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Moving to Mumbai

Located in western India, Mumbai is the peninsula city that has become India’s most important business centre, a key contender for the region's most cosmopolitan city and a major drawcard for expats. Known as the City of Dreams in India, Mumbai boasts uber modern skyscrapers, views of the Arabian Sea and the iconic Gateway Of India, not to mention a lovely year-round climate. It is culturally and commercially vibrant, humming with possibility and the knowledge that anything can be achieved when hard work and self-belief are applied.

Over the years, Mumbai's development has exploded and transformed the city into a key international metro. The city, formerly known as Bombay, is home to Bollywood and is a hub for entertainment and fashion sectors. In the flurry of booming industries and banking and financial giants, the city has elbowed into the international business big league and become a major expat destination.

With rapid development comes contradictions and conflicts. First among these is a chronic housing crisis that has created one of the most expensive property markets in the world. Even well-paid expats often have difficulty finding suitable accommodation in Mumbai. Expats will find traffic congestion in Mumbai to be quite intense, and while using public transport in the city is an adventure, it could become a struggle on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, many expats find that hiring a driver is an affordable option.

India's massive wealth gap is highly apparent in Mumbai, where some of the country's richest people live in deluxe apartment complexes in affluent neighbourhoods looking out onto its poorest slums. Mumbai is a city where IT millionaires, chic hotels and boutique restaurants exist in close proximity to shanty towns, beggars and open sewage; where luxury cars are gridlocked into chaotic traffic jams alongside wooden carts and auto rickshaws.

Those moving to Mumbai with children will be pleased to find a large number of international schools specialising in a range of different national curricula. Education is a priority for the local population and, as a result, expats have a range of private schools to choose from as well.

Expats who are initially put off by the city's hardships are usually won over by the ease of assimilating, the absence of a language barrier and a welcoming and gracious culture. There is also a vitality to life in Mumbai that makes each day different and stimulating and, of course, there's a palpable energy that comes from working in a city that is on the rise.

Weather in Mumbai

Expats will discover that the weather in Mumbai is pretty much consistently hot and humid. Temperatures in the city remain relatively stable throughout the year, and the mercury never seems to stray far from 86°F (30°C). Expats who are not used to such heat and humidity should take care to stay hydrated and remain indoors during the hottest hours of the day.

Seasons in Mumbai are largely determined by rainfall, with the wet monsoon season typically lasting from June to September. During this period, it usually rains daily and cloud cover is nearly constant. Winter begins shortly after the monsoon season, from December to February, when the evening temperatures are mild. Summer is from March to June.

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Mumbai

Mumbai is India’s wealthiest city, where the commercial, cinema and fashion industries swirl together in a hive of activity. Hot, humid and fizzing with ambition, Mumbai's action stops for nothing and there’s no better place to get ahead in the country.

Even so, expats should think carefully before deciding to live there as the megacity has its drawbacks. Below is our list of pros and cons of living in Mumbai, which may offer some useful insight. 


Cost of living in Mumbai

Given its large size, the cost of living in India varies considerably, but many new arrivals are surprised to find that living costs in major cities such as Mumbai can be pricey.

The 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Mumbai 60th out of the 209 cities studied. Expats who negotiate a lucrative relocation package in Mumbai can often afford luxuries that they wouldn’t be able to at home, such as domestic services, chauffeurs and having home-cooked lunches delivered to the office.

+ PRO: Healthcare is affordable

Treatment is generally good and relatively affordable at private clinics. We do recommend expats get comprehensive health insurance, though.

- CON: Rent is high

Rent in Mumbai is expensive for a few reasons. One is that, as a peninsula, it’s surrounded by water on three sides and doesn’t have much space for land development. The space it does have, given the large population, is costly.

Another reason is that there is an insatiable demand for accommodation in the city, as immigrants from India and the world look to capitalise on the many employment opportunities on offer. Landlords are aware of this and, accordingly, hold to high prices. 

- CON: Expensive groceries

Groceries are more expensive than in India’s other big cities. By way of comparison, a monthly grocery bill will be between 7 and 12 percent cheaper in cities such as Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. 


Working in Mumbai

Expats considering working in Mumbai can look forward to a city driven by growth. Mumbai's economy contributes to India's GDP and accounts for a significant percentage of the country’s foreign trade.

+ PRO: The economy is attractive to expats

Being the commercial capital of India, Mumbai is the seat of some important financial institutions. Many international companies have a presence there and often look to recruit expats, creating opportunities for foreign job seekers with the right qualifications. Mumbai's finance, engineering and design sectors, especially, are major players in the international community. 

Compensation for expats in Mumbai is also among the highest in the world, right alongside cities such as Shanghai, Zurich and San Francisco. 

