haven't lived outside the US before.

View All Answers


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

There's plenty to do here for all types of people. Families with younger children may become tired of all the attention given to white babies here. People are constantly asking for photos of my daughter or trying to pinch her cheeks or shake her hand.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

There is often tension between small groups of Hindus and Muslims, usually around holidays, but targeted only toward each other. It's usually neighborhood boys throwing rocks at each other. In general Hyderabad is known as a tolerant city.

View All Answers


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

The food. Hyderabad is known for its biryani.

View All Answers


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

The zoo is nice. There's the Charminar, palaces and temples. Shopping markets. Some parks for walking. For escaping the summer heat there are large, air-conditioned malls and many of the large hotels allow you to sit at the pool if you order a small amount of food.

View All Answers


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

Jewelry. Hyderabad is known for pearls. There are also bangles and silver and gold jewelry.

View All Answers


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

Hyderabad has better weather than most of the rest of India. There are also more Western shops and restaurants than much of India. You can save money on some things but many imported items are expensive.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

If you eat local products rather than imports and do only regional travel, yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

I would and my daughter would. I'm not so sure about my husband.

View All Answers


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

Winter clothes, unless you plan on traveling to the Himalayas.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock and bug spray.

View All Answers


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

We have yet to find much media about Hyderabad, but the first chapter of "Maximum City" by Suketu Mehta (about Bombay) is a good introduction for the difficulties expats have in adjusting to India.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

We like the city well enough to have extended from a 2-year assignment to 3 years, but we'll also be happy to move on to a new adventure when our time is up here.

View All Answers


Hyderabad, India 01/11/11

Background:

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

No, many others

View All Answers


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?

USA, 20-30 hours depending on where in the US.The best flight back to the USWC is with Emirates via Dubai. There is no longer a flight though Amsterdam.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

View All Answers


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

Government

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Consulate housing is large and in acceptable condition, however most employees are in temporary housing for 1-3 months before they are moved into their permanent housing. This has been an ongoing problem and doesn't seem to be anywhere near being resolved.

View All Answers


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

Local groceries are dirt cheap (veggies, grains, milk/yogurt) but imported items are pretty pricey. Ship-in any staples or name-brand things you want.

View All Answers


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

Very few. It is hard to cook here, so maybe things like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, baking items, etc.

View All Answers


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

McDonald's sans beef. Hard Rock, TGIFriday's and Chili's with beef. KFC, Subway and some other Asian chains. There are about a million good Indian restaurants and you'd have to work to spend over $10, even at the nicest places. Besides pizza, there are few other restaurants that serve continental food. Most of it tastes like Indian food, even though they may call it Italian or Chinese or whatever. Try to embrace Indian food!

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Nothing organic; you have to carefully wash all your produce. Nothing gluten-free (because there are no processed foods) but you can buy all types of other flours if you know how to cook with them. Tons of meat-substitutes. This is heaven for vegetarians. But keep an eye on your cook - most Indian food is made with copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter), both in the home and in restaurants.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes. Bring your own repellent. They only sell a mild local repellent there.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

We're lucky and can use the pouch. Friends outside the consulate have had poor luck both sending and receiving packages though the Indian postal system. Fed Ex and Blue Dart are your best bet.

View All Answers


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

Widely available and worth every rupee. Maids/cooks/nannies are $100-$150 per month, drivers are $200-$250.

View All Answers


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

There are two modern gyms, but the traffic getting to them makes it somewhat prohibitive to go there. They are also very expensive - around $100 per month! There is not a gym at the consulate. Some of the apartments have very very basic gyms.

View All Answers


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?

ATMs are widely available, but many places do not take credit cards.

View All Answers


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

Few people have found religious services they are happy with. Christian and Mormon services are available but may not be what you are used to. No Jewish services that I know of.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Super cheap satellite with about 15 English channels. Less than $100 per year. There are Indian-biased English-language papers so your best news is on-line.

