When the opportunity arose earlier this year for us to move to Bangalore, one of the first things we did was ask the Internet for advice and experiences from other families who had made the move. Our searches returned next to nothing. All we had wanted was to get a feeling for how other expat families had adjusted to their new lives, but we figured we would work things out once we arrived. Surely we would bump into another expat in those first few days to point us in the right direction and offer advice? It was a good three weeks until I met another expat mum, and that wasn’t through want of trying. You may like to read INDIA DIARIES: Lessons from the first month.
Bangalore may be chaotic, crowded and challenging, but it offers so much for families, including good schools, good healthcare, lots of areas for play (parks, playgrounds and indoor play centres) and also Western comforts. Check out our post Bangalore with kids. I love that colourful adventures can be found from our doorstep and it’s a great base for further travel in India and beyond to other Asian destinations. But, inefficiency and bureaucracy can be draining. We’ve had to learn tolerance and patience (which I’ve never been good at), but we’re rewarded with incredible experiences and memories to last a lifetime.
But to provide an all-rounded view on expat family life in Bangalore, I spoke to a handful of Mums who have moved here from various corners of the globe and asked them each these three questions:
1. What do you love about living in Bangalore?
2. What do you find most difficult about living in Bangalore?
3. What’s your one top tip for families moving to Bangalore?
These are their answers…
4 months in Bangalore
“1. That every time you go out and on the same journeys you do every day/week you will see and learn something different – this is a place that even though we may not be here long term even my 3 year old will remember for the rest of her life.
2. Two things: my independence – you have to rely on people here for everything – nothing you do is a simple process! Number two is that kitchens here do not come with your standard hob/oven (we work with a microwave oven and electric hot plate) so feeding your children is hard – I’m learning to be creative but with a weaning baby and (sometimes picky) threenager it can be hard work!
3. Come with an open mind and understand that you will have to live on Bangalore time whether that be traffic, people, getting things done!“
1 month in Bangalore
“1. The people are very laid back, which is quite nice considering I’ve just moved from a fast-paced, stressful, always-in-a-rush life. Yes things do take time here, but for me, it is a good thing. We also absolutely love tasting the exotic fruits and veggies available (guavas, lychees, okras, papayas to name a few).
2. Traffic. It just insane to the point you just have to laugh about it.
Drivers, riders, pedestrians, they simply do not give way to each other, even if that means blocking everyone including themselves! Although they do give way to cows.
3. Be open minded, even with the bad traffic and air pollution. As expats living here, we contribute to the problem. We bring in the household products, cosmetics filled with chemicals, plastic and more plastic. You can’t moan about the problem, if you’re part of the problem.“
2 years in Bangalore
“1. What I love about Bangalore is that it is never boring. Everything is so foreign and many things are outside my comfort zone. My every day life becomes a series of mini adventures in India. Food is exotic and intriguing. Colors and sounds surround me everywhere I go. I have deep thoughts provoked on the regular. It never gets mundane and time passes quickly. I feel like I am growing as a person and connecting to people and a way of life that can only make me a person of fuller depth.
2. See above! 🙂 Sometimes you just want to rest and be still and that is difficult in Bangalore. (Or is it my two toddlers?) I also miss being able to be more self sufficient. Indian society seems to be set up to require much more dependency on other people for services. In many tasks, I miss being able to DIY it. I like to drive myself and order trusted services online without a follow up call to review the entire service order.
3. Bring Cheerios! We have almost run out and the remaining rations are small. The babies aren’t happy. I guess a serious tip would be to just be ready to be frustrated and learn to let that frustration drift away. The sooner you can learn to not let a piece of unsolicited advice bother you, the happier you will be. Roll with all that is going to be different for you and you will be happier for it.“
11 years in Bangalore
“1. The people make the city, the eclectic menagerie of people that make up this city, I love. Out of the majority of the cities in India, you will find many people in Bangalore are very laid back and very easy to relate to regardless of the warp of life they are from, its a very worldly city.
2. Raising kids here is hard if you are used to green spaces – its very much a city. Even though it is called the “Garden City” of India, sadly a lot of the green space has now been commandeered by increasing amounts of concrete. Finding a patch of green to let your kids run wild is hard. But people are starting to open up the restaurants with outdoor spaces, the kids farms, the garden clubs that kids and the family will love.
3. Get onto the Moms of Bangalore of Bangalore whatsapp group, it contains a wealth of information for families moving to the city.“
1.5 years in Bangalore
“1. My nanny!! As well as the weather, the parks, the pubs, and being so close to the lovely national parks in Kabini, Coorg etc.
2. The traffic!!! I also wish there was more of the arts and fashion scene in other cities like Bombay and Delhi.
3. Choose your apartment and the area you live very carefully. Because of the traffic, you will invariably spend a lot of your leisure time close to home (or at home) so make sure you like it.“
Pratisha (South Africa)
1 year in Bangalore
“1. That it’s a diverse place that is adequately built up. Good schools, decent infrastructure. How, even though we are in India, there are still many things available that remind us of home (good malls, familiar outlets)
2. The traffic! I was accustomed to buckling my little girls up and driving us wherever we wanted to go. It’s nothing short of an adventure every time I sit behind the wheel now.
3. Bring an open mind and loads of patience. Also lots games you can play in the car.“
16 years (on and off) in Bangalore
“1. Aesthetically, I love the weather here in Bangalore, I love the beautiful flowering trees year round. Also, since not much is convenient here, the Cash On Delivery option for almost all deliveries is amazing!
2. Most difficult part of living here is that there is so so much that is inconvenient and hard such as day-to-day tasks, bill payments and shuttling around the city. Traffic here is so awful that it makes us not want to leave home sometimes. Not worth the hassle.
3. My top tip for families is: leave all of your expectations and standards back in your home country. Enjoy and thrive in Bangalore based on living your life one day at a time here, not based on what you think that you will like/hate/enjoy.“
For expat families moving to Bangalore it is worthwhile joining the Bangalore Mums Whatsapp group. This is a group to ask any questions you may have whilst living in Bangalore (from advice on schools and maids to where to buy kids shoes and books) and it was through this group that I found a couple of playdates. To get onto this group you need to know someone to be able to add you, so please feel free to email Travelynn Family to assist. However, a forward thinking mum has just very recently set up a Facebook Group – Online Village for Ex-pat Mums in Bangalore – which will hopefully become a more practical ‘right arm’. There is also the Overseas Women’s Club that host a couple of region specific playgroups.
To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.
Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet? There’s a detailed chapter on Bangalore, including lots of activities and suggestions on where to eat and stay.