Chennai Essentials: What to Buy When You Move to Chennai

Chennai Essentials: What to Buy When You Move to Chennai

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When you arrive in Chennai you should budget around 20,000 to 30,000 rupees to ensure your apartment is stocked with the bare essentials to get by on a daily basis.

Many of these items can be picked up from a visit to a Home Lifestyle or @Home store which are dotted around the city. Alternatively, they can all be ordered online from Amazon.

If you are looking for larger essential items like furniture then you can visit a Woodpecker showroom or Home Lifestyle or @Home store. Alternatively, many websites now offer excellent flat packed furniture. Visit and to see what they have to offer.

If you do purchase furniture online, signup to Cash Karo first as they list coupons and even cash back offers on many sites.

If you need to buy home appliances such as an air conditioning unit, washing machine, fridge, microwave etc. then visit a Viveks or Croma showroom – there are plenty all over the city. Alternatively, many of these items can also be ordered online from Amazon.

Surge ProtectorBuy Now
Price: 500 to 1,500 rupees


All your electrical items should be plugged in via a surge protector. Ideally, larger items such as a TV and computer should be plugged in to a voltage regulator as well. The surge protectors have the added advantage of accepting a wide range of plugs from the UK, US, Europe and Australia which means you don’t have to carry a bunch of adapters with you.

Battery BackupBuy Now
Price: 2,000 to 20,000 rupees


Power cuts are a fact of life in Chennai and unless you live in an apartment complex which has a backup generator, power cuts can be a major inconvenience. Although the situation has drastically improved in the last few years, there are still occasions when the power fails. A backup battery won’t power your air conditioning unit but it’ll be enough to save any work on your computer, keep your broadband modem on and power a couple of lights.

Note that the cheaper battery backup systems do not produce a pure sine wave which has the potential to damage some electrical equipment if used regularly.

IronBuy Now
Price: 1,500 to 3,000 rupees


Sure, you can have your maid take care of all the ironing but there will still be plenty of tmes when that one piece needs to be ironed. Choose a brand name like Philips or Morphy Richards to ensure quality. In India, an iron is called an iron box.

Ironing BoardBuy Now
Price: 2,000 to 3,000 rupees


If you think you will be doing your own ironing and don’t fancy using the kitchen table as a place to do it, invest in an ironing board. For reasons unknown, perhaps so few people buy them, a good quality ironing board is more expensive than an iron.

Clothes HorseBuy Now
Price: 2,000 to 3,000 rupees


Although it’s half a billion degrees outside and enough to bake your clothes to a crisp, the humidity during the monsoon season can make it too damp to dry your clothes outside. A clothes horse ensures that you don’t have to spread out your wet clothes across the floor of your apartment as you crank your ceiling fans up to warp speed.

(Yes, you could buy a tumble dryer but think of the colossal waste, particularly in a country where electricity is a scarce resource).

Induction StoveBuy Now
Price: 2,500 rupees


The difficulty of getting cooking gas canisters means that even if you do get gas delivered, having a backup option is always useful. Induction stoves are a safe, convenient way of cooking but do require special cookware.

Induction CookwareBuy Now
Price: 2,000 to 4,000 rupees


You can’t use regular cookware on induction stoves as it requires a special induction base to spread the heat evenly. A wok, frying pan and saucepan are the bare essentials but you can also buy a pressure cooker as well which lets you cook various other dishes.

Glassware, Crockery, Cutlery & UtensilsBuy Now
Price: 2,500 to 5,000 rupees


If you are particular about the kind of glassware and crockery in your kitchen then pay a visit to your local Home Lifestyle or @home store. Otherwise these items can also easily be ordered from Amazon.

Water DispenserBuy Now
Price: 500 to 10,000 rupees


Drinking water is distributed via 20 litre bubble top cans. You need to buy a dispenser that will hold the can and make it easy to pour the water. Solutions range from the basic plastic tubs to the luxury appliance which chills or warms the water to your preference.

Water BottleBuy Now
Price: 200 – 500 each


Chennai is a very warm and humid city so you might find that you are drinking more water than normal. If you are doing the washing up yourself, there’s nothing worse than a pile of glasses building up. Almost everyone will have their own water bottle which they keep topped up and drink directly from that.

Price: 2000 – 5000 rupees per set


If you have the time when you land, head to a shop called Kalpa Druma on Cathedral Road which contains fantastic handmade, organically dyed bedding for a reasonable price. Alternatively any Home Lifestyle or @Home store will contain a range of sheets and bedding options. You can also order bedding items online.

Mosquito BatBuy Now
Price: 300 – 500 rupees


The idea of being Roger Federer in you own bedroom has never been more fun when you have one of these bats in your hand. Illegal in 73 countries around the world*, this bat is to mosquitos what the electic chair is to humans. Few things are more satisfying than the zap, zap, zap noise as you obliterate yet another annoying little bugger.

* A completely made up stat

About the author

Author of the Chennai Expat Guide book, Peter splits his time between writing and discovering new places in India. Somewhere along the way he manages to lead the marketing team at Unmetric. He dreams of one day playing for Manchester United.

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