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

Personal Experiences from Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India 03/12/19

Background:

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

Third posting abroad, after Mexico City and South Africa.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

View All Answers


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

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?

Nearly all housing in Mumbai is in high-rise buildings. Many buildings feel sort of dingy, a product of years of grime and tropic weather, coupled with minimal maintenance. US government housing is spread throughout Mumbai. Our commute is 15 minutes in the morning but can be an hour returning home late evening. Some new housing is closer to the US Consulate, a short walk away but in a less interesting area, dominated by new construction. Apartments are small by US standards; don't count on much storage space. Be aware that anything you store outside on your high-rise patio will be rapidly covered with mildew, grime, or rust.

Traffic in Mumbai is often very bad. From where we live in Bandra/Khar, it usually takes 60-90 minutes to South Bombay. It is better on Sundays or early in the morning.

View All Answers


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

Most shopping is at small markets, or on the street for produce. Most of it is very inexpensive. There are a few high-end grocery stores with a decent selection of imported Euro / American groceries, at 2-3x the price back home (Nature's Basket; Foodhall). Wine and liquor are expensive (several times the US price).

View All Answers


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

Nothing. Storage is tight in Mumbai apartments, and everything is available here.

View All Answers


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

Mumbai is a food paradise. Thousands of restaurants, and most are inexpensive. You can dine out, or the vast majority will deliver for free via Zomato or Scootsy. They include every type of Indian, plus Chinese, Italian, continental, Thai, Burmese, German, Spanish, and on and on. You will never get tired of the variety of food here. Although there is plenty of meat available, there is no beef allowed in most of India. Occasionally you will see 'beef' on a menu, which usually means water buffalo. Even at the most hard-core meat restaurants in town, at least half the menu will be vegetarian.

There are Indian street food vendors dotting nearly every road. They are tasty and inexpensive, but not always hygienic. With time you will get a sense for how to judge their cleanliness. The five-star hotels have have incredible weekend buffets for around $30. Some of them have 100+ dishes from around the world, including some of the most beautiful and most varied buffet food you will have anywhere.

Fast food: There exist a few standard chains (McDonald's, KFC, Dominos, etc). They're interesting because the menu is nothing like the US version. But the food from most local places is better and cheaper. Most informal restaurants don't serve alcohol. At the ones that do, you might pay $30 for a cheap bottle of Indian wine. The bar scene here is not very big.

View All Answers


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

Some ants and cockroaches in the flats. There are some mosquitoes outside, which can carry malaria and dengue in India. Malaria is rare in Mumbai, but dengue is common and can be very serious.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Pouch mail through the consulate takes about ten days from the US.

View All Answers


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

We have a housekeeper/cook, a nanny, and a driver. They are all terrific, and speak English well. We pay each around US$300/mo for 40 hours/week.

View All Answers


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

There is a Gold's Gym in Bandra. Many residential buildings have small 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?

It's largely a cash society. Many stores will have credit card machines, but a lot of them will work only with Indian credit cards. Larger stores, hotels, etc. will take western credit cards fine. ATMs will usually work with western cards but it's hit or miss. Frequently they will be broken or out of cash.

View All Answers


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

There are a lot of Catholic churches with English services.

View All Answers


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

You can get by just fine with English. Most people in shops, etc. have enough English to communicate with you; random people on the street often will not. I really regret not knowing more Hindi. It would be great to have across India. I was unable to find a good teacher; there are plenty of language schools to learn English, but not Hindi!

Marathi is the 'local' language of Mumbai, but Hindi is the most useful pan-India language to learn. (Although in the south, Tamil is sometimes more common than Hindi.)

View All Answers


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

Sidewalks are rarely intact. There are a lot of old buildings that are completely inaccessible. There are many disabled people in India, but they do not have universal access to basic things like public transportation, housing, etc.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Taxis are usually safe and drivers usually honest. Uber is common, as is its Indian competitor, Ola. Rickshaws ('autos' in the local vernacular) are safe and omnipresent in northern Mumbai, but are not allowed in the south. A lot of taxis don't have seatbelts, and rickshaws never do.

An underground metro is just starting to be built, and might be ready by 2025. If it actually opens, it will revolutionize transportation in the city, and serve a many useful areas. A monorail was built several years ago, but isn't open and doesn't serve the core city.

Mumbai's famous train system is a marvel of efficiency. If it goes where you want (most routes run N-S), it is almost always faster than driving through traffic. If you're in first class (monthly pass $8) and travel during off-peak hours, it can be great. I ride the train every single day and love it, but keep in mind that like the rest of Mumbai, it is dirty, crowded, and not very user-friendly.

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 roads have a lot of potholes and other hazards, but a 4WD is not really necessary. 95% of our driving has been in the city. For trips across India the roads are very slow, and we end up flying.
Any car you get here will end up being pockmarked with scrapes and impacts. Don't buy something and expect to keep it in pristine shape. Most expats (and many well-off Indians) employ drivers, which makes navigating and parking in the city far easier.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

We pay US$100/month for service which is fast (8 Mbps), but unreliable. For less money, you can get extremely slow, unreliable DSL from the local MTNL phone company.

View All Answers


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

Several carriers, and they all work ok. US$10/month will get you a lot of usage.

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?

We brought in two cats. No quarantine, but the before-arrival paperwork took months. It wasn't difficult, just slow with a lot of hoops jump through. We hired an Indian 'pet expediting' company before we arrived to help with the local paperwork; standing in line to file certificates and get forms stamped, etc. Leaving the country required less paperwork. Vets are cheap and competent. Welcome to the land of US$5 x-rays and $1 shots!

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?

Difficult, but some people have done it. I taught a university class which was a terrific experience, but the pay was about 1/20th of what it would have been in the developed world. There is a diplomatic bi-lateral work agreement between India and the US.

There are several good co-working sites at which some expats have offices, including mine in a beautiful old British building in the heart of downtown South Bombay.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many NGOs here. Tons of opportunities.

View All Answers


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

Typically formal with long pants. Despite the heat, no one wears shorts. Many Indians wear kurtas and saris formally, which can be cooler.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

As a man, I feel safe walking around anywhere in Mumbai, at any time of day. Because of the density of people, Mumbai feels much safer to me than Delhi, and crime statistics are consistent with this. Incidence of theft, pick-pocketing, and break-ins are very rare. The worst thing I experience is an occasional taxi driver who claims to have a broken meter.

India definitely seems less safe for women. I've heard of a number of incidents within the community of groping, exposure, harassment, etc., in the community, including some violent attacks. Some women have been crudely harassed by taxi drivers (including Uber).

While things are changing, India has very old-fashioned gender roles. Walking around the streets downtown during the day, you can sometimes see 100 men for every woman on the street. It is common that Indian women stay at home. In universities the gender balance is much closer to 50-50, but change takes a long time -- this is a huge and slow-moving country.

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?

Besides falling into an open manhole cover or getting hit by a rickshaw, the biggest medical threats are respiratory issues, dengue, and the occasional food poisoning if you eat street food. Some people have problems with the air quality, which is very bad especially in winter.

The private hospitals and private doctors are good, not up to US levels, but fine for most care. Appointments are easy to get. Costs are usually very low, maybe about 1/10th of US cost for things like MRIs, dental care, LASIK, etc. Some of the doctors are very good, especially those who have studied in the US or Europe.

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?

Mumbai is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Air quality is often very bad, especially in the winter when there is more burning for heat, and no rain to keep the dust down. In the summer it is sometimes OK, and during the monsoons it's usually pretty good.

That being said, we were so grateful to be in Mumbai and not Delhi. Delhi's air is often 2x worse than Mumbai's. It is the only city in India that I'd not move to.

View All Answers


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

If you have any respiratory issues, India is probably not the country for you. It's not just car pollution, but everything: dust, smoke, incense, fish guts... a constant onslaught to your body.

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)?

Mumbai is an onslaught. It is never, ever peaceful. If you want calm quiet, don't come to India.

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?

It's 90 degrees and humid, every day. A little cooler in winter (it can be very pleasant for a few months, where it will sometimes get as cool as 70 at night), and a little warmer in the spring. The monsoon runs from June-September, during which it will often rain hard for a few hours a day.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

ASB (American School of Bombay) is an incredible school. It is up there with the best in the world. The teachers are fantastic and the facilities are amazing. Extracurricular activities: robotics, swimming, climbing, model UN, drama, programming, photography, and on and on... every day, including through the breaks, and on many weekends. The school has been a huge high point of our stay here and it will be hard to leave.

View All Answers


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

No firsthand experience with special needs. The school has been good with individual attention and the classes are typically small (e.g., kindergarten is 12 per class, with one teacher and one assistant).

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 is a decent Montessori school (TMSI) which is good for kids 1-3 or 4, at a cost that is low by US standards. ASB also offers preschool for 3+4 years olds. It is fantastic but not cheap ($15K/yr).

View All Answers


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

ASB has many, many sports programs: swimming, track, soccer, etc. Cricket is played everywhere in the street.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

There are a lot of expats here. Many work in banking, construction, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, etc. in addition to government.

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 house parties, and very little outdoors!

View All Answers


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

It can be harder for families because of the lack of easy outdoor activities. Parks, hiking, clean beaches, trees to climb, grass to play tag in...forget about these. There is a lot going on in the city, but your activities will gravitate to the metropolitan rather than the pastoral. And getting around the city can take a long time. Having a driver makes the logistics of kids' playdates on the other side of the city much easier.

View All Answers


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

India is still a conservative society, but Mumbai is the most progressive place to be in India.

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?

I found everyone to be extremely welcoming, and I visited many at their homes. Even walking down the street for festivals, I was often invited in. Mumbai is so dense, that everyone lives close together, and there are constant social interactions.

View All Answers


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

Depending on the political party in power, the country itself can take a hard pro-Hindi stance. However, in the streets in Mumbai, you have a lot of people from many religions (Hindi, Muslim, Catholic, Sikh), all going about their ways, right next to each other, every day. From our deck, we hear Muslim prayers at the same time as music for Hindu festivals is going on. There is a lot of religious diversity.

View All Answers


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

India is a huge country, with so much to see and explore. Deserts and palaces in Rajasthan. Wildlife and salt flats in Gujarat. Peaceful and green houseboats in Kerala. The mountain and tea plantations of Darjeeling. Safaris with tigers and rhinos in Assam. Beaches in Goa. A meteor impact crater near ancient cave paintings in Aurangabad. The festivals and seafood of Kolkata. The history and density of central Delhi. The lake city in Udaipur. Mountain retreats in the Himalaya. There are dozens and dozens of different trips to take to different regions in India, each with their own food, music, colorful rickshaws, animals, festivals, and on and on.

And don't forget about the surrounding region as well. Nepal, Bhutan, Bangkok, Dubai, or Hong Kong are four to five hours away via direct flights. Mumbai is a great base from which to explore a lot of Asia.

View All Answers


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

A huge highlight here are the omnipresent festivals, which blocks the streets often for hours or days. Ganpati (for the elephant god Ganesh) in September is the largest one in Mumbai. Holi, Diwali, Eid, Dasera, Navatri are also big. In much of the city there are huge weddings every weekend in the spring.

Mumbai is not very tourist-friendly, and many of its interesting sites are hidden and you won't see them until you're right there. On our list are Banganga Tank (an old 'lake' surrounded by temples), the Bombay Paranjpole (a very dense urban dairy with hundreds of beautiful cows in a small courtyard surrounded by hi-rises). Juhu Beach is not very clean but always fascinating. Sanjay Gandhi National Park has some good hiking trails if you book ahead of time, and go during the week. The Fort neighborhood in South Bombay has tens of km of dense winding streets, built by the British and containing much of Mumbai's history. On Elephanta island, There are several sets of old Buddhist caves which are overrun with people, but still very neat. Several companies run walking tours through the dozens and dozens of neighborhoods, including the dense and fascinating slums, where about half of Mumbai lives. There are some nice hiking trails in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Most of them require you to make a reservation with the park's Nature Center, which is easy but very few people do. It's a great way to get away from Mumbai's crowds for a few hours, and can be really beautiful during monsoon.

Beyond Mumbai, you can get to most of the rest of India within two to three hours on inexpensive flights. Camels and palaces in the deserts of Rajasthan. Lions, birding, and salt flats in Gujarat. Beaches in Goa and further south. Rhinos and tigers in Assam. Trekking near Darjeeling. Festivals in Kolkata. And beyond that, India is a great base from which to explore Asia: Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Jordan, and Dubai are within four to six hours.

View All Answers


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

Ganesh idols. Saaris and kurtas and other beautiful clothing made here. Rugs, handicrafts, jewelry, and furniture, mostly from Rajasthan but available in Mumbai. Antique-looking astrolabes, telescopes, chess sets, and Bollywood posters.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

The lack of outdoor parks, and the difficulty of getting around, wear on people. However, the country of India has so much to offer, as long as you leave Mumbai from time to time.