- CON: Competitive job market

Mumbai is a city of opportunity and, because of this, it attracts many job applicants, so competition for positions is fierce. An unfortunate by product of this energy is that people are under immense pressure to put in long hours. Many people only start work at around 10am but won’t leave until well into the night. Twelve-hour working days and six-day weeks are fairly common. 


Lifestyle in Mumbai

Mumbai boasts a good variety of leisure and lifestyle activities to entertain just about any expat’s idea of a good time. From restaurants that showcase the country’s regional cuisines, to bustling marketplaces and annual events, there’s a surprisingly large selection of nightlife and entertainment venues to take advantage of. 

- CON: Commuting can be frustrating

The city’s roads are incredibly congested and poorly maintained, and the local railway – Mumbai’s most popular alternative to driving – offers its own disadvantages. Getting around in the city can be chaotic. Trains service somewhere in the region of eight million commuters per day and are astonishingly overcrowded, with doors unable to close and passengers often hanging out of them. Passengers often get pushed out at peak hours.

+ PRO: Few language barriers

Though Mumbai is home to over 20 languages, English is widely spoken and expats can easily get by without taking classes in the official language, Marathi. For this reason, adjusting to life in Mumbai is a little less complicated than it might be in other cities.

+ PRO: Endless culture and entertainment opportunities

Mumbai has world-class colonial-era architecture as well as intriguing bazaars, majestic temples and some of the best restaurants and nightlife in India. The city’s theatres, museums, art galleries and music festivals are worth a visit too.

On the traditional side, Mumbai is blessed with a plethora of festivals throughout the year. These include Vaisakhi, the Sikh and Hindu New Year festival (which is noted for its martial arts performances, joyful processions and acts of charity), and Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Fitr and some Zoroastrian festivals are other highlights on the annual calendar. 

+ PRO: Wide variety of food options

Mumbai began as a humble fishing village and has grown into a globally-renowned megalopolis. Generations of immigrants from all over the region have flocked to the coastal city and have brought their food traditions with them. Today, Mumbai’s sumptuous, intricately spiced menu has Muslim, Maharashtrian, Goan, Coastal, South Indian, Parsi and Gujarati influences.

Working in Mumbai

Expats considering working in Mumbai can look forward to a city driven by growth and creativity. As the commercial capital of India, Mumbai is the seat of some important financial institutions, and many multinational corporations choose to base their Indian operations there. Home to Bollywood, Mumbai is also India's entertainment capital and a major fashion centre.

Whatever line of work a job seeker is searching for, they may very well land a job in Mumbai. Here's more on the job market and how to find work in the city.


Job market in Mumbai

Mumbai is a major business-, entertainment- and fashion centre in India. Over the years, the job market has diversified and evolved. As an entertainment and fashion hub, Mumbai is the heart of the Bollywood film industry and has a history as a textile centre.

As a commercial hub, Mumbai is home to India's largest stock exchange and generates a large portion of the country's foreign trade. Jobs in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry abound, attracting skilled and qualified expats.

Large numbers of foreign multinationals and Indian-owned companies base operations in Mumbai and take advantage of the educated, English-speaking local workforce. These companies often recruit expats to help train local Indian staff and share their knowledge and expertise with them. Naturally, such positions are usually temporary as the aim is eventually for the company to be run locally.

The service industry sector caters to the city's large population, which is becoming increasingly affluent. Mumbai's large healthcare sector not only caters for but also employs expats. Engineering and design companies often work in tandem with firms from overseas, bringing in foreign workers.


Finding a job in Mumbai

Many expats working in Mumbai are transferred by their home-country employer, particularly in the banking, financial services and insurance sector. While these expats will already have a job in place, others interested in moving to Mumbai must research the employment market and how to secure a job.

Online job portals, such as Placement India, Monster India and Adzuna, are often the best way of searching for a job, and company websites frequently have listings of the latest vacancies too. Relocation companies and specialist recruitment agencies can also be a great source of information and tips on how to secure employment in Mumbai.

When searching for work in Mumbai, we recommend expats also research the appropriate visa they would require.


Work culture in Mumbai

Despite the influence of international firms with their Western style of business, there are still notable differences between the work culture in Mumbai and what expats might be used to back home. Business structures in Mumbai remain hierarchical, and this may take some getting used to for those who come from places where business is carried out in a more egalitarian way.

Competition for jobs is fierce among the locals working in Mumbai, both to get and keep a job. Employees often put in long hours and overtime to show their dedication to their work, and expats may need to adjust their schedules to their company's typical working hours.

Forming solid relationships in the workplace will be central to an expat having a successful career in Mumbai. Expats should take the time to get to know their Indian colleagues and accept any invitation to join them for social occasions. Expats should also note that, when communicating, negative responses may not be expressed directly. Rather than saying "no", a response could be "I’ll see what I can do" or "let me double-check this", even if they are aware they cannot realistically grant the request.

