Where to live?
October 20, 2005 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Help me determine how these cities would be to live in.

My employer has issued a list of cities abroad where jobs will be available in 2007. I would like to get a feel for the "livibility" of several cities that I (and my spouse) are interested in. We have come up with a list of 4 cities that we agree on, although our order of preference is not the same. As well, there are 3 cities that neither agree upon. What I'm looking for is a general idea of what it's like to live in the cities we agree upon (and maybe the other 3 as well), especially with 2 children (who would be 4 and 2 years old at that point). Social life, tourism, commuting, safety etc...

BTW, I have lived abroad once before but I was 9 years old at the time. This would be a new experience for my adult self. As a result, I have no frame of reference for making this decision except for past travelling experience.

A couple of caveats: 1) Accomodation is not an issue, as my employer takes care of this; 2) Cost of living, while important, is mitigated by several allowances/premiums provided by my employer; 3) Children, obviously the quality of education/daycare is an important factor to us

Here are the cities:

1) New Delhi
2) Manila
3) Tokyo
4) Paris

and the ones we don't agree on:

1) Moscow
2) Brasilia
3) London

So Mefites, talk up your cities!!
posted by smcniven to Society & Culture (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Avoid New Delhi if safety's a factor. There are regular reports of rapes and assaults. Maybe, as an upper-class & foreigner, the situation's different for you.
posted by Gyan at 9:06 AM on October 20, 2005

Tokyo is probably the safest, althought there's a fair bit of culture shock. Also the most expensive.

On your list, i'd take Tokyo in a heartbeat.
posted by quibx at 9:30 AM on October 20, 2005

I spent the summer of 2002 living in New Delhi, but I was young-ish, single, and Indian (still am), so I didn't stick out much, so my experience may be quite different than yours. I loved Delhi, never really worried about my safety, lived in more plush circumstances than I ever have in the States on less than $4000 for three months.

I had a good friend there, also Indian, whose family had moved there as a transfer from a U.S. Corporation and they were put up in a beautiful house (in Vasant Vihar), their 8 year old son took classes at the American Community School near the U.S. Embassy and loved it. Making a U.S. salary in Delhi, you can easily afford a cook, a security guard, a house-keeper, and even a driver. It's a bit hard to swallow for sure - this sudden (for me) shift into really extravagant living - but it is par for the course for upper class families.

There is a tremendous amount of poverty in New Delhi, of course, and no amount of gates, private cars, or body guards will allow you to escape it. I think that's one of the good things about living there though, I think it's impossible to forget how fortunate you are and how hard so many other people in the world (in your neighborhood even) have it.

I'm not sure how you would feel about exposing your children to that. I used to spend every summer growing up in the most rural state in India and I feel like a lot of where my general empathy comes from is being exposed to poverty at a young age. I think it made me less elitist and ivory tower than my privileged adulthood could have made me.

I absolutely love Delhi, but it is a tough place, especially if you haven't lived abroad before. You would likely live like a king, but you would come face to face between the disparity of your lifestyle and the one of those around you on a daily basis.
posted by buddha9090 at 9:37 AM on October 20, 2005

if it's paid for, i'd do tokyo or paris, only because I'd know I could take a trip later too New Delhi and Manila relatively inexpensively.
posted by fishfucker at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2005

I can only comment thoroughly on London, as it's the only one in the list I've lived in (and still do).

It's expensive. Seriously, you can easily double (and more, often) your living expenses in pretty much any city in North America, and most of mainland Europe. It's insanely expensive. I love living here - I just hate having to live in near poverty to do so.

Have a look at Moveflat.com - I guess it's a Craigslist-esque site for people looking for flatshares / self-contained rentals in London. Have a look at some of the rents contained therein, and be aware that these are often at the cheaper end of the scale (as there aren't usually scalpers letting agencies involved).
posted by coach_mcguirk at 9:47 AM on October 20, 2005

I wouldn't do London (I grew up there but live in the US) but then, I've never had a lot of money. If you do, or will, I think it could be a great place to live. It's a place where a lot is going on, and a lot is available if you have the time and the money to circumvent all the queues and traffic!

