The House Hunt

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Everything depends on the house. It is the only thing that can make me look forward to my move to Mumbai.
There are 3 options when moving to any city:
1) Find a house as close to office as possible to reduce the commute. A house near office is generally expensive or in a not so great area…
2) Find a house some distance away from office. A compromise between commute, area and rent.
3) Find a luxurious house far away from office. The commute is huge but atleast weekends are peaceful

I went to Mumbai 2 weeks back to find a place. My aim was 1. I was sure I wanted to reduce the commute as much as possible. Office is at Lower Parel. So options were Dadar, Mahim, Wadala, Sion etc. I ended up opting for 2. I found a flat in Andheri West.
Reasons are below:
1) The flat is very, very good with security at the gate. I prefer houses with good security since I will live alone for sometime. Even though Mumbai is relatively safe, why take a chance?
2) The commute to office is less than 45 mins- 20-30 mins by train. There is no avoiding the local train. Some trains start from Andheri and should be less crowded in the first class ladies compartment. I can manage a 20-30 mins commute one way.. anything more and I will be exhausted.
3) My Jazz class- Danceworx have a branch in Lokhandwala. I can even join the weekday classes since the Mumbai timings are late at night unlike Gurgaon where they have to wind up early due to safety reasons
4) My bro lives in Andheri West… at walking distance from my flat.

The 3 days were torture. I would be so exhausted at the end of the day. Why is the house hunt such a torture in every city? Why do we need to contact soooo many brokers in different areas? Why can’t there be 1 company which has branches everywhere and works professionally?

Day 1: Saturday: I had planned to check out flats in and around South Mumbai. The broker had promised to show me 4-5 flats in Wadala in my budget. Now here is the catch… I spoke to professional brokers on the phone but these guys don’t show the flats. They send their minions (for lack of a better word). Nobody cares about what the tenant is looking for… they will show you what they have irrespective of your preferences. Anyway, so the minion asked me to come to Koliwada. The name made me suspicious but KC and I went anyway… the next broker was scheduled for 3 pm so we had time to kill. The minion showed us a flat at Sion Koliwada… in the interiors of Sion where I had no hopes of finding a cab or auto or bus or train. The nearest station was on harbour line (Lower Parel is on Western line). The flat was pathetic. Why would someone commit flats in Wadala and then show me something in Sion????
KC and I sat on the parapet outside the building and frantically called all the brokers on my list.
Finally, a guy offered to show us flats in Everad Nagar. I have stayed in Mumbai for 2 years and never heard the name. It is an area between Chembur or Eastern Express Highway and Sion. There are a few buildings near the main road. They have a service lane… BUT… it has the highest traffic in Mumbai… there are no shops around. People have to cross over onto the opposite side through a subway … go to Chunabhatti station road … and then shop for groceries. The flat was good… but the noise levels were high… the building had cracks… the guard didn’t even ask us anything when we entered. KC liked it… I did not. The next flat was in Kurla- one of the most crowded and busiest station in Mumbai. The flat was good but it was ground floor. I hate ground floor… I like high rises.
We then contacted another broker who showed us flats in Kalina/ Santa Cruz East. Living here would reduce travel time to less than 30 mins. On a lazy day, I could even take a cab. BUT, it is a dirty, crowded area. We saw flats without security or parking. As long as we closed the windows and doors it was perfect. As soon as we peeked out, we would see the slums around. I have lived around slums and did not want to this time.
In the evening we headed to Parel. The broker made us wait for 30 mins and then took us through small, tiny lanes to a building so dirty I wanted to hit him. We asked the cab to turn back without even getting out of it.

End of day 1: Not one flat where I could imagine myself living in. KC liked Everad Nagar and Kurla.

Day 2: I had scheduled Western suburbs for day 2. Kalina had been preponed to day 1… so we just had Andheri. We saw 4-5 flats and liked 2. I was impressed. I didn’t know the flats were so good in this area. The only problem was that only the train was an option. I could not even try a bus or cab since the area is a bit in the interior. The advantages were my bro stayed at walking distance, the sports complex is close by, Lokhandwala is at walking distance… I could stay in a good area and flat but the commute would be more than what I had planned. KC kept telling me horror tales about Andheri stations. It is one of the busiest stations. I was confused.
Next another broker was supposed to show us flats in Santa Cruz West and East. He made us wait for 30 mins in the heat… we were waiting in the Muslim area and the flat was somewhere there. There was a mosque nearby. Now, I don’t believe in religion, color, caste and creed… BUT… I have lived near a mosque and its torture. They preach or pray on loudspeakers 4-5 times in a day. There is singing and praying at 6 am. It is very, very irritating. I had decided not to stay near a mosque and slum this time. We asked the broker to “beep” off.
We then contacted a broker in Sion who had flats in our budget. The flat was close to the main road but without the noise… flat was good BUT it was on the ground floor. He showed us 2 more flats but we hated both. Also, Sion has nothing… no posh restaurants… malls… entertainment options… for anything I would have to go to Dadar or Mahim or Lower Parel.
Now I was confused- stay away from office but in a posh area or stay close to office and not in a not so great area. I could not sleep all night… the flat gave me nightmares. I could imagine myself getting depressed every night coming home to an empty home. My head said- pick Sion… my heart wanted Andheri.
We kept Sion as a backup.

Day 3: The Sion broker had not called back to confirm the flat but Andheri guy did. We met the owner, paid the token and it was decided. Weird thing is – by day 3 we had only 1 flat in hand. Most we didn’t like or were not sure about … and for others, the broker did not revert.

I guess I am not the sort of person who can compromise on standard of living. A good and comfortable home is topmost priority.

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