Not quite the nomad yet, though I feel like one after having moved from Bombay to Pune to Bangalore in the last ten years and lived in 4 different homes. Having stayed in one house for the first 24 years of my life, house hunting is quite an adventure for me. House hunting in Bangalore with my budget constraints (I am a teacher first and the IT salary doesn’t apply to me yet) and wish list is much more than an adventure. It’s an unending quest.
To start off, the description on all the various websites almost never matches the reality. The agents’ idea of “very nice, beautiful house with very good woodwork” usually never means “very nice, beautiful house with very good woodwork.” 9 out of 10 times it means an old, dirty house with no ventilation, very little natural light, located at the end of a street, which is very difficult to access. I’ve seen houses at the end of narrow lanes (car parking of course is out of the question) with staircases that are barely wide enough for me to pass through, leave alone a slightly broader person or my suitcase! Note that I’m not even talking about my furniture. As for the woodwork, it is usually in very interesting colors and rarely worth the price it’s supposed to fetch.
So after seeing 10 such houses and feeling despair rise up to choke my throat, tears welling up at the back of my eyes at the sight of these miserable dwellings that masquerade as nice apartments, the agent is explained in slow (and often loud) English that I need a better apartment in a better area. Budget is negotiable.
Next round – he shows some more apartments. This time, usually the first floor of an existing bungalow. The old landlords decided to supplement their pension with some undeclared rent and so they called the cheapest architect and got one extra floor (or two) built above their house. The houses are slightly better, the staircases slightly wider. A smile threatens to appear on my face when the questions start: “You are Hindu? Married? Vegetarian? Work hours? You don’t have guests, no?” Ummmm…maybe we should give this another shot tomorrow, agent saab?
And then it comes, “In your budget, only this is available.” Sigh. Should have seen that coming! Unwillingly, I ask him how much I will have to increase my budget. I say 8000, they say 12,000. I say 12,000 they say 15,000. I say 15,000 they say 25,000. It’s never ending. I’ve been through it each time. Whatever my budget at that point, I always need to increase it by a few thousands. With a heavy heart, I concede to a life of lesser shopping, fewer weekend jaunts and monthly savings. He finally starts showing nice houses. Not perfect, but nice. I can actually tick off at least 7 of the points on my wish list.
And then comes the final blow – “Deposit is 10 months, not negotiable.” #$%^&* ! 10 months deposit? To line the landlord’s pockets some more while my own savings go flying through the roof?
Crestfallen, I walk out. Call me if you find something else in my budget with a negotiable deposit, ok?
And so we begin all over again.
P.S I must admit though, that it’s not as bleak as I make it sound. My first two attempts at finding an apartment in Bangalore ended within a week with something just slightly out of my budget and quite close to what I was seeking at that point of time. Here’s a sneak peek into my little nest.