Apartment hunting

How to find a flat in India

Apartment hunting

Finding a good place to live in India can be a difficult experience. Most expatriates use a real estate agency or relocation company to make things easier. But you can also try to find accommodation on your own.

If you come to India working for a company, you will usually be provided with a place to stay. Your employer should offer you appropriate housing options to choose from before you come to India. Many international companies own entire apartment blocks for their employees.

If your employer cannot provide accommodation and you decide to ask somebody for help, make sure you can trust him. Some people might try to take advantage of your situation. Talk to friends and co-workers, as they might know about inside tips.

When you are looking for a place to stay several factors are important. You should make sure that your accommodation is close to your work place. Since many expatriates do not have a car in India and public transportation services are not very reliable, you might have to use special buses provided by your company. However, living far away from your work place results in long commuting hours.

Another thing to watch is the proximity of your flat to shops, entertainment places, fitness centres, etc. You will find little shops in suburbs on the outskirts of cities, but bigger shopping malls might be further away.

Even though almost all accommodation in India has watchmen, the security of an area is an important issue in your flat hunt. Especially in cities with no expatriate communities rich foreigners (to the locals, at least) are often victims of robberies. Try to ask your co-workers about safe residential areas and if you feel uncomfortable with an apartment, keep looking for another one.

Your marital status is very important when trying to rent in India. Bachelors are seen as untidy and noisy, and landlords do not like renting to them since they have a reputation for partying. If you are a young single man, you might need somebody to vouch for your good character (a married Indian couple would be best). If you want to hire somebody to clean your place, your friends might have to vouch for you again.

You will not change your landlord´s opinion if you have different female visitors over your place on a regular basis. Your landlord might take this as proof of your bad habits. He may pull you aside for a lengthy (uncomfortable) discussion of your behaviour!

Real estate agents in India

If you don’t speak Hindi or the local language of your state, you should use an estate agent for your housing search.

Be aware that it can be time consuming to use local Indian agencies. There are many vacant apartments, but not all of them are offered by every agency. Try to tell your agency exactly what you are looking for as otherwise you might be offered flats nothing like what you need.

There are no laws regulating the commission for real estate agents and whether the tenant or the owner has to pay them. In each case, the the landlord decides if he is willing to share the costs. If he does contribute, the landlord usually pays between half a month's or a month's rent and the tenant pays about half a month's rent.

You should never make any payment to an agent just for seeing a property. The commission should always be paid after you have decided on an apartment. Some agents will try to convince you to pay upfront or for a number of places visited but, again, do not do this. You can also work with multiple agencies simultaneously to increase your chances of finding a place.

After you pay the commission make sure you get a receipt from your agent. You might be able to reclaim the cost from your employer.

Finding a place on your own

If you don’t want to pay an estate agent, you can also look for apartments on your own. There are expatriate magazines and websites serving all major cities in India. All these have housing classifieds in English. If you speak an Indian language, you will improve your chances of finding a place to stay by having a look at one of the many Indian rental websites.

Further reading

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