I'm also thinking about your spouse and children and the language issue (I'm assuming you're white Americans who only speak English, which is a huge assumption, so please correct me if I'm wrong - it matters too, IMO London is vastly less racist based on skin color than Paris). If you don't want to take the easiest route and go to London, then you might want to think about how much you want to stay part of an ex-pat community and how much you want to be able to get involved in things outside that. My feeling is that if you went somewhere fairly safe and welcoming and where you didn't stand out too much or need protection, your wife and kids could go out and about and pick up some of the language and get more involved in things. It would be a shame if they stayed insulated and didn't gain much from the experience. I don't know enough about most of those cities to give an opinion on where that would and wouldn't apply.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:48 AM on October 20, 2005

coach_mcguirk - I got the feeling that the OP doesn't have to worry about that sort of thing!
posted by crabintheocean at 9:50 AM on October 20, 2005

Moscow is a very Americanized city for Russia (as opposed to St. Petersburg which is Westernized - very european). You'll be able to find fine education for your kids there, and the US/Canadian Embassies will know - you can probably just put your kids in with the ambassadors, and other foreign service officers'.

Moscow has the advantage of being near europe, so vacations to more familiar territory and a huge variety of places are a possibility for you and the family, and that should be taken into account.

Moscow itself is known as the "big suburb" - it's relatively spread out and huge. There's a fantastic subway system, as well as train connections to tons of other places. The trans-siberian railway starts there. In Moscow, you could live entirely within the expatriate community or you could connect with natives. Just about all the business done in Russia goes through Moscow, and it's the cultural and political center (though St. Petersburg residents would argue this point).

I wouldn't worry terribly much about safety in Russia unless you have dark skin, in which case there can be pretty remarkable descrimination, culminating in occasional stories of physical harm. Not all Russians are this way by FAR, but it's a consideration that with respect to race, there are some that are less than progressive. Also, there are still some situations in which cops want "fines" to be paid directly to them :). But this is more of an occasional annoyance, and didn't happen to me or anyone I knew in the six months I lived in Russia.

Also, I can't emphasize enough how BIG Russia is. Living in Moscow will give you the opportunity to experience a place that has a cultural and physical variety like no other - Asia to Europe in one country.
posted by lorrer at 9:56 AM on October 20, 2005

Moscow is the most aggresively anti-resident city I've ever visited. Walking around Moscow is an excercise in walking between stairs. Up the stairs, down the stairs, up, down. I spent three days walking around there with a stroller and just gave up. It *is* expensive there, forget the stereotype of comming to eastern europe and partying for pennies - most of the dinners I had there came out to be ~$50/person.

Of the cities listed up there, I would go with Paris. If only to spend a spring there.
posted by jedrek at 10:23 AM on October 20, 2005

Response by poster: A bit more background if people aren't sure how to answer:

1) We're Canadian, middle class, I speak english and french, my spouse speaks english and german. Kids grunt a lot. Spouse has family in Germany so London and Paris would be nice. While I love London, and even though it's on my list, I'm not 100% I would choose to live there.

2) These are government gigs, so I wouldn't be occupying a corner office in the financial district. There are cost of living allowances, hardship premiums etc... to assist with living expenses. Comparison is based on cost of living in Ottawa

3) Rent for our living accommodation would be capped at $880 Canadian, so that's not an issue.

buddha9090: I don't think I would have a problem with my kids being exposed to the hardships of New Delhi but I think they would be too young to really appreciate it.

