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Moving to Bengaluru

Although it's often compared to Silicon Valley, expats moving to Bengaluru may need some convincing that the city is leading India's rise in all things computer related. At first glance, the metropolis is a patchwork of bad roads, low-slung buildings and general urban sprawl, but, as those who move to Bengaluru know, in the many software industrial parks there is enough microchip, software, computer and brain power to make the whole city spin out to space.

Compared to other Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai, Bengaluru enjoys a reputation for being relatively clean and cosmopolitan. It has also long enjoyed a reputation for being cool – both in terms of its agreeable temperature and the generally open-minded attitude of the populace. In the city centre, cafés and shops offer an agreeable lifestyle, presenting the city as modern as any other, but farther out the city’s character is shaped by the large population of indigenous poor.

As Bengaluru copes with accommodating the needs of a growing IT industry, it is caught providing for a substantially less affluent population. The result is often that neither community is satisfied with their infrastructure – power cuts, for instance, are an intermittent problem affecting both sides of the wealth divide. Yet an educated workforce, low overheads and a welcoming business culture have continued to support the rise of Indian companies and attract foreign departments.

Like other Indian centres of industry, Bengaluru is in a transitional phase. A leading business centre trying to pull away from its former role as a traditional backwater, expats moving to Bengaluru often have to contend with poor government oversight, under-developed infrastructure and occasionally confusing cultural norms.

The city can be a hardship posting for many expats, while for others it presents a real chance for career development and an opportunity to discover an exciting new country.

Working in Bengaluru

Affectionately referred to as India's Silicon Valley, expats working in Bengaluru live in the midst of a thriving tech industry that plays an important role in the national economy.


Job market in Bengaluru

Bengaluru is known for its fast-growing IT sector. The city hosts some of IT's most recognisable names, and hundreds of tech start-ups have boomed into existence. Those with skills in programming, software development and systems analysis will find that there are plenty of great opportunities for them in this city. 

Many of large global players in the tech sector are based in the city because of relatively low labour costs and a highly qualified workforce. That said, even though locals usually fill mid- to lower-level positions, expats are often hired in management, quality assurance and translation, among others.

Expats are also known to work in Bengaluru's real estate, marketing, banking or call centre sectors.


Finding a job in Bengaluru

Many expats working in Bengaluru are transferred by their home country employer, but it isn't unheard of for Indian companies to hire promising foreign talent.

Online job portals are a good option, as are company websites which often contain listings of the latest vacancies. Specialist recruitment agencies can also be a great source of information and tips on how to secure a job in Bangalore.

Regardless of their country of origin, expats will need the appropriate Indian visa to work in Bangalore.

Accommodation in Bengaluru

The capital of Karnataka state has become a major economic hub and international companies are increasingly establishing operations in the city. Consequently, there's a huge demand for commercial property and residential accommodation in Bengaluru, both within the city limits and on the outskirts.

Construction projects are constantly being undertaken to meet the increasing demand for real estate in Bengaluru, but not all housing options will meet expats' standards.


Types of accommodation in Bengaluru

Housing in Bengaluru comes in the form of apartments, townhouses, bungalows and villas. Apartments usually come at a reasonable cost, but most expats choose to live in independent (freestanding) houses for the space and freedom they offer.

That said, independent houses like villas and bungalows often don't have amenities attached to them, so homeowners have to make their own arrangements for amenities such as security and a back-up electricity generator.

Many expats feel more secure living in gated communities or large apartment blocks. These mega-complexes provide convenient access to social activities with other families and residents and are usually less affected by the water and electricity issues that regularly trouble the city.

Residential property prices in Bengaluru vary widely. Most high-end apartments offer facilities such as clubhouses, swimming pools and tennis courts. Luxury bungalows and row houses are available for expats with an above-average budget, but these exclusive properties don't stay on the market for long due to the high demand. 

Housing in Bengaluru can be unfurnished, semi-furnished or fully furnished, so expats can leave many of their belongings at home if they want to.