Accommodation in Mumbai

Finding the right kind of accommodation in Mumbai, in terms of budget, taste and practicality, often proves difficult for expats. The hustling, bustling financial capital of India is known for its prolific film industry, heavy rains and cricket fanaticism, but it’s equally reputed for being one of India’s most expensive real-estate markets, both in terms of buying and renting. 

Unless expats plan on relocating to Mumbai for the long term, most people opt to rent property rather than buy.


Types of accommodation in Mumbai

The city is notoriously short on space, and most expats are forced to sacrifice their notions of a lavish Indian bungalow in exchange for a cramped Mumbai apartment. Many flats in the city are small studio apartments or units with two or at most three bedrooms.

Serviced apartments are popular with single and younger expats, those on shorter assignments, or those expats who want something temporary while they look for more permanent accommodation.

Individual houses and villas are available, but demand is high, supply is low and prices are steep and rising.

Unfurnished, semi-furnished and furnished accommodation are available. So, while shipping and removals is an option, those who would prefer not to bubble wrap their best china don’t necessarily need to. Furthermore, landlords in Mumbai are often happy to furnish a property at a tenant’s request, though this will come at a slightly higher rental cost.


Finding accommodation in Mumbai

Some expats moving to or living in this city are lucky enough to have accommodation arranged for them by their employer. In this case, contractual obligations are not relevant, and the hassle of house hunting is thankfully avoided. That said, the inclusion of this perk in relocation packages is becoming quite rare and finding one's own home in Mumbai is becoming a necessity for many.

Expats who find themselves in this situation are advised to hire a real-estate agent. These service providers can greatly simplify the process and make sure that the property satisfies all elements of a due diligence test. Estate agents also advise expats on popular areas and neighbourhoods in Mumbai.

Alternatively, those searching for an apartment on their own can use one of the many available print or digital listings and online property portals, including 99acres.com, makaan.com and Magicbricks. 


Renting accommodation in Mumbai

Moving to a city with such high rental prices, expats must familiarise themselves with aspects of the rental agreement including deposits, utility charges and notice periods.

Leases

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, though this arrangement isn't advised. Instead, expats should explore lease options covered by rent control laws. Eleven-month leases are common, as are rental agreements for longer periods, which must be officially registered.

Deposits

Landlords are known to charge high deposits, often at least three months worth of rent. Deposits could be a hefty expense to budget for when considering the cost of living in Mumbai.

Utilities

Utility expenses are normally borne by the tenants; this includes electricity, water and any maintenance charges. 

Notice periods

Tenants and landlords must give and be given notice if either party wishes to terminate the lease early. Notice periods are normally at least 15 days, though longer periods may be agreed on.

Areas and suburbs in Mumbai

The best places to live in Mumbai

Luckily, for many, the task of deciding where to live in the sprawling city of Mumbai is taken care of by their employer. For those going it alone, however, finding accommodation in this metropolis can be daunting and frustrating but also rewarding. As one of the most diverse cities in India, there is an astonishing breadth of areas and suburbs in Mumbai to choose from.

The most important factors in choosing where to live are proximity to work and, for families with children moving to Mumbai, the location of schools. Commuting can be a hassle – traffic is horrendous and not everyone has the gumption to brave the local public transport, at least at first.

Most residential neighbourhoods in the city are upmarket and coastal. While each area offers a little bit of something for everyone, the more affluent areas come with a hefty price tag attached. After all, Mumbai is known for being the city with the highest cost of living in India.


Trendy and popular areas in Mumbai

Churchgate

Mumbai is known as the city of dreams and those privileged enough to afford luxury life here can invest in housing in some of the popular suburbs. That said, the real-estate market may seem difficult to enter for those with a smaller budget, and unfortunately, this highlights Mumbai as a city of contrasts where property is prohibitively expensive for many local residents.

Andheri West

Andheri is one of the largest suburbs in Mumbai and is split into Andheri West and Andheri East. What was once just a sprawling series of residences is now a trendy area with popular restaurants and shopping centres. It also offers easy access to schools, hospitals and banks, and is a safe area for expats to call their home. Some popular and affluent neighbourhoods are nestled in Andheri West, including the luxury residential and commercial zones of Lokhandwala Complex and the charming beachfront Versova.

Andheri’s train station is one of the busiest and most hectic in the city – just try getting on a southbound train during the morning rush. This means trains come fast and often, but the crush of people might be too much for some expats to handle.

Juhu

Juhu is a small, but fashionable neighbourhood located right beside the Arabian Sea. The area is home to high-end hotels with swanky restaurants and trendy boutiques. Locals flock to Juhu beach on Sunday evenings for a stroll along the waterfront. Residents don’t need to venture far from their bungalow home for cocktails at a popular bar with coastal views.