I think a better question how would I react to the extreme poverty of others compared to the comfortable lifestyle we could afford. I have mixed feelings about India, on the one hand the culture fascinates me, the region is a great area for travelling (Nepal, South East Asia, maybe even Africa). On the other hand, I find the poverty aspect hard to deal with, and worry about the safety (not so much personal safety) as a friend/colleague was killed in a traffic accident while vacationing in India. Kind of irrational negatives when you put them down on paper.
posted by smcniven at 10:23 AM on October 20, 2005

I think the worst thing most expats do is they live in foreign countries as expats. What I mean by that is, they tend to live in their own little circle. Like in Moscow, you have losts of restaurants, some clubs and other various haunts filled with expats. I assume it's like that anywhere with a large difference between the masses and the wealthy. Go somewhere where you can actually get a taste of the culture and you don't stick out because you're making a Canadian salary.

This is my second vote for Paris, BTW. :)
posted by jedrek at 10:45 AM on October 20, 2005

3) Rent for our living accommodation would be capped at $880 Canadian, so that's not an issue.
By this do you mean that they will pay 880/day or 880/month? 880 Canadian a month will not get you a room in a flatshare on the outskirts of London.
Oh - and in your shoes - Paris without a second thought. Beautiful, a chance to use the French you already know, kid friendly, fantastic food, great culture. Read Adam Gopnik's From Paris to the Moon- a great set of stories about being an ex-pat in Paris - and the hardships of being an expat in general.
posted by Wolfie at 10:56 AM on October 20, 2005

I'm by no means an expert on this, but having just spent two weeks in Paris, I'd move there in a heartbeat if had your opportunity, despite the fact that I already live in the world's most livable city. The biggest drawbacks for me would be my lack of French and the high cost of housing, and you have both those issues covered.
posted by timeistight at 11:05 AM on October 20, 2005

Response by poster: $880/month. But the Government already owns (or leases) the Staff Quarters that are used by employees.

Paris is certainly alluring (that's where I lived when I was nine) and would be one of my contenders.

Anyone have comments on Manila?
posted by smcniven at 11:15 AM on October 20, 2005

New Delhi has horrendous traffic and pollution. And it's not very safe. And the cops are corrupt. I don't think that I would live there.
posted by goethean at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2005

Yeah, I'm not even sure why this is a discussion. I mean, isn't it just a rule that at some point, every person who has the opportunity must live in Paris?
posted by incessant at 11:25 AM on October 20, 2005

I spent a couple of weeks in New Delhi a while back. It was an amazing and wonderful experience. However, the daily temperature was routinely around 43 degrees C (110 F). All other factors aside, I think it would be very hard to live in that sort of heat if you weren't use to it. If you're keeping a tally, I would vote for Paris.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2005

Forget where to live! Where do you work?? I want a list to choose from of countries I can work in next year!
posted by trixie_bee at 11:48 AM on October 20, 2005

I'd go for Paris or Moscow, but the latter is because I'm a sucker for anything Russian and already know the language (though I'd have to get my speaking ability back up to snuff). London has always struck me, doubtless unfairly (since I was last there 30 years ago and was poor as a churchmouse) as a boring city. I enjoyed living in Tokyo, but that was 40 years ago and I was a kid, so that's kind of irrelevant. As for New Delhi, I've never been to India, but from everything I've heard you should take this very seriously:

There is a tremendous amount of poverty in New Delhi, of course, and no amount of gates, private cars, or body guards will allow you to escape it.

I have a friend who went to India a typical American liberal and came back a stone conservative libertarian—he took a look at all that age-old, ineradicable misery and decided liberalism was hopeless. You have been warned.
posted by languagehat at 11:50 AM on October 20, 2005

Or the year after, now that I reread your question.
posted by trixie_bee at 11:53 AM on October 20, 2005

There was a question about living and working in Manila a few months ago that might provide insights. Myself, I've never been there, but even the Filipinos I know are weary of the conditions/unrest in many parts of the city.

