In my adult life, I have never lived outside Delhi for more than a month. I came here at the start of 6th Standard (or Grade). During my 12 Standard, I used to daydream about going to a college outside Delhi. I’ll live in a hostel and enjoy the broke but independent life of a hosteler. Little did I know that I’ll be doing my undergrad from a college in Delhi itself, as a day scholar. Then came the placement season. This time again, I thought I’ll get to go outside my home city. And, this time I wont be (too) broke either. Yet again, I got a job in Noida, very close to Delhi. Now, after working for 2 years in Delhi, I have finally moved to a different city - Bangalore - also known as City of Gardens and City of Lakes and in tech industry, the Silicon Valley of India. I have joined as a Data Scientist in Reliance Jio.
I reached Bangalore in the evening of July 29th. Stayed with a friend for the night. I had to join the very next day. Till the night of 29th, I had no tensions in life regarding this move. I was happy about this new independence (not that there were any restrictions at my home). I had this view in my mind - moving to the hotel the next day; I have 15 days to look for a permanent place and, 15 days are more than enough; it’ll will be a breeze. The friend I was staying with also said that flat searching is easy (He had done it a month before). Install Nestaway and you’ll be sorted (spoiler alert: Nestaway didn’t help).
Next day (30th Jul), normal on-boarding process followed. During the lunch, I met a product manager who also joined the same day. She was here in Bangalore for the past 12-13 years. Now talking to her, I realized I hardly have any idea where or how should I get a flat. What area to look for. Which are the good areas. Broker or no-broker. Sharing or non-sharing. What is “normal” house rent. House maintenance. What are typical advanced deposits. Fully furnished or semi or none. She had set the ball rolling.
After lunch, a teammate showed me the suitable areas around the office on Google maps. The big no-no areas and what are the places which will be commute friendly. My hotel was very close to my office, around 1 KM. On my way to the hotel, I had two action points in my mind. First, try to find something within 1-2 KMs of the office. Second, if nothing is there, then move to the areas around the metro line. Since office is pretty close to the metro station, I wont be stuck in the Bangalore traffic during my daily commutes.
On 31st July, during the on-boarding presentation, I was shortlisting the suitable flats on 3-4 apps I had installed yesterday. During the lunch, another person who joined with me yesterday, suggested me the Flat and Flatmates group on Facebook. I had completely missed it till now. Then during the second half of the training, I looked for 2-3 such groups for Bangalore and sent the joining request for ‘em. Training got over early and I went to checkout some flats near my hotel. I needed to start somewhere. So, I decided to check some flats from the apps.
This “living on my own” feeling being all new to me, made me feel excited. I was worried about not getting anything yet, but I was still excited. Anyway, I started exploring the nearby areas. I had 2 flats on my list that day. On my way to one of these, I decided to check the costs of renting one of the flats from the area I was passing from. Now this area is one of the expensive areas of Bangalore. So I knew that the costs will be high, but I still went, you know, in the name of “locality exploration”. Anyway, I went and asked the society guards, the costs of renting out a room here. The guy said, they don’t rent out rooms here. I was like, okay, how much for a whole flat? He said, ₹1,20,000. I, shocked now, confirmed whether this was the deposit amount. He denied and replied it was the monthly rent. I again confirmed if this was the annual rent. He again said no and added it was monthly. I noped the fuck out of that place and never tried it again. The first property’s owner asked me to come in the next morning. I don’t know what was up with the second property. I went to the location then called the owner, but the owner disclaimed the property.
That night, I was accepted to one of the flatmates group on FB and I started gleaning through the posts on my phone. I had formed a workflow - check the house details, if they are satisfactory, check its distance from the office. Then I woke up the next day with the phone still in my hand.
