Mumbai, India Report of what it's like to live there - 08/30/21
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?
Third. I have also live in Bagram and Taipei.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Home is Washington, DC. it's about 19 hours with layover in Newark. Easy for arranging flights before the Covid pandemic, but it's a bit difficult with all the Covid restrictions.
3. What years did you live here?
2019 - 2021.
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Large modern 4-bedroom apartment about 1500 sqft. Location is about a 10min rickshaw ride to work.
Quality work in the housing space is non-existent. Paint will chip off during your stay and the AC will break very frequently. I count at least one unit every month. During my two years, I came home to my place being flooded by the plumbing or AC drips three times.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are cheap but lack a variety. It's the typical coriander, onions (purple only), broccoli, carrots, potatoes, etc. I had probably spent $40 usd on groceries per week. very cheap. Very hard to find beef. There is only chicken and pork. Chicken is okay, but pork is of very low quality (lots of fat and chewy).
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Febreze or any kind of air freshener, beer, and gym/workout equipment.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Zomato app to order food. Can find what Mumbai has to offer there. Indian food is authentic. Don't expect other international foods to be up to par.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Rarely do I see any bugs in the apartment. I've only seen a few cockroaches once every six months. The apartment complex would fumigate apartments frequently and without warning. You may find yourself going home through a smoke-filled elevator from time to time. Found a second use for the Covid masks.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Outside of alcohol, diplomatic mail is next best thing for morale. Usually takes about two weeks to arrive.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
i paid 11000 inr /month for part-time (4hrs/day) 6 days a week. Since I was single and didn't make much of a mess, the housekeeper usually had an easy day.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Most modern apartments have a community gym. Covid pandemic kind of shut that down.
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 a hit or miss with western credit cards. Sometimes it doesn't work and you wait five hrs and it works. It's a cash economy.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
None. Everyone speaks some English. Most rickshaw drivers don't, but if you use the Ola or Uber app, you don't need to speak to them.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. The infrastructure is not user-friendly to those with disabilities. It's not even walker-friendly.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Rickshaw and uber are super cheap. Probably cost me 1 USD for a 10 minute trip.
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?
None. To me, the driving here is crazy. One lane will often have two cars so take an Uber.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Takes about 3-5 days depending on installer availability. I got about 200mbps. They will want you to pay 6 or 12 months in advance and in cash with no confirmation or receipt of payment.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Bring your own and phone and pick up a sim card from airtel.
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Like any workplace.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Women should be careful when going out late at night alone.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
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 air quality. Even if masks aren't required, you'll wish you could wear one to avoid the river and street smells.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Don't come here.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
It's easy to get worn down and be depressed here. Find yourself some work friends and push yourself to events just to get a new view. Travel outside of the work area if you can.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot and hot. Monsoon season is July - late September.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
ASB. They're tough and expect kids to perform a much higher level than Westerners are used to. My understanding that it's not unusual for local indian students to have a separate tutor in each course.
2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
None during Covid.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Decent. Overall morale is moderate. Everyone is just passing the time.
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?
Singles use dating apps and drink. Couples have BBQs.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's probably better for families since most things are cheap including maid services.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
No. The only local friends I've made are the ones I work with. Locals are extremely friendly once you get to know them. It's difficult to break into any new groups in India as the locals do not seem very friendly to start with. In my opinion, not very likely that you'll make any friends at the bars. It's a lot easier with apps and with other expats.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
No. Most will stare at you for the slightest differences.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Darker skin folks are treated differently here.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
if you can manage it, find a local friend and go bar hopping.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Rugs. Wood crafts. Picture frames are real cheap here.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
You get to save a lot of money.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
Nothing would have helped.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Not if I can help it.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Don't forget that you have R&Rs here. Use them
5. Do you have any other comments?
I once got yelled at by a shop vendor for giving a homeless lady some money. They scolded me by saying "Do you want India to be poor forever!?, You're not helping them! There are jobs, but they don't want to work". It's a real dilemma when you see poor starving people in the streets asking for money and when you do give to them, more would flock to you and seem to perpetuate the begging system.