Moving to Pune
The mountain town of Pune lies 1,840ft above sea level at the edge of the Deccan Plateau. It was once the political and administrative centre of the Maratha Empire, a power which controlled most of the Indian subcontinent, making it the most important city in India for a time. Today Pune is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, but it by no means lives in the shadow of its larger cousin. With a rapidly growing economy based on IT and manufacturing, Pune was named by the Times of India in 2011 as the second best city in India in which to live.
With a population of over 5 million inhabitants, mostly Hindu but with sizeable Muslim, Buddhist and Jain communities, Pune is the eighth largest city in India. It has seen tremendous changes over the previous few decades as India has made the transition to rapidly emerging economy status. The traditional industries have given way to automobile manufacturing and hundreds of technology companies attracted by the skilled, educated workforce. This in turn has created opportunities for management level immigrant workers from the West who are now flocking to Pune in large numbers.
What greets them is a city far from the Western model but thriving with a cultural vitality, welcoming population and spiritual legacy that leads many to stay far longer than at first planned.
Moving to Pune From the UK
Those moving from the UK to Pune may be able to get by with English - almost all business, especially in international companies, is conducted in English - but attempting to learn the basics of Marathi and Hindi are much recommended if you’re to get the most from life in Pune. Luckily there are numerous free online resources to give you a head start.
There are several international schools to choose from in Pune offering a choice of International Baccalaureate and British National Curriculum teaching. There is also a small but growing expat community who can assist with settling in.
The city is fairly large and can be quite difficult to navigate - especially at night - so take into account when deciding where to live the amenities you need within walking distance. Many Westerners are unprepared for the visible poverty in Indian cities, where slums frequently border affluent areas. Learning to haggle can be bonus.
Property prices in India have been falling in recent years after a long boom which lasted from 2002 to 2007. Pune, due to a large influx of foreign investment, has managed to buck that trend and is still seeing significant rises. Average property prices range from around INR 38,000 (£371) per square metre to around INR 150,000 (£1,465) per square metre.
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Comparing Pune vs London
Pune has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons: summer, monsoon and winter. Summer lasts from March to May when average high temperatures reach 37-38 °C, a good 14-15 degrees higher than London’s midsummer average highs. The monsoon season, which runs from June to September is when most of the 741mm of average rainfall is deposited. That’s 25% more rainfall than London gets on average per annum but Pune’s predictable dry seasons and almost twice as many average annual sunshine hours more than compensate for the extra wetness.
Property isn’t the only thing cheaper in Pune than in London. Rent, groceries, transport, consumer goods, utilities and restaurants are all less expensive in Maharashtra’s second largest city leading to significantly lower living costs. Even taking into account much reduced average salaries local purchasing power is greater than in the UK capital.
On average Puneites report themselves as feeling just as safe as Londoners and as experiencing only slightly less efficient healthcare. They do however report experiencing much more pollution and spend longer commuting on average.