Touristic and artsy areas in Mumbai

Colaba

Mumbai is a key entertainment, fashion and design hub, and many creative minds call this city home. Some of the most upscale commercial and residential neighbourhoods where expats can rent offer hints of this creativity and imagination.

Kala Ghoda

Located in the heart of the commercial area of Fort, Kala Ghoda is Mumbai’s arts district. Residents here find themselves among the creatives, having breakfast in chic cafés and admiring the artwork from galleries, including Jehangir Art Gallery, and sidewalk stalls, as well as during the popular Arts Festival annual event.

Colaba

Located in South Mumbai, Colaba is a truly touristic district that new arrivals to the city shouldn’t miss out on. Visitors staying in the city for a short while may find themselves at one of the luxury hotels, such as the iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel. Buzzing with life and culture, expats can walk along Colaba Causeway and take in the glory of the arch-monument that is the Gateway of India.

Bandra West

Known as the Queen of Suburbs, Bandra is a popular home for expats as well as Bollywood stars. It is widely accepted as one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city that is as sophisticated as it is trendy. This coastal suburb hosts upscale boutiques as well as creative street art and murals, while some excellent private and international schools are not far off.

One of the most sought-after areas in Bandra is the Pali Hill neighbourhood. Its winding lanes are home to buildings with gates and security. Pali Hill is mostly residential, but shops and restaurants are just a short walk away. Another well-known area is Carter Road – a promenade where all buildings look out onto the Arabian Sea.


Quieter areas in Mumbai

Mantralaya

Localities further north and further south of the city centre offer a tranquil break from the chaotic hustle and bustle. Northern neighbourhoods offer fantastic beach access, with South Mumbai as the heart of the historical districts, boasting colonial architecture, tourist landmarks and excellent schools and healthcare facilities. It is also one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the country, and popular areas include Malabar Hill, Cuffe Parade, Breach Candy, Kemps Corner, Mahalaxmi and Cumballa Hill.

Khar West

If Bandra life is too busy, try heading a little further north to Khar. Khar is split into Khar East, which is less developed, and the popular residential neighbourhood of Khar West. The rent here tends to be slightly cheaper compared with Bandra, and the traffic a little more manageable. Wealthy expats may find themselves living among Bollywood celebrities and top business executives while enjoying the greenery and peace that this area affords. 

While Khar offers a break from the bustling city, it remains well connected to amenities. The fashionable Linking Road shopping corridor extends up into the suburb and there are also plenty of sporting facilities.

Malabar Hill

Further south, Malabar Hill is an affluent neighbourhood that grants an escape from the buzzing cosmopolitan city lifestyle. Hanging Gardens, the terraced gardens with sea views on top of Malabar Hill, give the suburb a feel of greenery and fresh air. Expats could find an apartment or bungalow in this area of South Mumbai and live near some top sightseeing attractions and historical temples.

Healthcare in Mumbai

A growing medical tourism destination, expats have access to high standards of healthcare in Mumbai.

There are various public and private hospitals, but public facilities don't consistently meet international standards, and both local and foreign residents generally opt for private healthcare.

Private clinics are generally good, have English-speaking staff and many are part of international business groups or are linked to overseas universities. Despite medical treatment being relatively affordable, expats should still have medical insurance.

There are numerous well-stocked pharmacies, many of which operate 24 hours a day. 

Below is a list of prominent private hospitals in Mumbai.


Hospitals in Mumbai

Global Hospitals Mumbai

Website: globalhospitalsmumbai.com
Address: 35, Dr. E Borges Road, Hospital Avenue, Opposite Shirodkar High School, Parel, Mumbai

Fortis Hospital Mulund

Website: www.fortismumbai.com
Address: Mulund Goregaon Link Rd, Nahur West, Industrial Area, Mulund West, Mumbai

Jaslok Hospital

Website: www.jaslokhospital.net
Address: 15 Dr. Deshmukh Marg, Pedder Road, Mumbai

Saifee Hospital

Website: www.saifeehospital.com
Address: 15/17 Maharshi Karve Marg, Mumbai

Education and Schools in Mumbai

Education is obviously a priority for parents moving to Mumbai with their children. However, expats may find that the number of schools in Mumbai is not in proportion to the burgeoning population and waiting lists are long, with challenging admissions processes.

Most expats in Mumbai opt to send their children to private or international schools, which offer an excellent standard of education, but depending on the family's circumstances, distance learning and homeschooling may be more feasible. 


Public schools in Mumbai

Most Mumbai public schools teach in English, but given the generally low quality of learning facilities at state schools, local and expat families who can afford it opt for private schooling. That said, the national curriculum is said to be relatively strong and both private and international schools often implement and integrate it as part of their academic curriculum. Exam boards including the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations set exams, which are generally taken in grades 10 and 12.


