During my recent survey of India, I visited Chennai. The city is located on India’s east coast and has growing automotive, industrial, and technology sectors. Behind the strength of this, the city government has invested in its infrastructure to alleviate traffic, reduce commuting times, and increase available housing units, including many expatriate-focused housing complexes along the attractive coastline.
Driving down the four-lane highway from Bangalore’s airport to the city centre, our progress slowed. The road ahead narrowed to two lanes due to bridges that the government has found prohibitively expensive to wide. Arriving after a full day of travel, my trip suddenly became that much longer as we trudged through traffic on the way to my hotel. I could see why assignees desire to live near their offices.
The Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, referred to by many as BKC, has continued to develop and is fast becoming the new business and residential heart of Mumbai. Originally intended to serve as an alternate business district to help decongest south Mumbai, commercial office stock has increased at phenomenal rates in the past five years. BKC now houses India’s Stock Exchange and the Indian headquarters of many large multinational companies.
On my most recent trip, I visited Baku, Azerbaijan. The political and economic heart of this oil-wealthy nation, Baku had seen a large exodus of expatriates starting in 2014 due to falling oil prices. These departures and an overall weak economy brought rents down significantly. Over the last two years, rents have started to recover, and the sources I met with indicated moderate price increases in certain areas. While oil prices have rebounded slightly, the primary driver of rising rents is a decrease in the supply of long-term rentals. ]
During my recent survey, I visited the Avenue Mall in Manama, a seafront mall stretching for 1.5 km. It reminded me of the Avenue Mall in Kuwait because it provides an outdoor feeling with large glass windows and skylights, while protecting shoppers from the burning sun. As anyone that’s traveled to Bahrain knows, the country is a popular destination for residents of Saudi Arabia seeking recreation and malls are one of the top attractions. Numerous expatriates and Saudi Arabians visit Bahrain for the shopping, movies, restaurants, waterparks, and other activities.
Mumbai has long been known as a city with high levels of air pollution from the choking congestion and horrendous traffic conditions. During my recent survey, I confirmed that this reputation has yet to change! The construction of the elevated lines of the Mumbai Metro project continues to aggravate traffic problems along SV Road in the expat areas of Bandra, Santa Cruz, and Khar. Additionally, rush-hour gridlock in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) is being impacted by the work on the BKC Metro station project where there will be a new Metro Line 3 and 2B interchange.
Santa Cruz is considered one of the world’s fastest growing cities due to the ongoing migration of Bolivians from the rural regions to the country’s economic powerhouse. During my recent survey, I learned much about this developing city.
On my last survey, a five-week trip across Africa, I visited Lagos, Nigeria and Cairo, Egypt, two of the most notorious traffic destinations in the world. These locations lived up to their hype, and I spent a lot of time sitting in traffic. However, I was surprised to find that Nairobi, Kenya’s traffic was almost as bad despite lacking the same level of notoriety. Nairobi’s three main issues are a shortage of stop signs and traffic lights at intersections, poor road quality, and incredible amounts of construction that disrupt traffic routes.
During my recent survey, I visited two small cities in Kazakhstan near the Caspian Sea. Oil is the main industry in this region, and these cities are no exception. The first of these cities I visited was Aktau, which directly overlooks the Caspian Sea. The city was originally built as an oil camp decades ago, and even now the city feels rural. The air in the city is dry and roads are not particularly walkable.
During my survey of Bangkok, I found the multiple transportation systems available for use extremely helpful, especially in comparison to other Southeast Asian cities. In Yangon, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, I was entirely dependent on taxis and rideshare apps, as there are no functioning rail systems, the buses are difficult for foreigners to use, and the cities are not particularly pedestrian friendly. Conversely, in Bangkok, I used a much more balanced mix of rideshare, metro (MRT), Skytrain (BTS), and walking.