Cost of Living in Mumbai, India, Asia

Moving to India: Cost of Living in Mumbai or Bombay
Get a fresh coconut delivered to your door for Rs.15(40 cents).
Get a shower system done in your bath for Rs.2000 (USD 420).
Get a Tiffin at your home for Rs.35 a day (80 cents).

Mumbai is currently on 52nd position on the "Highest Cost of Living" cities in the world. The study has ranked the cities based on cost of basic necessities, including housing, transport and food among others during the 12-month period ending March 2007.

The list is topped by Moscow, which has retained its position as the costliest city for expats, followed by London, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong among the top five.

However, on my "high cost of living cities" list Mumbai comes towards the very bottom & is possibly one of the cheapest cities or "lowest cost of living" cities in the world to live in. Below, are just some of the reasons why.....

'How much will it cost me to live well in Mumbai or Delhi?' This was the question posed by my friends in North America & UK. Since the definition of 'living well' varies from person to person, the range of numbers I received was fairly wide. My mother lives on just about Rs.7000 per month in Mumbai or Bombay for the last 20 years.

Low Cost of Living City "Mumbai"

Here's a quick primer to help you with your home expense budgeting for 1 month in Mumbai or Bombay in India:

1. Cost of Real Estate: This is likely to be the biggest cost factor in your cost of living in Mumbai, India. However, most guides take examples of the costliest areas in Mumbai to come up with ridiculous rents & costs of housing in Mumbai.

I live in Versova, a fairly good area in Andheri in the Western suburbs of Mumbai so I will prefer taking examples of this area as most residents of Mumbai will know that Andheri is considered as the best area to live in Mumbai and the new heart of Mumbai.

Cost of a 2 bedroom flat or condo in Andheri West is between Rs.40,00,000 to Rs.100,00,000. You can get a decent flat in a good building in Yari Road or Versova away from the hustle & bustle but yet close to shopping centers, malls, restaurants, etc. for just Rs.50,00,000. That's US $120,000.

Cost of a 1 bedroom flat or condo in Virar West(outskirts of Mumbai) is between Rs.8,00,000 to Rs.15,00,000. You can get a decent flat in a good building in Mira Road or Dahisar away from the hustle & bustle of Mumbai city but yet close to shopping centers, malls, restaurants, etc. for just Rs.18,00,000. That's US $40,000.

However, if for some reason you want to live in really costly areas then in Bandra West you can get a fairly decent 2 Bedroom flat or condo for Rs.100,00,000 or 1 Crore. That's US $250,000.

On the rental side, you can get a decent & furnished 1 bedroom to 2 bedroom condo or flat in Andheri West areas such as Versova, Yeri Road, Four Bungalows and Lokhandwala for anything between Rs.10,000 to Rs.30,000 per month.

You can get a decent & furnished 1 room condo or flat in Andheri West areas such as Versova, Yeri Road, Four Bungalows and Lokhandwala for anything between Rs.8,000 to Rs.20,000 per month.

2. Cost of Domestic Staff: Domestic help is cheap. A full time maid in Mumbai who cooks and cleans costs about Rs 2500 ($55) a month and a good driver costs around Rs 4k-7k ($100-$155) a month.

Just another reason why Mumbai is the lowest cost of living city in Asia and the world and not the highest cost of living city in Asia as tagged by people who have never even lived here.

3. Groceries: Cost about Rs 4k-8k ($50-100) a month for a couple. Just so that you believe it's true I have included the latest prices from some top Food Markets in Andheri West, Mumbai at the very end of this article.

4. Dining Out: The best restaurants in Mumbai cost as much as mid-tier restaurants in NYC or a major metro in the developed world. Expect to pay about Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 ($25-$80) for dinner and drinks for a couple. Cocktails at the top clubs and bars cost about Rs 350-Rs 500 ($8-$10) whereas beer is cheaper at Rs 175-Rs 200 ($4) a pint.

