There are plenty of options for housing for expats in Chennai. From small apartments to integrated townships to large beach front properties, you are not limited to a certain type of property.
Most of the large offices are in the southern and western part of the city and given Chennai’s infamous traffic problems, it’s probably best that you look for a place that is as close to your work as possible. If you have children that need to go to school, then you need to be looking at a place in the south of the city as this is where the international schools are.
Within the city you are only likely to find apartments available. A three bedroom apartment in an upscale complex can cost upwards of 75,000 rupees a month. A really nice apartment can cost around 150,000 rupees a month. If you are less particular about where you want to live, you can still find modern apartments for between 30,000 and 50,000 rupees a month.
Apartments generally don’t come with any grass area or garden, although some do have rooftop terraces with sit-outs and perhaps even a small garden.
Villas, Farmhouses and Individual Homes
If you are particular that you want your own individual house then you need to be looking in the south of the city along the East Coast Road (ECR) or Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). There is an area along the ECR called Neelankari which is very popular with expats because it has a large number of big villas with swimming pools and all the modern conveniences you need. It’s also very close by to Tryst Cafe, which is packed with expats buying their fresh bread and meat.
Maintaining a home in Chennai is tougher than it is in western countries because of the dust that quickly accumulates. A large home might be desirable but you’ll need one or two maids to keep on top of the cleaning.
A Word of Caution
While there are some fantastic places to the south of the city like the House of Hirandani complex, the distance from the city can be a problem. You can be as much as 45-60 minutes drive from the city centre. If you want to be within easy distance of the good restaurants, malls and cinemas, then you might want to find something that is closer to the city centre.
If you are searching for expat housing and don’t know where to start then a good place would be the closed Chennai expat marketplace group on Facebook. You’ll have to apply to become a member but expats that are leaving the city will often let you know about a place that is becoming available.
What to do Next
Before you arrive or start housing hunting in Chennai, it might be worth having a read of the Chennai Expat Guide. It’s available in paperback or as an ebook on the Kindle. It’s packed with everything you need to know about renting a house, pitfalls to avoid, local customs around renting and an entire section dedicated to explaining the pros and cons of each neighbourhood in and around the city.