Private schools in Mumbai

Private schools in Mumbai could be an economical choice for those expats wanting a better standard of education at an affordable price. They're ideal for families who will stay in India for the long haul and they provide better opportunities for integration with the local population and culture. Parents should note that teaching styles may not suit all children and some schools have a strong focus on rote learning. We suggest reviewing all the schooling options before making a firm decision.


International schools in Mumbai

Most expats prefer to send their children to international schools in Mumbai. These include institutions that follow a home-country teaching curriculum and language, and also those that offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. International schools are a great option for expat parents who are working abroad only for a short period and would like their child to have as little trouble as possible acclimatising to their new environment. 

Expats should note that international schools are notorious for their high fees. Many parents working in Mumbai are lucky enough to receive education allowances from their employer to help foot the bill. If this is not the case, be mindful when negotiating a salary that a large chunk will need to go toward tuition.


Nurseries in Mumbai

Expats in Mumbai will have a wide selection of preschools and nurseries to choose from. Many kindergartens follow the Montessori philosophy or are attached to a larger international school. Families with children can find a selection of daycares and nurseries that are easily accessible from main roads, and we suggest focusing the search to the area or suburb close to the expat’s home.


Homeschooling in Mumbai

Laws about homeschooling in India are unclear, but this schooling alternative is becoming increasingly popular in Mumbai. While numbers are comparatively small, some expat and local parents are opting to homeschool their children and educate them outside of a typical classroom environment. Various international schools also offer distance learning.

Parents have a wealth of information at their fingertips from online resources around the world and can reach out to the homeschooling community in Mumbai through social media for further guidance as well as making friends and connections with families in similar situations.


Special needs education in Mumbai

Like elsewhere around the country, special needs education has not been placed at the forefront of policy changes or schools development in Mumbai. Even some elite schools have received a bad reputation for failing to provide a truly inclusive environment for differently-abled students.

However, some schools go the extra mile to provide in-class support to students with disabilities. Private and international schools often have counsellors and specialised educators assisting inside and outside of the classroom. An expat’s best bet is to explore the international schools in the city and the varying level of services available. We recommend contacting the school directly and meeting with the school for a sit-down session.


Tutors in Mumbai

Finding a tutor in Mumbai will not prove too difficult. Expat parents can simply search for tutors through online platforms such as BharatTutors, TeacherOn and FabTutor. Narrowing the search down to Mumbai, expats can find tuition options for online or in-person classes.

International schools in Mumbai

Expats moving to Mumbai for a short-term assignment generally opt to send their children to an international school. This schooling option allows students to make a more straightforward transition into expat life in India with minimal disruption to their studies. 

As Mumbai's expat community grows, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to secure a place for their child at one of the city's popular international schools. So, expat families need to start the process of finding a school for their children as soon as their relocation to Mumbai is confirmed.

Fees at international schools are high and there are often extra costs for extra-curricular activities, textbooks, stationery and school trips. If possible, expats should negotiate an allowance for their children's school fees into their expat employment package.

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


International schools in Mumbai

American School of Bombay

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American, International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.asbindia.org

Bombay International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge IGCSE, International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 18
Website: bis.edu.in

Dhirubhai Ambani International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, International Baccalaureate, and Indian
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.dais.edu.in

DSB International School 

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE, International Baccalaureate and German
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.dsbindia.com

Singapore International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge IGCSE, International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.sisindia.net

Lifestyle in Mumbai

Mumbai boasts a good variety of leisure and lifestyle activities to entertain just about any expat’s idea of a good time. From restaurants that showcase the country’s regional cuisines, to bustling marketplaces and annual events, there’s a surprisingly large selection of nightlife and entertainment venues to take advantage of. 


Nightlife in Mumbai

Mumbai’s social scene is deceptively big and lively parties can be found most nights of the week. With the Bollywood scene based in and around the city, don’t be surprised to spot local film stars at one of its trendy nightclubs or bars.

For a roaring night out on the town, expats can opt for a cocktail on any of the many rooftop bars that overlook the Arabian Sea, or an evening stroll on the bustling Colaba Causeway. They can enjoy the delights of the city's dance clubs in Churchgate or Juhu, and a craft beer or a sophisticated glass of wine in the chic and stylish Bandra area – where looking good and being seen is all in a day’s work.


Shopping in Mumbai

Mumbai is a shopaholic’s dream come true. With everything from quaint little markets to shopping malls and haute couture around almost every corner, Mumbai is a great place to spend a lot of time and, if residents aren't careful, a lot of money. While the cost of living in Mumbai can seem on the pricier side of things, there are always bargains to be scored.

For clothing, M Gandhi Road is the place to start and local department stores are good bets too. The markets are the place to exercise haggling skills, so visit the Chor Bazaar flea market to pick up jewellery and other trinkets before heading to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai (previously known as Crawford Market) to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables.

