According to statistics, the population of expats in India has been steadily on the rise for a while now. It is projected that Indian organizations engage 30,000–35,000 expatriates for specialized roles. What’s more, this figure is projected to increase by a minimum of 10% in the following year. As a result of this constant increase, a small proportion of the expat population now considers India home, albeit provisionally.
Taking in the sights and sounds, once in India, can take some getting used to. Add to that the pressure of finding an answer to the question of “How to find housing in India?” and you have your work cut out for you. Expatriates used to live in close-knit communities of fellow countrymen and women, with specialized security precautions in locations favoured by foreigners. Over the years housing options for expats have changed. Here, we’ll take a look at how that has come about and the various residential options in the land of cultures.
Challenges Faced by Expats While House-Hunting
The majority of expatriates in India live in large cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, or New Delhi. Many towns now have unique housing estates aimed towards foreigners due to increased demand. It is critical to clarify exactly what amenities you require in your home, as the standard and décor of lodging vary greatly across India.
The challenges, however, faced by expats range from difficulty getting to work from their place of residence, abysmal traffic, and bad transport, especially if they have to opt for public transit options in the absence of personal transport. Finding housing alternatives in a nation of 1.39 billion people also presents extraordinary challenges. Expats claim having to select between hundreds of residential properties, gated communities, and duplexes and still not getting anywhere.
Even when they do, they have to employ the help of real estate agents in India, or brokers as they are called. They function as middlemen who do the job of searching for you and demand a pay for their services, usually a month’s rent. And if this isn’t enough, the paperwork is a long and drawn-out process even after expats have finally locked onto a suitable option.
Furthermore, the contract may contain many stipulations, some of which may compel you to pay a small fee to the owner in order for them not to advertise the property to other renters. Having paid assistance, such as through a broker or a relocation agency, is a far better alternative at such times because they directly interact with the owner and get the rental lease in order for you.
Types of Housing Options in India
Housing options for expats in India generally comprise duplexes, apartment complexes, condos, gated communities, and independent houses.
Lodging varies widely depending on location, however individuals relocating to big cities such as Pune, Bengaluru, Delhi, or Mumbai may expect to face more struggle to find a suitable house. Unless they want to stay in India for an extended period of time, most expats prefer to rent rather than own a new home.
Among the housing options described above, apartments and apartment complexes are the most favored residential options by both Indians and expats. They differ widely in terms of quality, size, and price, depending on factors such as neighborhood or year of construction.
In India, the word “apartment” is used quite loosely. In the worst scenario, you can end up with a dingy flat with small rooms and in a dilapidated state. While they are inexpensive, they are not suitable for everyone. On the other end of the spectrum, there are contemporary and opulent flats with every conceivable facility. These flats are specially designed keeping expat needs in mind and are even completely furnished so that there’s one less job for you upon moving.
The bulk of ordinary apartments in India will fall somewhere along this spectrum, with costs that vary correspondingly. You must never rent a place in India, or any other kind of residence for that matter, without first inspecting it. Most expats in India prefer serviced apartments, duplexes, independent houses, and condos in large gated communities.
Independent homes and condominiums are amongst India’s most expensive and opulent housing options. They are typically constructed within gated villages and are available in a variety of styles including the Mediterranean, American, classical European, and Japanese.
Finding Rental Houses in India: Broker vs Relocation Agencies
As is so often the case in India, the demand for various housing alternatives far surpasses the supply, making it difficult to find a good-quality place to live. While many expatriates are helped by their jobs, others are not as fortunate and must hunt for housing on their own.
To this end, many expats hire the services of an Indian real estate agent (a broker) or a relocation agency. In doing so, expats should consider that brokers only help you deal with the landlord and terms of the lease.
If you wish to avail of comprehensive accommodation services, a relocation agency is a much better option in almost all cases. These agencies get with you at every step along the way from gathering your personal preferences and unique requirements before setting off to search for suitable homes. Moreover, they also conduct guided tours of the homes selected by you and even assist you in settling in your new home comfortably.
In the sections that follow, we will take a comprehensive look between the two.
The Indian Real Estate Agent aka Broker
Moving brokers or real estate agents, as you might well know by now, simply deal with finding homes for you and dealing with terms of the lease. These middlemen don’t do anything outside of these two jobs and certainly don’t help you with moving.
Typically, brokers ask for a budget for your relocation move and collect a fee from you upon finding and finalizing the legalities of the lease clause. The brokers then leave you to your wits to figure out the rest of the stuff on your own.
Often, with finding housing in India, there are invisible regulations that are a norm for the local denizens that expats are often unaware of. The brokers don’t care to factor in these norms on your behalf since, put very simply, it’s not their job to do so.
In addition to these, you must set aside money for the broker’s finder fees and the home’s security deposit, which inexpensive neighborhoods may often be as much as two months’ equivalent of your monthly rent, all of which must be paid beforehand. There is also an issue with taxes.
Typically, the landlord is responsible for paying taxes. However, many proprietors now include a condition in the lease agreement that states that if the government imposes an additional tax on residential rental units in the future, the renter must pay that tax. The government has not introduced such a tax as of yet.
Real estate agents have been found accountable for exploiting this fallacy in order to sell the home faster. Worse, there is no culpability because they are not legally in the wrong.
Many others fail to take into account property risks such as the condition of the home and the estate’s upkeep, which are frequently expected to be borne by the renter, all in the broker’s bid to sell the home faster.
As compared to real estate agents, relocation agencies appear as evangelists. These agencies not only find tailor-made properties for expats to live in but also factor in all of the little nuances that are intrinsic to the move of relocating to India.
These include everything from finding homes as per your preference in a suitable locality, finalizing the terms of the lease with the landlord, orientation of the locality by providing guided tours, and more.
Trusted relocation agencies also ensure that other aspects of relocating, such as cultural orientation, school search for kids, and searching for assisted services such as maids, nannies, or handymen.
That’s not all, the services offered by certain relocation agencies see them helping expat tenants with other important stuff like opening a bank account and getting a permanent TAX account number or PAN CARD on the expat tenant’s part.
Living in the adopted home also becomes a breeze. Relocation agencies have a vast network of trusted homes and landlords previously liaised with. This positions them perfectly to deal with landlords for property improvements, lease renegotiations, dilapidation control, and ongoing maintenance. What’s more, they also track the lease expiry and set procedures in place beforehand so that your stay isn’t encumbered by the typically long processes of renewals.
You would think that this would be the extent of them but expats have had happy surprises to find that relocation agencies offer much more than the monetary help too. As mentioned above, many such agencies are so devoted to creating a holistic living experience for their clients that they procure necessary utilities for you and even take care of its legalities, such as reviewing all legal documents required to avail amenities like televisions, telephone, WiFi services, vehicle purchases, and even car and property insurance.
We hope that the guide provided you with the initial round of consideration to look forward with regards to finding a house in India. Whether you are looking for an apartment or a house for rent in India, availing the help of a relocation agency will do you wonders. If you are searching for one to make the whole process easier, you will find Lexagent to be the perfect ally for your stay here. With pervasive local expertise and a portfolio spanning decades of successfully creating satisfactory relocation experiences for expats from all over the world, Lexagent is your ideal partner away from home. There are tons of places to see, which means you will find your peaceful abode. Come home soon.