An Expat's Guide to Mumbai
Mumbai offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle dripped in the colors and flavors of India
With the Indian economy growing at the pace it is, the metropolis of Mumbai, being the financial capital of the country, has become a preferred destination for foreigners from the world over. A cosmopolitan lifestyle dripped in the colors and flavors of India, residing in Mumbai makes up for an amazing experience, an incredible escapade for the expatriates, something to cherish for a lifetime.
Since it is quite a difficult task for an expat to buy freehold property in Mumbai and the rents are quite steep, the struggle for an abode can be quite intense. So, if you are an expat and looking for accommodation, consulting a real estate agent, local classified ads in newspapers or searching online on the many real estate sites that specialize in rental properties could be some options for you. But the best thing is to ask your company/other expats for recommendations based on their own experiences.
Proximity to workplace, recreational facilities, medical care, shopping and schools (for expats with kids) could be some factors that help you in choosing the ideal area of residence.
Listed below are 5 areas in Mumbai which, in our opinion, are the best places for expats to live in and feel the vibrancy and liveliness of the Maximum City.
Also called the ‘Queen of Suburbs’, Bandra is a hub of activities and is known for its bars, pubs, restaurants, designer home stores and for the residences of many Bollywood stars. With long sea fronts with promenades and places like Pali Hill, Bandstand and Carter Road, it is one of the posh areas of Mumbai.
Ideally located between the old South Mumbai and new North Mumbai and housing the Bandra Kurla Complex (the new financial hub of Mumbai) along with many corporate houses and NGOs, Bandra continues to be the favorite haunt of expats in Mumbai, though the rentals here have skyrocketed.
Restaurants: Italian-Café Bascilio (St John Road), Café- The Bagel Shop (off Carter Road), Multi-cuisine-Candies (Pali Hill), Continental- Indigo Delicatessen (Pali Naka), Fast Food- McDonalds (Linking Road), Oriental- Hakkasan (Waterfield Road)
Bars and Pubs: Lemon Grass (Turner Road), Hawaiian Shack (Linking Road), I Bar (Bandra Reclamation), Mangiamo (Off Linking Road), Escobar (Linking Road)
Attractions: Fort Castella de Aguada, Church of Mount Mary, Joggers Park
Wellness: Gold Gym (Pali Naka), Bambooo Tree All Day Spaa (Pali Hill), Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga (Carter Road),
International Schools: Dhirubhai Ambani International School (Bandra-Kurla Complex), American School of Bombay (Bandra-Kurla Complex)
A comparatively newer suburb of Mumbai, Powai is at the base of Lake Powai and has on offer a lifestyle which is more tranquil when compared to other developed suburbs of Mumbai. With plenty of greenery and calmer environs, the area appeals mostly to families with children. If you are single and look for “action” then Powai might not tempt you as “real happening” bars, pubs and restaurants are relatively scarce here.
The Hiranandani Gardens, a large planned township in Powai with medical facilities, parks, clubs, schools, malls and restaurants all within the gates of the township, is popular with the expats. But a big problem could be commuting from here to the southern and western suburbs, which is time consuming, cumbersome and energy sapping.
Restaurants: Italian- Café Mangii (Hiranandani Business Park), Café- Gloria Jean’s Coffee (Hiranandani Gardens), Multi-cuisine- Lake View Café (Renaissance Mumbai Convention Hotel), Continental- Out of the Blue (Haiko Mall), Fast Food- Smokin’ Joe’s (Vikhroli Link Road), Oriental- Mainland China (Hiranandani Business Park).
Bars and Pubs: Rude Lounge (Nr Shipping Corp Main Gate), Mia Cucina (Hiranandani Business Park)
Markets: Galleria Shopping Mall (Nr Hiranandani Gardens), Haiko Mall (Hiranandani Gardens)
Attractions: Powai Lake, Heritage Gardens, Nirvana Park
Wellness: Aura Thai Spa (Orchard Ave.), Panacea- Healing Spa (Adi Shankaracharya Marg), My Healing Station (Mangalam Society)
International Schools: Hiranandani Foundation School (Hiranandani Gardens)
The most affluent of the suburbs in Mumbai, Juhu is famous for its beach as well as for the residences of the rich and the famous. It is a relatively small, but fashionable neighborhood and houses many high-end hotels with stylish restaurants and hip boutiques.
