From mountains to beaches, sweltering summers to snowy winters, there are surroundings and seasons for every preference across India’s vibrant landscape. Filled with rich histories, diverse cultures, and tons of generosity and warmth, many Indian cities manage to strike the right balance between modern-day conveniences and maintaining a community spirit.
In the past few decades, there has been a boom in the technology and tourism sector, rapid growth in education and a multitude of job opportunities attracting Indian citizens to its big cities. The lure of relocation for studies, employment and even retirement is greater than ever. So which Indian cities rank best for these benefits? We’ve covered the most sought-after cities in India so you can make an informed decision if you are considering taking the leap.
1. Bengaluru (Bangalore), Karnataka
Before its name change and IT boom, Bangalore was primarily known for its great weather and scenic surroundings. Today, its climate, which remains cool through most of the year, is still a big draw to those who experience India’s long hot and humid summers or frigid winters. The city still boasts beautiful parks and tree-lined streets with colourful blossoms. The ‘garden city’ also goes by another name – in the last decade, it’s been referred to as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ because of the huge number of technology giants and IT professionals here. And because of its iconic IT status and the wealth of job opportunities, you’ll find it a preferred location for many young students and professionals.
From entertainment and shopping to art and culture, you’ll find it all in this spirited city. There are no shortages of shopping malls, cinemas, theatres, exhibition halls and galleries here. There are plenty of historical and cultural sites to explore, parks to relax in or exercise at and holiday locations just short drives and flights away.
Some favourite places frequented by Bangalore residents include Cubbon Park, Nandi Hills, Tipu Sultan’s Palace, Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore Palace, ISKCON Temple and the National Gallery Of Modern Art.
Neighbourhoods are friendly and welcoming, rents are affordable and civic amenities are almost always up to the mark. If there is one gripe that Bengaluru has, though, it’s its well-documented traffic woes. During peak hours at busy motorways, getting through even a few kilometres can be a lengthy ordeal if you are driving.
2. Pune, Maharashtra
A great option for education, Pune is bustling with a vibrant student culture. Like Bengaluru, it’s a hot IT hub that attracts scores of young and bright professionals looking to make it big in the tech world. A city to satisfy all your urban cravings for restaurants, pubs and bars, nightlife and trendy cafes, Pune is also a culturally-rich city that retained its glorious Marathi history through its theatre, art, food and more.
Some favourite places frequented by Pune residents include Shaniwar Wada, Aga Khan Palace, the Osho Ashram, Empress Garden, Parvati Hill, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and Katraj Snake Park.
Pune is not as populated as many big cities like Bangalore and Mumbai so you won’t find yourself whining about the traffic too much. Accommodation prices and the cost of living is also pretty affordable – on par with places such as Bangalore. Pune may be Maharashtra’s second biggest city but, thankfully, its housing costs are no way near the sky-high prices of the largest Maharashtran city, Mumbai.
Pune’s climate too draws many – it’s relatively pleasant with summers getting warm, rarely beyond a bearable 35°C.
3. Surat, Gujarat
If you are longing for clean and litter-free streets, Surat may be on the card for you. Surat was voted the second cleanest city in India in the Swachh Survekshan 2022- the government’s annual cleanliness survey. It scored 6,925 points out of a total points of 7,500, just behind Indore in Madhya Pradesh which has 7,146 points.
The diamond capital of India is growing at breakneck speeds, with a booming textile industry specialising in fabrics such as silk, khadi and brocade. Its annual GDP growth is estimated at 11.5%. Gujarat is also heaven for those who love Indian handicraft and handloom products.
Besides its diamonds, fabrics and cleanliness, Surat has plenty of other great pros. Its delicious Gujarati food is savoured throughout the country and you will get all the authentic flavours right in this city. Residents swear by the mouth-watering street food like dabeli, the yummy sweet Surati Ghari and the over-the-top indulgent Gujarati Thali consisting of snacks/farsans, vegetable dishes, shaak, yogurt, desserts and more.
The housing options are plenty, suiting every budget and costs are affordable. Road connectivity to various important centres is excellent too, making Surat an amazing place to live and work in.
