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Advice on possible move to Bangalore

(9 Posts)
AlberodiMele Thu 09-May-13 07:16:40

My DH has been offered the possibility to move to Bangalore with his company on an initial 2 year contract. We currently live in a small Italian village with our DC (6 and 9) and the thought of moving to India is both excititing and terrifying. I haven't really travelled outside Europe and have no idea of what it would be like and the kids are used to a very free, outside lifestyle and a small village where they know everyone. I know anywhere would be a culture shock after here and don't want to completely ruin their lives.

So any advice from the experts would be very welcome. What is it actually like to live in a big Indian city as regards safety, hygiene and quality of lifestyle? In your opinion, is the experience worth the possible compromises?

If anyone can offer me any wise words, I would be so grateful. Thank you!

PoppyAmex Thu 09-May-13 07:28:15

I lived in Chennai/ Madras for a while (husband was on a project there) and felt it was very challenging.

I've lived and worked in a few places around the world and must say I struggled a bit in India, but I know some people love it.

We were also living full-time in a (very good) hotel, but that means we didn't get the potential benefits of living in a proper house/neighbourhood etc. so my experience is not that typical.

Either way it will be a HUGE difference from a small village in Italy, OP grin

PoppyAmex Thu 09-May-13 07:30:22

Sorry meant to ask, would you be allowed to go for a rec. visit first?

AlberodiMele Thu 09-May-13 08:06:48

Thanks for replying Poppy. We would be allowed a visit but much further down the line when we have more or less decided. What did you find more challenging about India if I can be nosy? I think what worries me most is that here the kids just open the door and go and they are outside all the time for most of the year. Anywhere else would be a huge difference from here as we are basically still living in the 1950s but maybe throwing them into a huge metropolis is not the best way to introduce them to the modern world smile

Helpyourself Thu 09-May-13 10:16:25

Honestly. Snap judgment, simple yes or no with no if you can do x and great so long as y... No!
It could be amazing if you're happy with education, transport- driver? the climate.

karmakameleon Thu 09-May-13 11:36:45

DH and I have just returned from an 18 month assignment in Bangalore. Overall we enjoyed our time there but now we're back in London we don't miss the city one bit iyswim. Although we had a great lifestyle there in many ways, it was a difficult city to live in and you need to be prepared for that if you do go.

First thing I'd say is make sure the finances stack up. A lot of people assume that India is a cheap place to live but this isn't necessarily so. For example, our rent in bangalore was similar to the amount we paid in London. We got a bigger place for it but when we were looking at properties there wasn't anything we liked that was cheaper. When I say anything we liked, I am talking about fairly basic things like western style bathrooms and kitchen with mod cons and adequate security. Also international schools are costly so make sure they will be paid for as part of your package. Your expat package should ideally also include a driver and car as you won't manage without one day to day.

In terms of lifestyle, most people with families tend to favour the gated communities in Whitefields. They are generally modern developments with a number of villas on a secure site, usually with shared facilities like outdoor pool, gym, club house and sometimes tennis courts etc. If you live in one of these, you will probably know most of your neighbours (who will be other expats or wealthy Indians) and your children will be able to play outside with minimal supervision. Most people living in these sorts of developments wouldn't worry too much about locking their doors if they are in or around the house. You will also probably have a maid and driver around who will keep an eye on the property and provide a bit of extra security. The main security risk is petty theft so for example if you have workmen you don't know in, you or your maid should keep an eye on them as this is usually when thefts occur.

With regards to schools, there are two or three international schools which most of the expats favour. Our DS isn't of school age so I have no direct experience but everyone we knew was very happy with the schooling.

I notice that you said that your children currently have a outdoorsy lifestyle and wanted to warn you that this was one of the things I really missed in India. There is very little green open space and the streets outside the gated communities are dirty and unsafe (lack of pavements, bad traffic, no safe places to cross etc) so it wasn't really possible to go for a walk. I think without exception if you asked most of my friends there what they missed most about home, after family and friends, they would all say going for a walk or going to the park.

On the plus side, Bangalore has the most amazing restaurants, with a huge variety of different cuisines available and very reasonable prices. We ate very well while we were there. The climate is fantastic, usually between 25 and 30C, with very little rainfall (there tend to be some short showers during rainy season. And there are pretty good links to the rest of Asia for holidays. Most people who want a break from India will either book a weekend in Singapore or a few days in Thailand. We also had short breaks in Hong Kong and the Maldives while we were there. Some expat packages will include an allowance for flights home, which you can either use to go home or instead use to travel in Asia like we did.

I hope that is helpful, let me know if you have any other questions.

AlberodiMele Thu 09-May-13 11:56:01

Thank you so much everyone for your advice. We are going to do some more research and find out exactly what would be included in the package before making a decision. I think my gut feeling is saying that it's not really for us this time though.

PoppyAmex Thu 09-May-13 11:58:29

Alber I'm pleased that you got a really good, detailed reply from karma as she has a lot more experience of "normal" life in a large Indian city than me.

In answer to your question, life there just felt very claustrophobic as we were somewhat restricted to hotels / shopping centers / expat homes / restaurants and I really struggled with not being able to just go for a walk.

As karma mentioned, the streets often don't have pavements, the roads are seriously dangerous and you often have to avoid open sewers.

Having said that, we had a driver each and were able to travel and go places, but never just out for a walk.

The other thing I disliked was the climate - I come from Portugal and am used to very high temperatures (up to 42C) and I lived in Sydney for 10 years, which can be humid in the summer, but I found the humidity in India very unpleasant at times. I felt I constantly needed a shower.

There are also obvious cultural differences; I got used to people approaching you constantly, demanding tips/handouts and telling you horrible stories about their children/family lives. I probably struggled with this aspect the most, but I'm a wuss and noticed most expats were pretty practiced in being assertive and ignoring.

On the plus side, it is a unique experience and your children might actually get a lot from it (I didn't have any at the time) and like karma says you're in a really good position to travel both within the country (Kingfisher airline is really good) and to surrounding countries.

Good luck with your decision!

QuintessentialOHara Thu 09-May-13 12:12:58

We did not do it the way Karma did, but lived on the first floor flat of a house in a very native neighborhood. Dh had a pretty normal life just going to work and coming home in the evening, but I had a very isolated experience with ds1 who was 20 months at the time. I made no friends. I chatted with the ladies downstairs, our landlords, and they were really nice and friendly. But they never left their property unless accompanied by their husbands, so I had nobody to go shopping with, or just explore the city with. Or even go to the park with. The local children were keen to talk to ds, they would follow us around the park, trying to stroke and cuddle him, which was great fun for him!

The other challenge was shopping. In my district, there were no big grocery stores, and it was difficult to find food that ds would eat. I found it difficult to cook from scratch with food and veg I did not know, bread was a problem. My kitchen was very basic with just a one hob burner, and no oven, as this was not common in a traditional Indian house.

We did it cheaply, paid just £90 per month for a two bed two bath flat, with a nice balcony, plenty of monkeys to steal our laundry wink, and the use of landlords garden. We stopped using the local laundry man when I found my undies and sheets spread across some local sand heaps and bushes, together with the local stray dog population.

Having said that, it was an experience! grin

For millions of reasons I would advice you to live in a "compound" like Karma, I was always saying if we return to Bangalore, this is what we would do. We did research this for a second stay, and found that rent was extortionate.

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