For the expat who prefers a one-stop-shop rather than the experience of sifting through stalls, there are plenty of excellent malls throughout Mumbai where hypermarkets are plentiful.


Eating out in Mumbai

From Tandoori and Punjabi to Gujarati and Mughlai cuisine, India’s scrumptious spectrum is well represented, and expats will be pleased to know that their favourite butter chicken and chicken tikka masala regularly feature on restaurant menus. And, although its traditional cuisine is popular with Westerners, there are also many restaurants in Mumbai specialising in European and Eastern cuisine. 


Sports and outdoor activities in Mumbai

Cricket is one of Mumbai’s most popular sports, and expats can try their hand at playing the game or can watch an exciting match at one of the city’s premier and international cricket grounds, including Brabourne Stadium and Wankhede Stadium. Expats can also find gyms, clubs and groups where they can play tennis, badminton and golf, among a wide range of other sports.

Expats are unlikely to feel stuck in their daily routine living in Mumbai with all the outdoor activities on offer. One of the best ways to see the city is from a bird's-eye view and new arrivals can look into the helicopter- and hot air balloon rides on offer.

As a coastal city that is also close to a few rivers, Mumbai affords a multitude of water sports and activities from sailing or rafting and kayaking to snorkelling and scuba diving, while adventure parks such as EsselWorld make for great outings for the whole family.

Weekend breaks in Mumbai

Many expats will say that the key to staying sane in Mumbai is spending plenty of time outside of the city. So, when Mumbai's bedlam gets too much, expats can recharge their batteries by heading to one of the many neighbouring tourist locations.

A weekend break from Mumbai can take the form of anything from golfing to wine tasting, from exploring ancient caves or lush forests to sunbathing on the beach. 


Recommended weekend breaks from Mumbai

Matheran

This quaint hill station on top of the Sahyadri mountain range is a great escape for those in need of fresh air and a glimpse of greenery; it's a true antithesis to Mumbai and even automobiles are prohibited. Attractions include walking paths in the forest, dozens of lookout points, and picturesque horseback rides.

Aamby Valley City

A true escape from the city, Aamby Valley is full of rolling hills, flower beds and plenty of nature. It's not without modern conveniences, however; well-appointed chalets and villas, restaurants, spas, indoor sports, swimming pools and an 18-hole golf course are all available and easy to access. 

Murud

Murud, situated 145 miles (230km) south of Mumbai by road, features a pretty beach, an island fortress and the Ahmedganj Palace. To make a real trip of it, travel all the way down the coastline by car, enjoying the sea views.

Ajanta Caves

Those after a bit of cultural heritage can board an overnight train or short flight to Aurangabad and visit the caves of Ajanta. The Ajanta Caves house important Buddhist paintings and sculptures dating back to the second century BC. This World Heritage Site attracts tourists from around the globe. 

See and Do in Mumbai

A city of contrasts and steeped in history yet famously modern, there's an endless variety of things to see and do in Mumbai. From mosques and temples to galleries and historical wonders, expats are sure to find something in the city that interests them.


Recommended attractions in Mumbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

An outstanding example of late 19th-century architecture characterised by a combination of High Victorian Gothic and traditional Indian features, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is at the core of Mumbai's suburban train network. Built in 1888, it looks more like a cathedral than a terminus.

Elephanta Caves

Hop on a ferry and take a trip to Elephanta Island. Here, culture and architecture enthusiasts can appreciate the cave temples on the island which are dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The island also hosts the Elephanta Festival, which normally takes place in February.

EsselWorld

A fun day out for the kids or the young at heart. Esselworld is an amusement park located in Gorai, offering a variety of options including family rides, thrill rides and children's rides. It also plays host to an ice rink, a bowling alley and a number of restaurants serving local and foreign cuisine.

Gateway of India

Built between 1913 and 1924 to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary, the beautiful basalt structure was built to be the first thing seen when approaching the city by boat and stands as a testimony to the British rule. 

Jahangir Art Gallery

A must for all art lovers. This gallery was founded by Sir Cowasji Jahangir and built in 1952. Centrally located behind the Prince of Wales Museum in South Mumbai, the Jehangir Art Gallery has four exhibition halls which house a great collection of pieces.

Nehru Centre

An impressive-looking complex that encompasses an art gallery, planetarium, discovery centre and a culture wing, Nehru Centre is a great way to discover the sciences and learn more about Indian culture and history.

What's On in Mumbai

With something happening just about every week, expats will never run out of things to do in Mumbai. The heart of the Bollywood film industry, Mumbai is undoubtedly glitzy and glamorous, but it also hosts celebrations of all kinds, from art exhibitions and parties to religious festivals.

Below is our rundown of this charming city's unmissable events and celebrations.