4. Mumbai, Maharashtra
The city that never sleeps, Mumbai is known for its spirit, ambition and cut-throat competition. If you are looking to make it big and ready to give it your all, there is no better city to try your luck. From Bollywood to big business, this city is bursting with manic energy and the best can truly blossom here. It’s always crowded, with over 23 million people. It is the sixth most populous metropolitan area in the world.
Mumbai has a beautiful coastline with gorgeous beaches and promenades. It houses UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Elephanta Caves and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Its city centre houses gorgeous Victorian and Art Deco buildings and the whole area is filled with rich history and culture.
The city is connected well with its road network and is known for its railway system that transports millions daily. Traffic is still, however, an issue at peak hours.
Rents and property prices are skyhigh and Mumbai is the most expensive city to live in in India. If you are starting out, you may be shocked at the cost of rent for a 1BHK, which can be around Rs. 60,000 in sought-after areas in the city.
5. Chennai, Tamil Nadu
If cost of living is a big factor in deciding which city to live in, then Chennai is a great option. It is one of the most affordable cities in India to live in with low rents and great work opportunities, with a booming IT industry. In fact, Chennai is second only to Bangalore when it comes to tech hubs in India. There are a huge number of startups and software companies thriving in this city.
Chennai is known for its amazing food and coffee culture. If you love South Indian cuisine, this city is where you can sample some of the best dosas, idlis and chutneys. There are great malls, supermarkets, restaurants, pubs and bars so you won’t be left wanting for things to do or entertainment options.
Tamil Nadu’s capital is filled with historical sites. You’ll find old temples, forts, buildings and churches. Some must-visit places include the Government Museum, Fort St George, Valluvar Kottam, San Thome Cathedral Basilica and Victoria Public Hall.
There are beautiful beaches to explore and a host of wonderful places only short drives away. It’s the perfect location for road trips and weekend getaways. Popular holiday spots near Chennai include Mahabalipuram (57 kilometres away), Pondicherry (170 kilometres away), Tirupati (134 kilometres away), Vellore(138 kilometres away) and Yelagiri Hills (230 kilometres away).
With all its positives, Chennai does have one factor that many would consider a major downside: its heat. The summers are extremely hot and humid with temperatures going as high as 40°C.
6. Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
Navi Mumbai, also known as New Bombay, is a planned city in the state of Maharashtra. Here you will find a wide range of great sites to visit. There is Central Park, Pandavkada Falls, Karnala Bird Sanctuary, Rock Garden, DY Patil Stadium, Gadeshwar Dam, Belapur Mango Garden, Wonder Park, Airoli Knowledge Park, Sagar Vihar Garden, Nerul Balaji Temple, Bhawani Temple, Shiva Temple, ITC Park, Millennium Business Park.
Navi Mumbai scores high on our livability list because of its great balance of commercial and community. Rents are reasonable if you compare it to neighbouring Mumbai. There are tons of large organisations and job opportunities and plenty of recreational spaces like parks, shopping centres, restaurants and pubs.
Another huge factor adding to Navi Mumbai’s appeal is that, unlike Mumbai, it is relatively clean and air pollution isn’t sky-high. Public transport via the railway and bus network is great so commuting isn’t a hassle – plus, the upcoming metro will make travelling even easier. However, if you happen to work in Mumbai, you may end up spending many hours commuting to and from work every day.
7. Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Most Indians have known Ahmedabad as being a famous textile hub, producing an amazing array of fabrics and designs. It is known as the ‘Manchester of the East’ because of its likeness to the famous cotton textile centre of Manchester. Even today, people visit from all over to purchase the beautiful traditional textiles available here.
Ahmedabad is one of the most affordable cities in India. It is clean and has great infrastructure with good schools, hospitals, malls, parks and restaurants. If you love Gujarati food, you can enjoy some of the best snacks like Khakhra, Fafda, Dhokla, Thepla, Dal Vada, Dabeli, Sev and Farsan here.
