Situated at the base of Lake Powai, 31 kilometers north of Colaba, Powai offers a greener and more peaceful life compared to other neighborhoods of frenetic Mumbai. Powai is a relatively newly developed area and is a good location for people working in the suburbs.
The area appeals mostly to families with children, due to calmer surroundings, Hiranandani Hospital, Powai Park, and easy access to shopping. Powai does not have many trendy restaurants or bars, so it might not be the most interesting place to live if you are single.
Accommodation is mainly high-rise apartment buildings. Powai is famous for Hiranandani Gardens, a large township popular with expats and wealthy Indians. A car is the most comfortable way to get around, though there are rickshaws and taxis. Traffic bottlenecks entering and leaving the area. The biggest drawback to living in Powai is the long commute to Bandra and Southern Mumbai.
Restaurants: Mostly casual Chinese and Indian restaurants and fast food joints. The Galleria Mall offers oodles of options, especially for American pizza, in its food court. Hiranandani has several popular restaurants including Spaghetti Kitchen and Chilli’s Grill and Restaurant. Delicate palates will prefer the restaurants at the five-star Renaissance Hotel and Convention Centre, one of which, Fratelli Fresh, is excellent for an Italian Sunday brunch.
Cinemas: Cinemax (Andheri East); Huma Big Cinemas (Bhandup West); Odeon Cinema (Ghatkopar)
Sports Facilities: Forest Tennis Courts behind Forest Club; Hakone Rock Climbing Wall; Talwalkars Gym; Waterstones Country Club which has a pool, squash courts, and a gym; Royal Palms Golf & Country Club; Yoga at My Healing Station.
Andheri, located 6 kilometers south-west of Powai and 29 kilometers north of Colaba, is a busy suburb bustling with over four million people. As in the majority of neighborhoods, the railroad tracks separate Andheri into two sections: Andheri West and Andheri East. The western side is primarily a residential area, while the eastern side is a combination of industrial and residential areas.
Andheri is not a top choice with expats because the selection of expat-style (i.e. modern and spacious) housing is relatively limited and because it is crowded and dirty. However, many expats work in Andheri, where foreign companies can rent office space for less than they can in south Mumbai. Because housing is cheaper than in popular suburbs such as Bandra and Juhu, some families on a budget consider living in Andheri. There are plenty of shopping centers, five star hotels, and sports facilities nearby. Close proximity to the airport is a benefit for frequent travelers and businessmen.
Public transportation includes taxis, rickshaws, buses, and trains, though private cars are the most popular with expats. Currently, the construction of flyovers is causing traffic jams in Andheri which can border on gridlock during peak morning and evening hours.
Supermarkets: Nature’s Basket; Mega Mall; HyperCity (Malad West)
Restaurants: There are many restaurants of various cuisines in Andheri from basic to casual to upmarket. Mainland China is a favorite among expats, and the five star hotels in the area house some of the best restaurants and bars in Mumbai.
Cinemas: Fun Republic; Cinemax
Sports facilities: Waterstones Country Club; Andheri Gym Khana; Fitness First; True Fitness; Gold’s Gym; The Club
Juhu is known mainly for three things: the beach, bars, and Bollywood bungalows. A ritzy suburb north of Bandra with a long strip of Arabian Sea coastline, Juhu boasts some amazing sea views, terrific restaurants and nightclubs, and dozens of fashionable shops – it’s no wonder one of the most loved actors in India, Amitabh Bachchan, makes Juhu his home.
The JW Marriott Hotel on Juhu Tara Road is a landmark where expats meet for lunch or dinner, or to swim and workout as members of Club Marriott. Juhu Beach is a popular place to get together, snack on street food, and enjoy the waters of the Arabian – even if it is polluted.
While rents are high, expats can find good or even excellent housing in high-rise buildings, some old, some new. If the flat has an unobstructed view of the Sea, expect prices to soar.
A beach and a healthy nightlife make Juhu an obvious choice for singletons, but families can set up tent in the neighborhood to be close to L’Ecole Mondiale World School, one of the Mumbai schools offering an International Baccalaureate education.
Negative aspects to living in Juhu include the smells during fish drying season in winter and traffic congestion that can double your commute.
Expats get around mainly in cars, but there are taxis, rickshaws and buses readily available.