My friends and me went to Harish Restaurant in Irla, Vile Parle West in Mumbai last week and this is what we ordered:

4 Plates of Shell Fish Masala, 2 Plates of Fried Wings, 2 Plates of Chicken Garlic, 2 Plates of Fried Sprouts, 2 Plates of Paneer Tikka, 2 Plates of Chicken Tandoori, 4 Shrimp Biryanis, etc.

For drinks we had around 2 pegs each of Bacardi or Smirnoff with a Can of Diet Coke for each Peg. Our total bill came to Rs.2400 plus a Rs.50 tip. That's $60 for 6 people in one of the finest restaurants for seafood in the suburbs.

Try managing a dinner in a good restaurant in New York, Boston, Quito, Phuket, Bali, Tokyo, Bangkok, London, etc. for the same amount. Just another reason why Mumbai is the lowest cost of living city in Asia and the world and not the highest cost of living city in Asia as tagged by people who have never even lived here.

5. Clothes: There are a host of local apparel brands that sell urbanwear to India's teeming population of young consumers at Walmart prices. The quality is average but the designs are superior to anthing you will find at Walmart. Most of the major foreign brands are here including Levi's, Lee, Nike and Adidas. For some reason, I haven't seen Gap or Banana Republic here. Diesel is enormously popular with the rich young set here but they seem to have been acquired on overseas trips as I haven't seen a local Diesel store here. You can also buy designer clothing by local fashion designers who are pretty good but they are not cheap. Expect to pay at least Hugo Boss prices for their offerings.

If you are like me then you can wait for the big quarterly or annual sales at Shopper's Stop, Globus, Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, etc. to get all my branded clothes, shoes, ets. You can get excellent buys in clothes & shoes for just Rs.20,000 for the entire year for a couple. That's just US $500. My last year's shopping costed me just Rs.12,000 and included 10 TShirts, 12 Formal Shirts, 4 Ties, 6 Jeans, 1 Pair of Shoes, etc. etc. This was from 3 sales at Globus, Koutons & Big Bazaar respectively.

6. Electronics & Appliances: This is another steal if you wait for the weekend offers at Vijay Sales, Snehanjali, Croma, etc. You can get a good 29" TV set for Rs.15,000 (USD400). DVD Players are just Rs.2500 or USD60. A fully automatic washing machine costs Rs.15,000. Gas Range just Rs.5000. A fridge or refrigerator (big size) for Rs.15,000. A 1 Ton AC or Air-Conditioner for Rs.10,000 which is enough for 1 room in your flat or condo in Mumbai.

7. Gas Prices: Petrol cost Rs 53 a liter ($4.92 a gallon). Think of disel cars as a serious option as the government subsidizes it heavily here. CNG cars are quite common now and extremely cheap. Pay just Rs.2000/ month or USD50 for 1 month's gas.

8. Car Prices: There are many foreign brands in India now offering a decent line up of mid-range cars. I am not a car buff so I won't venture to offer much opinion here. For price reference, consider a Toyota Corolla, a popular car with senior executives here. It costs about Rs 1 mill ($22k). A Toyota Camry costs twice as much as the import duty on it is almost 3 times as much-it's assembled outside India whereas the Corolla is assembled here. Car loans with principal repayment are available at 9%-10.5% rates for upto six year tenures. I am not sure if lease finance is available for cars in India.

PS: For the pie chart above, I have assumed the monthly instalment cost on a Toyota Corolla on a three year loan. Again, I would request you to buy a Maruti Swift or Wagon R (most popular family cars on Mumbai roads) for just Rs.500,000 or US $12,000. This has a CNG fitted inside, AC too and a music system costs just Rs.5,000 more. This price includes the taxes and insurance for 3 years.

9. Education Prices: A good convent school education costs just Rs.100,000 per year inclusive of fees, books, stationery and uniforms. However, an international school costs Rs.400,000 to Rs.10,00,000 per year (all inclusive). I prefer Convent Schools as I was educated in one and consider myself the best soft skills trainer in India today. Type "Personality Development trainers in India" on Google.com to check my latest rankings.