Brasilia: Brazil is wonderful, but Brasilia is really out in the middle of nowhere. You're talking a three hour flight to the rest of the outside world (I've been to Brasilia through Rio/Palmas).
posted by whatzit at 11:59 AM on October 20, 2005

Oh, I lied. Going back to look at travel plans, it's an hour and a half flight to Rio de Janeiro from Brasilia. More flights out of the country leave from São Paulo though, which is farther south.
posted by whatzit at 12:12 PM on October 20, 2005

Of the list, I've only lived in London and also visited Paris. I just got back from visiting London a couple of weeks ago, in fact, and I'm still recovering from the sticker shock of how astonishingly expensive it was -- seriously, I don't think I've ever seen prices like that. Think Manhattan prices, but with pound signs in front of them. (In other words, your $880/month is likely to be a fraction of what you'd need for a basic one-room flat in a dumpy part of town.)

Oh, and my brother-in-law's parents live part of the year in Brasilia (for medical reasons -- long story), and it sounds like they often feel pretty isolated and bored there. Awful place for pedestrians too, apparently -- enough that my BIL's father says it makes L.A. look positively Parisian by comparison.

On which note: GO TO PARIS! Are you kidding?
posted by scody at 2:18 PM on October 20, 2005

I would choose Paris, then maybe Tokyo. I've only been to Manila in transit to other parts of Asia, but I hear that it is a bargain shopping extravaganza. Brasilia is a bit of a ghost town on the weekends- people who can afford to decamp for Rio or Sao Paulo.

One piece of information that would be useful to know: how long would you likely be posted abroad?
posted by ambrosia at 3:17 PM on October 20, 2005

I've lived in Tokyo for quite a while, and loved it. I'd go back in a second.

That said, it is a LOT different from any kind of lifestyle you might have here in America. It's somewhat hard to describe until you actually get there and experience it, but differences you will experience run the gamut.

From the rigid, team-first, no-nonsense atmosphere that defines Japanese workplace, to the size of your house and proximity to neighbors, everything is different.

I think something important to note about Tokyo is that it is crowded. Incredibly crowded. If you aren't going to own a car (which is most likely considering if you are living IN Tokyo you won't have much of a place to park), your commute to and from work will definitely be spent standing up, smashed into traincar with a few thousand others in dark suits. Coupled with the rainy, often humid atmosphere, this can be really annoying for some, though I got used to it rather quickly and began to enjoy the crowded rides. Trains are also incredibly reliable and NEVER late.

A second thing to keep in mind is that Tokyo is an deceivingly safe city. The crime rate is definitely one of the lowest in the world for a metropolitan area of its size (we're talking 36 million people in the Tokyo-Yokohama-Chiba area). This is a very good thing since you are going to have kids.

Something people often forget about when considering Tokyo is the availability of food. There are, of course, supermarkets full of familiar goods, though I found that for someone like myself, there just wasn't as much as in America. The variety of goods was less, and there were just some things that were completely unavailable. I solved this problem by simply eating and learning to love Japanese cuisine, but your mileage may vary...

You accommodations will most definitely be smaller than anything you've ever experienced before. Even though your employer is taking care of it, expect to be living in a tiny, tiny space. If you are, in fact, living in Tokyo, chances are you will be in an apartment, and it will be cozy. That said, if you have anything above the 6th floor, you'll most likely have a killer view of what I consider to be one of the most amazing cities to gaze out upon at night.

Tourism is obviously easy. 2 hours to the west is Kyoto, a city with over 2000 temples and some of the most amazing asian cuisine you will ever taste. To the North is Hokkaido, which is essentially the Japanese wilderness, great for hiking or a relaxing hot spring trip. A bit closer and to the Northwest there is skiing to be enjoyed. Tokyo itself has near infinite possibilities for exploration. From the tourist traps (which aren't that bad) of Tokyo Tower, Sensoji and Tokyo Disney Land, to the more hidden cultural experiences of Kabukicho (the red light district), or Tsukishima (a famous, hidden little avenue that has dozens of shops all selling notoriously delicious monja). The nightlife is limitless as well, with the giant, safe clubbing districts of Shibuya and Roppongi to provide you with entertainment all night. Beyond this there is also legal gambling, karaoke and some of the best restaurants in the world available to you.

