Living in Mumbai?
Housing, Schools and Daily Life in Mumbai
Finding Accommodation Where Space Is Limited
Space is a major issue in a city like Mumbai. High-quality, spacious rental accommodation is scarce and rather expensive. Even luxurious modern apartment blocks built specifically with expats in mind can seem a bit cramped. They often provide excellent facilities such as gyms, gardens, playgrounds, and club houses, though. Living there can be a fantastic communal experience, especially for expats with children.
People who are looking for individual space and privacy, however, might want to get a house in the suburbs. The decision is a tough one, especially considering the importance of your location in a city like Mumbai, where getting around always takes more time than expected. Although, in comparison to other big Indian cities, Mumbai’s public transportation system is considered very good. Popular expat neighborhoods in Mumbai include Andheri East and West, Powai, Bandra, and Juhu in the north of Mumbai, Worli, Lower Parel, and Prabhadevi in mid-town, and the very affluent residential areas in southern Mumbai.
When looking for accommodation, you can consult a real estate agent, a relocation agency, the local listings in newspapers, or search online. Most real estate agents in Mumbai have a website with available apartments, such as Expat Properties Mumbai. It’s also a good idea to ask your employer or other connections you have for personal recommendations.
Schools in Mumbai: A Place to Learn Close to Home
Indian state schools suffer from underfunding, facing the problems of a lack of modern facilities and staff. However, as is very common in large Indian cities, Mumbai has several private international schools catering to its ever-growing expat population and affluent urban classes:
- Dhirubhi Ambani International School
- American School Bombay
- Bombay International School
- Deutsche Schule Bombay
- École Française Internationale de Bombay
- Podar International School
- École Mondiale World School
- Oberoi International School
You can find more international schools in the city on educationworld.
It is worth bearing the location of these schools in mind when choosing your family accommodation in Mumbai. Due to the time-consuming and sometimes stressful nature of local travel, many expats are reluctant to send their child on a long journey every morning.
More often than not, however, expat families end up living a long way from the next international school so their children, particularly the younger ones, attend local private schools. In most neighborhoods, there are plenty of nurseries and primary schools which, in addition to the convenient location, help children adjust to their new community.
Unless you employ a maid, you will have to do the food shopping yourself. If you decide to employ household staff for your new home, you’ll find that good-quality maids and nannies are very cheap and readily available. In Mumbai, you have a choice between hypermarkets in one of the immensely popular shopping malls, supermarkets, local food stalls, and farmers’ markets.
Whether you choose the mall or the market, the shopping experience will involve fighting your way through throngs of other shoppers. A trip to the local food market is also a great cultural experience. Street markets are ideal for finding vegetables at cheap prices, and you’ll also experience some more of Mumbai’s vibrant urban scenes. When purchasing their groceries, foreigners are often surprised to find that many people in India buy their meat for dinner while it is still alive and kicking.
One less pleasant aspect of daily life in Mumbai is the national phenomenon of “Eve teasing”, a form of sexual bullying or harassment including staring, groping, indecent exposure, and even the slapping of women in public. Although Mumbai is still safer for women than, for example, Delhi, safety concerns that come with living in a big city cannot be overlooked. While awareness is growing, “Eve teasing” continues to be a serious problem in Indian society.
In Mumbai if you are in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or harassed, there are emergency numbers you can call: 100 or 112 (police department), 103 (women’s helpline in Mumbai), and 181 (women’s helpline across whole of India). Expat women should use the “women only” compartments on public transportation or the “Ladies special” trains (only available during peak times). There are also a few cab companies that offer taxi services for women with female drivers.
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