Annual events in Mumbai

Banganga Festival (January)

The Banganga Festival is a musical extravaganza performed at the Banganga Tank at Walkeshwar Temple every year. Expats can expect top artists and excellent classical performances.

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (February)

This exciting annual celebration is held with the intention of making Kala Ghoda the arts district of Mumbai. The festival has 12 sections, including visual arts, music, dance, food and more, so expats will have plenty to explore. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival runs for nine days so there's more than enough time to explore what's on offer.

Elephanta Festival (February)

A fantastic day out that starts with a ferry ride from Mumbai Harbour to the small island of Elephanta. Here, dancers and musicians perform against the backdrop of caves dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Nariyal Poornima (July/August)

Also called Coconut Day, this fisherman's celebration marks the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the year's fishing season. Painted boats, garlands of flowers and oil lamps are set afloat on the water as an offering to the sea.

Diwali (November)

Diwali is the Festival of Lights and it symbolises the victory of truth and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Fireworks illuminate the sky and oil lamps light the windows of homes across Mumbai, with some particularly striking displays seen from Marine Drive and Charni Road.

Shipping and Removals in Mumbai

The city has a busy port with several moving and relocation companies offering competitive price quotes for expats shipping to Mumbai. Expats should be sure if shipping is necessary, and if the company is reputable and whether they offer the desired services at a reasonable rate.

Much of the expat accommodation in Mumbai is already furnished, and buying furniture is not too expensive if one buys from cheap local dealers and markets. It is often less pricey than shipping furniture from overseas. However, when expats leave Mumbai, they may want a removal company to ship furniture, artwork or other items from India back to their home country.


Hiring an international removal company

When hiring a removal firm, it's a good idea to get prices and quotes from a few different companies as rates vary quite a bit. Movers can completely pack up a house, take inventory, provide insurance and storage solutions, ship the contents and unpack them in Mumbai. Relocation companies often go a step further, offering immigration, accommodation and school-finding support.

For expensive shipped items, it is a good idea to invest in insurance and to do so from a company other than the one used for shipping. Airfreight should be considered for smaller amounts of cargo, although it is more expensive.


Shipping duty-free to Mumbai

Costs for shipping to Mumbai add up quickly, however, there are certain customs exemptions applied based on the type of items and residential status of the expat. Indian citizens and expats planning on becoming formal residents of India may be able to import their used personal and household goods duty free. There are some exceptions, so expats should consult the Indian government’s baggage rules before finalising their shipment.

Expats working in Mumbai may receive an allowance for air- and sea freight as part of their contract and relocation package, and it's helpful to take full advantage of any airfreight allowance for essential items.

India has a strong e-commerce sector, and expats may want to buy products online while staying in Mumbai. We recommend always checking the related fees for shipping and delivery when shopping online.


Shipping pets to Mumbai

Pets are allowed to be relocated to Mumbai if they have current vaccinations and rabies shots as well as all the required paperwork. We suggest enlisting the services of a professional pet relocation company or a removal company that offers pet relocation.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mumbai

Expats moving to Mumbai are sure to have plenty of queries and concerns about their soon-to-be home. Here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Mumbai.

Is Mumbai safe?

A level of petty crime and scams common in large cities can also be encountered in Mumbai. It's best to take general precautions such as not walking alone at night and being vigilant of others. 

Terrorist attacks in 2008 and 2011 killed dozens of people. Many of the targeted locations are still frequented by foreigners, although the attacks weren't specifically aimed at them. Increased security measures in the wake of the attacks mean that Mumbai is generally safe and most expats live there without incident. Although the last major terrorist attacks were a while ago, it is important to understand that the nature of terrorist activity is unpredictable.

Where's the best place to find affordable accommodation?

Generally, properties get cheaper the further they are from the city centre, but there are exceptions. For instance, inner-city apartments could be cheaper than large freestanding houses in the suburbs. Many expats find that sharing accommodation in Mumbai is the surest way to save.

Will it be difficult to adapt to life in Mumbai?

Many new arrivals experience culture shock in Mumbai. But those who are open to learning about the local people and their customs find their time in India more worthwhile.

Do I need a car in Mumbai?

Unless one lives close to work, which is rare, most people in Mumbai will find they need a car. Mumbai is vast and accommodation is often found in suburbs away from business districts. Bad driving and congestion make for long commutes, but it's often easier to endure traffic jams in a private vehicle than on public transport in Mumbai. Many expats hire a driver and lease a car instead of buying one.

What are the schools like in Mumbai?

The standard of education in Mumbai is high, particularly in private and international schools. International schools are the most popular among expat families; they usually offer extra-curricular activities, school-bus services and special-needs education support. Note that these schools are costly and waiting lists are long – it's best to start the school search and application process as early as possible.