So it's great.

That said, Tokyo is also an incredibly lonely place. Since you have a family I doubt that will be much of a problem for you, but for someone who doesn't speak Japanese (I assume you don't), it is very, very easy to become culturally alienated and begin pining for home. I've met plenty of people who have come to Tokyo with big dreams, and left a year or two later with a jaded hatred for the place. So again, it really depends on you. I think what you put in to the place is what you get out.

If you do go to Tokyo, the best way to experience it is to forget everything you know about Japan, or everything you think you know, and let yourself merge with the place at your own pace. You'll need to make Japanese friends. You'll need to be unafraid to try new things. You'll need to really, really understand that it IS a different culture and there will most definitely be challenges to everything you've ever learned as an American, especially with the idea of personal freedom. If you can deal with these things like a mature adult, it will not only allow you to enjoy one of the greatest cities on earth, but make you a better person.

Tokyo is a challenge, but it's a challenge I would undertake again any second.


So how do I get hooked up with your company?
posted by dead_ at 3:18 PM on October 20, 2005

Oh, one more thing. I just noticed that your accomodation money is 880$/month, which, unfortunately, isn't even beginning to approach the amount of money it will cost to rent an apartment in Tokyo, let alone one for a family of four.

Expect to pay anywhere from 2 to 4 times that money per month on a place for your family.
posted by dead_ at 3:25 PM on October 20, 2005

I've lived in Japan and I would go with a big 'NO' for you on Tokyo. The one thing that wore me down about living in Japan is the nasty-nasty commute. The ride itself isn't that bad, but the duration sucks. I say this because finding anything near the city center with enough room for an American four-person family will be in the insanely expensive. If your kids can stand not having their own rooms and living in a communal area, you'll probably be fine. However, if you want privacy find a bigger place.

Moving farther afield will mean more breathing space, but probably a very long commute. Also, if you choose the smaller apartment and ever want to have sex again find a babysitter and a membership to a love hotel.

Other than that, Tokyo is great. There is lots to do and it has easy access to the rest of the country. If you were a couple without children I would tell you to go for it, but it will be much more stressful with kids.
posted by Alison at 3:35 PM on October 20, 2005

Response by poster: dead_ writes "So how do I get hooked up with your company?"

I work for Foreign Affairs Canada, so you'd have to be Canadian and write the Foreign Service Exam. In terms of rent, I should have clarified that the Canadian Government owns/leases staff quarters in the cities where we have Embassies/High Commissions and people being posted are placed in those staff quarters (and pay a rent based on family size and income).

ambrosia writes "One piece of information that would be useful to know: how long would you likely be posted abroad?"

It depends on where the city is. I believe Tokyo, Paris and London are 4 years, Brasilia is 3 years and the others are 2 years.
posted by smcniven at 3:41 PM on October 20, 2005

My mate recently came back from four months with the Australian Foreign Affairs in Mumbai. I've spent a coupla weeks in in Delhi, and in Manila. All in all India can be pretty challenging, the poverty really is grinding and inescapable. Your personal living space would be excellent, you'd live like royalty, and Indians can be quite easy to get to know. The work could be very frustrating, the indian bureacracy really is something to behold.

Manila would be easier, but less interesting - Filipino food is quite ordinary. They have big middle class shopping malls and you could get away with feeling like you were at home (not really, but certainly compared to Delhi).

Personally I'd go for Paris, though it's predictable and unchallenging, but very beautiful.
posted by wilful at 5:13 PM on October 20, 2005

I would have thrown my hat in the ring for Paris but is it nice to pile-on? I spend half of my life there and it is great -- anyone who suggests you live there based on their impressions from visiting does will not even give half of what makes it a good place to live.

Paris is very child and family friendly -- although don't be thrown by the notion that the French do know when to draw the line on focusing on children. Every restaurant in town though will find someway to throw together a dish for a kid though. The parks are great -- filled with playgrounds, ice cream (yet the adults can still buy beer), mini-carnavals, fun things to rent.

