From: United States
12/22/2006 14:51 EST
Hi AP -
I'm an American who lived in Pune last year with my family, including 3 kids. The answers to a lot of your questions depend on what kind a lifestyle you are seeking - traditional expat or more Indian - and how long you are likely to stay. Pune is growing at a terrific pace, and I think you will find the experience very different than what you found in Ahmedabad 10 years ago.
There are new schools going up all the time, including new international schools, but they are mostly targeted at the growing group of Indian professionals who want their children to have more exposure to an international curriculum while still focused on the Indian board exams. The traditional IB school, where most (but not all) expat kids go is the Mercedes Benz International School, set up by the MB factory some years ago. I know a few expat kids who are going to Symbiosis, and others go to some of the more progressive private Indian schools.
I think you'll find just about any kind of healthcare you need in Pune, including several good hospitals, but with an Indian flavor (e.g., antibiotics prescribed for everything). However, it is not a very healthy city to live in, as it is one of the most polluted cities in Asia.
Traditionally, expat families have clustered in Koreagon Park, an old neighborhood in central Pune, but that's changing, as the new software parks and factories are mostly on the outskirts of the city. Now you can find expat families living out in the western parts of the city (e.g., Aundh, Baner) and the new developments in Kalyaninagar. KP tends to be more expensive, and the housing stock is older, often with outdated infrastructure. Newer housing societies are more likely to have amenities, as well as more reliable basics. Also, the traffic and roads are bad, and getting worse (check out http://www.pttf.net/go/ ), so proximity to work and schools becomes an increasingly important factor. (The bus ride from KP to the MBIS school was often an hour or more.)
The real estate market is out of control. I don't know about buying, but rental prices seem to be doubling about every 3 years. We lived in a 4 BR attached bungalow in a new housing society and paid 50,000, which my Indian colleagues thought was outrageously high, but we've heard about bungalows in some of the nicer societies going for 3 times that now.
Day to day living expenses seem minor, after housing and schools. Movies are about $2. Our big splurge was a weekly trip to Pizza Hut which ran somewhere around $25, I think. I went to a nearby fitness club for swimming, at less than $1 a session. Food, clothing, lessons, etc. are also less expensive than in the U.S. The other big cost you'll find is a car and fuel.
Hope this gives you some info to start with. I suggest you request HSBC's country guide for India, which has good info on Pune (they have a large development center in Pune), at https://hsss.hsbc.co.uk/offshoreform/country_guide.htm . And of course, you should visit, and seek help from the company that made the job offer to your husband. It's a big city, with lots to figure out. Good luck in your decision-making process.
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