Accommodation in Mumbai

Finding and adapting to accommodation in Mumbai can be extremely trying for expats. The hustling, bustling financial capital is known for its prolific film industry, heavy rains and cricket fanaticism, but it’s equally reputed for being one of the world’s most expensive real estate markets, both in terms of buying and renting.

Types of property in Mumbai

The city is notoriously short on space, and most expats are forced to sacrifice their notions of a lavish Indian bungalow in exchange for a cramped Mumbai apartment. Individual villas are available, but demand is high, supply is low and prices are steep and rising.

Housing is on offer in all shapes and could be classified as satisfying a very wide range of standards but, as mentioned, most expats will find themselves negotiating for an apartment in a stand-alone block with little or no amenities, like gymnasiums or clubhouses. 

Unfurnished, semi-furnished and furnished accommodation is available; so those who would prefer not to bubble wrap their best china don’t necessarily need to. Furthermore, landlords in Mumbai are often happy to furnish a property at a tenant’s request. Just expect to add a little extra onto the overall rental cost, and be sure to specify one's taste and requirement. 

Finding property in Mumbai

Some expats moving to or living in Mumbai are lucky enough to have accommodation offered to them by their employer. In this case, contractual obligations are not relevant, and the hassle of house-hunting is thankfully avoided. That said, more and more expats are finding that lucrative employment packages that include this perk are becoming quite rare, and thus finding one's own home in Mumbai is becoming an unfortunate necessity.

Expats who find themselves in this situation are advised to use a property agent. These service providers can greatly simplify the process, and can make sure that the property satisfies all elements of a due diligence test. Alternatively, those searching for an apartment on their own can use one of the many available print or digital listings, but these are often out-of-date and prices can be incorrect. 

Expats house-hunting in Mumbai should be wary of a few points:

  • Make sure the building has an occupation certificate

  • Check with neighbours to see if there is a water scarcity issue in the building (agents also often don’t relay this point).

  • Payment is mostly made on a month-by-month basis, but there are landlords who insist on an advance annual rental payment with a small deposit. These terms are generally mutually discussed and agreed upon by the licensee and the licensor.

  • Mumbai is a sprawling city, and there are many popular locations to live, but it’s crucial that expats understand the nature of the traffic in the city. Severe congestion can make for treacherous commutes, and thus when looking for a house, be sure to find accommodation that’s close to one's workplace. Being close to good schools will be necessary for expats moving to Mumbai with children. Keep in mind that the traffic during the day is normally moving south, and north by evening. 

Renting property in Mumbai

Unless expats plan on relocating to Mumbai for the long-term, most people opt to rent property rather than buying their home.

Lease agreements in India can be tricky. It is best to get some assistance from an employer when it comes to signing a lease in Mumbai.

To side-step tax, landlords often prefer to rent to people informally, with no official lease in place. Expats should never accept such an agreement, as they'd have no proof of residence, which is needed for various administrative processes.

Expats will either be offered a lease agreement of at least 12 months that is covered by rent control laws, or a lease and license agreement of up to 11 months. Lease and license agreements aren't covered by rent control laws, so landlords tend to prefer them. Security deposits in India are generally two or three months' rent, and estate agent commission fees are usually about half a month's rent.

Vishal Ojha Our Expat Expert

I am a real estate consultant with Expat Homes Mumbai. I work very closely with expats and corporates for their housing and commercial property requirements. I would love to connect with people from different cultures, don't hesitate to contact me via email