Finding accommodation in Bengaluru

It's often the case that companies in Bengaluru purchase suburban villas or high-rise apartment blocks and hold them for employees, so expats may not even need to look for accommodation when relocating.

For those who do, housing agents can provide a listing of available rental properties in the city. House-hunting can be exhausting, daunting and time-consuming, so it's a good idea to consult a reputable real estate company.


Renting accommodation in Bengaluru

Lease agreements in India can be tricky. To side-step tax, landlords often prefer to rent to people informally, with no official lease in place. Expats should never accept such an agreement, as they'd have no proof of residence, which is needed for various administrative processes.

Expats will either be offered a lease agreement of at least 12 months that is covered by rent control laws, or a lease and license agreement of up to 11 months. Lease and license agreements aren't covered by rent control laws, so landlords tend to prefer them. Security deposits in Bengaluru can be as high as six to ten months' worth of rent.

Areas and suburbs in Bengaluru

One of the foremost concerns in an expat's mind when choosing an area or suburb in Bengaluru is likely to be the city's famously congested traffic. For many, the deciding factor when choosing a house to rent is proximity to work and schools – otherwise, expats could easily waste several hours commuting every day. The most popular expat areas are those close to centres of business and international schools. 


Expat neighbourhoods in Bengaluru

Koramangala

Considered by many to be the "software centre of Bengaluru", Koramangala is a hub of activity; it’s full of restaurants, shopping malls, gaming arcades and live music venues. However, noise levels here can be very high, especially during peak office hours. Expats looking to live here will be able to choose between bungalows and luxury apartments.

Whitefield

Whitefield is an IT hub that hosts the headquarters of many software companies. There are a number of gated complexes here. While expats usually find it easy to integrate into the communities at these complexes like these, good things come at a price, and rental costs for villas and apartments in this area can be exceptionally high. Whitefield has several large shopping malls and excellent medical facilities.

Yelahanka

Situated close to the city's Kempegowda International Airport, many of the expats who live in Yelahanka work in the vicinity. The area is a travel hub with easy connections to road, rail and air transport. There are temples, trees and lakes here and new developments are constantly springing up.

Healthcare in Bengaluru

The quality of healthcare in Bengaluru varies, especially when it comes to public hospitals. While this is a problem for many locals, the private sector offers expats and better-off residents relatively affordable treatment at a high standard.

The city has positioned itself as a medical tourism destination and many of its hospitals offer specialised care for various ailments.

Despite the relatively low costs, expats should still ensure they have comprehensive health insurance. In cases where health insurance is provided by their employer, it's worth remembering that they may be limited to certain hospitals.

Below is a list of some of the city's most prominent private hospitals.


Private hospitals in Bengaluru

Bangalore Baptist Hospital

www.bbh.org.in
Address: Bellary Rd, Vinayakanagar, Hebbal, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560024

Fortis Hospital

www.fortisbangalore.com
Address: 154, 9, Bannerghatta Main Rd, Opposite IIM, Sahyadri Layout, Panduranga Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560076

NU Hospitals

www.nuhospitals.com
Address: 6 15th Main, 11th Cross Rd, Nisarga Layout, Padmanabhanagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560070

Vikram Hospital

www.vikramhospital.com
Address: No.71/1, Millers Road, Opp. St. Anne's College, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052

Education and Schools in Bengaluru

Expat children can attend numerous schools in Bengaluru, but, as is usually the case, finding the right fit depends on the family's priorities and preferences.

Location can also affect which school expat parents choose for their children. It's important to find one close to home or work because congestion often makes commute times across Bengaluru painfully long.


Public schools in Bengaluru

There are a few quality public schools in Bengaluru, but many don't have basic facilities like computer labs or sports fields.

As a result, expats usually send their children to private or international schools, which generally uphold higher standards but are more expensive.


Private schools in Bengaluru

Residents of Bengaluru value education and those that can afford to are often willing to invest large sums of money to send their children to a private school.

