Mumbai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 08/11/15
Personal Experiences from Mumbai, India
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, this is my third tour. I've been in Jeddah, Mexico City and DC.
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.
3. How long have you lived here?
A little over a year.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Assigned to the U.S. consulate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
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.
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.
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.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Pretty much all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Numerous. Lots of poor folks here.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Suit, or professional casual.
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.
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.
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.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
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.
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...
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
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?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Too many to list... Soccer, cricket, etc. etc. etc.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10. Can you save money?
Oh yeah! Hardship and cola? I'm raking in the bucks!
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Read up on South Asia.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Only if I were married, unless it were a shorter tour.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Car, cold weather gear and clothes.
4. But don't forget your:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
7. Do you have any other comments?
Not a bad gig!