View All Answers


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

Yes! Bombay is a city like no other in the world, but many people would not come back.

View All Answers


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

Bicycles, skateboards, warm jackets, surfboards, and skis.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Calmness in the face of chaos.

View All Answers


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

Slumdog Millionaire. Lion (set in Kolkata, but it still paints an accurate picture).

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

Mumbai tends to be very polarizing. Some people love it, and others can't wait to leave. Mumbai is an all-encompassing and overwhelming onslaught of a city. Merely walking around, you are flooded with a sensory overload of spices, smoke, drums and bells, screeching rickshaws, grime, glamorous people, piles of cow dung, and huge under-construction skyscrapers, with dozens of vendors sleeping on the sidewalks in front of them at night. There is everything here: Indian festivals. Bollywood movies. Amazing food. People from all over. Old beautiful architecture. Huge slums. Mumbai is a built city, with very little in the way of parks, natures, or green areas. India is inexpensive, and Mumbai is a terrific base from which to explore the country.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 01/13/19

Background:

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

Various postings in South America, 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?

USA, direct flights to DC, nine hours.

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.)?

Diplomat.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice housing, spacious and close to the US Consulate.

View All Answers


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

Local stuff available, however all foreign items are priced very high, for example, local whipping cream has 2% fat and won't whip. You can find imported whipping cream for over $10 for a small carton.

View All Answers


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

Most items, other than Indian spices, seem to be expensive.

View All Answers


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

There are two levels only, the very high-ended places for expats priced like NYC prices or the basic local Indian places, cheap but with risks of falling sick.

View All Answers


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

Yes, mosquitoes.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Easily available.

View All Answers


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

Small cramped gyms at a high cost.

View All Answers


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

Yes, but most places will automatically charge you in your local currency with a high conversion rate.

View All Answers


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

Yes, not designed for anyone with disabilities.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Uber is available, cheap but unreliable at times.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Expensive; for about $70 a month you can get good speed.

View All Answers


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

Very cheap and easily available.

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?

Currently more options for EFMs.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Women need to be careful, specially foreign women.

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?

Malaria, Dengue, and water borne illnesses.

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, don't come here if you have respiratory issues.

View All Answers


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

Terrible air quality.

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)?

The city does not seem clean, in my opinion, and seems to smell terrible most of the time; at times it can get to you as there is no respite unless you leave Mumbai

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?

Very hot and humid, winters are coller, Dec to Feb but air quality is terrible.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

American School of Bombay but not really and American school culturally.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Some love it here and some hate it.

View All Answers


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

No.

View All Answers


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

Yes, the caste system. Among locals, one seems to see a lot of discrimination.

View All Answers


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

I managed to travel a lot in the region. Travel outside of India is cheaper.Within India, everything has an 18% tax, most decent hotels are about $250 per night and with the VAT is becomes quite expensive.

View All Answers


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

Yes.

View All Answers


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

None.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Mumbai is very expensive.

View All Answers


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

No.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 05/10/18

Background:

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

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

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?

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

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 Consulate.

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

Mosquitos.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Pouch

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

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 but only in proper shops, not the street ones.

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?

Can get by without.

View All Answers


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

Yes very much so.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Uber is available but slow at times

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?

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

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Costly and unreliable.

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 an unlocked phone. cheap plans available.

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?

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?

Some EFM jobs are available.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes plenty

View All Answers


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

Regular suits, etc, local kurtas are acceptable.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

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

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

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.

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)?

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

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?

Very hot, most of the time.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

I hear ASB is good.

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?

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

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?

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

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

View All Answers


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

No, I would not.

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Sun screen, bug repellant.

View All Answers


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

Maximum city & slum dog billionaire

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

Do your homework and manage your expectations.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 06/17/17

Background:

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

Other than studying abroad, yes - it was my first experience working overseas.

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. It's about a 16-hour direct flight from NYC or 8 hours to Europe then another 8 to Mumbai.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

I just finished spending two years there.

View All Answers


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

Diplomatic assignment.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Four bedroom apartment, but don't let that fool you - the actual living space is small. Indians are used to packing three generations into a single residence, so 75% of the apartment is devoted to bedrooms.

View All Answers


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

Vegetables are very cheap, meat is relatively cheap, and imported goods are very expensive. Day-to-day household goods are cheaper than in the U.S.

View All Answers


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

Imported booze.

View All Answers


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

Pizza and Asian. Gotta be careful, though - some restaurants have serious sanitation problems.

View All Answers


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

Bugs get into your sugar, flour, and other open food. Keep it in your freezer.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

I use diplomatic pouch. From what I understand the Indian postal service is very unreliable, and addresses don't seem to be standardized.

View All Answers


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

Very cheap. I paid my housekeeper above market rate, and she earned $160/month for four hours a day, five days a week..

View All Answers


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

I used the work gym, but from what I understand there are adequate local facilities. Running outside is nearly impossible due to traffic and pollution.

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 accepted at upscale establishments, but obviously not at roadside vendors.

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?

Educated Indians and high-end service industry workers speak English, but locals (fruit stands, taxis etc.) don't speak English. It's good to know how to say 'left, right, straight' in Hindi or Marathi.

View All Answers


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

Yes. There seems to be very little, if any, accommodation for disabled people.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I used my driver six days a week but taxis are affordable, although there is often haggling since they try to rip off foreigners. I almost exclusively used Uber, but they're almost as unreliable since they turn on the app then sleep in their car.

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?

Bring something with high clearance that you don't mind getting dinged up. You will get into regular fender benders.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Theoretically. It was so sporadic that I stopped even trying to use it. It had random outages, and was nearly useless. From what I understand there is a very expensive option that provides reliable service.

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 used a pre-paid provider that was very cheap, about $20/mo for all the data I used (and I use a lot). Just bring an unlocked phone.

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?

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?

I'm single so not sure. But local salaries are very, very low compared to expat salaries.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

After-school tutoring, sports programs.

View All Answers


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

Suit and tie at the consulate, but local dress ('kurta') is sometimes acceptable and very comfortable.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Mumbai is generally very safe, and petty crime seems to be very low as long as you use basic precautions. I felt safer than I did in Washington, DC.

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?

Malaria, dengue, a bunch of tropical diseases, and regular stomach bugs. But expat medical care is high quality and very cheap. I went to the ER for a serious dog bite and the bill was $18 including stitches and medication.

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?

Bad. Just bad. In the winter people burn garbage to stay warm. Combined with car exhaust and the pervasive landfill fire, there was a stinky cloud enveloping the city. There are good days and bad days, but the bad outnumber the good.

View All Answers


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

Indians don't seem to be too accustomed to allergies.

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)?

Stress and tension due to the constant stimulation. Between the noise, filth, poverty, and cultural differences, I realized that it is necessary to leave the country every couple months, even if just to hop over to Bangkok or Dubai.

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?

Very hot in the summer (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and the 70's in the winter. The coldest it ever got was the 60's at nighttime in January.

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?

I saw the same few hundred people. Morale was decent, but the constant complaint was the filth and chaos.

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?

Cigar Club meets once a month at an expat bar. They have cigars, but it's more of a happy hour/party to meet other foreigners. There are other expat-oriented bars that cater to foreigners.

View All Answers


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

It is very bad for singles, especially gays. Indians get married early and stay married, so they don't usually get out of their bubble. The dating scene is nearly nonexistent, and whatever exists is pretty incestuous. As a gay late 20-something, dating was virtually nonexistent.

View All Answers


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

No. Indians are still conservative, and the only non-gender conforming behavior accepted is the hijras,transgender women who beg on street corners. Gay Indians sometimes feel cornered so they move into that lifestyle, often engaging in the sex trade.



While Mumbai has a small gay community, most Indians are either closeted or have been rejected by their families. There isn't a single gay bar in the entire city, just a once-a-month party that changes venues each month. In short, don't expect a dating scene here, just a few other expats.

View All Answers


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

The women I know were constantly groped and harassed by locals. I personally saw incessant, first-hand incidents of harassment, rape, and attempted rape of women, including by police. If you're a woman, avoid Indian men if you are alone. Remember: India is one of the last countries where it is legal to rape your wife.



There is prejudice against people with dark skin. I often had shopkeepers insist on serving me first because I'm white. It is blatant.

View All Answers


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

Rajasthan, Jaipur, and Pondicherry, a French colonial city about an hour south of Chennai. Also be sure to go to Sri Lanka. It was a very pleasant surprise, and a nice break from the craziness that is India.

View All Answers


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

For some quiet go to Lonavala, a mountain region a couple hours outside the city.

View All Answers


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

Yes. There are great crafts, furniture, and antiques. If you can't find what you want, you can find someone who will make it for you for cheap.

View All Answers


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

Help is very cheap and day-to-day expenses are cheap for expats. You're living in the 1%.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

You need to leave every couple months to stay sane.

View All Answers


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

No. It was fine for two years, but I will not move back.

View All Answers


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

Running shoes, cold weather clothes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Stomach medicine.

View All Answers


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

Slumdog Millionaire (it is based on truth, regardless of what anyone tells you).

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

If you're single, find a circle of other single friends ASAP. Brunches with them were my therapy. The family community is tight knit since the American School is so popular, so there isn't much overlap between families and singles.



While it is an eye opening post, between the filth, poverty, classism, and chaos, I probably won't enter India again.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 08/11/15

Background:

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

No, this is my third tour. I've been in Jeddah, Mexico City and DC.

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?

From DC, it's about a 20-hour trip. There is a 16-hour direct flight from Newark NJ to Mumbai. The flight from DC to Newark is only about an hour, but add transit times.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year.

View All Answers


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

Assigned to 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?

All apartments. It's the luck of the draw, unless you have a large family. Housing seems to be the number one complaint among singles and couples without kids.

View All Answers


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

You can get anything here, although the prices for some items might be higher.

View All Answers


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

High items electronics like large screen TVs and stereos. Frozen beef.

View All Answers


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

All foods, at all cost ranges. KFC, McD all the way to US$200 a person restaurants.

View All Answers


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

Every year, a couple of people come down with Dengue. Malaria is a possibiilty, but I haven't heard anyone catching that in many years. The medical office also provides you with preventitive pills if you wish. I took them for a month, and quit.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

DPO.

View All Answers


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

Cheap. About US$60-100 per month for part time, and US$175 for full time. Drivers average US$225 a month base pay, which is for 60 hours a week, Mon-Sat.

View All Answers


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

Most apartments have gyms, as well as the Consulate. We even have a huge Gold's Gym here.

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?

Accepted all over, but I generally don't like to use it except at four star hotels and stuff.

View All Answers


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

Pretty much all.

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. It helps, but most speak some English.

View All Answers


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

Not easy.... Lots of cracks in sidewaks, and some without sidewalks. I don't see any wheelchair compliant places.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I wouldn't take the buses, but maybe a train for historical reasons. Rickshaws are all over and cheap. Taxis too.

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 have to buy one here - cannot import unless it's right hand drive.

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. Mine runs between 7-10Mb per SpeedTest. I pay US$30 per month. But prices vary.

View All Answers


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

Super cheap. US$7 a month for my iPhone with 3G internet w 3GB per month.

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?

Yes. A few days I believe. Yes, there are kennels and vets 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?

Limited. Good if you are a school teacher.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Numerous. Lots of poor folks here.

View All Answers


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

Suit, or professional casual.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Threat of terrorism due to Pakistan and communal issues, but street crime is not an issue. Much safer than any major U.S. city.

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 excellent, and super cheap per our Medical Officer. X rays cost less than lunch. The problem is if you need follow up care. Since this place ain't super clean, the threat of infection is an issue.

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 not good. But I mainly stay in except during the eves and weekends.

View All Answers


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

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?

Hot from Dec to May, and monsoon season from June til Sept. But the past few years, the monsoon seasons have been pretty dry - relatively mild weather.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

The American school is adjancent to the consulate, and I hear they are top notch - in the world. Can't figure out why though...

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?

Too many to list... Soccer, cricket, etc. etc. etc.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Expat size is small for a city of 23 million. Morale? It's what you make of it. Some love it, others hate it..

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?

Pretty much everything you can find in New York City, you have here. It's just not as clean.

View All Answers


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

It is a much better city for families or couples. Tougher for singles since many locals are not open to dating.

View All Answers


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

OK from what I hear. Even though it's technically illegal, they give foreigners a free pass.

View All Answers


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

Yes for religious. The Hindus don't like the Muslims, who don't like, etc.... Religion is a big deal here. Also, not as much here in Mumbai, but down south such as Goa, India has a problem with Nigerians. If you are African-American, they may assume you are Nigerian. But once you speak and the can tell by your accent that you are American, all is good.

View All Answers


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

Goa is very nice. Sights are wonderful, but you need to get out of the city every so often. The hilltop spots (resorts, etc.) are only an hour and a half away.

View All Answers


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

South Bombay is a hidden gem in terms of history, culture, etc. Just go for a drive outside the city and enjoy the amazing culture.