These schools are generally better equipped in terms of facilities and teaching capabilities. However, the pressure for students to perform academically is high and many students, especially those who have been previously educated in the West, don't adapt very well to local learning methods.

On the other hand, for families in India for the long haul, private schools can be a good way for an expat child to experience and become integrated into the local culture. 


International schools in Bengaluru

The major benefit of sending an expat child to an international school in Bengaluru is that this enables them to continue studying a curriculum they were used to from their home country.

These schools tend to be less academically pressured than Indian private schools and enable children to pursue their skills in other areas such as art, music and sport. 

The standard of teaching is generally excellent and class sizes are small. However, places are often limited and waiting listing can be long, especially at the more popular schools, so it's best to start applications as early as possible. While admission requirements do vary, tests and interviews are common. 

International schools in Bengaluru

Expat families will find that there are plenty of international schools in Bengaluru to choose from. Schools offering the Cambridge curriculum, including the IGCSE and A-levels, are a popular choice, as are International Baccalaureate schools. Many international schools in Bengaluru offer a combination of both of these curricula.

International schools in Bengaluru are diverse and are usually attended by students of dozens of different nationalities. For the expat child, being around other expat children can ease the adjustment period. In addition, expat children often find comfort in continuing with a familiar curriculum, and expat teens will be well-prepared for university applications thanks to the globally recognised qualifications granted by international schools. Expat children will still get to socialise with locals, as wealthy Indian families often prefer to send their children to private international schools. 

There generally isn't a set period during the year for applying to international schools in Bengaluru. Most schools accept applications year-round, assuming there is space. To ensure a spot in their desired school, expats should start the process of application well in advance.

Below is a list of some of the city's most prominent international schools.


International schools in Bengaluru

Canadian International School (Bangalore)

Canadian International School (Bangalore) is located in Yelahanka, close to Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru. The school offers the well-respected Cambridge and International Baccalaureate curricula. Boarding facilities are available. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Cambridge Primary, Secondary and IGCSE 
Ages: 3 to 18

Candor International School

Candor International School has been recognised as one of India's best international schools by prominent organisations such as Forbes, Times of India and Education Today. The school's diverse student body is made up of 600 students of 19 nationalities. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate, Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 3 to 18

Ebenezer International School Bangalore

A day and boarding school, Ebenezer is well-equipped to meet the needs of modern learners. Technology is integrated throughout the school, including a Knowledge Hub containing 20,000 print books as well as a number of Kindle and Nook devices for the use of students. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Indian (ICSE), International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Primary, IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 2 to 18

Indus International School Bangalore

This non-profit school offers a high quality of education and operates both as a day school and a boarding school.  Facilities are excellent and include smart classrooms, an auditorium, an open-air amphitheatre, specialised activity rooms and more. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 18

Inventure Academy

Offering a combination of Indian and Cambridge curricula, Inventure Academy is highly regarded as one of Bengaluru's top international schools. Backed by a strong academic programme, the school values holistic development. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Indian (ICSE), Cambridge Primary, Secondary, IGCSE and A-levels
Ages: 2 to 18

The International School Bangalore

The International School Bangalore is a day and boarding school founded in 2001. The school's curriculum is a dynamic blend of the best aspects of various educational systems, giving children a well-rounded education. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: National Curriculum of England, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Primary and IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 18

Stonehill International School

This small school of around 500 students offers the International Baccalaureate Early Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. The average class size is 18, allowing teachers to give each student individualised attention. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Trio World Academy

Trio World Academy offers high-quality education based on the well-respected Cambridge and International Baccalaureate programmes. An innovative approach to extra-curricular activities sets this school apart. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge Secondary, IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2 to 18

Lifestyle in Bengaluru

The capital of Karnataka is developing but expats can still lead a comfortable lifestyle in Bengaluru even by Western standards.

Known as the Garden City for its leafy avenues and quiet suburbs, Bengaluru was the first city in Asia to be lit by streetlamp and has since continued to spearhead India's technological boom.