Being the heart of France, getting out of Paris and seeing France is easy as pie; it is also a great hub for Europe. The weather is better than reputed and the light (natural and artificial) lives up to the nickname. If you are interesting in reading more of my impressions of living in Paris, click through my profile to my website. (Read the chronicles. Nothing recent as I have been mired in a project in the States.)

I love London (brother in law lives there) and dream of going to Tokyo. Given that housing is essentially provided you have half the battle of life in any of these cities licked. Best of luck and I am sure you will be delighted with any choice.

Tokyo Blogger.
Canadian in south of France.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:45 PM on October 20, 2005

If your employer is providing a significant housing allowance, and you have a high salary, then London (meaning London and surrounding suburbs in Surrey and elsewhere that are 30-60 minutes by train to London), then London is great. Paul Johnson, an English historian, once wrote an essay asking which was the greatest city in the world: Paris, New York, or London. He chose London. You can be in Paris, or anywhere else in Eurpope, in a flash by train or plane. Again, depending on your benefits, great schools, restaurants, quality of life, super people, and a wonderful country. If money is a critical factor, then forget London, forget Paris. England and France are quite expensive places to live. What a great choice you have. Good luck.
posted by madstop1 at 6:43 PM on October 20, 2005

Posters above are focusing on their takes of each city, and that's probably what you're after, but...
- With your kids starting at ages 2/4, they'll really be too young to appreciate the experience as much as you parents will. Your job is to keep them safe, and find fun and educational things for them to do. You and the gov't will do that, I'm sure.
- More importantly, how will you and Spouse McNiven do in each of these places? If you're looking for an easy transition culture-wise, London hands-down. For a beautiful, albeit challenging time, pick Paris or perhaps Tokyo. For something exotic and perhaps life-changing, New Delhi would be hard to top.
- On the practical side, will your mate be working? If not, his/her ability to enjoy and be stimulated by the new city is very important, unless childcare is all they're into. But if they're unhappy, this will be a very long posting, for all of you.
posted by rob511 at 7:14 PM on October 20, 2005

I don't speak French. I've only visited Paris briefly. I've lived in suburban London. I'd pick Paris over London if, for no other reason, than I find London a bit tight on space. I was very comfortable in Paris in this regard.

I've no doubt my partner would chime in louder on Paris, he spent 6 months there during his undergrad, and speaks French. He's quite passionate about Paris.
posted by Goofyy at 10:34 PM on October 20, 2005

I have to say that London and Paris feel very close these days. There are a lot of French in London (as well as Brazilians, Aussies etc) and the Eurostar train means you can have breakfast in Kensington, and lunch in The Louvre.

However - if weather is a factor at all, don't come to London, it's very grey and very wet.
posted by Blip at 4:36 AM on October 21, 2005

Paris seems absolutely the most viable. You're close to everywhere, great health care and everything else. You are also the closest to the US, and your family would probably be most likely to visit you in Paris than anywhere else.

Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world; would really only be worthwhile for access to the rest of Japan. Delhi and Manila, crime, corruption, pollution, monsoons, no real infrastructure that an American could rely on; all the movies are censored in Delhi so you'll never see a movie in its original form in a theater. London, crappy weather and people who you can't ever tell if they're serious or not; Moscow bad weather and the bad infrastructure thing.

I wrote that yesterday when I couldn't post it, but an immediate reply without reading the entire thread:

With your kids starting at ages 2/4, they'll really be too young to appreciate the experience as much as you parents will

I am pretty adamant that I think this is wrong. Any experience at those formative ages is going to make a huge impression. My first memory is from when I was 4. Diane Arbus remembers speaking French with her nanny. Everyone I have known who had lived abroad when they were children are definitely different, have larger perspectives, and pride themselves on having lived abroad. It isn't just the place, it is the people who will surround them, their attitudes, and I think everyone would agree that children are very receptive to the people around them. Indians are some of the best people I have ever met and would be an amazing influence on your children, but I think the French and their idea of family would also be nurturing.