View All Answers


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

Wood work and other unique things.

View All Answers


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

Rich history, great food, many things to see and buy. People are very friendly. Food is cheap, as long as it's not expat food.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Oh yeah! Hardship and cola? I'm raking in the bucks!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Read up on South Asia.

View All Answers


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

Only if I were married, unless it were a shorter tour.

View All Answers


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

Car, cold weather gear and clothes.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Patience.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slumdog Millionaire!

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Not a bad gig!

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 11/08/14

Background:

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

We lived in Moscow previously.

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. and it's a loooong way away. From DC, you can usually get here with one plane change but generally count on two or more stops. Figure at least 24 hours and a ton of time zones.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 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?

We're all in apartments. Usually 4 bedroom, all have air-conditioning. Some have green spaces, pools, gyms, etc or some combination. Some have none of that. All are high-rise. The majority are a 15-20 min commute in the morning, 45-90 min in the afternoon, but there are a few in South Mumbai who have longer commutes.

View All Answers


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

Most things are fairly easy to get, especially if you're not brand-conscious. There are tiny grocery stores and big supermarkets, and of course the supermarkets (Reliance Mart, for instance) are more expensive. We order a lot of non-liquid things through Amazon because it's cheaper when we want American stuff, like Cheerios.

View All Answers


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

I ship stuff through Amazon all the time, but if you don't have access to that, I'd say ship peanut butter, mayonnaise, all personal hygiene things like toothpaste, shampoo, etc, that sort of thing. Definitely breakfast cereal and cleaning supplies. Stuff is available here, but even if it says it's the same brand, the formulation is different. So depending on how picky you are, you might want to send a lot or just buy what they have here. Be aware, apartments may or may not have storage space - some have 'servants' quarters' that are too small to be a room, but with some bookcases, make good pantries. Some do not.

View All Answers


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

Lots of fast food, tons of restaurants. Mostly cheap. Just don't expect beef. Even McDonald's doesn't serve anything except vegetables & chicken (say good-bye to the Big Mac), and places that do have "beef" actually have water buffalo. Which is pretty tasty, except nobody here seems to know how to make a burger. Everything can be delivered -- including McDonald's, KFC, Haagen Dazs, most sit-down restaurants. There are a few types of cuisines you can't get (or at least I haven't found) but most things are here, even if they're not exactly what you're used to.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes - both dengue-carrying and malaria-carrying. Dengue cannot be treated or vaccinated against, you just have to be careful not to be bitten. You can take malaria prophylaxis and malaria is treatable but it's best just not to get bitten. It's a real concern, I know people who have been sick with each. We use lots of repellent and stay inside at dusk and dawn for the most part. Otherwise, there are no other real problematic bugs that we've encountered.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Through work.

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, very inexpensive. Very. We have a housekeeper/cook for 25-30 hours per week and we pay around US$200/month. Our driver works six days a week and we pay him around US$300-$400 depending on how much overtime we need in a month. He also does a lot of our shopping and errands. Totally worth it, and those are good incomes for them according to local standards. Many other people also have nannies. Oh, and we have a gardener who takes care of all our balcony plants. We know it sounds silly, but it's worth US$30 a month to have him come 3x a week and do all the watering and replanting and general care.

View All Answers


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

My work has a small gym and a lot of apartments have their own. There are tons of yoga classes available including private teachers who will come to your home. Additionally, there are places like Gold's Gym but I've heard they are more fashion shows than workout facilities.

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 bigger places take credit cards and we haven't had any trouble. I've never tried to use an ATM here and would hesitate. I cash checks at the bank at work to get cash for walking around money, shopping in markets, etc and to pay our staff.

View All Answers


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

India is technically an English-speaking country. But only technically. Many people only speak Marathi or Marathi and Hindi, including cab and tuk tuk drivers. People in larger stores or shops in areas with lots of ex-pats will be more likely to speak English. Signs and menus are widely available in English, though. If you have the opportunity, learn some Hindi, it'll make life easier. Private lessons are inexpensive and easily set-up, if you want to do it once you're here.

View All Answers


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

Yes, NOTHING is set up for the disabled. It's difficult enough to walk on the streets without a disability.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Taxis are but don't expect them to know where anything is or speak English. There are also very very cheap auto-rickshaws (tuk-tuks) which are all over the place but cannot go across the bridge to South Mumbai. Again, you have to know where you're going and be able to explain it in Hindi. It's also possible to rent a car & driver, by going online (I've used www.carjee.com, myself.) I spent about US$30 for an 8-hour day recently when my regular driver was sick, for a car & driver (rather than letting a stranger take my car.)

We're not banned from using buses and trains but they are crowded and not very safe, especially for women. I haven't done it, and don't plan to. They're cheap, though.

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?

All vehicles must be right-hand drive (opposite of U.S.) and there are a lot of restrictions. I didn't even try, I just bought my car from the guy I replaced, and hired his driver for good measure. We haven't had much trouble getting parts but my car is old & we don't care if they are used/refurbished. Brand-new parts are going to be fairly expensive.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

We have sort of medium-speed and pay around US$30/month. It's ok.

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. It was easy to bring our cats. We have a 3rd or 4th year vet student who comes to cat-sit for us when we travel, because one of our cats gets insulin. Most people just have their housekeeper take care of their animals when they travel, unless it's an extended absence. Then people ask a friend.

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?

I don't think so.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There should be a lot, but for some reason there seem to be problems getting it arranged. There's Habitat for Humanity and a few others I've heard of, and my family and I volunteered for a kids' reading program once.

View All Answers


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

Indian clothes are popular with even Western women on the weekends. At work, women wear dresses, skirts & blouses, pants with tops, etc. Suits are uncommon. Men wear shirts & ties, but jackets not as much. Out in the street, Western men typically dress the same as for hot weather in the U.S. although shorts are somewhat unusual. Women shouldn't wear anything too revealing, if they don't want stares, catcalls, etc.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Pickpockets, gropers of women, political rallies and demonstrations are the most common. There have also been some high-profile (and brutal) rapes.

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?

Some people come to India for medical tourism, but if anyone in my agency needs advanced care, they are medevac'd. Lots of basic stuff is easily available, especially dental care. Orthodontics can be found at a fraction of U.S. prices, done by doctors trained in the U.S. Lots of people get braces here, or do laser hair removal.

There are definitely health concerns -- typhoid is common, dengue, malaria, hepatitis (esp Type A, which is the one you get from eating contaminated food), 'Delhi belly', rabies is possible, TB is endemic, other things I'm not thinking of right now. However, there are vaccines for a lot of this, and other things can be avoided with common sense and a little forethought. Don't eat street food, don't drink tap water, keep yourself from getting mosquito bites as much as possible, don't pet stray animals, etc. Most people don't end up with anything worse than Delhi belly once in a while.

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?

Horrible. Especially in "winter" when people burn fires on the street to keep warm. Some days you can't see South Bombay across the water from the Sealink Bridge even though it's only a mile or two. Strong smells abound - fish, filth, other incomprehensible things.

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?

Hot, hot, sometimes slightly less hot, then hot again. Oh, and monsoon. When it rains more or less continually for a couple of months. But it's still hot. If you prefer seasons, prepare yourself. I was told once that OF COURSE Mumbai has seasons -- there's summer, winter, monsoon, and mango! But summer, monsoon, and mango only vary by whether or not it's raining and the availability of mangos. It's still hot and humid. Winter is very imaginary -- lows around 70F, only early in the morning, and people are all bundled up and huddling over fires as if hypothermia is a real concern. They stare at us in shock in our light summery clothes.

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 a middle-schooler in the American School of Bombay, which is located in the same business park as the U.S. Consulate and a lot of businesses. The school is very good in our experience. The teachers and staff really care and the educational level is high. There are sports and after-school activities and the school has a nice pool. They just started pairing with the CTY program at Johns Hopkins to offer some online courses for gifted kids (testing can be arranged through the school but if your child is already enrolled, they accept that & don't make them retest.)

They have really nice intersession programs during the long breaks, including summer, fall, and winter breaks at no extra charge. Buses and snacks are provided. They even let my daughter come to the summer program before she had officially started at the school (we arrived in May, so she had already been home bored for a few weeks, and so we were grateful she could be included).

Your child(ren) will need to have a laptop computer with specific software on it, which they use for all school work both in the classroom and at home. The specs are on the school's webpage.

The school year follows the U.S. model for the most part except that the summer break is short. School lets out mid-June and is back in session mid-August, but there are several shorter breaks during the school year, so the number of days in class is still the same. This is considerably different from the Indian school year, by the way.

Some people have their kids in the German school down south but I don't know a lot about it. They seem happy with it, though. And I know at least one person with a smaller child who was enrolled in a local kindergarten and loved it.

View All Answers


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

Preschool is offered at the American School of Bombay but it's extremely expensive (crazily so --around US$25,000 per year, and yes that's the right number of zeros). The German school is cheaper, but still costs a lot, several thousand dollars. (My agency does not pay for preschool, only kindergarten onward.) There are also local options. Most people with babies and really small kids have nannies/housekeepers (or both).

View All Answers


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

Definitely through the American school but otherwise I don't know. Probably, though.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

There are a lot of foreigners here. Morale varies a lot - some people hate it, some people love it, sometimes that changes from day to day for the same person.

View All Answers


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

It's good for families and couples, for sure. For singles, I think it's harder for women than for men.

View All Answers


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

Homosexuality is illegal in India, and it's possible to have a problem. That said, I know several gay men, and none of them has had any serious issues that I know of. I'm pretty sure they have to be circumspect in public, though, so I'm sure they sacrifice some openness for safety/passing unnoticed.

View All Answers


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

Traveling to the Taj Mahal, which is not over-rated, no matter what you are thinking. Other trips have included Jaipur, New Delhi, and Goa. Within Mumbai, some highlights have been shopping for rugs, clothes, and jewelry, and the fact that pretty much everything can be delivered to your doorstep. There is always something to do or see, and you're always noticing something right around the corner that you've never noticed before despite going down the same street dozens of times.

View All Answers


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

There are tons of things to do. If you're bored, you're not trying.

View All Answers


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

Indian culture is very rich and varied. Every day there is something amazing to see. Shopping is fantastic, people are friendly, traveling around the country is inexpensive and exciting.

View All Answers


7. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't spend it all on travel and getting clothes made and buying rugs and jewelry!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

That it's not as intimidating as it seems from a distance. We were nervous, and thought it was going to be completely overwhelming but we've adapted and really like it here now.

View All Answers


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

Yes. I'm not sure we'd come back but we're very glad we were here. It's a great opportunity to live in one of the most interesting places in the world, somewhere a lot of Americans will never see. We're going to take away a lot of good memories.

View All Answers


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

Winter coat! Although maybe not, because you might want to take a trip somewhere cold to get away from the sameness of the weather here. But you won't need it in Mumbai. Also leave behind your need for efficiency and your impatience.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slumdog Millionaire
of course!

View All Answers


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

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. This is a true story of families in one of Mumbai's large slums, written by an investigative journalist who 'embedded' herself there for several years.

A Son of the Circus (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
. I read this book long before I ever thought I'd even visit India, let alone live here. I re-read it after we'd been here six months or so, and it was sort of amazing what things were now familiar to me. It's just a great novel, too.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

Despite the difficulties living here, and the things I listed that aren't so nice (malaria, anyone?) this has been a great 18 months so far, and we're glad we have a few months to go. We'll always look back on India fondly, and there are days when I genuinely love it here & can't believe my good fortune to experience it.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 03/27/14

Background:

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

No, I have lived in some European 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?

New York -- 16 hour flight direct on United. I highly recommend Economy Plus and hardcore meds.

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.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

You only have a house here if you are a billionaire. Everyone has apartments. Commutes depend on your location. Most people try to keep them under an hour but it is common here to have a 1.5-2 hour commute home.

You can get a crappy old building with nice space inside in a place like Bandra that is somewhat walkable (though you still fight the traffic and get brushed off the road). Or you can go for a high-rise with all the amenities in a different area that is less walkable but most people even in Bandra aren't walking that much. Everyone gets in their cars (with drivers) to go places or takes taxis.

View All Answers


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

Super cheap. You might not get every specialty brand you want but you can find a cheap substitute. Groceries are very cheap unless you buy fancy imported stuff. Household supplies are also cheap unless imported. Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson are here making a lot of the products you know and selling them cheap -- for the Indian consumer to be able to afford.

View All Answers


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

More wine. Wine is very expensive here and you can never have enough over the course of a few years. Might as well pack a few big bottles of pepto too. You will need it. Really.

View All Answers


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

Fast food: McDonald's, KFC, Baskin Robbins, Sbarro, Taco Bell, Dunkin Doughnuts, TGI Fridays, and many, many more. If it's your thing, you can order all of these to your door. Do I just want some McDonald's fries tonight? I can order just fries to my door in 15 minutes for a dollar.