Though Juhu offers the expats a similar lifestyle to Bandra, the rents here are a touch lower than what they are in Bandra. A popular choice of residence among the expats here are the apartments in high rise buildings with excellent sea views. Flooding roads during monsoons and heavy traffic congestion could act as dampeners, though.
Restaurants: Italian- Don Giovanni (Opp Juhu Church), Café- Costa Coffee (Gulmohar Road, JVPD), Multi cuisine- Pebbles (Juhu Residency Boutique Hotel), Continental- Aurus (Juhu Tara Road), Fast Food- Subway (Juhu Tara Road), Oriental- Bora Bora (Juhu Tara Road)
Bars and Pubs: Twist Lounge (JM Road), The Ark (Juhu Tara Road), Trilogy (Hotel Sea Princess)
Markets: Dynamix Mall (JVPD Scheme), Godrej Nature’s Basket (Juhu Tara Road)
Attractions: Juhu Beach, Versova Beach, ISKON Temple.
Wellness: Myrah Spa (JVPD Scheme), Aura Thai Spa (Sea View Apt, Juhu Road), Berkowits (JVPD Scheme), Power House Gym (JVPD Scheme)
International Schools: Ecole Mondiale World School (JVPD Scheme), Bilabong High International School (JVPD Scheme), RIMS International School and Junior College (Juhu Tara Road)
Primarily a commercial area and erstwhile mill land, Worli has over years transformed itself into a major residential area as well. It is strategically located between Bandra and South Mumbai and is home to some great sports clubs like the National Sports Club of India. The sea facing promenade with many iconic buildings alongside is a preferred hang around for the locals as well as the expats. A range of shopping, entertainment and eating options are available in and around Worli.
Restaurants: Italian- Santino's Pizza and Pasta (Atria Mall), Café- Café Noorani (Haji Ali), Multi cuisine-Barbeque Nation (Atria Mall), Continental- Aer (Four Seasons Hotel), Fast Food- Paninaro (Atria Mall), Oriental- Shiro (Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound)
Bars and Pubs: Hard Rock Café (Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound), Two One Two Bar and Grill (Opp Nehru Centre), Vinoteca By Sula (Dr Annie Besant Road), Ivy Wine Café and Bistro (Dr Annie Besant Road)
Markets: Atria Millennium Mall (Dr Annie Besant Road), Crossroads Mall (Dr Annie Besant Road)
Wellness: Kaasha Spa (Worli Sea Face Road), i-Gym (Pochkhanwala Road)
International Schools: Ecole Francaise Internationale de Bombay (Pochkhanwala Road), DY Patil International School (Adarsh Nagar)
The most populous and arguably the largest suburb in Mumbai, Andheri which once had just an expansive series of bungalows has now transformed into an area with trendy restaurants and shopping arcades. The Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport is also in this area.
Like most of the other suburbs, Andheri too is divided into East and West sections by the railway lines. The station is in fact one of the busiest in Mumbai and during office hours the sheer magnitude of humanity travelling southwards could be a frightful experience for most expats.
Andheri West is largely residential whereas Andheri East has a mixture of commercial as well as residential properties. The Lokhandwala Complex is one of the largest residential complexes in the suburb and is home to many expats.
Restaurants: Italian- Mesa Bistro (Svenska Hotel), Café- The Chocolate Room (off Link Road), Multi cuisine- Drunken Munkey (Veera Desai Road), Continental- Alfredo’s (New Link Road), Fast Food- Pizza Hut (Lokhandwala), Oriental- Mainland China (Off Link Road)
Bars and Pubs: Firangi Paani (Fun Republic), TGI Fridays (Infiniti Mall), Apicius (Off Link Road)
Markets: Infiniti Mall (Lokhandwala), Fun Repulic (New Link Road), Mega Mall (Link Road)
Attractions: Andheri Sports Complex, Mahakali Caves, Vanchasiddhi Vinayaka temple
Wellness: Myo Thai Spa (Nr Mega Mall), The Golden Tree Spa (Lokhandwala), Gold’s Gym (Nr Wellington Business Park)
International Schools: Ryan Global School (Yamuna Nagar)
So, what are you waiting for? Now armed with this small overview of Mumbai and its expat friendly areas, it is probably time for you to take a deep breath and embrace the chaotic lifestyle that Mumbai so lovingly seems to engulf you into.