The ensuing influx of Westerners and a rise in wealth have contributed to an open-minded city culture, and its sprawling layout makes for a calmer environment than other Indian metropolises.

Though it isn't a tourist hotspot, there are still great shopping opportunities, an excellent range of restaurants, and an active bar scene.


Nightlife in Bengaluru

While Bengaluru nightlife may not be comparable to that of Mumbai, expats will find that there is a fair amount to keep one entertained after the sun goes down. The city has numerous entertainment venues, including open-air lounges, sports pubs and chic rooftop bars on some of its tallest structures.


Eating out in Bengaluru

Like most big cities, Bengaluru has a lot to offer in terms of dining options. Whether expats are on the lookout for authentic local street food, a fine dining experience or something in between, one is sure to find it in Bengaluru. Thanks to the city's large expat population and exposure to international cultures, residents will find that there are a wide variety of different cuisines on offer.

As the population of people with a high disposable income grows in Bengaluru, the city has also seen the rise of more and more innovative experimental restaurants. 


Shopping in Bengaluru

Shopping enthusiasts in Bengaluru won’t be disappointed. The city has something for everyone, regardless of their budget or preferences – from narrow market lanes to swanky shopping malls.

Commercial Street is one of the most popular shopping spots, stocking a wide range of clothing, textiles, footwear, jewellery and sports equipment. Mahatma Gandhi Road offers a more authentic Indian shopping experience, where expats can find good deals on silk saris, antiques and local handicrafts.  

Expats with children will enjoy shopping centres like Garuda Mall and Phoenix Marketcity which are full of entertainment facilities for the little ones as well as plenty of shopping opportunities.

Weekend breaks in Bengaluru

Bengaluru is a city that combines the promise of what India will become with all the challenges of the country’s present-day creaking infrastructure and too-fast expansion. Needless to say, it’s great for work and has lots of city nightlife to keep a person buzzing, but sometimes there is nothing more needed than a weekend break from Bengaluru.

As the metropolis is landlocked in India’s southern region, expats may feel their well-deserved escape will necessitate a flight; however, travel to the airport and delays will often inevitably be as long as a comfortable drive to Chikmagalur or Wayanad, two prime places to unwind. Alternatively, if one finds themselves antsy for the seashore, Pondicherry offers a nice diversion for analytical expat minds (and tax-free alcohol).

Regardless of where one ends up though, it's important that when planning a weekend drive away from Bengaluru, expats make sure to hire a driver who knows the roads or commission the regular driver they are familiar with. Furthermore, be sure to hire a comfortable car, pack plenty of bottled water and negotiate the cost of the driver’s needs (accommodation and meals) beforehand. 


Recommended weekend breaks from Bengaluru

Mysore

The closest city for a weekend trip out of Bengaluru is Mysore, which is about 100 miles (150km) away and holds a reputation for being the second-cleanest city in India. 

Expats will definitely want to consider a weekend break in September and October during the Dasara festival when the magnificent palace is completely enshrouded in over 96,000 fairy lights. Also, the local flower market is beautiful and smells divine, and it is possible to visit factories producing Mysore silks. 

Chikmagalur

Known for its coffee, Chikmagalur is a hill station less than 160 miles (250 km) from Bengaluru. The lovely scenery and low temperatures that come with a visit to this part of the Mullayanagiri Range provide instant relaxation. Popular as a summer destination, expats may nevertheless find it an ideal escape at any time of the year. 

Embark on jungle hikes to see incredible waterfalls, or take a visit to some of the local temples. If truly wishing to unwind and give the mind a break, stay at one of the nearby spas, and take in the serenity and luxury that can only be found in India.

Wayanad

Wayanad, just 170 miles (280km) to the southwest of Bengaluru, will really take expats out of the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru. Rural life, centred on agriculture and framed by mountains and rivers, provides a real retreat.  