10. Cost of Vacations: A cost of a 4-5 day vacation in Goa or Kerala on their beautiful beaches with excellent hotel stays & good food costs just Rs.15,000 per person. Residents of Mumbai normally travel abroad on their vacations now as it's fairly cheap. For example, a vacation to Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand would cost Rs.40,000 for a 5 day trip (all inclusive). If it's the rainy season then you must travel to Lonavla or Matheran or Khandala. A weekend Trip would cost Rs.5000 per person for 2 days decent hotel stay and all meals (A Volvo Bus Ticket Return ticket included). If it's the summer then head to the North East towns such as Gangtok, hill stations such as Darjeeling, Simla, Ooty, etc. for just Rs.20,000 for a 5 day vcacation (all inclusive). You can visit yatra.com or the other travel sites here to check if the details above are accurate. The best thing to do is to go on a 1 day picnic on a saturday or sunday to any one of over 350 picnic resorts in Mumbai and beyond. The cost for everything is just under Rs.400 per person. Let's see you get a 1 day picnic with all meals, swimming pools, games, travel, etc. for just $10 in USA or any other part of the world.

Just another reason why Mumbai is the lowest cost of living city in Asia and the world and not the highest cost of living city in Asia as tagged by people who have never even lived here.

11. Communications: The mobile revolution has made phone calls cheap. Domestic calls cost Rs 1 (2.2c) per minute on average, international calls to the US and EU are about Rs 5 - Rs 7.50 (11c - 16 c). Monthly subscription for a post-paid mobile connection is about Rs 400 ($9.50) a month. Hi speed internet access from MTNL, the best provider in India costs about Rs 3k a month with 512 kbps bandwidth and 4 GB download. You can also get a wireless internet data card for your laptop to receive and send emails on the road. It costs Rs 1,500 ($33) a month for unlimited data download. However, its very slow with actual bandwidth of 40-50kbps.

Again, being a resident of Mumbai I prefer cable internet for just Rs.400 a month (US $10) at fairly good speeds for unlimited usage. No downtime. I use 7-Star Cable Internet if you think I'm kidding. You can get a cheaper connection at 64kbps for just Rs.200 a month I kid you not. Compare that to $50 for a similar connection in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, etc. and you have internet for cheap in Mumbai.

12. Cable or Dish TV: Pay just Rs.200 to Rs.400 per month for over 200 channels that includes all the top sports, movies, news channels and more. Wow, I pay just US $8 for 250 channels. In Thailand, it costed me USD50 and in USA & Canada it costs my family USD200 to get 350 channels.

Just another reason why Mumbai is the lowest cost of living city in Asia and the world and not the highest cost of living city in Asia as tagged by people who have never even lived here.

13. Gas, Electricity, Home Phones, Society, Water Bills, etc. cost me just Rs.2000 for the entire month. Gas costs me Rs.300 per cylinder, Electricity costs me Rs.800, phone Rs.500, society & water bills cost me Rs.400. Of course, I live in a 2 bedrooom flat or condo. If you live in a bigger or newer apartment expect to pay Rs.4000 to Rs.8000 on these bills. Not bad, just USD 100-200 per month for water, electricity, home phones, gas, etc.

14. Additionals: Computers cost just Rs.20,000 for the latest models and Laptops are more expensive ranging from 30,000 to 40,000 for good models with all the goods already loaded.

DVDs and MP3 CDs from the wonderful roads of Mumbai are quite common. You can buy 10 DVDs of the latest English films for just Rs.500 and get 10 English MP3 CDs for just Rs.300. That's the cost of 2 in Thailand and other parts of Asia where foolish Expats choose to retire or live.

A good bike costs Rs.35,000. Rickshaw fares are roughly between Rs.10(short distance) to Rs.100(long distance). Taxis are between Rs.15(short distance) to Rs.300(long distance). Drivers of these rickshaws and taxis are known to cheat people so always insist on paying fares as per the rate card. Report complaints online on the Mumbai Police Website. All you need is the license plate number and time of incident. I assure you I have done this a few times and action has been taken on most occasions by the wonderful Mumbai cops.

