Finding the perfect house to rent in a metropolis can be quite a challenge. You’ll have to visit at least 3-4 houses and you often have to ‘settle’ for the best one. But how do you find the perfect house?
I have lived in 7 rented houses in the past 6 years, and I’ve made quite a few bad decisions when it comes to choosing the right house. So I came up with a checklist to help me find the right one.
Timing is everything
Start looking for a house a month in advance. The ideal timeline is one month to two weeks before you want to move in. Tenants usually have to give their landlords a month’s notice so houses pop up on the market a month before tenants vacate.
Location, location, location
Ask friends, co-workers, and family for affordable localities around your place of work. The further away from work you stay, the more time and money you’ll have to spend on travelling. Account for this when you choose a locality. Here are some other things you should keep in mind while choosing a locality.
What’s your budget?
How much rent you want to pay depends a lot on the locality and if the house is furnished/semi-furnished/unfurnished. As I’ve said above, it is always better to stay close to work. If you are new to the city, you might want to find a furnished or semi-furnished house (at least a fridge, stove, and cupboard). These tend to be a tad bit more expensive so if you are planning on staying for the long haul, I’d suggest you rent an unfurnished house and buy all the appliances you need. It works out cheaper in the long run, especially if you buy from places like gozefo.com.
How will you get around?
Find a locality that is 1-2 km away from one mode of public transport and 3-4 km away from a second mode. This means that you are connected to the rest of the world with at least 2 modes of public transport. You can walk the 3km if the first mode is unavailable and the autos/Uber/Ola ditch you.
Does it flood during the monsoons?
Ask people you know if they’ve heard of waterlogging in the area. You can speak to local chaiwalas, shopkeepers, and security guards to confirm. Waterlogging can be a huge issue in cities like Mumbai. So this should be something you should watch out for.
How will you get cash, groceries, and medicines?
You should look for localities that have at least 2 ATMs (you know how the saying goes, “two is one, one is none”). You would also want to make sure that there is a supermarket/grocery store and a medical store close by.
Narrow down on two to three localities using this checklist.
Now it’s time to go looking for houses. You could use the power of social media, good old word of mouth, or get a broker. I guess this depends on the city you live in. If you have a broker showing you around, ask people you know what the brokerage costs and rent in the area are like. That way, you won’t get swindled.
Here are things that you should keep in mind while looking for houses.
I’m a non-vegetarian, is that a problem?
If you are a non-vegetarian, make sure that your landlord/broker knows this beforehand. Why go all the way to a house only to know that you will never be allowed to eat parotta and beef roast at home?!
Never sign up for more than a month’s notice period
You don’t want to sign up on a house that has more than a month’s notice period. Never sign up for a lock-in. You never know when things might change in your personal life or work. So anything that demands that you pay rent for a month more than you want to is too much commitment.
Windows facing North/South
“North/South? That’s ridiculous!”, I hear you say. Well my friend, if your window faces East or West, the Sun would heat it up for half the day. If you are living in the subcontinent, that’s not a pleasant experience. So trust me, and get a place where most of the windows face North or South.
3rd/4th floor but never on the top floor
If the elevator takes too long, you can always walk it up (or down)! Never get a house on the top floor as it will get really hot in summer and the roof might leak when it rains. And don’t settle for a house on the ground floor. You will have more rodent/mosquito problems than your neighbours upstairs, not to mention the reduction in privacy. So go to houses in the centre of the building, but not so high that you’d have a tough time climbing up drunk.
Water supply for at least 2 hours every day
You’d want a place that has water coming in for at least 2 hours every day. This reduces your chances of not filling the tank because you’re away/asleep. Needless to say that the said place has to have a water tank (preferably 400L) if there isn’t 24X7 supply. An automatic valve to stop the inflow after the tank is filled is a bonus.
Check all the taps and faucets in the house for water pressure. Check if water drains properly through the bathroom sink by pouring a bucket of water. Salt sediments on the bathroom floor could be indicative of a frequent blockage. You are going to live in this place, so you don’t want any of these problems.
In rodent infested neighbourhoods (you know this if you find trash lying around in heaps in general) check for rat droppings in the apartment. It is highly likely you’ll find some. This means that there is some point of access that lets them in even when the doors are shut. So if you decide to rent the place, have extermination done and make sure that you seal these points of entry. Extermination can kill bugs and roaches too, which would also most definitely be there.
Now, this is optional. But having a gas connection lowers your expenses quite a bit. Even if you are not someone who likes cooking, you can make yourself a cup of coffee once in a while or make a quick snack when you can’t go out. Getting a gas connection on your own can be a hassle, but then again you can always ask your local chaiwala to help you find the ‘dark side’.
Yes, we live in an age where service providers boast of coverage in the Himalayas. But I write this sitting in the middle of Mumbai in a house that does not have range! So if you do not want to restrict yourself to calls over Wifi, make a few calls from inside the house before you pay the token amount.
- Maid: Ask the landlord/broker or the watchman about the availability of maids in the area.
- Trash collection: Ask the landlord/broker or the watchman about how and when the trash is collected. If there isn’t a trash collection service, make sure that there is a trash bin within walking distance.
- Parking: If you have a car/bike you would want to ensure that there’s a parking spot.
- Balcony: A balcony is a bonus. You can never say no to sitting on the balcony on a rainy day with a cup of coffee/tea.
Hope this list helps you find the perfect home!