Mumbai preview

India

You'll quickly discover that, overall, Mumbai is not a child-friendly city. However, if you find ways to entertain your kids, it is very possible for families to enjoy their time in Mumbai.

On the downside, Mumbai can definitely be a stressful place for parents and their children. Streets are overcrowded with cars, people, beggars, hawkers, and stray dogs. The air is polluted and hot, and there are few playgrounds or parks like those in Europe, the US, or Canada. To top it off, the incidence of contagious diseases is high, while the standards of sanitation are low, making extra precautions and vaccinations necessary. So, even though the sun shines on most days, a lot of expat families spend more time indoors than usual.

But there are positive aspects of Mumbai life for families.

Unlike in western countries, expats can hire a full-time maid or nanny for about $200.00 per month. Having domestic help in the house frees up mom to pursue work, hobbies, and social activities, or to spend more quality time with the kids.

Mothers will find support and babies will have fun at mother-baby groups. Across Mumbai, there are weekly meetings which give expat kids and their mothers a chance to socialize. Children and parents alike take refuge from the hectic city by joining clubs like the one at JW Marriott, equipped with large outdoor swimming pools, play areas for children, day care rooms, gyms, and spas. For younger children, there are several affordable preschools where kids get a head start on learning. Day care is a relatively new concept, but it is catching on with new centers opening all the time.

When it comes to school-aged children, Mumbai has a number of reputable and excellent international schools to give your children a world-class, globally recognized education. At most international schools, tuition is expensive; but if the working spouse's company covers the costs, school could be free. This is yet another aspect to negotiate when discussing your relocation package.

Another plus is the long list of possible extra-curricular activities. The international schools organize arts and crafts, sports, drama clubs, and language lessons. Social and cultural clubs offer sports facilities and coaching. Your child could also try out private lessons for Indian dancing, Hindi, yoga, ballet, and musical instruments.

There is no doubt that living in Mumbai is aggravating, particularly for families. It's best to take advantage of the unique opportunities available while living in Mumbai and to consider life in India as an invaluable, unforgettable, cultural experience which will undoubtedly expand your children's horizons - and your own.