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An Expat Talks about Moving to Pune, India

Submitted by Chesil

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Pune

Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

Brought:

1. TV (Yeah, I know it's a different system (PAL not NTSC) but there are good converters and it wouldn't have mattered for our DVDs) and a good 40 inch TV is astonishingly expensive here.

2. Photo Printing Paper - strangely hard to find here.

3. Branston Pickle

Left at home:

1. Our second computer

2. Coats

3. Wii (Unlike our computer and Playstation, the Wii transformer only works on 110 volts and I managed to blow it up by assuming it would work with 220 volts.

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

For the move itself, don't bring too much. Most domestic items can be found very cheaply here, so long as you steer away from the malls.

Bear in mind that unfurnished here means not just no furniture but no air conditioners, appliances and so forth. Make sure you know exactly what is included. Don't be shy about asking for things such as new mattresses and also new furniture if it looks well used!

Power blackouts are common. Make sure you have generator back-up or at least an inverter (battery back up) or you'll spend a lot of time in the dark.

Don't expect an oven, very few places have them. We only saw one apartment with an oven (which we now live in, but that wasn't the deciding factor). Microwaves are smaller than in the US but you can get combination microwaves that also double as a convection oven. You won't be cooking big turkeys so a small oven shouldn't be too troublesome.

Insist on a water purifier. When you arrive start out with bottled water and after several weeks convert to the purifed water and your stomach should adapt pretty well.

Decide before packing whether you will choose to live in unfurnished, partially furnished or furnished. A colleague packed assuming he'd find an unfurnished apartment but wasn't able to find one (mostly furnished here) and now he and his wife are having to try and store furniture that they brought from the US. No easy task.

For neighborhood, I can't comment on areas that we don't live in but we really like where we live in the Boat Club Road area as there is plenty to do within easy walking distance.

Don't try to wait it out until you dream home turns up. It won't and it is better, in our view, to get settled quickly. Nothing ever seems to be quite finished, so expect teething problems and don't get hot under the collar about them as you'll waste a lot of emotional energy to no avail. It's different here!

Get to know your neighbors, especially the locals as we have found them to be unfailingly friendly and helpful - our immediate neighbor arranged a dinner party to welcome us and introduce us to some other neighbors within a week of arrival.

The little tips they can help you with can make life much easier - such as one of the local grocery type stores delivers and so our neighbor took our list and called them and we had all the cleaning stuff we needed, you know mops, brooms, trashcans, and so on within an hour of moving in without the hassle of having to shop for them and far cheaper than had we bought them at one of the supermarkets that expats tend to gravitate towards, at least in their early days in country.

Find your nearest little photo store and get a couple of dozen passport photos done as soon as you arrive. You'll need them as they are obligatory for even routine stuff like getting a contract to deliver propane (which your cooker works on), cellphone, aircard, lease registration and so many other things. Carry your passport. You'll need it for ID purposes a lot in the early days.

In Pune, shop on MG Road (Mahatma Gandhi Road). There are some great little stores and you'll get most of what you need at much less cost than in the malls and it's a lot more fun too.

Don't be afraid to buy your groceries from the markets. Sure the vegetables have a shorter shelf life than in the US, but Indians buy every day and many don't have fridges. You'll need to wash them thoroughly (using purified water) before use, but then you should back home too!

The most important advice? Don't fight the place, you'll have gone home again before it changes that much. Relax, get into the flow and enjoy India and if you do it's an adventure and a wonderful place to live.

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

We live in a 3 bed apartment with a roof terrace. There is a variety of housing available including bungalows and townhouse type homes. Most expats will live in apartments.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

We had the services of a relocation firm who lined up a lot of places to look at. We didn't plan it, but we lucked out as unlike a lot of the usual expat colonies in Pune, once our driver has gone for the day we aren't confined at home or relying on autorickshaws. It is a short stroll to some very good restaurants, and a couple of blocks to the local supermarket and plenty of other stores whilst still being a quiet neighborhood.

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Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Property rental here is expensive, we pay nearly $2,000 a month for our 3 bed, 3 bath apartment. Undoubtedly, expats pay more than locals and rental amounts are increasing quite quickly due to an influx of expats. Agents tell us that suitable properties are increasingly hard to find.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Jul 20, 2011 13:55

Any input on effects of unexpected expenses for getting things done ? I moved from NJ to Kothrud, Pune. It felt sound and easy... but when enqisitive nature of friends, relatives, housing services started to become daily topics, it became a difficult to settle. One must be ready for this It still is a good effort.

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