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Living in Bangalore
A comprehensive guide about living well in Bangalore
Are you thinking of starting a new life in Bangalore as an expat? The InterNations GO!riate guide to living in Bangalore provides you with important information on the steps to take before relocating to Bangalore. We offer advice on daily life, residential areas, schooling, and more.
Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!
Life in Bangalore
Bangalore has a population of more than 10.8 million, up from nearly 8.5 million at the time of the last official census back in 2011. This makes the capital of Karnataka, a state in South India, the third most populous city in the country. Life in Bangalore is full of challenges for foreign residents, but it can also be an interesting and enriching experience for expatriates.
As in many other Indian metropolises, there are always two sides to life in Bangalore: there is the modern city with huge, Western-style shopping malls, and wide roads, and then there are the narrow back alleys with their markets, animals, and — unfortunately — visible poverty. Expats tend to find life in their new home very manageable, though, once they have settled in.
Everyday Life: Cars, Cricket, and Culture
Despite the fact that Bangalore is one of the cleaner cities in India, its rapid growth in recent years has left the huge urban population struggling with the resulting infrastructural problems. One of the major issues affecting daily life in Bangalore is road congestion, which is to be expected in the city with the second largest number of cars in the country, after Delhi (2012).
Expats living in Bangalore will soon discover a much more pleasant aspect of daily life — cricket. As many national cricket heroes hail from Bangalore or spend much time there, the local enthusiasm for the national sport reaches unusual heights, even by Indian standards. Cricket players are A-list celebrities, and you will see their faces in numerous TV and poster ads.
Religious and national festivals also play an important role in Bangalore. The range of festivals reflects the rich mix of inhabitants from different religious and cultural backgrounds living in Bangalore. Apart from traditional Hindu festivals and folk Hinduism celebrated by the populace, major Muslim and Christian festivals are observed too. Some secular Western celebrations, such as Valentine’s Day, have also found their way into the holiday calendar of everyday life in Bangalore.
Registration: Within 24 Hours, 14 Days, or Not at All?
In general, all foreigners living in Bangalore whose duration of stay exceeds 180 days must register at their nearest Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) within 14 days of arrival. Some nationals (e.g. residents from Pakistan) even have to register within the first 24 hours. Other foreign residents who are planning a short-term stay only need to register if it is indicated in their visa.
There is conflicting information regarding the registration of expat children. Some Indian government sources refer to a law that exempts minors under 16 from registration; other official sources say that all foreign residents above the age of 12 should register in person while some expats report that they were asked to even register their toddlers.
The local FRRO in Bangalore has the following address:
5th Floor, A Block, TTMC
BMTC Bus Stand Building
The FRRO issues a certificate to registered foreigners, which serves as a form of ID during their stay. Thus, a change of (or a prolonged absence from) your registered address must always be reported to the FRRO while you are living in Bangalore. In certain situations, expatriates may be asked by a high-ranking police constable or Foreigners’ Registration Officer to produce this Certificate of Registration.
You can find more information on the registration process for foreign residents living in Bangalore in the part of our guide to follow.
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Registration and Education in Bangalore
Foreigners’ Registration Checklist
When visiting the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office, make sure you have all the documents required for registration with you to avoid another visit. This being said, some expats recommend going to the FRRO twice: first, to get an up-to-date list of required documents; second, to obtain the registration certificate. Waiting times can be long, and the bureaucracy is sometimes frustrating.
Make an online appointment by filling out the required registration form. You will usually get three suggested days for your FRRO registration: choose one, print out several copies of your completed application form, and take them — as well as a print out of the appointment — with you on the day in question. You may have to show the confirmation to the officer on duty in order for them to handle your case. Also, don’t forget to bring at least 100 INR in cash for registration fees.
The necessary standard documents include:
- four recent passport-sized photographs
- your passport and a copy of the pages with your photograph, visa, and entry stamp
- proof of your residential address in India
- a completed application form
Depending on your visa category, you may need to supply supporting paperwork. Please check the FRRO overview page for further information.
If you are in Bangalore on an employment visa, make sure to bring along these documents and several copies thereof, if possible:
- a copy of your official letter of acceptance / appointment to your new job
- a copy of your work contract
- proof of your annual income
- a letter of employment from the company to the FRRO
- an official statement that no suitable Indian candidate was found for the job
- a copy of the company’s certificate of incorporation
- a letter of “undertaking” taking responsibility for you (including a copy of the signatory’s ID)
- a financial guarantee from your employer
- your tax papers (i.e. proof that you have applied for a PAN tax ID number)
A1 Level Hindi or Kannada Anyone?