The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is home to tigers, bears, snakes, lizards and, of course, monkeys.  Expats can spend time spotting elephants in the distance or can ride one while exploring the jungle. Get close-up views of these animals by hiring a guide. Expats will also see amazing birds and plants. However one chooses to explore the area, they are sure to catch a glimpse of the India that Rudyard Kipling saw before writing The Jungle Book. 

Pondicherry

Those yearning for a visit to the sea should give Pondicherry a go. The city was a former French enclave, and there are still many French passport holders living here today. Beaches, shopping and nightlife are the key entertainment, and Pondicherry is popular with expats as it summons the kind of nostalgia reminiscent of summer weekends by the sea.

See and Do in Bengaluru

Also known as the Garden City, there is plenty to see and do between the lush gardens and leafy avenues found all over Bengaluru. The Karnataka region's capital is also a springboard for exploring the surrounding villages and countryside.


Recommended attractions in Bengaluru

Bull Temple

The Bull Temple, perched on Bugle Hill, famously houses a 16th-century black granite statue of a bull known as Nandi. According to legend, the area was once plagued by a bull that threatened to wipe out the area's agriculture. It's said that a local farmer bravely hit the bull with a heavy club, turning it to stone and thus freeing the town. The people organised a groundnut festival to celebrate – one that still takes place today.

Cubbon Park

This central park provides a place of relaxation for early morning walkers and residents who want to escape the city bustle. Not only does it provide an attractive respite for the civil servants who work in the surrounding administrative buildings, it's also the platform for many of the city’s cultural institutions.

Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens

This splendid botanical garden has expanded from a Mughal-style private garden to showcase close to 2,000 species of flora. The gardens also boast a beautiful glasshouse which plays host to Bengaluru’s famous biannual flower shows. 

Ulsoor

This is a historic neighbourhood, renowned for its numerous temples, narrow lanes and massive lake. The fish market is sure to be a highlight for fans of seafood.

Wonderla

One of India's leading amusement parks, Wonderla provides a fun-filled day out for the whole family. There's something for everyone here, with an assortment of land, water, thrill and children's rides on offer.

What's On in Bengaluru

Bengaluru embraces the colour and commotion that can only be created by the age-old festivals that link this modernised city to its traditional past.

Below is a list of not-to-be-missed yearly festivals and celebrations.


Annual events in Bengaluru

Lalbagh Flower Show (January and August)

Held twice each year, the Lalbagh Flower Show is a popular event on the Bengaluru events calendar. Attendees can wander amongst themed arrangments and take in Bengaluru's natural beauty.

Karaga Festival (March/April)

The Karaga Festival is one of the city's oldest and is celebrated to honour the Hindu Goddess Shakti. A visually impressive nighttime procession takes place, where an earthen karaga pot invoking the goddess is carried through the city.

Ganesh Chaturthi (August/September)

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of Bengaluru’s most famous festivals. Many of the city's temples are devoted to the elephant deity and the holiday is enthusiastically celebrated by the Hindu population. Clay statues are erected, worshipped and paraded through the streets accompanied by music and fanfare.

Kadlekai Parishe (November)

One of the most popular fairs held in Bengaluru, Kadlekai Parishe, or the Groundnut Fair, is held each November. Guests can sample hundreds of types of groundnuts and several other foods. There are also a whole host of vendors operating and selling foodstuffs and trinkets.

Shipping and Removals in Bengaluru

The poor infrastructure in the city affects even shipping and removals in Bengaluru, although there are still some options available.

There are very few direct flights from international cities. With the obvious exception of air freight, shipping routes include shipping to an Indian port and then overland to Bengaluru. This can be time-consuming and more expensive for expats moving to Bengaluru.


Shipping household goods to Bengaluru

Due to the limited amount of household goods that can be brought into India duty-free, expats should carefully evaluate what they choose to bring overseas. There are many options for furnished accommodation in the city, so buying the odds and ends and electronics that can't be brought with can often be more cost effective. For smaller items, air freight is a faster means of shipping to Bengaluru although it is more expensive than sea route shipping.