This day (1st August), was also the training day. Before going to the office, I went to the house which I couldn’t see the last night. The locality and the house was alright, but the rent was a bust. The actual rent was double the amount listed on the app. I couldn’t afford that. This house was so close to the office. So, I went disappointed to the training, now really worried. During the training, I was frantically reading posts on the group. Checking the distance of the location from the office. After 1-2 hours, I finally found one. It was very near to the hotel I was staying at. Talked to one of the guys staying there and scheduled a meeting later during the evening. We were done for the day in the 1st half itself. I slept for some time in my hotel room. From early evening, my flat hunting started.
I first walked to another flat shortlisted through the app. This locality was shit. Road leading to the shady street on which the house was located, was covered with muddy puddles (it had rained an hour before). The whole area was stinking. I saw the house from inside and it was worse than the outside. It was freshly painted still it didn’t feel like it was. The whole place gave me an unsettling feeling. I discussed the rent details with the owner, but it was too high for that stinking place. I gave the owner some BS about thinking it over and left. After this, I headed to a PG. I originally wanted a single room with 1(+) flatmates, but thinking, if this PG was satisfactory, then I’ll think about opting for it. Or else, I’ll keep it as a fallback option, if I am unable to get a flat till my 15 day limit at the hotel. So I went there. Now, I have never seen a PG, but I have heard descriptions from friends. So, I was neutral about PGs, but when I saw this one, I was completely grossed out. Here also, there was some foul odor which I couldn’t bear for long. Since, I wanted a single room, owner gave a very high price for it. It was equivalent to the flat I saw which was very near to the office. And this PG wasn’t even worth paying that much. I gave him my offer (basically, ₹2-3K lower than what he was ready to offer). He never called. :p
Later in the evening, I went to the flat which I had found through the Flatmates group. It was within walking distance from the office. The locality was also good. Flat was alright. Flatmates also seemed good. What was lacking was the furnishings. On the post, it was mentioned that the flat was furnished, but it was not. So, if I was going to move there, I’ll need to arrange for a bed, cupboard, table and a mattress. Other than that, everything was there. Monthly costs were going to be slightly higher than my budget, but it was okay. I was prepared for that. This was the first option which I wanted to opt for. I now finally had one good option.
Next day, Thursday, 2nd August, after work, I started reviewing other shortlisted options on the apps. On my way to one of the flats, I saw a church - Sacred Heart Church. After spending 5 minutes in the church, I went to the location of the flat. Damn that locality was filthy. I reached a place where there were 2 temples very close to each other. The flat was located behind one of the temples. This area was disgusting. I didn’t even bother to look at the house from inside. In hindsight, no wonder the rent was that low. After leaving the area, being overconfident, thinking that I can find my way to the hotel, I got lost somewhere near the hotel. In one such street, I saw a mosque. I was kind of tempted to visit it, but I was hungry, so I went to the hotel instead. Later in the hotel, while recollecting the experience of my “Bangalore Tour”, I realized that, today in one go, I saw a church, a temple and a mosque, all in the same area. This was fascinating to me.
On Friday, I was still checking the Flatmates group to get a better option. Out of two prospective flats, one was in Indiranagar and another in Koramangla. I pinged both the guys on the messenger and then continued with my search. I went to see the Koramangla flat during the evening. The flat and the flatmate, both were good, but the commute time was deal breaker. The guys in the Indiranagar flat were not home that night, so I went to see that flat next day. This flat was good. It was fully furnished - beds, almirah, chairs. The room had plenty of space. Flat also had a terrace. This place was close the the Metro Station. My office commute time will be very less through the metro. This place was very close to the ideal. Rent was also within my range. So, I finalized this one. I shifted to this place the next weekend.
And, that’s it. This was my experience with the flat hunting in Bangalore. One thing I observed during my search was, Flatmates group had better options than all the apps. I tried 3-4 apps, but none gave me a satisfactory option, whereas, Flatmates group had a score of 3 by 3. I found three houses and all three were good choices. I was actually wishing that Facebook provided some way of filtering out the post on the group.
One question also popped into my mind, Is there no good solution to find a satisfactory house to rent? Is this problem that hard? There are so many players in this segment still there was no good solution. And this is not just my experience. A few of my friends also found their flats in the similar manner.