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Located in western India, Mumbai is the peninsula city that has become India’s most important business centre, a key contender for the region's most cosmopolitan city and a major drawcard for expats. Known as the City of Dreams in India, Mumbai boasts uber modern skyscrapers, views of the Arabian Sea and the iconic Gateway Of India, not to mention a lovely year-round climate. It is culturally and commercially vibrant, humming with possibility and the knowledge that anything can be achieved when hard work and self-belief are applied.
Over the years, Mumbai's development has exploded and transformed the city into a key international metro. The city, formerly known as Bombay, is home to Bollywood and is a hub for entertainment and fashion sectors. In the flurry of booming industries and banking and financial giants, the city has elbowed into the international business big league and become a major expat destination.
With rapid development comes contradictions and conflicts. First among these is a chronic housing crisis that has created one of the most expensive property markets in the world. Even well-paid expats often have difficulty finding suitable accommodation in Mumbai. Expats will find traffic congestion in Mumbai to be quite intense, and while using public transport in the city is an adventure, it could become a struggle on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, many expats find that hiring a driver is an affordable option.
India's massive wealth gap is highly apparent in Mumbai, where some of the country's richest people live in deluxe apartment complexes in affluent neighbourhoods looking out onto its poorest slums. Mumbai is a city where IT millionaires, chic hotels and boutique restaurants exist in close proximity to shanty towns, beggars and open sewage; where luxury cars are gridlocked into chaotic traffic jams alongside wooden carts and auto rickshaws.
Those moving to Mumbai with children will be pleased to find a large number of international schools specialising in a range of different national curricula. Education is a priority for the local population and, as a result, expats have a range of private schools to choose from as well.
Expats who are initially put off by the city's hardships are usually won over by the ease of assimilating, the absence of a language barrier and a welcoming and gracious culture. There is also a vitality to life in Mumbai that makes each day different and stimulating and, of course, there's a palpable energy that comes from working in a city that is on the rise.