Shipping pets to Bengaluru

Pets can be shipped to Bengaluru as long as their health checks and vaccinations are recent and in order. Regulations must be followed carefully, however, and the process may be best left to a pet relocation company to avoid any hassles with customs.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bengaluru

Relocating to a new country can be daunting as it's hard to know what to expect. To make things easier, here are answers to some of the most frequent questions expats have about moving to Bengaluru.

Is Bengaluru the high-tech capital it's made out to be?

Yes and no. The contradictions typical of big cities in developing countries, like high rises alongside slums, do exist in Bengaluru. But the high-tech boom is a real phenomenon, and Bengaluru's economy is largely driven by software companies and innovative start-ups.

What jobs can expats expect in Bengaluru?

Most opportunities are in IT-related industries. Expats often find positions in management, quality assurance, translation and marketing. There's stiff competition from locals in many other fields, and expats should make an effort to learn the ins and outs of doing business in India

Is a car necessary?

A car is convenient but not strictly necessary. Driving in Bengaluru can be stressful, so many expats try to live close to their jobs to minimise the time spent on the road. This makes it possible to catch carpools, taxis or the metro. Leasing a car is an option, and some expats hire a driver too. For expats with family, schools often have bus services that pick students up. 

What are the schools in Bengaluru like?

Many expats choose between several well-respected international schools in Bengaluru. It's a good idea to make finding one a priority before the move, but some expats would rather visit a school before making a final decision.

Getting Around in Bengaluru

It may be known for having green spaces, but getting around in Bengaluru isn't much different from other Indian cities. It can be chaotic – with vehicles, pedestrians and sometimes animals ignoring the rules and vying for dominance on the road.

Bengaluru's public transport is more limited than that in Mumbai and Delhi. However, it's well connected to the national rail network and the city has a relatively new metro system which is being expanded. Most people get around using auto rickshaws and buses. Expats may prefer to travel by car, but driving oneself in the city can be nerve-wracking. For this reason, most expats prefer to hire an Indian driver who is familiar with the various areas as well as the driving style of locals.


Public transport in Bengaluru

Metro

The Bengaluru Metro is often called 'Namma Metro'. The network consists of two colour-coded lines which serve about 40 stations. Fares vary according to the distances travelled. Those travelling on the metro infrequently can opt to buy tokens, but for those who plan on making regular use of the system, the best option is to purchase a smart card which allows passengers to load credit easily and make considerable savings.

Trains on the Namma Metro generally run from 5am to 11pm and are relatively frequent with a train arriving every 15 minutes. 

Buses

The local bus network is extensive and covers most of the city and its suburbs, while a comprehensive regional bus network offers transport to areas beyond Bengaluru. Although local buses tend to be very crowded at rush hour, especially in the city centre, buses in Bengaluru are a cheap way of travelling used by many of the city's inhabitants.


Taxis in Bengaluru

Taxi cabs are more expensive than buses and rickshaws but are a more comfortable way to get around. They run on a meter and are usually modern, air-conditioned cars with drivers who know the city well.

Passengers may need to book their services over the phone, usually at least half an hour in advance, especially if they plan on travelling during rush hour. Ride-hailing services such as Uber are also operational in the city.

Auto rickshaws

These ubiquitous three-wheeled vehicles are a quick way of getting around but it can be a hair-raising experience. Be sure to agree on a price before going anywhere – although they operate on meters, many drivers charge on an ad-hoc basis.


Driving in Bengaluru

Expats who plan to be in India for an extended period of time often hire a car and a driver. Local drivers generally know their way around and can get around quicker than an expat would.

Numerous companies offer these services, but expats should make sure they go through a reputable one, and check the car for scratches and dents beforehand so they don't end up paying for any existing damage.

Expats who attempt to get behind the wheel themselves are likely to struggle. Road conditions in Bengaluru aren't always good, traffic becomes gridlocked during rush hour, local drivers are often erratic and signage isn't always clear.