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Housing and Education in Chennai

Living in Chennai will place you in the heart of a bustling Indian city. This can be a shock for some expats, as the Indian way of life is completely unique. This InterNations guide will introduce you to the city’s culture, as well as the more practical issues of housing and education in Chennai.

Where to Live in Chennai: Close to Work or Close to Town?

Most expats find themselves living near their workplace. Otherwise, you might find yourself facing a commute of two hours or more, after factoring in the traffic. Your new workplace will probably be in the south of Chennai, home to Tidel Park — the largest IT park in Asia.

Try to look for homes on Old Mahabalipuram Road as Tidel Park is located at the start of this road. The other popular neighborhood for expats is the Besant Nagar area. This is a residential area with the benefit of not only being close to many office buildings, but also near to Elliot’s Beach. Other upscale residential areas for expatriates include Anna Nagar, the scenic seaside stretch of the East Coast Road, the neighborhood around the Madras Boat Club, or communities like Bishop Garden. 

If you prefer to live closer to the city center, try either the large Mylapore area, the cultural hub of the city, or the Nungambakkam neighborhood. The latter is in the heart of Chennai, and it hosts many tourist spots and foreign consulates. There are also some excellent residential areas with lovely properties, but they will be fairly expensive. These areas are also less clean and safe, though they do give you the chance to mingle more with the local Indian population and see more of urban life in Chennai.

Finding Your New Home in Chennai

There are three ways of finding your future home in Chennai. The first is the most straightforward: many companies who are sending expats to Chennai will also look for homes for them. Ideally, such a relocation package will include maid services and drivers. Of course, this is not the case for all expats.

Your second choice is to look for a home yourself. Try the following websites to get started:

Finally, you can hire a real estate agent to do the house hunting for you. This has advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that they will deal with rental or buying agreements for you. This is important as some contracts contain clauses aimed at tricking potential buyers and have to be read extremely carefully. However, keep in mind that these agents often charge high fees for their services. 

Schools in Chennai: The Choice is Yours and There’s Plenty

Chennai has a mix of public and private schools of which there are hundreds to choose from in the city. The languages students are taught in at Chennai’s state schools will be Tamil and English, although some schools also use Telugu, Urdu, or Hindi.

These schools will therefore not be appropriate for expatriate children who cannot speak any of the local languages. Instead, private or international schools will be far more accommodating. Private schools in Chennai usually use English in the classroom, and most international schools offer the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Two of the main international schools in Chennai are the American International School and the British International School.

Student Life in Chennai

Chennai has plenty of higher education institutions. Most of them offer their courses in English, so students from an international background should not have a problem being taught here.

The University of Madras was established in 1857. It has three campuses in the city, and is also affiliated with many colleges for science, arts, and commerce. Engineering education is strongly represented in the city by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and the Anna University.

Chennai also has excellent facilities for its thousands of students. The Connemara Public Library is one of four depositories across India which receives a copy of all newspapers and books that are published in the country. In addition to this, Chennai is home to the largest library in Tamil Nadu: the Anna Centenary Library.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Marc De Smet

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"Chennai is an amazing, dynamic and bustling city, but I felt so lonely not having any friends here. Now I know many other expatriates."

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