Friday, August 11, 2006

R2I # 5 - New Home

In the continuing series on R2I, we focus on finding a new home in this post.

If you are moving back to city where you grew up and have a place to stay (that you like) then congratulations then you are half-way there already. This, provided you have good school for your kids close to the property you own. One of our friend moved back to Bangalore where he owned a place in Indira Nagar and was able to get his kids in to the same school he went. But, most of us are not that lucky.

Traffic is increasingly becoming a nightmare in most of the Indian metropolis, so it is important to strike a balance between the triangle of home, work & kids' school. In fact, I would go further and say find a house that is close to kids' school. This would resolve lot of issues around commuting for the kids. (Most of you will know this already, but just in case.. There is no concept of school district/s like US, so you are basically on your own when it comes to finding good schools).

Like anything else about R2I, finding a good rental property will take time. Rental market is buzzing with activity now, but it is rather loose knitted and still works via age-old networking and 'word of mouth'. There is no comprehensive online system/s that will give a complete view of the residential rental property market. There are neighborhood papers that carry lot of rental advertisements, but you have to basically work the phone and hit the road. So, start early and keep looking. There are lot of agents / brokers out there, but I found them very reactive and unresponsive.

I suggest giving 6 -9 months for the search after you have finalized the school. That means, you basically will have to start looking by fall for a house in summer.

It is preferable to do the search with someone on the ground who can be your foot soldier, as you will end up seeing several places before finding the home of your choice.

Even after extensive search, it is possible that you may not like the place you move in. So, go in for a 12 month lease initially and be prepared to move again. This will give you an opportunity to really understand the place, neighborhood and stuff. In our case, we didn't like the place we first moved, so we started looking soon after and found another place after some extensive search through this service.

Where to Rent?

As for as Chennai goes, South Chennai seems to be the preferred destination for many R2Is. There are plenty of good schools and close to IT corridor & ECR. From our perspective, we know only South Chennai, so we moved back to that place when we returned.

How much Rent?
Due to IT and general economic boom, rental market is now HOT everywhere. I understand from my friends in Bangalore that the market is so hot there, people negotiate rent in USD.

The range varies widely in Chennai from INR 10 - INR 30 per sqft depending on the location, accessibility and stuff. It is possible to find a 1700 sq.ft, 3 BR apartment for around INR 25K - 35K in Mylapore / T.Nagar area. It gets higher as you zoom in to Adyar, Valmiki Nagar, Kalashethra Colony and the likes. The rent flies in to Stratosphere if you are looking to rent in the Boat Club area.

How much Advance?
The norm in Chennai is ten month rent. However, some folks have negotiated it down to six months. This is basically an interest free loan to the house owner and mostly unavoidable.

Rent Vs. Buy

I would suggest renting initially and then buying. It takes time to understand and study various localities regardless of your familiarity with the city. With so much happening, every city has changed and you would do well to have a fresh read before committing to a big investment.

Future Posts on this subject.
I am thinking doing of the following posts in the coming weeks (Say one a week).. What do you think? Add - Change - Delete..? Feel free..
  • R2I # 6 - Schools
  • R2I # 7 - Job
  • R2I # 8 - Finance
  • R2I # 9 - Immigration / Work Permit
  • R2I # 10 - Settling down
  • R2I # 11 - Right Decision
  • R2I # 12 - Chat with an R2I
  • R2I # 13 - Chat with an R2US