Saunders 1865 | Moving to Mumbai

Moving to Mumbai

Are you moving to Mumbai? Previously known as Bombay, the city resides on what was originally seven marshy islands on the west coast that were reclaimed during the 18th century by the British.  Using progressive large-scale engineering projects, the city was reshaped and became a major trading port, exporting products all over the world.  The iconic Gateway of India, built in 1924 by the British Raj, stands on the Mumbai Harbour waterfront.

It is the capital city of the state of Maharashtra and was renamed Mumbai in 1995.  Currently, it rates the most populous city in India and 4th in the world.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Mumbai report includes info on:

• The best areas to live
• The good schools
• The average monthly rental prices
• The excellent public transport system in the city

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Putting Mumbai on the Map

Previously known as Bombay, the city resides on what was originally seven marshy islands on the west coast that were reclaimed during the 18th century by the British.  Using progressive large-scale engineering projects, the city was reshaped and became a major trading port, exporting products all over the world.  The iconic Gateway of India, built in 1924 by the British Raj, stands on the Mumbai Harbour waterfront.

It is the capital city of the state of Maharashtra and was renamed Mumbai in 1995.  Currently, it rates the most populous city in India and 4th in the world.

This cosmopolitan metropolis is home to around 21 million people, a veritable melting-pot of nationalities and religions, co-existing under the nickname of Mumbaikars.

Also making its mark, Mumbai is fondly named the city of dreams, with the multi-billion dollar film industry, Bollywood, resident here.  It all began in 1896 with silent movies, the name is a mix of Bombay and Hollywood, and has mushroomed into a hugely popular art form.

Efficiently well connected, air, road and rail transportation interfaces the city with the whole of the sub-continent.  The major international airport was initially Santa Cruz Airport and Sahar Airport.  Three miles apart, the former is now Terminal One for domestic travel, the latter, Terminal Two for international travel.  There is a free shuttle service between them for ticket-holding passengers only.  Collectively known as Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, there are various options to reach suburbs or the city centre.  The most convenient would be the taxis, who will take you to wherever you need to be.  There are two types of taxis; metered and prepaid.  Prepaid is recommended, as you will know what you are in for, and the ticket office is in the arrivals hall inside the airport.  The railway is terribly busy and crowded and the bus service is not located at the airport, meaning that a taxi or rickshaw ride would be necessary to reach the terminal.  It can take between 40 minutes and 2 hours to reach the city, depending on the usually hectic traffic.

Over 88% of the city’s commuters use public transport consisting of rapid transport rail lines which serve the suburbs, the bus service which is the largest such network in Indian cities, ferry services, rickshaws, and a metro and a monorail have recently been added, along with a commercial seaplane service.

The majority of expats employ a full-time private driver.

The Areas

With a population that’s growing daily, it is vital that you choose the right location with good proximity to schools and the workplace.  Mumbai traffic is hectic, the public transport system is jammed with commuters most of the time, but definitely during rush hour peaks.  Air conditioning is essential in the accommodation you choose as Mumbai is hot and humid all year round.


Locally know as the queen of suburbs, Bandra is the most popular place to live in Mumbai.  Home to Bollywood and sports stars such as the much-loved Indian cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, this area is the elite of the elite.

With well over 80 International Schools in and around Bandra, encompassing play schools, primaries, secondaries and tertiary education, it is also close to many international companies located in West and East Bandra.  Transport links are also excellent.

There is an abundance of green areas, with jogging paths and children’s playgrounds, which along with the beach offer great options to escape from the traffic and the everyday hustle and bustle.

Housing a variety of cafes, restaurants, clubs and shopping area, this lively, buzzing area would meet most expats’ needs.

As one of the more cosmopolitan areas of Mumbai, mixed and unmarried couples and single women will have an easier time of finding suitable housing here, unlike the rest of conservative Mumbai.


This green, clean, leafy suburb is undoubtedly the most refined area in Mumbai with its colonial buildings and green areas.  It was forest until the end of the 18th Century.  More suited to the older set or those who have lived in the city for a long time, there are fewer restaurants and other entertainment outlets than in Bandra.

Retaining its exclusivity and lack of traffic, Malabar is a destination location, at the end of the road.  The bungalows of old have been demolished to make way for high-rise apartments, their gardens used for widening the roads.  With gorgeous sea views over Giraum Chaupathi, Nariman Point and Back Bay this southern-Mumbai area is home to business tycoons and Indian superstars and is rated one of the most expensive residential areas in the world.

There is more than a handful of good International schools, swish boutiques, and shopping centres.


Situated in the central suburbs of Mumbai on the banks of Powai Lake, this area was meticulously planned, including schools, parks, and hospitals.  Lacking an Indian feel, with three storey malls, cafes, playgrounds and grocery shops making it feel more Western than the other crowded suburbs.  This is an area favoured by expats and with its access to great schools, families tend to reside here.  The downside is that it is a fair way out of central Mumbai.


Home to one the most expensive housing markets in the world, with plenty of Indian millionaires residing here, South Mumbai is much sought after, making rental apartments very difficult to find.  Situated in the heart of the city, old and grand British architecture is still the order of the day.  The main commercial and financial enterprises are here, including the Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank.  Land on this reclaimed peninsula is at an all-time premium due to the acute lack of available real estate.

Uninterrupted power supply is a good reason for living here, it is the only area in Mumbai not to suffer frequent power outages.

