Unlike Gurgaon, which boasts of an ever-expanding expat community, Noida has not been a favorite with expats. However, all that seems to be changing now.
According to records of the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) in Noida, the expat population in the city has been increasing by 50 per cent in the past couple of years.
The number of foreign nationals living in Noida has gone up to 980 in February this year from 650 in Feburary 2009.
Koreans, with 23 per cent, form the largest chunk of the expat population in the city.
This steady increase in the number of expats in Noida is also reflected in the rising demand for plush serviced apartments.
“Almost 90 per cent of our customers are foreigners, who come to Noida on long-term projects,” says Kulbhushan Dhawan, general manager, Savoy Suites serviced apartments. “There has been a 50 per cent rise in demand for serviced apartment from expats in the past one year,” says Ashima Gupta, owner, Bella Vista Serviced Apartment, Noida.
Even as their numbers are rising, the expat community in Noida complains that it does not offer them many avenues for entertainment.
Says M B Kim, a Korean industrialist who has been living in Noida for the past three years, “Noida scores over Gurgaon in terms of infrastructure but there is not much to do here after work. I either play golf or go to Delhi to unwind.”
Christian P Mortgat, a scientist from the US, echoes a similar opinion, saying, “I first came to Noida almost a decade back. While Noida is fast becoming an info-tech hub, with a growing number of IT parks, where multinationals are setting up their offices, it still does offer much by way of recreational and entertainment facilities for foreigners.”
“In that respect, it continues to be a suburb with a couple of malls. There is not much to see or do here. Even local transport is a huge problem. It is difficult to even find taxis in the city,” Mortgat adds.
After work, Mortgat goes for a stroll in the The Great India Place Mall. “Whenever I feel bored, I go to the mall and sit outside, watching the crowds. I love Indian food; in fact I have put on 10 kg in the past couple of years, thanks to my love for Punjabi food,” says Mortgat.
Martin Meyer, an engineer from Germany, currently working on a project with a company in Noida says there is nothing in the city.
“I have nowhere to go except Sector-18 market in the evenings, which is very crowded. So I like to stay put at my apartment,” he says.
But M.B. Kim is optimistic and feels that things will change in the coming years. Noida, he says, needs good clubs, more golf courses and restaurants of international standards.
“One of the things that makes Gurgaon more expat-friendly is good restaurants. Many of them are being run by NRIs who understand the tastes of foreigners,” says Kim.
Noida’s only nightclub, Elevate, (presently closed for renovation) is witnessing an increasing number of expats.
“In the past one year, the number of foreigners at our club has gone up four times. On weekends, we have DJs from all over the world and this is quite popular with expats,” says Tarina Shah of Elevate.
Surely, Noida needs more nightclubs and restaurants that can make it a happening place for expats.