Decent restaurants are all over the place and they are good. Food is the best part of living here and you can find just about anything you want. The quality of "western" food is usually not top notch but it is all around and easy to find.

View All Answers


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

You'll find every insect imaginable here outside. Hopefully you can keep them out. Malaria and dengue are serious problems though no one here seems to mind.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Email or nothing. Shops usually can send stuff to the USA via their own courier connections, which are not that expensive. FedEx is here but is pricey.

View All Answers


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

Very available and cheap. Prices range from US$150 to $300 a month for full time (10 hours/day, 6 days/week), depending on experience, language, etc.

View All Answers


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

The high-rise apartments have gyms and pools. If you need a gym, there are plenty. They are pretty expensive, more or less with U.S. prices. So they are the places you see the richest people and the Bollywood stars working out.

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 very commonly accepted, which I was surprised by when I arrived. There are ATMs but they aren't all over the place. Still, you can find big international branches like HSBC that will certainly take your bank's card.

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?

None. It would help to know a little Hindi but you can get by very easily without any.

View All Answers


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

Yes. I would never suggest this city to anyone with physical disabilities. Even people who have no disability have a hard time getting around (no sidewalks, fighting cars, cows, goats, bicycles, rickshaws, and more).

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Safe, yes. Affordable, definitely. The train at rush hour is just insane though. And there are lots of taxis in the market -- normal taxis, taxis with AC, then private taxi services have entered the market so those are a bit more but generally nicer and you can pre-book them. Even Uber just opened in Mumbai so that is a sign that the market is hot.

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?

Good luck, India doesn't allow you to import one so hopefully you know someone in Customs. No car jackings here. But you want to buy a used car (it will get banged up fast) and a common one that you see on the road so spare parts are easy to find and cheap. Honda, Toyota, Suzuki are all common. You will find everything else here but the spare parts can be a challenge.

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, lots of competition here but it is generally unreliable. When it works, it works well, but you can tell India has a serious bandwidth problem. Anywhere from US$20-60 a month depending on how fast you want and how much you download.

View All Answers


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

It takes 2-3 days to get a local SIM so make that your first move when you arrive. Cell phones are cheap here because they are made for the local consumer market. No need to bring one unless you want an iPhone. Bring that. Samsung is king here and the latest models are not too badly priced ($400 unlocked Samsung Galaxy s4).

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?

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 really.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

TONS. So many people here need so much help and there are 60,000 NGOs to choose from.

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 and anything goes in public but if you are a woman it's easier to walk around not showing a lot of skin. The staring quickly becomes ogling, then leering, if you show too much cleavage or shoulder on the street. In restaurants, bars, and clubs, you'll see it all.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Every now and again Mumbai has terrorist attacks but generally on a day-to-day basis everyone feels safe and secure. Petty crime is REALLY low compared to any big city in the world. Crimes against women still happen but most women feel pretty safe in Mumbai because there are always so many people around.

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?

It is very difficult to stay healthy here. Medical care is okay. You can find state of the art technology in the private clinics and hospitals but the doctors are really hit or miss. Dental care is cheap and this seems like a great place to do major work or braces.

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?

Moderate to bad. This isn't Delhi or Beijing but it is not good for you to exercise outside and if you have any bit of allergies or asthma, you will really feel it here.

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?

Hot year-round with a little bit of "winter" November to March when it feels like you're in Miami. It rains for four months June to October. And I mean RAINS. Monsoon is no joke.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

No experience but there are very good ones here.

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?

At first it seems big but it really is small. I'd say morale is medium to low. Most people don't last longer than a year. People try to enjoy it though. After a few parties you know everyone, which is too bad.

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?

Expensive boozy brunches, ridiculously dirty dive bars, lots of restaurants to explore, rooftop bars... there are a few art galleries that are getting better. Planning trips out.

View All Answers


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

I have to say that I thought it would be good for singles but it is NOT AT ALL. You won't be bored here (lots of bars and restaurants) but it is a complete desert for dating. Just think about it for a few minutes: India is the home of the arranged marriage. Couples and families do just fine. Couples probably have it best because it is easy to mingle with people and they are all always married.

View All Answers


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

There is a gay scene but this is not Chelsea. It's very closeted but it does exist. India still does not seem very open to gay people but I don't think they really get it yet either so there isn't hardcore homophobia in Mumbai.

View All Answers


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

India is tough for women. Men still rule here and that has a way of popping up a lot. Mumbai has all religions you can imagine so in that sense it is quite nice.

View All Answers


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

Eating the food is #1. The food is incredible and I am sure I will miss it when I leave.

Staying at a nice hotel on the lake in Udaipur, seeing the tea plantations of Munnar, Kerala, and meeting a lot of really nice people who are very happy even though they are living in crap with a government that fails to provide basic necessities.

View All Answers


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

The "hill stations" are nice. Just a few hours outside the city you can get up a bit at elevation and have cooler temperatures and little places to stay to be out of the madness for the weekend.

View All Answers


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

Semi-precious stones/jewelry, leather goods, custom furniture.

View All Answers


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

Everything except alcohol is cheap. Having a driver, a cook, a nanny, someone to give you a foot massage, a manicure, all of that is so cheap and can be done at your apartment. Medicine is very cheap. Internal flights are very reasonable. It is always warm. The internal tourism is very interesting and vast -- mountains, lakes, beaches, sea, rivers, all climates, etc. If you like history, this is a great place.

Essentially if you like living like a king, this is a good place to be. As a king would do, you must ignore the poverty around you (which of course is sad and difficult for most people to do).

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Yes, quite easily if you want to. Alcohol out in bars is the most expensive thing. Otherwise everything is cheap.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

I wish I knew it was so bad for singles. I would not have ended up here.

View All Answers


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

Not a chance in hell.

View All Answers


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

Nice shoes, winter coat.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Pepto, ear plugs, noise canceling headphones, patience, patience, patience.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

- MUST watch

View All Answers


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

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found,

Shantaram: A Novel,

The White Tiger: A Novel

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Mumbai is a fascinating place with nice people and amazing food. But it also has to be one of the most trying, difficult places to live if you are not from here. The traffic and honking horns alone can drive you mad and just when you become crazy, hundreds of other things will test you even more. Staying healthy is incredibly difficult. The lovely thing is that once you live here, ANY city in the world seems quiet and organized. And you'll never appreciate as much being able to open your mouth in the shower.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 02/20/14

Background:

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

I've lived in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur

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?

Chicago: 20 hours with a layover in Frankfurt.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

From 2011 on - I am still here.

View All Answers


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

Corporate.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Cramped apartments but many are comfortable to live in.

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 cheap. Imported groceries are very expensive.

View All Answers


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

Sour cream.

View All Answers


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

All the cuisines of the world but fairly expensive.

View All Answers


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

All manners of insects carrying all diseases ever known to man are present.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Fedex for packages. India Post is not the worst.

View All Answers


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

Plentiful and inexpensive. Quality is iffy.

View All Answers


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

Lots - costs vary.

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 widely accepted.

View All Answers


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

Some Protestant and Catholic 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?

Many Indians speak some form of 'English'.

View All Answers


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

Do not come here if you are differently abled.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Some radio taxis are safe.

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?

An SUV is best. Indians are the worst drivers on the planet.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Medium speed internet is available at low cost.

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 an open cellphone and buy a 'prepaid' 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 have pets. Pet care is readily available.

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.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

View All Answers


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

Mostly formal.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

None. I feel safer than in downtown Chicago.

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?

This is the paradox I've never fully understood. I was admitted to a private hospital for 4 days and the quality of care was much better than back home. The doctors even gave their home phone numbers and I was given the best possible care, and it was very affordable too. That being said, the poor defecate on the streets and lack everything. It is dehumanizing and distressing.

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 to very unhealthy depending on where you live. The air in Mumbai is pretty bad though.

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?

When it rains, it RAINS. There's two seasons- hot and very humid with temperatures in the low 100s (F), raining hard and very humid.

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 many international schools, Podar international is among the better ones.

View All Answers


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

I don't think special children are particularly welcome in India.

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?

Too many to list.

View All Answers


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

Not that I know of.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Large, middling morale. The traffic and filth wears one down.

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 some bars; the city usually shuts down by 10pm.

View All Answers


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

Ok for families, bad for singles, ok for couples.

View All Answers


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

No. India has officially banned 'unnatural contact'.

View All Answers


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

Lots. Dark skin is frowned upon. India is the largest market for 'fairness creams'.

View All Answers


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

Incredible trekking opportunities in the Himalayas. Semi-decent skiing. Terrific beaches.

View All Answers


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

India offers tremendous travel opportunities; facilities for tourists range from bad to outright horrible, however.

View All Answers


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

Brass articles. Steel, steel, and more steel! Indians use steel for everything. You get excellent steel dinner sets for like US$100! You may also wish to buy the latest android phones at dirt-cheap rates.

View All Answers


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

Second oldest inhabited place in the world, some of the hottest, wettest, driest places in the world. You can (potentially) see snow, beaches, and the desert in one day.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Yes.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

The incredible diversity is mind boggling.

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:

Impressions of India as a hell hole. You can live like a prince, and a pauper too if you so wish. And your impressions of India as one huge boiling furnace. You have the world's highest motorable roads in India, and large parts of the Himalayas remain frozen year-round.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Grit and determination.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:


View All Answers


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


View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

Stay positive, and your Indian sojourn will be rewarding. Many expats have even given birth in India and tell incredible stories of the country's progress. It might take a gazillion years to understand India.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 02/06/14

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 several major cities in 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?

Washington, DC. There's a direct flight from Newark, which is long (from memory around 11 hours) but it's nice to do the whole trip in one go.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

I've been here for just over a year.

View All Answers


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

My husband's job.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Mainly apartments. If you have an apartment with several rooms, each room typically has its own private bathroom. There's usually a small quarters for household help. There are a lot of expats in Bandra. If you live and work in Bandra the commute isn't bad but if you're driving to and from South Mumbai during rush hour expect to be stuck in traffic for over an hour.

View All Answers


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

Depends where you shop. At the local market, produce is fairly cheap but if you're buying imported foods from a foreign supermarket then you can expect to pay more. There's an increasing trend of organic food locally produced and they have some good local organic brands, like Nourish Organics (http://nourishorganicfoods.com), that are a lot cheaper than imported organic products.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes. I've known a few people who got dengue here.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

In Bandra there are several good gyms: Watsons, Golds Gym, iThink Fitness, with modern equipment and personal trainers. Many apartment buildings will also have a gym.

View All Answers


2. 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 restaurants and shops accept foreign credit cards and so do most ATMs. If you're not sure about a bank's ATM, stick to the main ones like Citibank and HSBC.

View All Answers


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

For rickshaws it's good to know some basic direction instructions but in restaurants and shops most people speak English.

View All Answers


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

Yes, there is a lack of sidewalks and many buildings don't really cater to people with physical disabilities.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I wouldn't take the local bus or train, especially at rush hour but taxis are cheap and they have some reliable services like Ola cabs. Most people up in Bandra use rickshaws, which run by a meter. In may other parts of India you have to bargain for the fare but here they are pretty good about sticking to the meter.

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?

Be prepared to get dings and scrapes. I wouldn't bring an expensive car as it's common for cars to get minor scratches, dents etc.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

It is supposed to be but it's not very reliable and we haven't been able to get the speeds that we were supposed to get.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. 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?

Pretty unhealthy. When I first arrived I had a lot of sinus issues until my body adjusted.

View All Answers


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

It's sunny with blue skies about 9 months of the year and raining for the other 3 months. The weather outside of monsoon is pretty reliable.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

I think it's good for singles and couples as there is a lot going on. I think the lack of green space might make life here a bit challenging for families but I don't know from personal experience.

View All Answers


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

Travel. I wish I had spent more time in Rajasthan and Kerala and also visited Hampi but there's so much to do it's hard to fit it all in. Also the vegetarian food here is delicious in both Indian and Western restaurants.

View All Answers


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

I would suggest getting the coup card through Brown Paper Bag (http://bpbweekend.com). It goes on sale a few times a year and gives you discounts at a dozen popular restaurants as well as at Nature's Basket, the main foreign supermarket here. If you sign up for the newsletter you'll also hear what's happening around town.

View All Answers


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

There are a ton of travel opportunities from the Himalayas in the North to the beaches down South. If you love to travel then it's a great place to be. Each part of India is very distinct in terms of what there is to see, eat, and do so you get to experience a lot of different things within one country.

Rent is probably the biggest expense here and is ridiculously over-priced in neighborhoods popular with expats. Besides that, most things are reasonable. You'll pay more for foreign food but at least it's available and there's a good supply of items at places like Nature's Basket, Food Hall and smaller stores such as Choice in Pali Market. There are lots of dining out options that range from very cheap to what you would expect to pay at a nice, Western restaurant.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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


View All Answers


Mumbai, India 08/02/13

Background:

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

No. I have also lived in China, the UK, Mexico.