View All Answers


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

Little to none. Don't learn Hindi. They only speak Telugu in Hyderabad.

View All Answers


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

There are no accommodations made (outside of the consulate) for people with disabilities, even in the newest and most modern buildings.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Trains around the country are super cheap, but you need to book early. There is one local train, but I've never seen nor heard of an expat taking it (crowded, filthy, only makes a loop around the city). Taxis are safe and cheap, but for some reason Hyderabad only has them at readily available at the airport. There are a few buses, but they are incredibly crowded, filthy and don't maintain a regular schedule.

View All Answers


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?

Any kind of car is fine. Check on current restrictions. You will definitely need a car. Rickshaws only go in certain zones in the city and are a hassle. There is no other public transport, and you can generally only get a taxi at the airport.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Surprisingly, the internet here is not very good. You can get "up to" 500KB for about $50/month. Stress on the words "up to."

View All Answers


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

Get one. They're cheap.

View All Answers


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?

No.

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There are only two acceptable vets. They are fine for routine care.

View All Answers


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?

No. You have to have a work permit. And if you do, don't expect American wages or anything close.

View All Answers


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

You will rarely need a suit, only collared shirts. Women should avoid skirts above the knee and spaghetti straps.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Not really.

View All Answers


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

Many health concerns from dengue to food-borne illnesses to pollution. There are good hospitals in Mumbai and Delhi, but not in Hyderabad. There have been many medical evacuations from the consulate.

View All Answers


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! Sometimes the visibility is less than a mile because of pollution.

View All Answers


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

Great in the winter (80s) and sweltering in the summer (100+).

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

Some like the school, some hate it. There are many changes going on - talk to parents with kids the same age.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

Virtually none that conform to American standards.

View All Answers


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

Some. Talk to parents for details of what sports are available.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Way too small. One consulate and some international companies.

View All Answers


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?

Most is done at home. However, Indian companies love to have an expat at their events, so you often end up at their promotions.

View All Answers


3. Morale among expats:

Varies depending on the person.

View All Answers


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

Probably it's best for families, since you will have a large house and a community of people from school. Plus, most of the expat community is from high-tech companies and are families with kids. There is virtually no social network for single people or couples, since most Indians marry early and have kids early. Since most marriages are arranged, there is little, if any, dating scene, and most of the people you see at clubs are very rich, very young Indians rebelling and drinking heavily. Remember, there are NO other missions in Hyderabad besides the American Consulate. This place is not typical of other consulates or other expat communities.

View All Answers


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

Unfortunately, being gay is illegal in India. That says it all.

View All Answers


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

The Pew Research Forum rates India as "very high" in terms of "government restrictions and social hostilities" in religion. There are few churches and no temples, though there are, of course, expats who are not Hindu or Muslim. Gender prejudices are one of the hardest things to deal with. Women are second-class citizens and are treated horribly. However, as an expat, you are more or less exempt from that, since you are viewed as a rich foreigner, even if you are a woman.

View All Answers


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

Traveling around India and getting to know the locals at work.

View All Answers


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

Galconda fort, the beautiful new Taj Hotel (a restored palace), interesting temples. There are two Western-style malls and some chain restaurants to get a much-needed beef burger.

View All Answers


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

Tons and tons of great decorative items from knick-knaks to rugs to linens and more.

View All Answers


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

The travel around India is terrific! Even paying for maid/driver and traveling, you can save a ton of money.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Yes! Eating out is cheap, domestic help is cheap, most groceries are cheap, there's no real shopping besides inexpensive handicrafts.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Probably not. I would have gone to a city with more to do like Delhi or Mumbai.

View All Answers


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

Desire to recreate outside, your appetite for beef, pork or anything but river fish, and your nice clothes.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock, bug spray, good shoes, and any hobby items that will keep you occupied during the hot season.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

India is fascinating but Hyderabad is not. If you have kids and like to hang out at home, you'll probably like it here. For everyone else, get out and travel or you'll go crazy.

View All Answers


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More