Bus fares for non-ac Best Buses cost Rs.5 to Rs.40 and are farily cheap. AC buses ply on limited routes and cost from Rs.20 to Rs.45.

Making a single photo copy costs just Re.1 per copy. They are called Xerox copies in Mumbai. Sending faxes costs just Rs.10 for international faxes.

You can get 500 sheets of high quality printout paper for just Rs.200. Colour papers of the same kind just Rs.300. Wow, just $5 for 500 good sheets of A4 sized paper. Pens cost Rs.5 to Rs.10 for good quality ball point pens and Rs.10 to Rs.100 for ink pens.

You can get a simple electric water heater to make tea and coffee for just Rs.300 from Alfa, Vile Parle West. You just pour the hot water in the cup, add your sugar, milk or cream and your tea bag or coffee and you have a really good cup of chai or kafi in your home in Mumbai.

Furniture-wise you get decent double beds for Rs.8000, PC table for Rs.2000, Wardrobe or Clothes cabinet for Rs.6000, Side Table for Rs.1000, Dining Table with 6 Chairs for Rs.8000, Wall Unit for the Tv et al for Rs.15,000. You can get all these from Hypercity Argos or the mall itself in Malad West, Mumbai. Or, you can call my carpenter Naresh and he will make you excellent furniture at reasonable prices that last for years and look great. Naresh also takes up painting, plumbing and other home decorating related assignments. Email me later for his private cell number.

My monthly budget is just Rs.15,000 and I add another 15,000 for my social life, gas, drinking out 1 day a week, etc. That's Rs.30,000 most months. I keep aside Rs.50,000-75,000 for a foreign vacation and another Rs.50,000 for 4 Indian Vacations each year. So, basically on $750 a month or $9000 a year I live a pretty good life in Mumbai.

Why Mumbai
While you are asking me this question I am sipping my Cappucino at Cafe Barista in Versova on a wonderful monsoon evening. I just took a walk for 45 minutes on the wonderful shores of Versova Rocks and now I am chilling on the internet with you guys.

Mumbai has excellent hangouts in the form of the coffee shops all over the city & the suburbs. The names of few of them are Cafe Barista, Cafe Coffee Day or CCD, Cafe Mocha, Cafe Costa, etc. You have plenty of McDonalds and KFC outlets as well. You will find the happening crowds and the wannabe crowds of Mumbai in all these outlets. It is a great place to find out what's the buzz in the city, meet people, make friends and get a surefire pulse of what's happening later that evening outdoors and on TV.

There are plenty of institutes offering courses from dancing to singing, acting to public speaking (ours is one of them). You can choose to join Gold's Gym or go to a posh 5-star hotel swimming pool for a swim or you could visit a mall, stroll along window shopping and end your evening by having dinner in a classy restaurant in the neighbourhood and watching a movie in the numerous multiplexes all over Mumbai.

Mumbai contributes 10% of factory employment, 33% of income tax collections, 60% of customs duty collections, 20% of central excise tax collections, 40% of India's foreign trade and rupees 40,000 crore (US $9 billion) in corporate taxes. Headquarters of a number of Indian financial institutions such as the Bombay Stock Exchange, Reserve Bank of India, National Stock Exchange of India, the Mint, as well as numerous Indian conglomerates such as the Tata Group, Godrej and Reliance are located in Mumbai. Most of these offices are located in downtown South Mumbai which is the nerve centre of the Indian economy, leading its Dalal Street to become known as "the Indian Wall Street". Many foreign establishments also have their branches in this area.

Mumbai has traditionally owed its prosperity largely to its textile mills and its seaport till the 1980s. This has now been replaced by industries employing more skilled labour such as engineering, diamond polishing, healthcare and information technology. As Mumbai is the state capital, government employees make up a large percentage of the city's workforce. Mumbai also has a large unskilled and semi-skilled labour population, who primarily earn their livelihood as hawkers, taxi drivers, mechanics and other such proletarian professions. The port and shipping industry too employs many residents directly and indirectly.