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. Went through Frankfurt - it took about 18 hours.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

A few months.

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?

Housing is exorbitantly expensive. It makes no sense how expensive. And unfortunately outside most buildings, it is not very nice, even in expensive neighborhoods like Bandra: there are no functional sidewalks, the streets have potholes, etc. South Bombay is very nice and has wide streets.

My commute is 10 min in the morning and 30 in the afternoon.

View All Answers


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

You can find everything you need here. The Palladium has a huge western import grocery store, and Nature's Basket is like whole foods. I haven't tried regular Indian grocers- there are a number of fruit and veg sellers in pali market.

View All Answers


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

Lots of fast food, but who comes here to eat fast food? Lots of street food that I am too scared to try now. I have been pretty happy with the restaurants. Indian food can cost around US$2-4 . Western food, around US$8-15 for dinner.

View All Answers


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

Lots of bugs - my apartment has some in the kitchen routinely. Not as many mosquitoes during monsoon as you would expect. I see a mosquito once every two weeks maybe.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Extremely easy. Can cost as little as 80 bucks a month for part-time.

View All Answers


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

Yes. There are gyms, there's some yoga also. I am trying Yoga House, which is priced like an American place and which I am less excited about.

View All Answers


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

Very easy.

View All Answers


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

It helps, especially for taxis. Many Indians say they speak primarily English, even at home. However their accent is different, which frustrates people sometimes. Much depends on your attitude. You can get frustrated that they misunderstand you, or you can feel grateful that a majority of the population has a working level of English. Don't expect everyone to speak American English or you will be disappointed (as many people are).

View All Answers


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

Very difficult to get around, though hiring a driver is very cheap.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Yes. Very safe, very affordable. Trains cost around 10 cents for a regular fare, an hour-long taxi ride costs less than 6 bucks in a non AC cab. In an AC cab, maybe double or more.

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?

Make sure it's a right side drive. All cars go here. I have a low-lying car and it's fine despite occasional flooding and bumps.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

Security is tight at hotels because of the terrorist attack a few years ago. I have not felt unsafe at any moment from crime since coming 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?

The monsoon causes a lot of health issues. Food is an issue, but I haven't gotten seriously sick in my few months here.

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've had no problems with it. People are worried about it, but I have not seen much to worry about. They say in the winter it's polluted from small fires.

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?

I've only seen it during late summer to monsoon. Summer was hot, but not excessively - 90 degrees was maybe the max. Monsoon is very humid and overcast all the time, which wears at you. But supposedly the weather is nice the rest of the year.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

ASB is one of the best.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

Perhaps cricket. Green space is a scarce resource.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Medium, not as large as I would have guessed for such a international and economically important city.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Good. Lots of complaining. Depends on the person, many people can't cut it here given the difficulties living here.

View All Answers


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

Good for singles and couples. Families may find the lack of green space challenging, and also the difficulty in doing things can be exacerbated by that. There are bars to go to for sure, and trendy ones too.

View All Answers


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

It's the best in India for sure, but there are no exclusively gay bars. There are nights at bars that will have a gay night.

View All Answers


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

Unlike in North India, women have it much better here. They can wear western clothing, it is pretty safe for them. Religious tolerance is fine. I haven't seen much racism, but be prepared to be stared at continually since many do not know westerners. They are benign stares, but can annoy you after a while.

View All Answers


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

The paper store Chimanlals - the most beautiful handmade paper that you can't even get from the highest end stores in the US.

View All Answers


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

It's mostly a place to live, good food. Lots of travel outside the city to towns in India and Asia.

View All Answers


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

Beautiful paper stationary. Crafts, Shawls, handmade furniture, handmade anything.

View All Answers


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

The culture. You can spend years exploring the vast cultural patrimony. Of course, Mumbai is a modern city, so you see less cultural sites, and more of a working city. Flights are very cheap to everywhere in Asia from Bombay.

The food has been great - everything from Indian to Western food.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Yes. Food can be extremely cheap. Housing, the opposite.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, it's a fascinating place that is, yes, difficult to live in, but there is a vibrancy here. You can find anything you need and often more. If you can handle the minor inconveniences every day, you will be able to appreciate the richness of life here.

It is a place you will love/hate because it depends on your attitude. Focus on the pollution and dirtiness and inefficiency, or focus on the new experiences, the western comforts, and the great food.

View All Answers


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

Expectations that it will be like New York, or that it's extremely poor, or that everyone speaks English.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sense of adventure to deal with the different culture here.

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. Do you have any other comments?

This is said to be the best city in India, and it seems that way from what I've seen. Come here with a sense of adventure, but if you aren't willing to accept that life is much different here than in the West, then you will not like it here. It's all up to you.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 05/08/13

Background:

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

I have lived in Southeast Asia for 12 years total.

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?

I am from the United States. It's a 21+ hour journey; I've connected through Munich and Brussels.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

Arrived in August 2011 and will be leaving in June 2013.

View All Answers


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

Educator.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most expats live in apartments. I have a 2-bedroom flat in Bandra, which I don't think I'd be able to afford on my own (my employer pays the rent) because rental prices are outrageous in Mumbai. It's nice enough, has two tiny bathrooms and a small kitchen, but having come from Bangkok where I was able to afford a spacious flat with large balconies (and for a fraction of the price), I was quite disappointed to arrive at my dark, dingy apartment with no balconies and bars on the windows. Still, considering that 75% of Indians live on less than $2/day, and many are homeless, I know I am extremely fortunate to have so much space, security, and comfort; so I try to maintain a positive attitude. I live on a busy street, so it's LOUD (Indians honk constantly and for no obvious reason--and they do it into the wee hours). If possible, try to find a place that's on a smaller street with less traffic, or higher up.

It takes me 15 mins to get to work in the morning and 30-45 mins to get home due to traffic. Unless it's very early in the morning or in the middle of the night, traffic is terrible. The airport is exactly 8 miles from my house and takes 15 mins to get to at 6am. But at any other time, it can take an hour. The Sea-Link makes travel between the suburbs and South Mumbai much easier, but you can still expect to spend lots of time sitting in traffic.

View All Answers


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

Most things are available but VERY expensive. Not readily available are: chocolate chips, canned pumpkin, good quality broth, and vanilla extract. Canned sauces and condiments cost a fortune. Beef and other meats are available at some cold storage places. Nature's Basket sells buffalo, which is actually pretty good (tastes better than Indian beef, which I find chalky and odd), but check the dates and color of the meat. I almost picked up a package that had been packed a year and a half ago! And I wonder how many times this stuff has been thawed and refrozen.

View All Answers


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

More warm clothes (movie theaters, offices, and restaurants crank up the AC). Vanilla extract, canned pumpkin, chocolate chips, pepper spray (sort of kidding?), rugs, a nice sofa, furniture.

View All Answers


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

McDonald's, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, and other chains abound. I don't eat fast food, but I've heard it's not quite up to standard...always something that's a little off or poorly made. I enjoy California Pizza Kitchen, Sancho's Mexican restaurant, Pali Village Cafe, Indigo Deli, and Ray's pizza. Most decent restaurants, in my opinion, are way over priced for what you get. Again, this could be because I used to live in Thailand, where awesome, cheap food is ubiquitous. You can't really eat on the street here, and 6 teachers got typhoid and were out for weeks after eating at a cheap restaurant, so no thanks! There's TGI Fridays, Chili's, other big restaurant chains---some good experiences---but service is always slow, it's over-crowded, and it's often hard to get your order across and actually receive a decent meal (drinks will often arrive 20 minutes after you've already started your main course). I find it easier to just order in (deliverychef.in or most restaurants, like Ray's Pizza, deliver) or cook at home.

View All Answers


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

Ants and small roaches were a bit of a problem until I bought traps from the US. Mosquitoes are a real problem. I have never seen so many mosquitoes in my life--I'm guessing they're due to the many bodies of stagnant, swampy water in this city. There are even mosquitoes in the airport and on the plane when you depart! Malaria and Dengue are real concerns. We invested in a UV trap that keeps mozzies at a minimum in our apartment. But I still wear Picardin repellent and use a mozzie racket when needed. Close windows and bathroom and kitchen doors to keep them out. And ask your housekeeper to remember to do so.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

I use the school's pouch. For bigger items, I use fedex. I've never had a problem having food, toiletries, books, or anything delivered, but I usually have to pay a couple thousand rupees in duty fees, so I only order when necessary. Flipkart.com has a good selection of books and other items and deliver quickly and for free within India.

View All Answers


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

I have a full-time maid for $130/month. She is very sweet. She would cook if I wanted her to, but I prefer to cook myself. She goes out and buys fruit, washes and cuts it, and keeps it in the fridge for me, does all the laundry, waters the plants, etc. I love her! Her idea of "clean" isn't always the same as mine, and she often hides things away in odd places, but I tend to let these things go because I don't really feel like I NEED a maid anyway, so I'm just happy to have a wonderful helper around the house.

Be aware that in India, having a maid isn't just having someone to clean your house. You're viewed as sort of a caretaker, so don't be surprised if you are asked to lend money, offer advice, etc. Class differences are a huge deal in India. There are tacit rules and norms, and Indians have a 6th sense when it comes to determining another's or their own place in the heirarchy in any given context.

Indians are very authority driven, so you have to be very demanding and assertive. You have to literally order people around to get anything done EVEN if it's their job. You can't go by "everyone knows their job and does it well"--forget it! You will have to tell your housekeeper and driver exactly what to do and how to do it and remind them regularly. I came here with a very relaxed attitude, totally uncomfortable with ordering people around, and I paid the price: my driver was always late or didn't answer his phone, my housekeeper started coming later and leaving earlier and leaving layers of dust everywhere, etc. Get used to be being called "Sir" or "Madam" and having to play the part.

View All Answers


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

There's a Gold's Gym in Bandra that some people have joined and seem happy with. There are many other fitness centers, but I can't speak for their quality or price. My employer pays quite a bit towards club memberships, so some teachers, especially those with kids, join hotel clubs for gym and pool access. I used the money to buy a treadmill. The Yoga House has yoga classes for all levels---again, I am not sure how these are, but I have heard good things.

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?

Available everywhere. India has a lot of credit-card fraud, so US Banks and card companies are quick to decline purchases and shut off your card even when shopping at reputable stores. I have to call my bank quite often to unblock my card.

View All Answers


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

Lots of Catholic churches in Bandra.

View All Answers


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

I don't have cable, but I have heard it can be had for a decent monthly rate.

View All Answers


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

Not much. It helps to know a little bit for transport. English is widely spoken, but many foreigners have difficulty with the heavy Indian accent, especially on the phone. Speaking slowly and clearly, and asking others to do so, really helps. Also note that despite the heavy accent, most middle- and upper-class Indians have been speaking English their whole lives (having attended "English medium" schools), so it can be rather insulting to say, "Wow, your English is awesome!" India has thousands of mutually unintelligible languages; English and Hindi are the official languages, but most people speak Marathi in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra. Each state has its own languages, so don't make assumptions.

View All Answers


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

I can't imagine someone with disabilities being able to do much in this city. There are no accommodations for wheelchairs, sidewalks are crumbling, and cars will run you over without hesitation if you don't move out of the way quickly.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

Pretty safe and affordable, but it depends on who you're with and where you're going. I wouldn't take any transport alone at night as a woman unless it was just in an around Bandra. Trains have special female compartments. I've never taken the bus.

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?

Traffic is crazy in India. Most people here hire drivers or taxis. I pay $600/month for a full time driver, wich is actually pretty steep here. But after getting dirty text messages from Cool Cab taxi (blue and silver cars) drivers, I decided on a more "professional" option. My driver isn't perfect (often late or sends a "sub"), but he's as good as it gets in India. If you remember that time moves slower in India, you'll be fine. If you need to leave the house at 7:30, ask your driver to come at 7 or 7:15.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

I pay 11,000 rupees for a 10mpbs "24-month 260 GB" package, but it lasts half the amount of time because I download a lot of movies and shows. And it's nowhere near that fast!

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 a reliable service provider. Loop Mobile has iffy coverage. Request to be put on the "no call" list or you'll get endless junk texts and calls. Also, do NOT give your phone number out to shops and restaurants when they ask. You will regret it!

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?

View All Answers


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

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?

I don't think so. My partner was able to find some work in his field, but it's highly specialized. Still, he's doing it mainly to stay active as it really doesn't pay very much. Also, you need a work visa in order to work, and you can only get one if you have a company to sponsor you.

View All Answers


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

Smart casual to formal business attire. Mumbai girls don't seem to follow the conservative dress code of women in other parts of India, and you will often see shorts, mini-skirts, and tank tops, but I think it's best to keep cleavage out of sight and show as little skin as possible unless you want to attract attention. When visiting tourist sites, temples, etc., dress conservatively. Flip flops are considered "lower class" footwear and frowned upon at work unless they are glittery, in which case they are considered "sandals" and thus acceptable.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how seldom women are harassed in Mumbai compared to North India. When I first arrived, I never felt unsafe and would walk home from restaurants and bars by myself at night. But after a young female teacher was mugged at knife-point on my street, and a Spanish woman was raped in her apartment just minutes from where I live, I decided to be more cautious. Most buildings have bars on their windows for a reason.

