Expats moving to Delhi will find themselves in a sprawling city woven into a web of dozens of areas and neighbourhoods. While each has its own unique and charming characteristics, it's important to familiarise oneself in this often intimidating metropolis – especially as a newly arrived expat looking for accommodation.
Delhi can certainly be an 'insider’s city' in that valuable information about which neighbourhoods are best for shopping, sightseeing or living is often only available through word of mouth. Expats moving to Delhi will most likely be drawn to neighbourhoods in South Delhi where other foreign nationals are concentrated and have formed a community over the years.
There are plenty of options, depending on price, priority and location – here are some recommended suburbs in and around Delhi.
Trendy and vibrant areas in Delhi
As India’s capital city, Delhi offers a cosmopolitan environment with lively neighbourhoods. This animated atmosphere is not limited to the city's modern districts – Delhi’s historical neighbourhoods undoubtedly add to the city’s energy.
Hauz Khas Village
Young expats and those with a desire for a fun, buzzing lifestyle should not overlook Hauz Khas Village. This area has earned recognition as the ‘National Capital of Ethnic Chic’ as its old houses have been transformed into trendy new ones as well as contemporary boutiques and art galleries. While lively bars, cafés and restaurants are drawcards, Hauz Khas Village also boasts its historical charm with ruins of ancient tombs. The area is also largely pedestrianised, and Deer Park and its lake is a nice escape from the city traffic.
For a unique mix of old and new, Shahpur Jat is a vibey area to find accommodation in. This neighbourhood stands as the remains of an ancient city in Delhi, but in recent years has been gentrified and is now a popular, and rather bohemian, place to live, with plenty of trendy cafés and restaurants and indie shops.
Though Lodhi Colony has largely been known to house government officers and top politicians, the area boasts much more than just that. Lodhi Colony has recently blossomed to life with colourful murals and street art. The colony is also home to the India Habitat Centre, which hosts conventions, concerns, plays and dance performances among a wide variety of cultural events. A short distance from Khan Market and Golf Links, the area’s public park, Lodhi Garden, is a perfect spot for picnics among roses and bonsai trees.
North of New Delhi city centre lies the historical area of Old Delhi. Part of the Mughal Empire in the 17th Century, the district is home to magnificent historical monuments and buildings, including the iconic Red Fort and breathtaking Jama Masjid. Within this district, Chandni Chowk stands as one of the world’s busiest and oldest markets, and it offers an authentic Indian feel with its diverse, lively and colourful cultures and historical richness.
Family-friendly areas in Delhi
While rental prices vary across the city, expats may find that the family-friendly areas are also some of the most expensive ones. Getting around in Delhi can be challenging; fortunately, some neighbourhoods are centrally located and well connected to amenities, schools and workplaces, so residents won’t have to travel far.
Jor Bagh contains a large, well-established expat community. Properties here are spacious and suitable for expats moving to Delhi with families. Jor Bagh's main market is a good place to shop and the area has several parks and open spaces, which is great for expats with children.
Vasant Vihar is southwest of New Delhi and is home to many diplomatic missions as well as several good private schools. For these reasons, it is one of the most popular residential neighbourhoods among expats. Housing here is luxurious but pricey, and it ranks as one of the most affluent areas in India.
South Extension (South Ex)
South Ex, as it's commonly known, is a popular and posh neighbourhood. Here expats have lots of modern accommodation options to choose from, including small apartments and larger, more spacious condos. South Ex's residents have access to some great shopping facilities as well as restaurants and bars. Families with children will be happy to discover the range of international and private schools and daycare centres nearby too. There is plenty to keep people entertained here and it's a good choice for young, professional expats as well as wealthy business families.
Right in the heart of New Delhi, Chanakyapuri is home to some of the top politicians and civil servants in India as well as foreign diplomats. Nearby Lutyens' Delhi houses some of the city’s most expensive and important bungalows. As a diplomatic enclave, the area hosts numerous international schools including the British School and the American Embassy School. This proximity to schools and workplaces makes this neighbourhood perfect for wealthy expat families with children.
Luxury living in Delhi
While rent in Delhi may seem substantially more affordable compared to Mumbai and other major expat destinations, real estate in many suburbs comes at a high price – and it may be worth it given the comforts on offer.
This is one of the more affluent neighbourhoods in Delhi. The homes are large, luxurious and well guarded, and many businessmen and diplomats call this area home. Golf Links is well situated with regards to amenities such as shops, restaurants and various other entertainment facilities, and is a stone’s toss away from Khan Market. The area is popular with a range of different demographic groups, from well-off young professionals to expat families.
Connaught Place lies in the heart of Delhi and is one of the most popular neighbourhoods to visit and stay in. A major financial and business hub, Connaught Place has everything from shops and cinemas to lively bars and restaurants. This area stands out in New Delhi and its British and European-inspired architecture adds to the aesthetic along with its spacious Central Park. While this area is more commercial than residential, expats may be able to secure luxury accommodation nearby.
Expats looking for a posh residential suburb close to amenities may find themselves searching for accommodation in Saket. Located in South Delhi, Saket has easy access to some of the more prominent malls in the city around the Press Enclave Marg, which is great for all an expat’s shopping needs.
DLF Cyber City
For a contemporary feel, DLF Cyber City is a great place to stay. Not far south of New Delhi, in the city of Gurugram, Cyber City is full of all things hot and happening. Home to both local and foreign-owned companies, expats employed in the IT sector may find themselves working in this business district. The area is geared towards those who work hard and play hard – when the evening comes, Cyber City hosts a vibrant nightlife with bars and restaurants. This tech hub is also close to upscale malls and expansive golf courses.
►Get some essential info on renting accommodation in Delhi
►For budgeting tips, see Cost of Living in India
"The most happening part of Delhi is South Delhi. It’s home to the best bars, nightclubs, shopping malls and some of the city’s most important historical monuments. The central part of Delhi is also really nice, less crowded and probably the cleanest part of Delhi, but housing in these two areas is more expensive too." Read more in our interview with Daniel Kiteski.
"We have chosen to live in the Gadaipur, which is approximately thirty minutes from central Delhi, The Gadaipur and Chattarpur areas have got houses with large gardens, swimming pools and tennis courts. It is like being in an oasis after the madness of the city." There certainly is a myriad of neighbourhoods in and around Delhi – read our interview with Marina M for more.
Photo credits: India Habitat Centre by Barun Ghosh; Urban cityscape by Anish Kumar; and Connaught Place by Kaif. All sourced from Unsplash.
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