International Schools: Ecole Mondiale World School
Supermarkets: Foodland Fresh; Willingdon Stores (Santacruz West)
Restaurants: Swanky restaurants buzzing with socialites make Juhu famous, but there are plenty of casual eateries, too. One of the best Mumbai neighborhoods for dining out.
Cinemas: PVR Juhu Dynamix
Sports facilities: 5 Fitness Club; Talwalkars Gym; JW Marriot’s gym; Club Lounge
Everyone calls Bandra the “Queen of the Suburbs” and for good reason. It’s a decidedly chic neighborhood known for its Bollywood residents, mix of old and modern buildings, and tree dotted streets. The atmosphere can seem snooty because of all the hype, though the snobbery is only really felt in certain social circles in the evenings.
During the day, Bandra is busy, noisy, and colorful – far from the serene, “white picket fence” image its nickname conjures. The streets are always swamped with people, shops, rickshaws and cars. It’s a good thing there are several green parks in the neighborhood for relaxing, and plenty of cafes and restaurants for cooling off with a drink.
The American School of Bombay and the offices at Bandra-Kurla Complex make Bandra a very attractive choice. There are several options for gyms and sports. Add to this the excellent fruits and veggies at Pali Hill Market and the much sought after imported foods at Nature’s Basket and Sante, and there’s little doubt why Bandra so proudly wears her crown.
Accommodation is mainly in apartment buildings, many of which were designed with expats in mind. But rents are often ridiculously high and even “average” rents can seem absurd. Another drawback is the air quality. Though it used to be a leafy provincial area, the neighborhood’s popularity in recent years has taken a toll, and Bandra now suffers some of the worst air pollution in Mumbai. In spite of this, Bandra is likely to remain a favorite amongst expats, at least for the next couple of years.
Supermarkets: Nature’s Basket; Choice Food Land; Sante; Magnet
Restaurants: Bandra goes hand in hand with Juhu when it comes to restaurants and attracts the same melange of celebrities, social butterflies, and expats. There are many excellent restaurants serving up a wide variety of cuisines.
Cinemas: Suburbia Cinema; Cinemax
Worli and Lower Parel
Worli and Lower Parel have grown into each other so much that Lower Parel is now sometimes called Upper Worli. Because Worli is the main area of the two where expats live, Worli is discussed in detail while only practical information is listed for Lower Parel.
After crossing the Sealink coming from Bandra, you arrive at the beginning of Mumbai City, namely, Worli. It’s mostly a commercial area with big malls and big businesses, like Tata and HDFC Bank. Most of Worli’s residential areas are for low-income families, though there are prime high-rise buildings along the Worli Seaface which only the rich can afford; as an expat, you might be considered among “the rich.”
Due to its central location, expats find it convenient to live in Worli, which is 30-45 minutes from Colaba, about an hour from the airports, and only a 10 minute Sealink ride away from Bandra. (Remember that the traffic moves like molasses, so an hour isn’t that long to commute by Mumbai standards.) Worli is convenient to shopping at big malls like Atria Millenium Mall or the mall at High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel. And with an abundance of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and fitness clubs in Worli, you’ll be busy night and day.
For families with school aged children, Worli is home to L’Ecole Francaise Internationale de Bombay (the French International School). If French isn’t of interest, then Worli is also within reasonable distance from the American School of Bombay and the Dhirubhai Ambani International School.
Drawbacks: Because it is so commercial, there are no large, green areas immediately in the area. Traffic, as in most places, is heavy. The Bombay Development Department chawls are old converted prison buildings located in Worli, where many low and middle income locals live. The government has been contemplating knocking down the buildings for years, and if and when they do start that project, Worli could be messy for quite some time.
Transportation includes cars, buses, and taxis.
International Schools: L’Ecole Francaise Internationale de Bombay
Supermarkets: Nature’s Basket; Big Bazaar; Food Bazaar; Reliance Fresh
Restaurants: Worli has a good range of restaurants; many are Chinese or Indian. Shiro is a favored pan-Asian restaurant located behind the Bombay Dyeing Mills in Worli.
Cinemas: Geeta Cinema; Satyam Cinema
Sports facilities: Willingdon Club; Gold’s Gym; 3 D Fitness Studio; Your Fitness Club
International Schools: L’Ecole Francaise Internationale de Bombay
Supermarkets: Big Bazaar; Food Bazaar; Reliance Fresh; Reliance Super
Restaurants: Mostly casual Asian or Indian food and fast food. Shiro offers sushi and Indigo Deli in Lower Parel is worth a visit.