I work near the American Consulate in a building with lots of security, so I feel safe, but Mumbai did experience a horrific terrorist attack in 2008, so we do lots of drills.

I think I feel most unsafe on the roads in India. With no traffic rules and constant overtaking, you will find yourself playing chicken with oncoming trucks more often than you want to. Drivers often remove seat-belts in the rear of the car. If you have children, especially, I would make sure these are replaced.

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?

Don't drink the water. An article about Bandra's water supply said that the e.coli count was INFINITE. I have a wall-mounted Aqua Guard filter provided by my employer, but I only use that for cooking and washing fruits and veggies. We drink bottled water. Be careful where you eat out. Protect yourself from mosquitoes. In the monsoon, you may have to walk through puddles...wash your feet as soon as you get home.

I don't have much experience with healthcare here as I try to avoid Indian hospitals at all costs. I went to Lilavati, which is supposed to be Mumbai's most prestigious hospital, for a general check-up and was met with crowds, antiquated equipment, and very little in the way of explanation or information. It took us 4 hours to be shuttled around from room to room to be weighed, have blood drawn, blood pressure checked, etc. But I guess healthcare here IS cheap and adequate.

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" and "quality" are two words that have no business being together when describing Mumbai or India. If you mean "How bad are the noxious fumes and odors that pass for air?" then I'll tell you: so bad that we have seriously contemplated buying and wearing gas masks. So bad that we have seriously contemplated putting on scuba tanks and breathing through regulators. So bad that we don't often walk on the streets or take auto-rickshaws, because when we do, we spend the next day coughing, sneezing, and battling sinus headaches and congestion. The putrid smells will literally seep into your clothes and hair and stay there. When your plane lands, the fuselage will fill with a distinctly farty odor just as you pass under the layer of haze that blankets the city at all times. The weather forecast for Mumbai and other parts of India will often say "smokey" instead of cloudy or partly cloudy.

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?

June-October is rainy season (Monsoon). November-May is bone dry. The temperature dips a bit November-February, so you may be able to make do without AC. Rainy season is VERY wet and humid. I have two Croma humidifiers (10,000 rupees each) running day and night during monsoon in order to keep molds, mildews, and fungus at bay. Otherwise, say hello to mold-coated suitcases, clothing, shoes, etc. Tip: Attach the hose at the back and run it into the bathroom drain. That way, you won't have to keep emptying the machine when it fills up.

April and May are especially hot because temperatures sore into the 90s, but there's no rain yet to cool things down.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

The American School of Bombay is phenomenal if you can afford it.

View All Answers


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

ASB tries to provide support, but they make it pretty clear that they are not staffed to handle severe special needs.

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?

At our school, yes, but I'm not sure about anywhere else.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Lots of business and consulate expats and families. Seems pretty small, but it's hard to gauge because perhaps many live in South Mumbai and I never see them. This is a city of 20+ million, and one which is hard to get around in, so perhaps there are pockets of expats that I've yet to come across!

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Low to fair. Only one or two people I know LOVE their lives here. I'm generally pretty happy and can find joy in cooking, watching shows, volunteering, etc. But I don't like living in Mumbai/India and am counting down the days until I can leave! Most expats I know feel the same.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

I've said quite a bit about this. Mostly eating out, work parties, some dinner parties. The Blue Frog has great live music occasionally.

View All Answers


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

I'm not sure it's a "good" city for anybody, really. Families tend to socialize together and have their own insular social circles, but I would be loath to raise my children in such a dirty, polluted, dangerous place where they can't play outside or be in nature. Singles who aren't into bars and clubs really struggle. There are few dating opportunities. Couples without children also struggle with relatively little to do. My partner and I have struggled to find other young couples to socialize with, but we sometimes attend or host dinner parties, go the movies, go out to dinner, or just stay home and watch TV shows. It is amazing how many seasons we've gone through in just a few months!

View All Answers


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

Gay singles seem to struggle, as homosexuality was only decriminalized in 2009. Homophobia is rampant. But I don't think they struggle any more than straight singles, to be honest. I know some gay couples who live together without problems.

View All Answers


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

African-Americans struggle with discrimination in many parts of India. Women of all ages and ethnicities attract unwelcome attention all over India, but blondes tend to suffer the most. There is a huge gender imbalance due to sex-selective abortions and female infanticide, which is not hard to see when looking around: men vastly outnumber women. Millions of men have no hope of ever finding a sexual partner, which leads to some of the highest rates of rape and sex slavery in the world. Women are often beaten by their husbands. Working with young girls in indian schools, I have heard many stories of physical and sexual abuse. Women are either hypersexual Bollywood stars or desexualized "mothers" and "sisters." Women are not respected as individuals with rights over their own bodies and their own sexuality.

I will say that for a country of 1.3 billion people, India is remarkably tolerant when it comes to religious differences. There are churches, mosques, and temples co-existing quite peacefully. There are skirmishes, but for such a huge population, it works pretty well!

And i think India IS moving in the right direction. It's not an easy place to live for a woman, but things are changing. People are outraged, and the media is focusing on violence against women more than ever before.

View All Answers


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

My partner and I loved the Taj Mahal. Goa was relaxing, but having lived in tropical paradise for many years, we both felt that it's only worth it if you already live in India and need a cheap(ish) getaway. We went to Kerala with high hopes, but apart from Munnar, it was unremarkable. The "Bird Sanctuary" was a perfect example of India's tendency to over promise and under deliver. Not a bird or any other living creature in sight, but we did pick up 4 big bags of trash on our 1-hour walk.

View All Answers


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

South Mumbai: Elephanta Island, The Gateway, tea at the Taj, shopping. Eating at Indigo Deli, Moshe's, etc.

Suburbs: shopping for fruits and veggies at Pali Naka, going to the mall (I know, I know, but it can be a relief not to have to jostle for space while shopping), Sunday brunch, sunset at Jogger's park, The farmers' market.

View All Answers


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

Chor bazaar (Thief's Market) has cool antiques and knick-knacks. I love the paper products at Chimanlal's. Fabindia, The Bombay Store, and Contemporary Arts and Crafts have traditional and modern Indian furnishings, textiles, decorative items, toiletries, and edibles.

View All Answers


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

Disclaimer: I try to stay positive and grateful, but as I am leaving and do feel that brutal honesty is a gift to those who visit this site and want to understand what it's like to live in a place by reading multiple perspectives, I am going to lay it all on the table! It may sound bitter and negative at times, but I just want to share the truth so that others who are contemplating moving to Mumbai/India fully know what they're getting into.

In my opinion, there isn't a lot that's "special" about living in Mumbai/India that can't be had elsewhere for a better price, higher quality, and generally less stress and hassle. The only thing that was truly "worth it" was the Taj Mahal. I think if you're coming as tourist, it can be exciting to experience the sights, sounds, and colors of India, but to live here and have to deal with it all on a daily basis is another story.

I used to feel that there was no such thing as pointless travel; there were always unique experiences to be had and lessons to be learned. Then I moved to India and realized that life is too damn short!

Some enjoy the festivals, Indian food, and Bollywood obsession--though for me the novelty wore off pretty quickly.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Hmmm. Good question! I *should* have been able to save money because I have no children or debt. But I spent a fortune on travel last year. I visited friends out of the country at every opportunity (it's how I dealt with culture shock). Also, you have to a pay a premium for "average" in India. Wealthy Indians are willing to pay a small fortune for decent food and a little peace and quiet and green space, so anything that isn't crowded and dirty will cost you.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. I am glad I did this once because it has taught me a lot about myself, made me more appreciative of what I have--including my security and safety as a woman--and helped me understand what I truly want in life.

But would I do it again? No way! I love my job here, but it's not worth it. India forces you to become someone your're not in order to survive here. I came here thinking I could be open and friendly with everyone, regardless of gender or social class, but I quickly learned why Indians with money and education seem so cold and dismissive towards those who have less. If you smile at a man, he'll take it the wrong way and think you're flirting. If you make friends with the guards, it won't be long before they're sending you inappropriate texts. If you give money to a little girl on the street, you'll be mobbed by a gang of kids who won't hesitate to push you and try to knock money out of your hands. So you do the only thing you can do, what you vowed never to do, you roll up your windows, put on your sunglasses, stop smiling, and read your book in stony silence. I don't want to live like that! My quality of life means too much to me, which is why I'm moving on to a saner place even though I won't be making quite as much money as I do here.

View All Answers


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

Expectations. Generally, the lower your expectations for EVERYTHING in India, the happier you will be. You also won't need your bicycle--unless you're insane! Forget any outdoor/sports equipment, as you won't really have anywhere to use it.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, patience, grace. I would bring a pollution mask of sorts, although I don't see anyone using one. Bring lots of shoes, as you may not be able to find your size, and shoes get damaged quickly in the humidity/rain. Bring a rain-coat, umbrellas, good quality sunscreen (expensive here), repellent, first-aid kit, any make-up or toiletries you love (expensive here), stick deodorant, Crest toothpaste, Crayola markers if you have kids or are a teacher, good quality baking and cooking equipment (expensive here), and good quality sheets and towels (expensive here).

Oh, I didn't have a sofa for the first 6 months I lived here because I couldn't find one that was both affordable AND not hard as a rock. I finally found someone (Mr. Kouch) who made me a perfectly soft, L-shaped sofa, but it cost me $800. Fabindia sells nice furniture, but it's expensive and not always very well made. Also--RUGS! Unless you want to spend a ton on fancy Persian carpets, bring your own rugs. It's hard to find anything "middle of the road" here. It's either VERY expensive boutique-y stuff or shoddy, cheap stuff from Big Bazaar. There's no Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond where you can pick up an average bookshelf or decent area rug for a good price.

View All Answers


4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

View All Answers


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

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2003)
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (2004)
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (2012)
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (1981)
Haroun and a Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (1990)
Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl
A blog called Mumbai Boss for lots of things to do in and around Mumbai. Restaurant review, etc.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 02/01/13

Background:

1. Your reason for living this city (e.g. corporate, government, military, student, educator, retiree, etc.):

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


3. 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?

View All Answers


4. How long have you lived here?

(The contributor is affiliated with th U.S. Consulate and has been living in Mumbai for 2½ years, a ninth expat experience).

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

High-rise apartments. For ConGen USA personnel, these are concentrated in Bandra, Khar and Santa Cruz. Commute times are about 15-20 minutes in the morning and 45-60 minutes in the evening.

View All Answers


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

Widely available and less expensive than in Washington DC.

View All Answers


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

Olive oil (though it doesn't keep that long anyway), maple syrup, natural peanut and almond butter, hemp milk, more electronics.

View All Answers


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

There are endless options. Both Indian and Western fast food joints are all over and are cheap. Some of the best restaurants may cost $60 to $80 per meal.

View All Answers


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

Mosquitoes (including those carrying malaria and dengue). Ant invasions of homes are common.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch -- a drag because it is extremely slow and has severe limitations on content (such as no liquids, no electronics with lithium batteries) and on size (outgoing packages cannot be bigger than a VHS cassette).

View All Answers


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

Good-quality nannies and drivers cost about $200 - 220 per month.

View All Answers


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

The U.S. Consulate has a small gym. Some apartment buildings have good gyms. Commercial gyms (such as Gold's) have branches around the city.

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?

I prefer to use cash to avoid foreign transaction fees, but credit cards are accepted in the formal economy and there are many ATMs around the city.

View All Answers


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

Yes. Most of the churches are Catholic, but there do seem to be other denominations (e.g., Anglican). There are a couple synagogues, but I don't know what language their services are in.

View All Answers


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

Yes and inexpensive.

View All Answers


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

Not much. English is widely spoken and understood in Mumbai.

View All Answers


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

The U.S. Consulate is the only building I have seen here that can accommodate the disabled. Many streets don't even have sidewalks. It would be difficult for the vision-impaired or anyone with mobility issues (such as a wheelchair).

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

I have not ridden in local trains or buses -- they are not safe. A few people die each day on the trains (falling off, for example), and women and men must travel in separate cars because women are subject to harassment, groping, or rape. Buses have no closing doors, and almost always have people hanging out the entrance and the windows. The newer taxis are pretty safe, but the vast majority have no seatbelts, a/c, etc.

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?

Indian government restrictions basically mean you cannot bring a car -- you must buy one here. For city driving, any vehicle you don't mind seeing get scratched or dinged will do. If you want to get out of the city, an SUV would be recommended (there are a lot of unpaved side roads and roads in terrible condition).

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, although it's not that reliable -- there are frequent outages. Cost is less than in the U.S.