While there are some good state schools in Bangalore, many of them suffer from a lack of funding, which affects the quality of their equipment and the teacher-student ratio. There are plenty of good private schools educating the offspring of Bangalore’s growing middle class, though. They usually offer a perfectly reasonable standard of teaching.
The first language of instruction in private schools tends to be English, but learning one of the local languages (mostly Hindi and/or Kannada, the official language of Karnataka) is usually compulsory in regular schools. Most expats in Bangalore thus send their older children to one of the several international schools in the city. Concerning preschools, many expat families simply take their children to one of the small local privately run preschools, which are scattered all around town.
International Schools Galore
Bangalore’s international schools are mostly situated in either the northern or eastern suburbs. In the east, the area near Whitefield – Sarjapur Road is particularly popular with expats as it houses the offices of many software companies. As a result, a number of international schools have opened up in the vicinity, for example, Greenwood High, Indus International, Inventure Academy, etc.
International schools in the north of Bangalore include Mallya Aditi, Trio World School, and Vidyashilp Academy. Another cluster of international schools has developed in the south, near the technology hub Electronic City, for example Ebenezer International School or Sherwood High. The following schools are full members of the Council of International Schools association:
All three of them also offer the International Baccalaureate diploma. If you need further information on IB schools in Bangalore, please consult the official IBO website. Two more websites for expats looking for an international school in Bangalore are BangaloreSchools and the education section of Karnataka.com.
Most international schools provide a school bus pick-up service and other services tailored to the needs of expat children. However, tuition fees can be exorbitantly high, and it is not always easy to get a place in one of these schools, especially once the school year has started. Sometimes children have to sit through a test or attend a personal interview. Any documents and school reports testifying to your child’s academic level and achievement can speed up or facilitate the admission process.
Bangalore: Housing and Residential Areas
The When, Where, and How of Finding Your New Home
The summer is the best time to look for accommodation in Bangalore. At this time, most expat assignments come to an end, the school year finishes, and many families return to their home countries or move on.
Most expats posted to Bangalore will have a relocation agent at their disposal to assist them with the apartment hunt. In addition, a lot of multinational companies circulate internal lists of accommodation becoming available. It is not uncommon for new arrivals to take over houses and domestic staff from departing expat families within one company, but nobody is obliged to do so.
If you are looking for accommodation on your own, the Internet is often the best resource. There are plenty of property markets or small websites catering specifically to the Bangalore expat community.
Expat Clusters in the Bangalore Suburbs
The immense commute times in a city like Bangalore and the stress caused by traveling from one end of the city to another have led to veritable “expat clusters” developing in several areas around Bangalore. Expat families with children in particular look for accommodation that is not only close to work but also close to school.
It thus happens that some eastern, northern, and, increasingly, southern suburbs of Bangalore have come to be “expat hotspots”, with plenty of gated communities and serviced apartment buildings. While they offer the obvious convenience of living close to work and close to school, they are often in rather remote suburbs with limited access to the city center, culture, and entertainment.
Single expats or young families with preschool children prefer individual accommodation closer to the center of town, of which there is plenty available catering to all budgets.
The most well-established and expensive suburb is Whitefield in the east, a major hub for the multinational ICT industry. Exclusive villa communities such as Palm Meadows, Prestige Ozone, Total Environment, Chaithanya Armadale, or Sobha Lotus offer safety and luxury galore. However, with facilities such as playgrounds, club houses, swimming pools, tennis courts, and yoga classes, they come at a price!
Sarjapur Road, also in the eastern part of Bangalore, but slightly more central, has several apartment options as well as villa communities such as Rainbow Drive and Lakeshore Homes. Southeastern Koramangala, the most central of these suburbs with good shops and restaurants, also offers luxury apartment accommodation. However, the general volume of traffic and noise are already higher than in the outer suburbs.
Yelahanka, in northern Bangalore, is another popular yet very remote area. Sobha Malachite Row Houses and Prestige Monte Carlo Apartments offer good expat accommodation, and the area is close to some international schools as well as Bangalore’s new international airport. Electronic City in the south of Bangalore is a magnet for expats working in the technology sector. Jayanagar and J.P. Nagar are two exclusive residential areas in this part of the city.
Hiring Household Staff
You will soon find that employing domestic staff, e.g. a housekeeper, a nanny, a maid, or at least a driver, is a popular choice among expats in Bangalore. It is recommended to ask potential domestic employees for a health check, especially if they will be working in the kitchen or with your children. HIV, TB, and hepatitis B checks are standard, but keep in mind that you should pay for any tests you request.
It is also common that employers pay for the costs of smaller medical treatments for their staff and offer them lodgings in the servant quarters, if available. Personnel should be given one day per week off. They are also entitled to four weeks of annual leave in addition to India’s public holidays and the major religious holidays of their faith.
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