'Rents start from Rs 2 lakh': The house-hunting experience of expats in Delhi

'Rents start from Rs 2 lakh': The house-hunting experience of expats in Delhi

Every year, professionals and diplomats from all over the world get transferred to serve a tenure or assignment in the national capital of New Delhi. Finding a house in a foreign country is not easy – but here are some expert tips on how to go about the complex process.

Terrace garden of an expat home in Delhi Terrace garden of an expat home in Delhi

So, you have been offered a posting in India and you will have to make New Delhi your home for the next five years. Where do you start looking for a house? Living and working in the national capital of India often comes with the great promise of exploring Indian food, holiday hubs, and natural sites. But setting down roots in India can be tricky business and you may want a clear map of how your life in India is going to be before jumping in on choosing a place to live in. 

What to expect in India
“India offers various kinds of lifestyles and usually those who arrive in India for a stretch of time are consulate employees or employees of global companies that post their top officials here. The locations obviously vary according to the lifestyle they adopt in India. How a single person wants his or her Delhi life to be, is likely to be very different from someone who is coming down as a couple or in another case a family with a few kids. Finding accommodation in Delhi for ambassadors or for top executives in Mumbai and at times in Goa depends on their family setup,” Sush Clays, realtor and founder, Welcome Home Luxury Real Estate Services told Business Today. Clays has been helping expats set up their Indian homes for over five years. 

Finding a house in New Delhi
Locations, where people want to set up their homes, depend on two things: the budget and the lifestyle. But there are teething problems galore when one decides to set up a home. Rebecca Haug came to India from Switzerland with her husband and kids in December 2020 when her husband was posted at the upcoming Jewar Airport project as its Chief Development Officer. Haug herself is a marketing and PR professional. She has set up her home in a lavish flat in Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area. “I started working on my relocation right from Switzerland. There were multiple factors to consider - the interiors, and the school for our children were all factors on which we decided to start our house hunting. My husband had to report to Jewar but we decided to continue to live in Delhi. The initial challenges were about finding the right house, setting up the décor and getting kids started with school. Everything took place quickly in some months with the support we received here. From getting a yoga teacher to the markets, we received help for everything. We love India and want to continue living here,” Haug told Business Today.

The price you pay
“The price range varies as per location of course. Good New Delhi houses can start from around Rs 2 lakh and go upwards of Rs 10 lakh in Delhi. It all depends on the accommodation and the location. The other areas for expats renting houses around Delhi are some pockets of Gurgaon. Mumbai and Goa too have a lot of interest among expats looking for residences in India. but depends entirely on their work base here,” Clays said. According to Clays, the best way to look for an apartment in India is by planning one’s stay and life to the T. People who have an active social life prefer to live in a certain way. There are some who like to travel frequently. “Are you looking for a house to settle down in India and raise your kids or will you spend some time here, enjoy what it offers and relocate to your native country in a year or two? There are some considerations that one has to make while choosing a residence in India and we help people navigate through these when they plan to set up a home in India,” Clays added. 

Rebecca Haug in her Chanakyapuri house

What determines price 
“The price factor is based on the age of the property, the carpet area of the flat, the floor it is on, the modular construction in the kitchen and bathrooms, and other amenities like digital security, reversible air conditioning, and so on. Individual bungalows have their own set of parameters and naturally begin at a higher price point. These factors are key determiners of price points as well. If we’re talking of a range between Rs 1-2 lakh, it could be a 1960s barsati in Jor Bagh or a small 1995 apartment in Anand Niketan. At the range of Rs 3 lakh, the standard of amenities increases, and the brand name of appliances come into play. Once we touch Rs 5 lakh and above, we look at duplexes, floors with roof gardens, slightly upgraded bungalows, and so on,” Clays said.

Locations to choose from
"Top-of-the-line demand really rests as close to Chanakyapuri as possible, and individual luxury bungalows with state-of-the-art fixtures and fittings can go over 10 lakh and above. It is at this price point that huge square footage, design, and uniqueness with extraordinary comfort levels really come into play. And then there’s the Grande Dame of luxury - the Lutyens Bungalow Zone," Clays adds. The locations to choose from while setting up a home in New Delhi are Chanakyapuri, Jor Bagh, Golf Links, West End, Shanti Niketan, and Vasant Vihar. Those who choose to live in Gurgaon choose to reside at DLF Camellias, the Magnolias, Aralias and the Crest, and others. Then there are some who like to live in sprawling farmhouses to enjoy nature. West End Green, Chhatarpur are all areas to choose from in case of farmhouse living.

New Delhi's luxury hubs

Teething problems of making India home
“The way of living and the choice of neighbourhoods in India also depends on which country one is relocating from. How someone relocating from an Asian country to India will behave will be a lot different from how someone from Europe will decide to settle down here. Food habits, lifestyle in native countries everything matters when it comes to choosing a place to live and settle down for a good amount of time,” Clays added.

Temina Lalani-Shariff and her Delhi home

What to be prepared for while settling in?
 “We came to Delhi from Manila in June. It was easy to get a house. But it got slightly difficult when we expected to source things in India the way we get them in Western countries for instance regular home fittings are easy to source at departmental stores back home, but here small tapes, fixtures, and other little things that one requires for doing up a house – the hardware material is difficult to source. So, what works here is to have a network of friends and support groups who can inform you about where to get what and where to go. That is how big cities in India operate, so get your support group of friends ready before coming here or within a few weeks so you can navigate easily,” Temina Lalani-Shariff told Business Today. Lalani-Shariff is the Regional Director, South Asia, CGIAR.

How much time do you need to settle? 

As most agree, if you have a good house and a good support system of friends and acquaintances around you, it can take around three weeks to three months to work out everything and start enjoying the Indian experience.

Published on: Nov 26, 2022, 10:34 AM IST
Posted by: Sharmila Bhowmick, Nov 26, 2022, 9:25 AM IST