View All Answers


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

Service is cheap but not always reliable. Vodaphone is supposed to be the best, but since when does the USG contract with the best?

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?

View All Answers


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

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?

Yes.

View All Answers


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

Work: Business attire, though many interlocutors don't use ties or use kurtas and don't care if you have a tie or not.

Public:Casual. Shorts are not a problem for men or women in Mumbai, but in other parts of India they may be frowned upon. If visiting temples/mosques, conservative clothing is required.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

No.

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?

Malaria and dengue are still problems here. Other concerns include rabies (get your vaccines, there are thousands of street dogs), respiratory conditions as a result of the pollution, and dysentery. Quality of medical care is generally low (though there are some good dentists and ophthalmologists and people here have had a lot of work done).

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?

Unhealthy, particularly in winter. Most pollution is the result of heavy use of diesel fuel, coal-burning power plants, and bonfires. The city is often under a haze. In addition, the air smells bad most of the time.

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?

From December until around the beginning of March, temperatures are very pleasant and humidity is not bad. From March through the end of May, it is hot and humid. From June to the end of September, the monsoon season brings lower temperatures, but rain and high humidity almost every day. October and November are hot and humid.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

American School of Bombay (ASB), German School (Deutsche Schule Bombay), French School, Ascend International School, and others. My child attends ASB's elementary school. Quality of instruction is high, though feedback on students' progress is not very forthcoming. Unfortunately, the elementary school moved in 2012 to a new campus in Kohinoor that has some of Mumbai's worst traffic. Visiting the school can be quite the journey! Some ConGen parents have preferred the German school for a more disciplined, results-oriented approach to education.

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?

It's hard to find a decent preschool that is more than just supervised play. Most "preschools" are actually daycare centers that offer little or any instruction. I highly recommend Harmony Montessori, but demand has far outstripped availability of slots there.

View All Answers


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

The American School has lots of extra-curricular sports, with swimming being the most popular. But due to lack of green space, you can forget competitive sports like baseball, cricket, soccer, track, etc.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Enormous. Many Americans, British, Germans, Australians and French; some East Asian and other Europeans.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Fairly good.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

As much or as little as you want. You could easily spend every night attending social events if you wanted.

View All Answers


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

For families it is good in that you can hire a good nanny relatively inexpensively, and there are very good international schools. However, the lack of green space (parks, playgrounds) is a big problem. Singles and childless couples have plenty of nightlife activities to choose from (clubs, restaurants, bars, etc).

View All Answers


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

I haven't heard any LGBT expats complain. Indians, on the other hand, may face discrimination. (Ironically, many Indians believe it is good luck to give money to begging transvestites and transsexuals, yet many Indian gays still feel the need to hide their orientation.)

View All Answers


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

Generally not for expats (unless you look South Asian). Within Indian society, there are deep divides and prejudices between different religious, ethnic, and caste communities. These occasionally surface as incidents of communal violence.

View All Answers


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

Traveling around India has been a fantastic experience.

View All Answers


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

Visit Buddhist cave-temples at Sanjay Gandhi National Park; visit Mumbai's two decent museums; visit the (so-so) planetarium; eat at any of a wide selection of excellent restaurants; go to a bazaar or street market; Elephanta Island; tour Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums; visit a hill station; drive a couple hours east to go hiking; take yoga classes; learn to play the tabla; travel around India.

View All Answers


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

Any number of handicrafts, knick-knacks and carpets.

View All Answers


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

Mumbai is well-connected to both domestic and international transportation, so it's a great jumping-off point for travel in India and Asia. It's the most cosmopolitan city in India. There is a wide variety of good restaurants. Domestic help is good and inexpensive.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

yes.

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:

bicycle (too dangerous and chaotic to bike here) and winter clothes (it never gets cold).

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

olive oil; wine; organic foods; galoshes and umbrella (for the monsoon); electronics (expensive here and can't be shipped through the diplomatic pouch); your laptop/tablet/portable DVD player for the countless hours you will be stuck in traffic.

View All Answers


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

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
by Suketu Mehta (but wait until you've been in Mumbai a while before reading).The Elephant, The Tiger, And the Cell Phone: Reflections on India - the Emerging 21st-Century Power
by Shashi Tharoor.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The BBC series Beginnings
is a great introduction to this country. Slumdog Millionaire,
of course -- it is more realistic than you think (and than Indians will admit).Richard Attenborough's Slumdog Millionaire
.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

There are many nice things about Mumbai -- friendly people, good food, good schools, inexpensive household help and a great new facility for the U.S. Consulate. But there are plenty of hardships: some of the world's worst traffic (both in terms of density and chaos -- you will spend countless hours in traffic), pollution, horrible smells, and in-your-face poverty and human suffering. Be prepared - some people (especially those who have never been to a less-developed country) can't handle it.

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 12/25/10

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 Seoul and Santiago, Chile previously.

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, D.C. and the trip through Brussels takes 18 hours including layover.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

5 months.

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?

The commute time is not good. For US consulate employees it should improve after the new consulate is opened, but there's no guarantee when that will happen. Our US consulate housing is spacious but things break quite often. Although there's a water distiller in the kitchen, it's tough when the shower water smells terrible.

View All Answers


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

Fresh produce and basic staples are very cheap. If you like certain Western, Asian, or Middle Eastern foods, you may have trouble finding/affording them. An imported box of Oreo cookies costs at least $8, a can of blueperry pie filling was approximately $6, cheeses are no lower than $4 or $5 for 250 gm. It's much better to order dry goods over Amazon or Alice.com if you have access to diplomatic pouch.

View All Answers


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

Nail polish, polish remover, perfume, cans of chicken broth, canned chicken (the quality of the chicken here can be poor), tortilla chips (these can run $6/bag at Nature's Basket), electronic items -- including ipods and a multiregion TV.

View All Answers


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

American options include Cinnabon, McDonald's, Dominoes, KFC, Hard Rock Cafe, and TGI Fridays but we haven't been able to find a decent burger anywhere in the city. McDonalds has chicken but no beef sandwiches. Good local options include Trishna's (seafood), Khanekas (Indian), Indigo Deli, Mahesh Lunch Home, Shiro, Barbecue Nation, Mosate, Ray's Pizzeria (our favorite), Lemongrass, Tasty Tangles (Asian), the Bagel Shop, and Taco Fresca. Alcohol is expensive but we usually pay less for food than we would in D.C.

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?

Nature's Basket has some organic foods. I would still wash them in bleach solution, however. Good vegetarian food is widely available here.

View All Answers


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

Since just after the end of the monsoon, we've had an ant problem. There are lots of mosquitos and it's a good idea to wear DEET repellent since malaria and denque fever are both in Mumbai.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Through diplomatic pouch we can send letters but not packages. I've heard of someone successfully using Indian mail to send packages back to the US.

View All Answers


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

Domestic help is widely available, affordable, and of fairly high quality. We have both a driver and a housekeeper, and we're pretty happy with both. In some ways they make life much easier for us here than our life in D.C.

View All Answers


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

They are available but they charge exorbitant prices for substandard services. They would not negotiate on the price--which was the same as what nice Washington, D.C. gyms charge. One popular gym in Bandra had decent equipment but I hear it's overcrowded during peak hours and the stench is overwhelming.

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?

The US Consulate has a Bank of America counter where you can exchange currency. ATMs are widely available.

View All Answers


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

They seem widely available.

View All Answers


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

English newspapers are available but the quality of the journalism is low. There are cable TV packages that provide access to English shows, but we canceled it after we found that there were few good channels and the cable company was going to charge us for repairs to their faulty equipment.

View All Answers


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

It would be helpful to know some Hindi. Indian English is very different from American English, and many people speak only Hindi. Talking to people on the phone can be very frustrating without Hindi.

View All Answers


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

It would be very difficult. Sidewalks are in a terrible condition and you can't always count on a functioning elevator.

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

From what I hear, trains and buses are usually overcrowded and can be dangerous. It's a bad idea for women to take buses and regular train cars. Trains have ladies-only cars, so you can travel to your destination without being molested by a fellow commuter. Taxis and autorickshaws are usually available and cheap. However, you shouldn't count on a taxi to arrive at a pre-specified time, and you have to watch carefully if you don't want the driver to cheat you.

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?

American diplomats cannot import cars into India any more. It's usually possible to buy a car from another outgoing expat. It's a good idea to buy something that can get dinged up and has clearance for the many potholes you'll find in Mumbai streets.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

We have cable broadband and it is usually pretty good. It goes out occasionally and it's not always super fast, but I find the quality better than Comcast in D.C. We tried the Tata photon, but the speed is comparable to dialup.

View All Answers


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

No, not really. The network isn't great but the batteries on cell phones here are far superior to those in the US.

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)?

We have pets but haven't tried out the vets yet. We've heard that a decent one is available.

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, there aren't.

View All Answers


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

Business casual is good for work. It's a good idea to always have a cardigan on hand since air conditioning can be very cold. I've also comfortably worn a sweater outside. It's best to dress conservatively if you're a woman, though you don't have to go overboard. A t-shirt and capris or a knee-length skirt are fine. Tank tops are apparently deemed exceptionally provocative. You'll find, however, that people will stare at you no matter what you wear.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

There is the threat of terrorism. However, crime is not much of a problem in Mumbai. Theft does not seem to be as common as it is in the US.

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?

Excellent and affordable dental care is available. There are lots of health concerns, including malaria, dengue, and gastrointestinal issues. Sometimes there are random viruses that come and go and you never really know what they were. I haven't been able to find a doctor yet but I know they're out there.

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?

The quality of the air usually doesn't bother me. However, during Mumbai's cooler months from November through January/February, people burn small fires on the street. The smell frequently wakes me up and smoke seems to permeate the entire house.

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 monsoon runs approximately from July through early October. I found the monsoon to be enjoyable. The weather is cooler and I think the rain improves the air quality. During the cooler months it can actually get cool at night. We arrived at the end of July and, since then, we've found the weather to be rather pleasant.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

I don't have experience with the schools but I know parents who are pleased with them.

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?

Preschool is very expensive. But nannies are available at a very reasonable salary.

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?

Due to the number of activities there seems to be a lot of expats in Mumbai, but I rarely see them. Mumbai is not a very internationally diverse city.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Morale is okay. Mumbai is a difficult city to live in, but the consulate community is fairly close-knit.

View All Answers


3. 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 host dinners or parties in their homes. The expat community here is very social.

View All Answers


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

There seem to be a lot of activities for singles and couples. There are a lot of single expats here from corporate and government jobs. The US Consulate has a lot of events, and many people host gatherings in their homes. There are also lots of good restaurants.

View All Answers


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

India just overturned its anti-gay laws, but the culture is still very conservative. I do know gay people who are able to date here.

View All Answers


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

Yes, there is a strong bias against women. People usually address my husband first and ask him any questions that are necessary. So far it hasn't bothered me very much (maybe because my husband isn't at all sexist). Sometimes I ignore the fact that they were talking to my husband and just answer anyway. In a weird way it can also make things easier for me. I can just sit back and let my husband deal with whatever the issue is. It's quite clear that women are much less valuable than men in Indian culture.

View All Answers


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

We've enjoyed traveling within India, to Rajasthan and Kerala. There's also good shopping, from road side markets to luxury stores. Mumbai also has a lot of good restaurants, including Asian and Mexican restaurants, as well as a decent bagel shop.

View All Answers


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

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a nice break from the city. Phoenix Mills mall is a little slice of America. There are western, and even luxury, stores as well as a good movie theater. Many of the restaurants around town offer good affordable food. When you want to really indulge, some of the luxury hotels offer an extravagant brunch.

View All Answers


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

Saris, kurtas, Ganesh statues, scarves, custom-made leather goods, couch covers, bedspreads, and table cloths, as well as lots of stuff from FabIndia!

View All Answers


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

The produce is great, both the quality and variety available--from pomegranates, to fresh figs, beautiful tomatoes, mangoes, etc. It's easy to reach Asian destinations from Mumbai. There are lots of direct and affordable flights. Within Mumbai, you can get almost anything delivered, including ice cream, donuts, groceries, and DVDs.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Yes, it is possible, especially if you order or do without western food items. Many, many things are much less expensive than they are in Europe or the United States. This is one of the best things about this city.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

No, I wouldn't. I try to stay positive but I can't wait to leave.

View All Answers


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

winter coats.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

patience, assertiveness, western business clothing, quality business shoes, rain boots, nail polish, pedicure kit, mosquito repellent, electronics.

View All Answers


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

Shantaram, Maximum City, India after Gandhi.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Slumdog Millionaire, Born into Brothels, Monsoon Wedding.

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 11/05/08

Background:

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

No.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

15 months.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

15 hours direct from ATL and EWR.

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?

All apartments, some nice, some not so nice.

View All Answers


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

Most are available though finding them can be a chore. Costs range from extremely cheap to highway robbery.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

Not sure about fast food except I have seen McDonald"s, never been though. Subway is OK.There are some good restaurants.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Pouch.