There are numerous sports fields, and some of the best schools in the country are based here.


Offering affordable, plentiful housing with great transport links to other areas, Goregaon is now an important residential location.  With a wealth of international schools including St Thomas High School, local cuisine, and worldwide food franchises, this huge suburb is located in the northwest of the city.  Greater interest has developed in this up and coming area, with two major film studios moving here, and many business tower blocks being constructed.


This is the largest Mumbai suburb, and once was a rambling series of houses.  However, massive development has created a trendy, vibey area with shopping centres and restaurants. Large residential complexes, one of the largest being Lokhandwala, offers modern homes with close proximity to the new Infiniti mall.

With one of the busiest train stations in the city, the morning rush may be too much for expats to handle.  But the trains arrive frequently and efficiently covering the 15 miles to the city centre, albeit with jam-packed carriages.

There are a number of international schools in the suburb.

Who lives and works in Mumbai

Home to the major financial institutions such as the stock exchange and the reserve bank, with most of Indian big business and multinationals having their registered offices and corporate headquarters here, Mumbai features in the world’s top ten centres of commerce, in terms of global financial flow.  It is the entertainment and commercial centre of India.  It also has the country’s busiest sea and airports, with the seaport handling well over half of the country’s maritime cargo.  Multinational corporations include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Abbott Healthcare, Bausch and Lomb, Mahindra, Motorola, Faber Castell, Astra Zeneca, Morgan Stanley, CitiBank, Societe Generale,  Deutsche Bank and HSBC, Barclays and American Express, to name but a few.

The Hindi TV and film industry is based here, familiarly known as Bollywood.

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has developed specialised business parks in areas that surround the capital, and other cities in the province.  These developments include biotech, chemicals, electronics, IT, pharmaceuticals, textiles, waste recycling, consumer durables, engineering, transportation, wine, automobiles and components, and petrochemicals.

The Best Bits

Mumbai boasts a low crime rate, with a relatively low cost of living along with the variety of living in such a diverse city.  There is never a reason to be bored in this busy, pulsating metropolis.

  • Elephanta Island (or Gharapuri) is 6.2 miles east of the city and features amazing sculpted caves.
  • The Gateway of India, built in the 20th century, towers over the waterfront and overlooks the Arabian Sea in Apollo Bunder, South Mumbai.
  • The EsselWorld amusement park in Gorai, along Water Kingdom, offer great fun for the kids and adults alike.
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park, spread over 40 square miles, provides a tranquil retreat from the city. With walking trails and a man-made lake for boating, the mini train ride, the Kanheri caves – an ancient Buddist cave development, and, saving the best for last, the Tiger and Lion Safari, seen from the vantage of a closed vehicle in a simulated wild landscape, you will forget that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world.
  • Chowpatty Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the vicinity. Amuse yourself with dancing monkeys, fortune tellers, camel and horse rides, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds and shooting galleries.  You may even be lucky enough to see a live movie location while you are there.
  • Learn about the many local cultures by visiting the many temples scattered around the capital.
  • The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is a vast museum, telling the history of the region.
  • Mainly due to Bollywood there are numerous cinemas and theatres.

Marine Drive, fondly known as the Queen’s Necklace because at night the long stretch of lights looks like a pearl necklace, is the 1,5-mile long coastline bordering the Arabian Sea, flanked by palm trees.  Fun in the sun in the daylight hours, peace and solitude in the evening.

Bringing the Kids

One must be careful when registering children into the international school system, as many local schools have merely tagged the word ‘international’ to the school name.  Thoroughly investigate the curriculum, the food served in the cafeteria and the qualifications of the teaching staff.

The local international schools, of which there are many, appear to be tending towards employing a Western culture, maybe due to the fact that the majority of teachers are Indian who have trained according to exacting international standards.

An entrance exam in English and Maths, and an interview with a group of incoming children interacting, whilst being observed by the school psychologist, will be required.  Most international schools offer a mix of IGCSE (the international form of GSCE) and ICSE, being a combination of new local and the old British system.  The others provide education based on the complete international curriculum from primary to A’ Levels.

The Association of Indian Universities recognises the International Baccalaureate, and this applies to all the universities in India.

The University of Mumbai was established in 1857, and rates in the top three in India.  It was awarded Five Star status by the local accreditation council and has two campuses, two post-grad centres, 36 departments and 354 affiliated colleges.

There are a number of universities and colleges in the city and surrounds, offering education in a vast variety of subjects.

Relocating to Mumbai

With its variety of cultures, a great education system, a reasonably low cost of living, the busy, hectic streets, foreign languages and religions, Mumbai is an exciting and fascinating relocation city.

Even with a large expat community, settling in may be problematic.  But once you have a solid grounding on what to expect and the pitfalls to watch out for, it can be an eye-opening and exhilarating experience.  Make sure that you are fully prepared for the move by enlisting expert help from an experienced relocation company.  Saunders 1865 provides expert on-the-ground knowledge, smoothing the way with accommodation advice and lease negotiations, enrolling the kids in the right schools, managing your move from A to Z, and aiding in all the form-filling and immigration procedures.


Affordable homes icon
Affordable Homes
City Centre
Family friendly
Good Schools
Average Monthly Rent - Mumbai
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre 36,515 Rs
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre 18,866 Rs
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre 102,000 Rs
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre 43,838 Rs
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