There are many beautiful architectural and historic monuments. One of the most famous is The Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi once lived. It is now a museum. Other attractions in the city include Statue of Unity, Swaminarayan Temple, Manek Chowk and Lal Darwaja Market. Those who love rich fabrics cannot miss the wedding shopping centre at Dhalgarwad.
Ahmedabad has great options for its residents with nice neighbourhoods in areas such as Satellite, SG Highway and Prahlad Nagar. Here you can find cosy apartments and homes at reasonable and affordable rents to suit all budgets.
While Ahmedabad is not as fast paced as some Indian cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, it is still a good option if you are looking for a slower pace and affordability.
8. Kolkata, West Bengal
Formerly known as Calcutta, the capital of the eastern state of West Bengal is one of the most crowded cities in India. However, don’t let that stop you from exploring this ‘Cultural Capital’ that is known for its rich history, great food, amazing literature, delectable sweets and street food. Kolkata is one of the most affordable big cities in India to live in, with the cost of living much lower than cities like Mumbai and Bangalore.
Located along the Hooghly River, Kolkata is also scenic to boot, making it a wonderful option for living. There are plenty of well-known international and Indian organisations with offices here, including Britannia, Coal India, National Insurance Company, Reliance Industries and ITC Limited. It also ranks as one of India’s top ten wealthiest cities, having an estimated GDP of $150.1 billion.
Some places visitors must go to in Kolkata include Victoria Memorial, Marble Palace, Howrah Bridge, Sunderbans and Kalighat Kali Temple.
If you love art, music and architecture, Kolkata is one of the best places in India to learn and enjoy these things. There are always cultural events and festivals celebrating music, art, films and food. The museums and historical sites are well-kept and a joy to visit. You can immerse yourself in its colonial past through the famous architecture and literary wonders.
While Kolkata has plenty of offer, keep in mind that it may not be on par with other metropolitan cities in India in terms of the best infrastructure.
9. Hyderabad, Telangana
Hyderabad is growing at a fast pace and a great option for affordability and work opportunities. It’s an ideal place for those who are starting their careers and families, too, as rents are on the low side but there are great schools, hospitals and other civic amenities available.
Young residents enjoy the nightlife, restaurants, pubs and shopping centres that dot this exciting city. And for those who love biryani, Hyderabad is heaven with a huge range of delicious options.
As far as housing goes, you can find modern highrises in this metropolitan city. These are great options as amenities are plenty and rents are extremely affordable. Hyderabad is an up and coming IT hub with many startups and tech companies running here so those in the IT sector will find many like minded people to mix with.
Even with its modern comforts, Hyderabad still exudes old-world charm, with its rich culture and heritage still evident in its practised traditions. There are plenty of beautiful historical sites like Golconda Fort, Charminar, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Salar Jung Museum, Taramati Baradari and Malwala Palace.
Traffic is well under control and you won’t find yourself in a jam too often when driving like other big cities in India. Weather can be an issue in Hyderabad though, with summers getting extremely hot and humid.
10. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
After Chennai, Coimbatore is the largest city in Tamil Nadu. It’s a warm and welcoming city with plenty of great getaways nearby that its residents can take advantage of. Hill stations near Coimbatore include Ooty, Valparai and Wayanad.
Coimbatore is a scenic city with beautiful temples, parks, modern buildings and waterfalls through the locality. There are good schools and hospitals here so it is a great place to live with your family. Rents are very affordable, with a good 2BHK well within reach with a Rs15,000 budget.
Some of Coimbatore’s main attractions include the Marudhamalai Hill Temple, Monkey Falls, VOC Park and Zoo. It is also famous for its 112-foot-tall statue of Lord Shiva known as the Adiyogi Shiva Statue. This statue is included in the Guinness Book of World Records and tourists from all over the world visit it when they come to the city.
For those who love nature and the outdoors, the weather in Coimbatore is pleasant almost all through the year and there is lots of lush greenery around.
Although it is a smaller city, there are good roads that are well maintained and the civic amenities are good. There are also more than enough entertainment options around with restaurants, malls and multiplexes in most areas.