View All Answers


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

Available and cheap.

View All Answers


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

ATMs are everywhere and credit cards are accepted generally.

View All Answers


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

Some Catholic I think.

View All Answers


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

Both 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?

None. Have your staff translate for you.

View All Answers


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

Do NOT come here. They are not ready for those with disabilities.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

View All Answers


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

I would never take a train or a bus because Taxis are super cheap. There are about 14 accidental deaths per DAY related to the train, so you be judge about their safety.

View All Answers


3. 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?

Bring something that you might enter in a demolition derby, except with air conditioning. Roads are in total disrepair.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

Medium speed internet. Costs based on usage.

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 are cheap. Service is good.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Cell, skype, vonage.

View All Answers


Pets:

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

Good vet 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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. There is a great deal of rubble and filth everywhere.

View All Answers


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

Nope.

View All Answers


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

Disease eradicated long ago in the developed world flourish quite well in India. So yes there are concerns. Medical care? Just hope that you don"t need any from the locals.

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?

Rainy summer but cooler than March April May and October. Remaining months are VERY nice.

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?

Hire a Nanny. They are cheap.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Differs.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

View All Answers


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

For those with patience in massive surplus - maybe for all three.

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?

I have not realized any.

View All Answers


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

Golf is cheap and close by. Sailing club is cheap.

View All Answers


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

Bombay Sapphire? Does that count?

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Oh yeah!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

No. Never. Not now, not ever!

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

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

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 08/13/08

Background:

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

No. I have also lived in Moscow.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

15 hour non-stop flight from New York. Other flights through London, Paris, Frankfurt.

View All Answers


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

Associated with 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?

Apartments vary from pretty good to really poor. The apartments that are not serviced by consulate staff have frequent problems with a/c units and other utilities, and getting service from the landlords is difficult. Consulate does not provide nearly enough support. Some of the apartments are downright terrible, with awful bathrooms that were put in as an afterthought. Think showers that drain directly onto the floor, or a toilet inside the shower area. Really inexcusable, brought on by the high price of rentals in Mumbai.

The consulate will move (current plan: late 2009, but it has been delayed many times). New arrivals are being put closer to the new site, 1+ hour commute from the current consulate, in one of the most congested cities in the world. The new housing plans are also unclear: instead of co-locating housing with the new consulate, there is talk of a lease-to-own building much farther north. Permanent commutes could be 45+ minutes at best. Really bad situation.

View All Answers


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

Groceries are hard to find, and overpriced at decent stores. For political reasons, they have not allowed investment in the supermarket sector. Even the

View All Answers


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

Toiletries. Knee-high rubber boots for monsoon.

View All Answers


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

Lots of good food. But far, far too often, it will make you sick. Better restaurants are safer, but not totally safe.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

Pouch. DHL for super-urgent mail, gets to US in about 5 days.

View All Answers


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

Easily available, cheap, but employers are often dissatisfied with the reliability, skill level, work ethic, and cleanliness of staff.

View All Answers


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

Both are widespread and safe to use.

View All Answers


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

Some Catholic churches with English services.

View All Answers


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

Readily 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?

Very little if any. But it helps sometimes.

View All Answers


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

Impossible to live here. No facilities at all. I have never seen a city so violently hostile to pedestrians of any kind, let alone those who are disabled.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left (as in UK).

View All Answers


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

Very affordable. Safety varies. Regular cabs are cheap, extremely uncomfortable, and often driven maniacally. They're also usually too short for a 6 foot tall man. Good for short trips only. A/c taxis can be ordered by phone, but are unreliable in terms of actually coming. Buses are awful. City trains are so crowded that they're only usable on Sunday and very off hours (10 people a day die on the city trains during rush hour because of insane overcrowding). Longer distance trains can be okay, if you go first class.

View All Answers


3. 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?

Small sedan is best - Honda Civic or the like. Larger sedan is more comfortable and safer, but harder to maneuver. Some prefer a small SUV, but they seem far too large to navigate the clogged streets easily. During monsoon flooding, even SUV not adequate.

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, I have quite fast DSL for about US$35/month. Takes a long time to get it installed.

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 service is fine. Buy a phone here.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

View All Answers


Pets:

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

Don't know. Stray dogs run wild, may be a danger to pets.

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 few, pay is low.

View All Answers


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

Casual, no ties at work for most.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

View All Answers


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

Minimal for crime. Large for traffic accidents and general health.

View All Answers


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

Many. Food and water safety is very low. Food poisoning is depressingly common. Other illneses abound. There are 15 million people here (at least), and 50% don't have a toilet. You do the math. Decent health care available.

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?

June-Sept monsoon is humid and very wet. Oct is very hot. Nov-March are relatively cool and not so humid. April and May are very hot again.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

American School, with grades through high school. Supposed to be good quality.

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?

Don't know. Private help available at low cost, but sometimes quality of help is not great.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

Moderate. Consulate has almost 50. Other Europeans are here. But fewer than one might expect for the commerical and artistic heart of India.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

From low (the majority) to moderate. Many people really, really dislike it here for many reasons: constant food poisoning and other sickness, total traffic gridlock, long commutes because of the consulate move, incredibly non-pedestrian friendly nature of the city (lack of passable sidewalks, cars constantly honking right in your face as you're forced to walk in the street, incredibly rude driving habits, no safe street crossings) and hence enforced sedentary lifestyle, lack of green space. A few seem to like the nightlife, but those with a focus on health or an active lifestyle can't stand it here. Many have left early.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Some okay restaurants and clubs. People do a lot of entertaining at home.

View All Answers


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

Okay for families or couples, if you don't mind the total lack of green space and penned in feeling from the constant, abysmal traffic. Quite bad for singles. Supposed to be the cosmopolitan heart of India. But there is not a lot of social interaction with Indians. And there is absolutely zero dating for men or women, except for some Indian-American officers. Ex-pat community is fairly small. If you are single (of either gender) and looking for a mate, or even decent dating opportunities, you will be miserable here.

View All Answers


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

Okay, and better than other Indian cities, but all the negatives for singles apply here as well.

View All Answers


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

There are religious tensions between local groups. No overt prejudice against foreigners that I've seen.

View All Answers


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

Some good restaurants and country-club type places. A few good dance and music clubs. But expect zero interaction with locals there. Also, Mumbai functions on an extremelly late-night schedule (dinner at 9 or 10, out late, in to work no earlier than 10 AM). Your Western work schedule will not be in sync. Even weeknight events start at 10:30.

View All Answers


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

Lots of wooden crafts to buy, if that's your thing. Beautiful sarees for women.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

Some, but many people frequently travel to have a break from the oppressive city. This eats up funds.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely not. Think long and hard before spending two years here. It's so much worse on a daily basis even than other developing countries. For example, people with experience in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Burma have all commented on how much harder and more unpleasant it is here. I strongly recommend looking elsewhere.

View All Answers


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

Warm weather clothes.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Knee-high rubber rain boots.

View All Answers


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

Midnights Children (Rushdie); A Fine Balance (Mistry); Shantaram.

View All Answers


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

Midnights Children (Rushdie); A Fine Balance (Mistry); Shantaram.

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Traffic Signal (the best Hindi movie about the city, in a more realistic style).

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


Mumbai, India 07/28/08

Background:

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

Second overseas assignment.

View All Answers


2. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

View All Answers


3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Delta to NYC- 16 hours, Lufthansa to Frankfurt-9 hours.

View All Answers


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

Diplomat, second overseas assignment.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartment Living- Very expensive and very small. Mumbai's real estate boom, and strong rupee vs. dollar, leave alot to be desired for housing. Your average--reasonable 3 BR, 3 Bath Apartment is between US$6-10,000 per month. No need to pack your furniture, or anything that cannot hang on a wall or sit in a cabinet.

View All Answers


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

Goods are available, but buying U.S. products is quite expensive, and you can normally find local products of lower but similar quality.

View All Answers


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

COFFEE, COFFEE, and did I say COFFEE? Baking items like baking soda.

View All Answers


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

Fast Food- KFC, McDonalds - no beef, chicken, fish, and soy only, Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Baskin Robins. Restuarants are everywhere, lots of italian, chinese. No shortage of restaurants.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

We use pouch. Customs duties are 30+ percent on all goods coming in. So do not anything here unless willing to pay the customs.

View All Answers


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

US$175 per month for Driver, US$175 per month for maid/cook.

View All Answers


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

ATMs are everywhere, no issues.

View All Answers


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

Christian, Evangelical, Baptist Churchs. LDS available.

View All Answers


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

Newspapers, Hindustan Times, Times of India, DNA, and television is US$20 for three months- approximately 25 english channels- Discovery, HBO, Star Movies, CNN, BBC, Travel and Living, Starworld, ESPN, Ten Sports, etc...

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 necessary, but a little bit is helpful for the taxis.

View All Answers


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

Not a good place for someone with a physical disability.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left Hand Side- DRIVING is CHAOTIC- 99% of expats have drivers.

View All Answers


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

Taxis are safe, affordable, and hot. Rickshaws or three wheelers are not allowed in South Mumbai, but are readily available everywhere else. If traveling with children, not advisable due to chaotic driving conditions.

View All Answers


3. 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?

Honda CRV is your best bet. Gas is on par with US Prices at US$4.50-5.00 per gallon. If you have a European car, bring your spare parts as getting them here is quite expensive and frustrating.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

DSL available for decent prices- US$25 per month, but downloading is charged by the size, so if you are planning to download your shows, think again- its cheaper to buy and ship them.http://delhi.mtnl.net.in/services/broadband.htm.

View All Answers


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

All services are good. Everyone has a phone.

View All Answers


3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage, Skype, or local cell phone- 15 cents a minue.

View All Answers


Pets:

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

Not Sure.

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?

Schools pay well, but outside of teachers, working opportunities are very limited.

View All Answers


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

All depends on the field- Business attire normally, and social functions are usually pretty casual due to the Mumbai Bollywood scene. Jeans and a button down for the guys, and anything goes for the girls.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

View All Answers


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

Mumbai is very safe. Adult males, no problem traveling at any time in taxi, etc. Females- after 10pm, best to travel in pairs.

View All Answers


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

Health care is surprisingly good and very cheap with caveats. All care is very inexpensive, but emergency care is very poor, as the planning in India is very poor for staffing, and preparing an ER with neccessary items. Several friends have given birth in India, reconstructive surgeries, and such. Best Hospital is HINDUSTAN with a fully staffed ER, US Quality Lab...

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?

Hot and dry, and warm and wet. The hottest month is May-110 degrees, and monsoon is June-July-August- Most expats send the families away during the monsoon, as most kids are gone, and it rains heavily.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

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

American School of Bombay-ASB (90% Expat) was recently awarded a top international award for technology. Students grades 6-12 all have laptops, and instruction is centered around technology. Outstanding academics, strong extracurricular, and excellent rapport with US and other international Universities. USD approx. 30K per year, plus 20-30K capital levy fee of which you do not get back.www.asbinia.org. Dirhubai Ambani Int'l School (Primary Indian), and Ecomunidial (Expat and Indian) in Juhu. Prices are all similiar.

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?

ASB offers preschool at high prices, which typically are not covered by an expat package, but local preschools are prevalent and we have freinds that are very pleased with schools in Bandra.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

HUGE- South Mumbai, North Mumbai, Powai.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

OK. Everyone is planning their next vacation.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Vibrant social scene, late nights- indians don't eat dinner until approx 11:00, so parties go late.

View All Answers


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

Families- so-so. Large expat community, with many good restuarants, several malls, and lots of theaters. No parks, dangerous to ride your bike due to traffic, and running on the streets unless early in the morning, is not advisable. SINGLES- Large Bar Scene, with Bollywood and the financial center of India, but bring your wallet, as the drinks are quiet expensive. Getaways in Mumbai are the must. Getting out of the city and going to the hill stations-Lonavala, Goa, Kerala, or Dubai is the most common for outings.

View All Answers


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

Not sure.

View All Answers


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

Heavy caste and religious divides in the city, and country. You typically wont encounter it during your normal routine, but the occasional protests, riots, beatings, and murders are available daily in one of the many newspapers here.

View All Answers


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

Hindu Festivals- Ganesh Festival in October is a must.

View All Answers


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

Indian crafts are everywhere- Buddhist, hindu sculptures, rugs, pashminas- WOOD CARVINGS.

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

If you don't travel.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes- A great experience, and unlike anywhere in the world- Mumbai is the most densely populated city in the world.

View All Answers


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

Snow gear, coats, and extra furniture.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Rain jacket, hats, sandals, mosquito repellent (for excursions), and your India travel book.

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

View All Answers


6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Darjeeling Unlimited.

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

If you like cities you will do fine. If you can't stand NYC, then you will not like Mumbai. While very different from one another, the chaos is similiar, as is the congestion.

View All Answers


Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)

Read More