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A Quick Guide to...Living and Working in Mumbai, India

Posted by: Shaun Carter
26/05/17

Mumbai is the city of dreams, the most populous city in India, one of the world’s 37 (and the largest of India’s 3) megacities – in fact, it’s the world’s 8th biggest city by population, with over 23 million residents. If you’re moving from the west to India, you’re likely to experience a serious culture shock; visit the country before you agree to relocate for any extended period of time.

Emergency Services: Police 100, Fire 101, Ambulance 1298
Language: Hindi, Marathi – and every other Indian language! Although English is widely spoken, so you shouldn’t have any trouble speaking English in most places – but like anywhere, it's polite to at least learn a few phrases initially.
Currency: Indian Rupees (INR)

What to wear
Expectations might be different than those you're used to, so for women it's best to cover your legs. Mumbai's young people wear western clothing – although not to the same extent as you'll see in cosmopolitan Delhi, and most Indian people will be delighted if you do wear traditional dress (plus it's usually better-suited to the climate).

The heat, the crowds and the traffic
Mumbai is obviously hot. It's a dry, dusty heat – which I personally find preferable to humidity at least! Mumbai's traffic is legendary. Taxis are cheap (ridiculously so), but the trains are even cheaper, and if you're able to travel at non-peak times, you will find them frequent, fast, and extremely efficient. When you do take a taxi to somewhere you don't know, don't worry – the driver will ask other drivers for directions, but it definitely helps if you can name a major landmark near to your destination.

Hiring a driver for a day is very affordable, and even hiring the same driver every day to take you to and from work is a realistic option. Driving in Mumbai is very chaotic and it's difficult to understand the unwritten rules of the road (read: lots of honking and close to no lane discipline) so we wouldn't recommend that you drive.

The wonderful food
Food in Mumbai is magical, especially from the street – but judge the hygiene for yourself before you buy. It's advised to not drink tap water, nor even brush your teeth in it, but treated drinking water is very cheap. It's perfectly possible to eat out every night of the week in Mumbai, even on a tight budget. The website Zomato is great for checking out reviews before you go. If you're veggie, you're in the best place in the world– many of Mumbai's restaurants are strictly vegetarian, and those that aren't, usually have dedicated menus and vegetarian cooking areas to avoid cross-contamination. Even the McDonald's menu is around 50% plant-based. Note that eggs aren't deemed vegetarian across India.

The staring
You'll have to learn to live with this, staring just isn't considered rude in India. And if you're not of Indian descent, this will happen even more, and Indian people might ask you for photos – take it as a compliment.

Where to live
Rents, and more so the cost of buying a property, are ridiculous in Mumbai. The unaffordable cost of living is well-documented, which explains why so many (around 60%) Mumbaikers live in slums. Mumbai is so crowded that you'll see very little green space – only 2.5% or 14 sq km of Mumbai is open space. More so than in other cities, it's quite important to live close to where you work, since commuting in the city is crazy (See: “Super Dense Crush Load”). Bear in mind that the traffic moves South in the morning and North in the evening, so if you can turn that on its head you'll be very lucky (although it will cost you!). Expat packages including housing in Mumbai are becoming rarer and rarer – so you will probably have to find yourself somewhere to live.

Use an agency. Otherwise, prices and availability might be out-of-date, and you could spend weeks trying to sort it out on your own. There are quite a few due diligence checks you should carry out before you agree to a property, including ensuring the property has an occupation certificate and checking with existing residents to ensure there are no issues with water scarcity.

Entertainment
In India, the cinema is king. Bollywood is the world's biggest film industry, and audience participation is huge. You won't find as many bars as you typically do in Western cities, so it's best to ask friendly locals where is best to go for a drink – the Colaba and Fort areas are particularly good for bars and clubs.

The contrasts
Mumbai, more than anywhere else in the world, is a city of contrasts. The stark gulf between rich and poor is apparent almost all of the time, with beggars of all ages on the streets a part of everyday life, almost wherever you go.

Getting a visa
You'll need an employment visa to work in India as an expat, for which you'll need confirmed employment, and if you're staying for more than 180 days, you'll need to register at the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office within 14 days of your arrival.

Healthcare and schooling
Most people in India cannot afford private healthcare, and many rely on natural Ayurvedic medicine. India also has a booming trade in health tourism, with procedures costing a fraction of what they would in the west. Public facilities, although run by skilled professionals, are largely understaffed and equipment is often outdated, so it's advisable to get private medical insurance – Mumbai is the best city in India in terms of its private healthcare provision. Excellent private clinics and hospitals include Bombay Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital Trust, PD Hinduja National Hospital, Wockhardt Hospital, and the Asian Heart Institute. If you're living outside of a major city (Chennai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, for example, all offer excellent private facilities), you might struggle to find healthcare of a standard that you are comfortable with.

Indian state schools are underfunded, but there are numerous international schools that are popular both with affluent Indians and expats. Since travel in Mumbai is (at best) stressful, it's probably best to choose a home and a school together. If you cannot live close to an international school, the local private schools are good and will help your children to blend in with the community.

What to Expect at Work
Lateness and rescheduling of meetings is not necessarily considered rude or disrespectful in India, so consider this to be just a part of life!

Price Guide

3 course meal for 2, mid-range 1000 INR $15
Draught beer 120 INR $1.80
Loaf of bread 29 INR $0.43
Mid range bottle of wine 600 INR $9
Gas/Petrol (1 litre) 70 INR $1.05
Taxi (1 km) 20 INR $0.30
Rent - 1 bed, city centre* 36,205 INR $542

 

 

 

Recent Comments
Yes please I like to work ,please send me your address for me to applying now.
Ephraim Tamakloe, 09 June 2017
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