Living arrangement

Apartment complex VS Independent house

1:45 PM

As I promised in my entry about what to expect when you are flat hunting in India I am going to list the pros and cons of both most popular living arrangement in big cities nowadays

Apartment complex

As I said these are in fact gated communities, with a certain number of high rise building built around a clubhouse.

Pros:

The apartments are quite big and proportioned and almost always include an utility area (fridge and washing machine area) inside your own flat.

If you are looking for recreation and sport facilities, they are your best bet, most have a swimming pool, tennis court and common room among other things. Some have a gym as well. The newest the complex the better chance at getting all these amenities

Some argue that they are safer because of the security guards at the entrance, I say it’s all relative, because they will block suspicious people from entering true, but the threat can still come from your maid, car wash guy, pizza delivery guy, newspaper guy…who are all given access through the gates.

Cons:

These are often far from the center of the town, on the side of a main road, with very few fun spots around, you get grocery stores, pharmacies and local vegetable vendors right outside the gate, but nothing else, you need a car to get around if you plan to live in such place. There are older communities inside the cities but they are old, or too costly, or very exclusive.

If you are a city lover walk away from these, they are cold impersonal and pack a lot of people on a small surface, you might not know your neighbour too well in these because somehow from my experience living in these people tend to shy away from social contact, you might meet a few people at the pool house, or on the badminton court, but in general you are on your own if you need help unless you manage to get in good close term with your immediate floor neighbour.

The apartments look good and most of the new ones have glossy marble floor, but one of the most common complaint is that things like plumbing tend to be crappy, these buildings deteriorate fast and water seepage isn’t too unusual of a sight in 5-10 years old building, I’ve visited my fair share of these trust me.

Independent house

Pros:

They are located in residential neighbourhood with a lot more shops and restaurants in the vicinity, if you choose the right locality you can even do without a car for most things.

You get to know your neighbour more easily than in a gated community, and I never had problem finding help in all the independent houses I lived in.

Since these houses are owned in there totality by one person who generally live on the premises as well, they generally take better care of it and you have less chances of plumbing woes and water seepage..though of course you still have landlord that don’t care, but in general house owners have a far better control at these small things.

In Bangalore most of these residential layout still have trees and quiet streets where it is safe to walk and play, with the result that people use them as a community area more easily and it favours social interaction a bit better than at the clubhouse of a gated community, again from my experience.

Cons:

You don’t have amenities such as pools and gyms that are free to use or part of your maintenance fee, if you are interested in these you need to find a club and pay a subscription.

Apartments inside an independent house are much smaller, and not always well proportioned, so you need to look at the place you are visiting carefully before signing a lease.

Safety might be a bigger issue, so choose your neighbourhood carefully, if you are new to India or a city and know no one to guide you, better not chance it. But then on the other hand in a good locality the neighbours system can make it safer than in a gate community as you get to hire servants that are trusted by those around you and not some that the guards sent in for job interview. The gated community in which I live right now gives me the creeps sometimes as there are a lot of construction workers, my residential neighbourhood and house in Bangalore used to feel far far safer.

Independent house apartments might not look as good as a brand new international style apartment in a gate community, something that could be a turn off especially if you are an expat completely new to India. So if look is important to you, be prepared to have to visit dozens and dozens of independent house before finding one that is proportioned enough AND good looking. Or compromise on having old mosaic tiles, dirty marbles and gloomy bathrooms if you are in a hurry to find a place but still insist on independent housing.

Personally I prefer independent houses arrangement, because I like being in close proximity of shops, markets, and restaurant and like the community feeling of these neighbourhood.
In all the gated community building I lived in I always felt a bit alienated, out of place and a bit unsafe. I need space to walk around, I need to see various sight, so the idea of seeing the same old potted plant in the clubhouse area and walk behind the same walls all the time is a bit of a turn off. Plus as a woman in India using the pool is a bit awkward, the life guards are male, and seeing a lady even in a sporty one piece swim suit is enough to have them stare, most of these swimming pools are used by kids and men, if they are used at all, because I saw quite a few places where the pool is or empty or looking like a pond due to the lack of use and maintenance.
DH likes apartment complexes better though, and when we were in Bangalore 2 weeks ago we never saw eye to eye on this one, we visited a bit of both, and we agreed to keep ourselves centrally located as I was going to be alone a lot and am too chicken to drive. But in the end we choose an apartment in what isn’t exactly a gated community but definitely isn’t an independent house. It’s old, doesn’t have any other amenities than a kiddie playground and a very basic gym in the basement, but it’s within walk able distance of all the things I like and still has 24 hours power back up, lifts, security guards and a parking spot for DH’s car…the art of compromise indeed.

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