“Is this the closet?”
“No, this is the entire house.”
So, you’re looking for a place in Mumbai. You thought getting a job or a seat in college was hard, think again. Whether you’re new to the city or your landlord kicked you out again, you’re more likely to find the fountain of youth and grab a pint with some pirates than find your ideal house in time. That said, once you do make your way through, you’ll be equipped with good company and good stories. Here’s how to go on your journey to the ends of the Mumbai property world (legend has it that it’s somewhere around Karjat):-
Stage 1: Understand the trail (for newbies)
There have been people who’ve chosen a neighbourhood based on the price and general quality of houses. Later they found out they had to cross the ocean every day to get to work, and cook/eat/sleep all on the same route.
Remember to look at the distance and connectivity of the neighborhoods you’re considering on Google Maps. Use m-indicator, the city’s transportation app, for an estimate of travel time. Testing your daily route before you officially start work or college is a good idea. After all, navigating stations like Dadar can get a bit of getting used to.
Protip: Properties are generally way cheaper in the north than the south. Is this low key Game of Thrones? Possibly. They’re also cheaper in the east than the west-eros. At the same time, it’s worth looking at areas closer to your office. It IS possible to find places to stay in places like Mahim/Khar without having to sell one of your dragons.
Stage 2: Hoist the flag, send a message with your parrot - Let people know you’re looking!
Sometimes you might learn about a great flat through people you met on a dating app. It may even be owned by their ex, and you may even end up moving in. There's no limit to how you can search for properties, but we recommend getting the word out with your immediate friends first.
If you’re an introvert, don’t worry, you’ll still do well at this. Then there’s the infamous Facebook group for people looking for flats and flatmates in Mumbai. Several websites list brokerage-free properties just for rent, and while it can be hard to find something that fits your budget and location, it’s definitely worth a try.
What works great is getting in touch with a broker, even if you don’t get access to pictures of the property first. They know the best spots and will ask for about a month’s rent. Be warned - this can take a month of patient waiting and property scoping. Even Frodo required three huge books and an entire movie franchise to find Mordor.
Stage 3: Get the binoculars, find your crew
Once you’ve found a potential fit, it’s time to begin your actual house-hunting. This is when you’ll be doing two things - setting down the terms and rules of stay, and meeting other flatmates if required.
With your landlord or PG warden, check about 24/7 water availability, maintenance charges, and if they’re considering other co-tenants. Make small talk to find common ground and build friendly relations - you might even find out your ancestors grew up in the same village. Ensure the terms of payment and lease are written down, and that you have a proper rental agreement in hand.
With roommates, talk about your zone of comfort. There have been folks who didn’t share their room space with just their roommate, but with their passed out friends every weekend too! On top of it, dirty underwear would hang around every day. A lot of it is luck, but get your questions right, and you may be able to foresee problems before they begin.
Stage 4: Ahoy, we’ve hit land! Well, almost.
X doesn’t quite mark the spot. The real adventure begins once you’ve started staying in your flat: there have been people who’ve moved out within a week, and roommates who’ve moved in for free and then never moved out at all. From fighting pigeons out of the balcony to fighting social perceptions about wildly partying bachelor/bachelorettes, there’s a lot you’ll go through. You can prepare for the best and the worst as much as you can with flatmates, of course, if you have them. For splitting up chores and house expenses, you can use apps, post-it notes, and most importantly, sit-down communication between all parties involved. There’ll be days when the electricity goes kaput or a water pipe breaks, so decide on an emergency system. Despite all this, if your flat experience is more horror story than heart-warming roommate web-series, it’s perfectly fine to start the adventure for your next flat all over again!