An Expat’s Guide To Bangalore

Though renamed to Bengaluru, the locals and foreigners alike still mostly refer to it as Bangalore. It’s popularity began to rise in the 1990s as a hub for IT services, mostly outsourced at the time, and is now commonly referred to worldwide as the silicon valley of Asia — due, in part, to extensive IT campuses established by all the significant IT players, such as SUN, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and others.

With an explosion of growth in the last few years (going from 2 million to 10 million inhabitants) combined with influences from the many foreigners living and working here, it has a large expat community and has become one of the most international cities in India.

Weather

A big plus to Bangalore is its weather, which is usually below 28 degree Celsius most of the year. The hottest months are historically from March until May where the temperature can go up to 35 degree Celsius. The Monsoons traditionally last from Mid-July to October, but in recent years tend to not begin until August or early September.

International Schools

Bangalore has a lot of international schools. Many of the expats choose to send their kids to an international school. Here is a list of international schools in Bangalore.

Nightlife

Regulations require bars to close before 11:30 pm on weekdays and 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays, Bangalore’s nightlife may have curtailed a little bit. However, city dwellers find ways to beat the deadline with house parties till the wee hours of the morning, and by starting early on the weekends. Sunday brunches are a favorite where several bars offer unlimited food and alcohol from 12 pm to 3 pm for a price below INR 2500. Most people are usually friendly, and it’s not that difficult to find an expat group to hang out with.

If you like the nightlife, Bangalore has various options; it is even nicknamed the pub city of India. UB City (off MG Rd), Brigade road, 100 ft road Indiranagar, and Koramangala are the hot nightlife spots. 100 Feet Road Indiranagar probably has the highest number of bars in Bangalore now, overtaking the traditional pub location of Brigade road-MG road.

Microbreweries have gained popularity in recent years, and there are many to choose from, such as Toit (Indiranagar), Biere Club (near UB City), Sky Bar, Arbor Brewery (off Brigade Road), and Murphy’s Brew House being some of the most popular. Here is a list of some pubs in md rd Bangalore.

Here are some restaurants our contributors have reviewed.

The Indian Kitchen

Phobidden Fruit, A Cosy Little Vietnamese Kitchen in Indiranagar, Bangalore

Coffee Shops

The city has a wide range. The Cafe Coffee Day chain is the largest; western brands like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are present, as well as the Italian chain Caffe Pascucci. Other smaller places we recommend for coffee, hangout spots, finger foods and atmosphere include Cup ‘O Joe in Koramangala and The Leanin Tree in Jayanagar. Internet can be found available in many of these coffee shops.

Housing

Foreigners with no local connections in Bangalore cannot rent apartments or houses, leaving them to source out hotels, hostels or “home stays.” For those that do have a local sponsor to co-sign the lease, they can rent houses and flats (apartments). Typically the deposit is equal to 10 months of rent.
Broadband connections for the home vary from location to location; Airtel and ACT are the most popular.

Here is a guide to finding accommodation in Bangalore

A finish student’s hostel experience in Bangalore

Visas

Visas are good for the duration obtained, however, note that for those with long-term business visas, once you’ve been in the country for six months, you are still required to register at the FRRO. If you fail to do so, you will be detained from leaving the country until you do so.

Transport

Bangalore has all the traditional transport modes. In the city, the standard way is Auto-rickshaw or taxi cab. The experiences with both vary. Local buses are very inexpensive, but can also be crowded, dirty and are rarely on time.

The auto-rickshaws are most common; they’re inexpensive, can be found on almost any corner, and the drivers can often dispense local knowledge. There is also the Metro, though there are many stations still under construction, so double check your stop to make sure you can get off there (it is available between Indiranagar and MG Road). Taxi apps are also available, some of the most popular are Ola and Uber.

For over-the-road travel, there are sleeper buses and railroads. When going on a long trip, trains tend to have long waiting lists, so book way in advance. Overnight buses are equipped with semi-reclining seats or sleeping berths. Most do not have a toilet aboard, so plan accordingly. And be prepared as some of the toilet stops might not be much more than the side of the road.

For any experienced western travelers, they know to always carry their own toilet paper, as very few — if any — shops along the way will have any. In the best case scenario they will have a hose and in the worst case a bucket with water.

Banking

ATMs can be easily accessed almost anywhere in the city. The largest banks include HDFC and ICICI. Expats in Bangalore do find it a challenge to get a bank account in the city. Here is an article about an expat’s experience in getting a bank account in India

Cell Phone Services

Services for cell phones can be obtained as prepaid or postpaid. You will need several photo stamps, and a local address to get service.

Most are 3G, although Airtel just introduced 4G dongles for laptop use. With prepaid you can purchase by data pack minutes and voice minutes, allowing you to mix and match what works best for you. Vodafone and Airtel are the most common mobile networks, with Air-cel also a reliable choice.

Tourism

The great thing about Bangalore is that it is close to a lot of tourist attractions. Goa is just a 12-hour ride by bus or 90 minutes by air; air tickets are quite cheap to Goa. Kerala is quite close. Ooty is only 6 hours away by road. Pondicherry is another small town with a lot of history; it’s just about 300 Kms away.

If you don’t want to leave the city, here are some places to visit in Bangalore.

Important Festivals in Bangalore

India is a vast country, and the culture varies from place to place. Bangalore, compared to other cities in India has a cosmopolitan vibe to it. However, Diwali is the most popular festival in the whole of India, including Bangalore.

Being home to various religions and cultures, festivals like Christmas, Ramzan, Ganesh Chaturthi are also widely celebrated. Foreigners find that there are more festivals in India than in any country in the world.

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