Where in Mumbai should I live?

Deciding where to live in Mumbai is a challenge. Rents are among the highest in the world. Traffic congestion is a serious concern. And the generally low quality of accommodation is probably not what you’re used to. You will find suitable living arrangements in Mumbai, as long as you are determined and patient. Here are some key factors to help you narrow down your options:

Proximity to…

  • Work and School: Choose an area convenient for your daily commutes. In Mumbai, a distance of 15-20 kilometers can easily mean an hour in traffic. Take a test drive or ride from the neighborhood you are considering to your office or the kids’ school. Go during peak morning or evening hours for a realistic estimate.
  • Green areas: Green spaces are limited in Mumbai. If you have children or a dog, a park for playing and running is a nice bonus. Beware of mosquitoes, though.
  • Clubs: Because it is a hot, polluted, crowded city, many Mumbai expats seek refuge in a country club for relaxation. Living close to your club will cut down on commuting.
  • A good hospital: Three reputable hospitals include Lilavati Hospital in Bandra West, Hiranandani Hospital in Powai, and Breach Candy Hospital. The Quality Council of India lists accredited facilities: http://www.qcin.org
  • Shopping: There aren’t many areas with a severe shortage of shops, but living close to an international food store or a large supermarket may help you feel more at home.
  • Airports: Frequent fliers will want to live close to the Domestic or International airports in Mumbai, both located in northern Mumbai (Vile Parle).

Also consider…

  • Flooding: Poor drainage systems, particularly in the suburbs, leads to flooding during monsoon season. Avoid living on the 1st floor of a building and on streets known to flood.
  • Slums: An astounding 55% of the Mumbai population live in the slums. Living near a large slum, such as Dharavi, would mean contending with strong and toxic odors.
  • Noise: Even in the suburbs, noise is something to think about. If you live on a busy street, expect to be kept up at night by constant honking.
  • Construction Work: If a neighboring structure is about to be torn down or renovated, it will be noisy and dusty. If a new building is popping up in front of your living room window, your view will change.

City or Suburbs?

Choosing between the suburbs in northern Mumbai and the city in southern Mumbai will depend on your personal situation – your budget, your office location, whether you have chilldren, how long you are willing to commute, and so on. As a rule of thumb, prices increase as you head south. Traffic from north to south is very heavy in the mornings; and, subsequently, traffic from south to north is very heavy in the evenings.

Northern Suburbs – Powai, Andheri, Juhu, Bandra

The northern suburbs of Mumbai are popular with expats, particularly those with children. Rent tends to be cheaper the further north you go. Powai is close to the airport, a lake, Hiranandani Hospital, the Renaissance Hotel club, and lots of large shopping centers. Juhu is famous for its beach, the JW Marriot Hotel and club facilities, “The Club” on Link Road, and many restaurants and shops. Bandra is nicknamed the “queen of the suburbs” and offers green parks, Joggers Park along the ocean, and a great selection of shops and restaurants. Bandra is also home to the American School of Bombay and the Bandra-Kurla Complex.

Central Mumbai City – Worli, Lower Parel

Central Mumbai can offer you walks along the seaside, supermarkets, specialty stores, bars and nightclubs, and restaurants. You can also go bowling, play a round of golf at the Willingdon Sports Club, or shop at the Phoenix Mills shopping center. Mid-range to expensive accommodation.

Southern Mumbai City – Malabar Hill, Breach Candy, Colaba

Southern Mumbai, also called downtown Mumbai, has the most expensive real estate and the most affluent expats. This is where you’ll find the business district, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the famous Taj Mahal Palace and tower, the Gateway to India, and Mumbai University. High-end hotels, shops, restaurants, and accommodation abound.

For more detailed information, see “Areas to Live in.”