I think it is important to show your children the world if you have the chance, and I think they will treasure it for the rest of their lives. It will also be easy for them to learn the language.
posted by scazza at 12:58 PM on October 21, 2005

I think a better question how would I react to the extreme poverty of others compared to the comfortable lifestyle we could afford. I have mixed feelings about India

The poverty is hard for us North Americans since we are isolated from the rest of the world (it's easy for Europeans to go to Turkey or N. Africa, for instance, and we have to fly over oceans). I have been to India twice--Kerala and Calcutta--and have worked with the poor. It took me about 2-3 weeks each time to get used to it. Your instinct will be revulsion at the generally lower quality of life, and "survivor's guilt" at the poverty, but eventually you will accept it, ignore it. As someone with money, not working with the poor as I did the second time I was there, it will be harder for you to get over the guilt without as much contact. The more you look at it straight, the faster you will accept it. It is not insurmountable. Indians are much more spiritually rich than westerners, and gave me more than I could ever give back.

However, New Delhi is a weird place. TGIFridays' and Benneton. I went to a weird TexMex place there. It is very westernized, the government buildings are immaculate, but then there is livestock wandering the streets and extreme poverty. It was disallusioning, and was my least favorite place.

Safety is an issue in terms of transportation since the most deaths in India are not caused by any disease, but by transportation related accidents. Busses, trains, cars. The busses are extremely packed, people hang on to the outside of them, trains are the same way, and the roads are packed, and the pavement is constantly being torn apart by the poor who sell it back to the government.

If you were considering Delhi, I think you should spend at least a month there to see if you fall in love with it. I say a month b/c it takes anyone I've met at least 2 weeks for your body to just adjust to the level of cleanliness, the food, etc. If you are being cared for by a family you would adjust faster since it would be clean and you would be fed the most amazing food of your life.
posted by scazza at 1:27 PM on October 21, 2005

Background: I have been to Delhi twice, once for a visit and once to live. I have also lived in and traveled in West Africa for 2 years, Mexico for months, and traveled extensively in tough places. (I'm white, female, and was 22 and 25 when I was in India, by the way.)

I would not recommend living in Delhi. Both times, I found it to be one of the least pleasant cities I have lived in or visited. Here's why: (1) dust everywhere, (2) terrifying traffic, (3) intense heat, and electricity was "stolen" frequently - not sure if that applies in more expensive neighborhoods, (4) hard to find food that wouldn't make me sick, (5) must take anti-malarial medicine, (6) places to socialize were often empty, (7) the first time I was there was pre-9/11, the second time was post 9/11. The second time I felt a fair amount of hostility to americans. (Not sure if that's relevant to you.) (8) as a young, white woman, I felt very restricted as to where I could go and when. I got a lot of attention, and generally felt less safe than any other place I've been. I rarely saw women on the streets, so that was a factor. (I lived in a Sikh neighborhood - not sure if that is relevant to the woman thing.)

India is a beautiful, fascinating place, but I wouldn't recommend Delhi as a place to live, especially with young kids. I've often heard that people either love India or hate it (an acronym I heard thrown around was I'll Never Do It Again - INDIA). I love it & hate it, and want to go back, but certainly would not live there again.
posted by Amizu at 3:45 PM on October 22, 2005

Response by poster: If anyone is curious about the outcome, I submitted my preference to my employer yesterday.

My spouse got into a car accident last week and, coupled with some of the posts here about Delhi and our friend being killed in India earlier this year, has decided that Delhi is not to her liking anymore.

We ended up going with (in order of preference):
1) Paris
2) Shanghai
3) Tokyo
4) Moscow
5) London

We dropped Delhi and Manila from our list and added Shanghai at the last minute. Not sure why, as I'm sure it could be comparable to Delhi in some respects but there you go.

Thanks to all for your input. I won't mark any responses as Best Answer as they all had good points to them
posted by smcniven at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2005

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