Getting Around in Mumbai

As one of India's busiest, most populated commercial centres, Mumbai boasts various options for getting around. While comfort is not always guaranteed and public transport is often crowded, there is a mode of transport for any route, schedule and budget.

While expats concerned about their cost of living may opt for public transport, foreigners who can afford it usually prefer private transport. That said, driving in this bustling metropolis isn't easy so most expats hire a local driver to navigate its streets.


Public transport in Mumbai

Expats moving to Mumbai will discover that the city has several modes of public transport. Mumbai's rail system consists of the metro, the Mumbai Suburban Railway and a developing monorail system, while buses operate extensively and ferries run frequently.

Metro

The Mumbai Metro currently has one line which serves 12 stations. Several additional lines are in various stages of planning, approval and construction. Carriages are air-conditioned and comfortable.

The operating route, Line 1, connects Versova in the Western Suburbs to Ghatkopar in the Central Suburbs and substantially cuts down travel time. Mumbai Metro users won't have to wait long for a train, with one arriving every three minutes during peak hours and every eight minutes during off-peak periods.

Trains

Carrying daily commuters, trains in Mumbai are one of the most popular modes of transport for the average Mumbaikar. The Mumbai Suburban Railway extensively operates four radial routes: the Western, Central, Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines.

Note that, although first-class commuter carriages are available, they are overcrowded during rush hour and the rail network may not meet all expats' standards. Stations and passenger cars are not as well maintained as in more developed countries, and there is usually no air conditioning. While the commuter rail can become a regular means of transport, the crowds and congestion may deter expats from travelling by train.

Mumbai has also been developing a monorail system, but the progress of infrastructure developments has been slow.

Buses

Bus networks in Mumbai are quite extensive but not always easy to navigate for new arrivals. Mumbai and the surrounding areas in the state of Maharashtra are served by several different companies, including Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) and Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT). Routes and timetables may vary according to each company.

Buses are an important part of the city's public transport network, allowing those working in Mumbai to commute, and connecting areas of Mumbai where other modes of transport are limited. However, overcrowding and vulnerability to traffic jams mean that few expats frequently use buses. Some buses are air-conditioned and are the recommended choice for expats that do decide to travel by bus.

Ferries

Mumbai is a coastal city in the west of India and those keen on water travel will find a boat, ferry or catamaran suitable for their needs. Mumbai Harbour not only shows off iconic views of the stone-arch monument Gateway of India, but is also a prime waterfront location to catch a ferry. Both public and private ferry services operate, though will probably be used by new arrivals who want to explore more of what there is to see and do in Mumbai rather than part of a regular commute. A popular destination accessible by ferry is Elephanta Caves – a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cave temples mainly dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.


Taxis in Mumbai

Taxis are the most common form of transport for expats travelling short distances. They can be hailed on the street, at taxi ranks or in advance over the phone. All taxis have meters and are obligated to use them – if a driver doesn't want to use theirs, expats should insist that it be turned on or otherwise catch a different taxi.

Ride-sharing and ride-hailing services and applications, such as Uber and Ola Cabs, are another option operational in Mumbai.

Auto rickshaws

Auto rickshaws are small, three-wheeled vehicles that can quickly make their way through busy traffic and are especially common across Mumbai's northern suburbs. Getting around by auto rickshaws can make for hair-raising experiences, though. On the other hand they often work out cheaper than taxis. Still, be sure to agree on a price before going anywhere.


Driving in Mumbai

Expats mostly prefer to get around using a private car in Mumbai. These can be rented through various car rental agencies where a personal driver can also be hired; employers often hire drivers for their expat employees too.

Driving can be a convenient and comfortable option, however, recent surveys have ranked Mumbai as one of the worst cities for driving in the world. While city centre parking is relatively cheap, parking spaces are hard to find, and heavy traffic means it isn't always the most efficient way of getting around.


Cycling in Mumbai

Exciting cycling initiatives have sprung up in Mumbai to tackle the relentless congestion problems. To skip the traffic, bike-sharing apps are being developed as an affordable transport alternative. Companies such as SmartBike and Yulu, whose blue bikes are becoming increasingly popular, are making riding a bicycle a more viable option.

That said, bicycle lanes are limited, although future projects for cycle paths are hopeful. Expats keen on cycling should wear a helmet and be vigilant on the roads.

We also recommend that cyclists assess their potential routes carefully. Some areas and neighbourhoods offer quieter, safer and more pleasant environments, such as along Marine Drive or further out of the city from Vasai To Virar.


Walking in Mumbai

On the one hand, walking around Mumbai can prove a challenge. There are limited footpaths and pavements are poorly maintained. Often, walking in the road is the only feasible option – though safety is highly questionable.

On the other hand, walking is one of the best ways to familiarise oneself with Mumbai and the local lifestyle, taking in the sights and visiting outdoor markets. Plus, pedestrians can avoid the frustration of standstill peak hour traffic.