The entertainment industry is the other major employer in Mumbai. Most of India's television and satellite networks are located in Mumbai, as well as the major publishing houses. The epicentre of the Hindi movie industry, Bollywood, is also located in Mumbai, along with the largest studios and production houses. I hope this gives you a rough idea, socialising is cheaper if you stick to local places ie. Harish in Irla, Totos bar in bandra. 5-Star Hotels are relatively in-expensive for drinks when you compare it to 5-stars in Thailand, Indonesia, Etc.

Cost of Groceries & Other Items in Mumbai City

Fruits
Apples = Rs.100/Kilo or US $2.50
Bananas = Rs.20/Dozen or US $0.50
Berries = Rs.100/Kilo or US $2.50
Grapes = Rs.40/Kilo or US $1.00
Lemons = Rs.30/Kilo or US $0.80
Lime = Rs.20/Dozen or US $0.50
Oranges = Rs.40/Kilo or US $1.00
Peaches = Rs.100/Kilo or US $2.50
Pears = Rs.120/Kilo or US $3
Strawberries = Rs.140/Kilo or US $3.50
Watermelon = Rs.80/piece or US $2.00

Vegetables
Onions = Rs.45/Kilo or US $1
Potato = Rs.10/Kilo or US $0.25
Sweet Potato = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Tomatoes = Rs.25/Kilo or US $0.60
Asparagus = Rs.120/Kilo or US $3
Broccoli = Rs.120/Kilo or US $3
Cabbage = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Carrots = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Cauliflower = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Celery = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Corn = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Garlic = Rs.60/Kilo or US $1.50
Lettuce = Rs.60/Kilo or US $1.50
Mushrooms = Rs.80/Kilo or US $2
Peppers = Rs.40/Kilo or US $1
Beans = Rs.20/Kilo or US $0.50
Green Peas = Rs.40/Kilo or US $1

Approximate Prices in Andheri West, Mumbai.

Medicines
Asparin = Rs.10/Strip or US $0.25
Dispirin = Rs.10/Strip or US $0.25
Becasules Multi-vitamin Tablets = Rs.20/Strip or US $0.5
Antiacid = Rs.30/200 ml Bottle or US $0.50
Bandaids = Rs.2 each or US $0.04
Cough Drops = Rs.40/200 ml Bottle or US $1
Pain-Reliever = Rs.30/Strip or US $0.80
Rubbing Alcohol = Rs.20/200 ml Bottle or US $0.50

A visit to a highly qualified general physician or doctor costs Rs.100-200 per visit.
Hospital costs at Hinduja Hospital are Rs.50,000 for 4 days for Minor Operations, Treatment, Meds, etc.
Hospital costs at Hinduja Hospital are Rs.75,000 for 4 days for Mid-range Operations, Treatment, Meds, etc.
Hospital costs at Hinduja Hospital are Rs.1,00,000-2,00,000 for 4 days for Major Operations, Treatment, Meds, etc.

Pet Items
Dog Food = Rs.1500/month
Cat Food = Rs.1000/month
Fish Food = Rs.300/month (Small Fish)

Chicken
Boneless Breast = Rs.140/kilo or US $3.50
Breast with Bone = Rs.120/kilo or US $3
Legs = Rs.140/kilo or US $3.50
Whole Chicken = Rs.80/kilo or US $2
Wings = Rs.60/kilo or US $1.50

Deli Meat
Ham= Rs.80/kilo or US $2
Smoked Turkey= Rs.120/kilo or US $3
Turkey= Rs.120/kilo or US $3

Sausage= Rs.120/kilo or US $3
Fish= Rs.200/kilo or US $4.5

Canned Meats
Chicken= Rs.100/kilo or US $2.50
Salmon= Rs.160/kilo or US $4
Tuna= Rs.40/can or US $1
Vienna Sausage= Rs.100/kilo or US $2.50

Seasonings
Salt= Rs.10/kilo or US $0.25

Condiments
Syrup/Squash = Rs.70/bottle or $1.80

Miscellaneous
Batteries = Rs.10/piece or US $0.25
Cards = Rs.10/card or US $0.25
Camera Film = Rs.120/roll or US $3
Light Bulbs = Rs.10/bulb or US $0.25
Blank CD = Rs.10/cd or US $0.25
Blank DVD = Rs.20/dvd or US $0.50

