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Living in Mumbai

Relocating to Mumbai can be an incredible adventure for foreigners. Expat life in Mumbai has a truly cosmopolitan flair while retaining the full “Indian experience”. Our InterNations Guide to India’s largest metropolis covers leisure, transportation, housing, and other key topics.

At a Glance:

  • Mumbai is rich with culture and festivals for everyone to enjoy. Once you move to Mumbai, you’ll find plenty to entertain yourself with in the Bollywood capital of India.

  • The public transportation in Mumbai is one of the best and most widely used in India, with expats often using trains and the metro to get to work.

  • An excellent selection of schools and fully equipped expat apartment communities await you in Mumbai.


Just over 22 million people live in Mumbai, making it the second-biggest city in India and one of the most populous cities in the world. The official language of the state of Maharashtra is Marathi. However, local varieties of Hindi, Gujarati, and English, or a mixture of all, are also among the many languages used by Indians from around the country who settled in Mumbai. The literacy rate in Mumbai is 86%, and in such a cosmopolitan, well-educated city it is easy to converse with locals in English.

The rich mix of cultures, religions, and languages can be traced back to the city’s long history as the country’s most popular destination for migrants from both India and overseas. The different religions practiced by the various demographic groups living in Mumbai are an important part of cultural life.

A Festival for Every Faith

Life in Mumbai features countless traditional festivals originating from the city’s various religious groups and spread out across the year. Vaisakhi, for example, is a harvest and Hindu New Year festival celebrated by the Sikh and Hindu population during the middle of April. It includes joyful processions, martial arts performances, and acts of charity.

Diwali or Deepavali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is very popular with nearly all residents of Mumbai and the whole of India. It takes place either in the last week of October or the first two weeks of November, and — since it’s associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth — it also marks the beginning of the new fiscal year for the Gujarati community in Mumbai. Arguably the most important religious and cultural festival in Mumbai, though, is Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of the elephant-headed deity, Ganesha, celebrated for ten days in August or September.

However, it is not only Indian festivals that are highlights of the year in Mumbai; some Zoroastrian festivals as well as Eid al-Fitr (the end of the fasting period for Muslims), Christmas, and Easter are also very much part of the festival calendar of Mumbai’s diverse population. Christmas and Easter are not only part of the Christian year in Mumbai, but are celebrated to some degree by many other Mumbaikars, too.

Keeping Entertained in the Bollywood Capital

Of course, there is a secular side to culture in Mumbai as well. Locals and expats alike enjoy the lively entertainment offered in the countless theaters, museums, art galleries, music festivals, restaurants, and nightlife venues. The city also has a rich literary history, with Salman Rushdie being Mumbai’s representative best known among Western expats.

As a resident of Mumbai, you will be able to browse the well-stacked, slightly dusty rows of second-hand bookstores or visit the local branches of the Oxford Bookstore chain. In fact, bookshops play a crucial role for expat families, often functioning as a library as well as a children’s play-center. Public readings and kids’ activities open to everyone are hosted there and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee while flicking through the books is a common pastime among Mumbai’s locals and expats.

Cinema lovers in Mumbai benefit from a variety of movie theaters that show everything from blockbusters to arthouse pictures. The Regal Cinema in Colaba, for example, is appreciated for its wonderful Art Deco style. Obviously, one must not forget that Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry, is also based in Mumbai. If there’s one thing expats absolutely must do when in Mumbai, it’s see a Bollywood movie!

When the Game’s On in Mumbai, You Hear Crickets

Sports, particularly cricket, are an important feature of life in Mumbai and enjoy great popularity among most inhabitants. Everyone is invited to take part, either actively on one of the city’s many cricket grounds or as a cheering spectator in the stadium. Business almost comes to a screeching halt on the day of a big cricket match. Seasoned expats in Mumbai will know better than to schedule important meetings on those days!

And who could forget yoga, a very important part of life in Mumbai and of Indian culture in general. If you’ve never done any yoga before, now is the time to try it. For useful updates on other events and leisure activities in Mumbai check out what’s hot in Mumbai or asklaila — an online local information service for India.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I was searching on the internet for valuable tips on Bombay. Then I found InterNations and was surprised by its quality site."

Nellie Collins

"Bombay is definitely different from from the States. InterNations became my international home and my local 'family' of expats in no time."

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