Cinemas: PVR Cinema; Deepak Cinema
Sports facilities: Power House Gym; Fizzique Fitness and Health Spa; Talwalkars Gym
Long before Bandra and Juhu were the trendiest neighborhoods, there was Breach Candy. Breach Candy was once a quiet, green area with the bungalows and mansions of the British colonial residents and wealthy Indians. It has remained an area for well-to-do expats, though it now sprouts more high-rise buildings than trees. Nevertheless, Breach Candy certainly is one of the prettier parts of the city with gorgeous views of the Arabian Sea.
The Breach Candy Swimming Club and Breach Candy Hospital, leftover from British rule, are two highly regarded establishments which attract expats. Many British couples, especially those who have lived in Mumbai as expatriates for many years, reside here and frequent the Club. The neighborhood is also home to the US Consulate, which of course is appealing to those working there.
The main drawback is the sheer expense of living in Breach Candy. Buying and renting property in the area is prohibitive to most expats moving to Mumbai. There is also a long commute to the airports from Breach Candy, which may be a deal breaker for frequent fliers.
Transportation is mainly by car, taxi, and bus. The Mumbai Central Train Station is very close by.
International Schools: NSS Hill Spring International School
Supermarkets: Nature’s Basket; Reliance Fresh Signature Store; Shanti Supermarket
Restaurants: Not many restaurants in the area, besides those at Breach Candy Club. Try visiting Worli, Fort, Nariman Point, Churchgate, and Colaba for a wide selection.
Cinemas: Dreamland Cinema; INOX (Nariman Point)
Sports facilities: Breach Candy Club; Moksh Wellness Place; Talwalkars Gym
If Bandra is the “Queen of the Suburbs,” then Malabar Hill is the “King of the City.” Real estate sells at an astonishing Rs. 60,000 per square foot in this high-market neighborhood, which fittingly towers over the rest of Mumbai atop a hill.
Needless to say, only the richest of the rich can afford to live in Malabar Hill. The Chief Minister of Maharastra is one resident, as are several successful businessmen and Bollywood actors. Accommodation is mainly high-rise and luxurious apartment buildings with beautiful views of the city and sea. It’s a quiet area with a lake, a temple, and a sense of calmness otherwise nonexistent in Bombay. Kamala Nehru Park and the Hanging Gardens are the best places for greenery.
Transportation is mainly by car and taxi. Mumbai Central Train Station is about 4 kilometers away.
International Schools: NSS Hill Spring International School
Supermarkets: Foodland Fresh; Rajat Food Mart; Cafe Ridge; City Market; Reliance Fresh
Restaurants: Venture off of the hill for restaurants and nightlife, both easily found in Worli, Fort, Nariman Point, Churchgate, and Colaba.
Cinemas: Metro Cinema; Eros Cinema (Churchgate); INOX (Nariman Point)
Sports facilities: Gold’s Gym; Breach Candy Club; Malabar Hill Club
When tourists come to Mumbai, they make a beeline for Colaba, the heart of Mumbai’s shopping district. In addition to shopping on the Causeway, Colaba is defined by its old British style buildings, busy streets jammed with black and yellow taxis, and a million choices for restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs. This touristy neighborhood is also home to the Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. Just north of Colaba is the Central Business District of Mumbai, and the extreme southern part is reserved for the military and navy.
Because so much is concentrated in Colaba, there is not much room for residential areas or parks. The existing apartments and houses, a mix of old and new, are very overpriced. It is a great place to meet with friends, but due to the prices and relatively limited choices, most expats choose to live elsewhere and to visit Colaba for shopping, dining, and partying.
A major consideration is the distance from the airport, which can easily be an hour or two depending on traffic.
Transportation is by car and taxi. The nearest railway station is at Churchgate.
International Schools: Closest is NSS Hill Spring International School
Supermarkets: Nature’s Basket; Colaba Supermarket; Conscious Food
Restaurants: Colaba is full of high-end, trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes. Indian, Asian, and European, and American cuisines.
Cinemas: Regal Cinema; Eros Cinema (Churchgate)
Sports facilities: Your Fitness Club; YMCA; Fitness First; Taj Spa; Gold’s Gym