Toiletries
Anti-Bacterial Soap = Rs.15/piece or US $0.40
Deodorant = Rs.100/Bottle or US $2.50
Lotion = Rs.120/Bottle or US $3
Mouthwash(300ml) = Rs.120/Bottle or US $3
Razors = Rs.20/piece or US $0.50
Shampoo = Rs.100/Bottle or US $2.50
Shaving Cream = Rs.60/Tube or US $1.50
Soap = Rs.10/soap or US $0.25
Toothbrush = Rs.40/piece or US $1
Toothpaste = Rs.60/Large Tube or US $1.50

Tissue = Rs.20/pack of 100 or US $0.50
Wet Tissues = Rs.50/Pack of 50 or US $1.25
Trash Bag = Rs.30/Pack of 100 bags or US $0.75

Cleaners
Air Freshner = Rs.50/Bottle or US $1.25
Bleach = Rs.40/kilo or US $1
Broom = Rs.20/Broom or US $0.50
Dishwasher Detergent = Rs.15/Kilo or US $0.35
Dishwashing Soap = Rs.15/soapcake or US $0.35
Glass Cleaner = Rs.30/Bottle or US $0.75
Laundry Detergent = Rs.60/Kilo or US $1.50
Cloth Mop = Rs.15/Mop or US $0.35
Scrub Brush = Rs.5/piece or US $0.12
Toilet Bowl Cleaners = Rs.150/Litre or US $3.75
Towels(Large) = Rs.140/piece or US $3.50
Towels(Small) = Rs.10/piece or US$0.25

Breakfast Cereals
Kellogs Cornflakes = Rs.140/kilo or US $3.50
Kellogs Chocoflakes = Rs.200/kilo or US $5
Meusli = Rs.200/kilo or US $5
Oats = Rs.100/kilo or US $2.50

Flour = Rs.20/kilo or US $0.50
Oatmeal = Rs.120/kilo or US $3
Rice = Rs.30/kilo or US $0.75
Sugar = Rs.20/kilo or US $0.50

Oils
Sunflower Oil = Rs.140/Litre or US $3.50
Vegetable Oil = Rs.120/Litre or US $3

Potato Chips = Rs.100/Kilo or US $2.50

Breads
Biscuits = Rs.10/pack or US $0.25
Buns = Rs.4/piece or US $0.10
Hamburger = Rs.4/piece or US $0.10
Hot Dog = Rs.4/piece or US $0.10
French = Rs.8/piece or US $0.20
Italian = Rs.8/piece or US $0.20
Rolls = Rs.2/piece or US $0.10
Wheat = Rs.20/Loaf or US $0.25 White = Rs.15/Loaf or US $0.40

Beverages
Coffee = Rs.1000/Kilo or US $25
Juice = Rs.80/Litre or US $2
Milk = Rs.35/Litre or US $0.87
Orange Juice = Rs.80/Litre or US $2
Soft Drinks = Rs.50/Bottle or US $1.25
Sports Drinks = Rs.200/Kilo or US $5
Tea = Rs.180/Kilo or US $4.50
Water = Rs.60/Twenty Litres or US $1.50

Dairy
Butter = Rs.160/Kilo or US $4
Cheese Cubes = Rs.80/Dozen or US $2
Cottage Cheese = Rs.140/Kilo or US $3.50
Eggs = Rs.30/Dozen or US $0.75
Milk = Rs.32/Litre or US $0.80
Sliced Cheese = Rs.90/Dozen or US $2.25

Mumbai for some reason has always been branded as an expensive city to live in. I hope this article changes your notions of Mumbai or Bombay. Mumbai has an excellent social life, housing, food and overall great quality of life.

So, instead of choosing another city in Asia or South America I would advise you to choose Mumbai as it is not only cheap for it connects you to the rest of India and the world through economical flights from the Airport.