A Stress Free Guide on How to Rent An Apartment in Mumbai? Part 1 of 3

People always ask me the question “What’s the procedure for renting an apartment (flat) in Mumbai?”. Rather than repeating myself again and again, I thought “Hmm! Let me write a blog and just direct people to this topic”. It’s a very valid question, especially for NRIs, expatriates, students and the endless number of people moving to Mumbai. I would like to be as thorough as possible in answering this question to my existing and prospective clients. The last thing I want on my conscience is missing out on some important information and later regret not informing any client or prospective customer.

Mumbai is a big financial hub and the financial capital of India. There are thousands of immigrants moving to Mumbai every day from all over the World – US, UK, Singapore, Dubai, etc and even within India’s own borders. There are thousands of students coming to study from all over India and overseas as well as expatriates moving back to Mumbai after their decades long stay overseas. They are either new to Mumbai or trying to get re-acclimated to this city. Either ways, their question is always the same “How do I  lease, rent an apartment in the city?”, “What is the process of renting a flat in Mumbai?”, so here I go.

1. Fixing a  Monthly Rental Budget

how to rent a flat in mumbaiMoney decides everything! Where you stay, how you stay or even if you can move or not? Contrary to common belief, Mumbai is not a cheap city to stay. A lot of naive individuals think that India is a third world country and will be cheap to stay in. However, they have a rude awakening when they actually land here. You can compare Mumbai’s life style and real estate prices to any major city of the world. For example, a  1 bedroom apartment in Mumbai’s prime location will cost you at least of $800 per month and can go higher than $2,000 per month in rent. A night out in Mumbai at a mid level ($$) bar or pub will be anywhere close to $100. It is also about what kind of a lifestyle you want.

On the other hand there are other suburbs in Mumbai that are a bit more cost effective where you can get a 1 bedroom flat for less than $500 rent per month and a night out for four people might cost you less than $ 50 total. It’s up to you to decide how deep is your pocket and how much are you willing to spend?

2. Deciding on a Location

Once you decide on your monthly rental budget, you can then narrow down your choices for the suburbs that fit within your budget. You have to decide on how far is the location from your work, school, family, etc? How much will you land up paying in commuting costs? Is it closer to the bus station or train station? Can I walk to my destination? Mumbai’s public transportation is tremendous. Unlike bigger cities like Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, etc. public transportation is very cheap, for example a 2 KM distance traveled by rickshaw will cost less than $ 0.50 or less than $ 1 by cab. Public transportation is readily available 24 hours a day. The trains run from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily irrespective of the days. The city basically never sleeps.

Just like every other city in the world, in Mumbai too, there are prime locations, mid level locations and lower level locations within the city. The location of the place decides the monthly rental. There are certain upscale suburbs of Mumbai like Bandra and Juhu and then there downtown pockets of Colaba, Worli, Breach Candy, etc. The rents in these locations are higher as compared to other suburbs like Andheri, Goregaon, Malad, etc. This being said, it does not mean that the upscale locations are all expensive. There are certain pockets within these locations that have budget apartments available. They do not last long and are on the market only for a few days. The catch with these budget apartments could be that the location might not be ideal. They could be closer to a slum area or the apartment might not be up to current standards. There are times when elevators are unavailable in the building. These might be minor hindrances to some individuals who might not care, while others are not OK with it.

For example, a fully furnished 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom flat with all appliances in Bandra West costs on an average Rs. 125,000 (approx. $2,000). A flat available at 40% below market price, i.e. Rs. 75,000 ($ 1,200) might sound like a great deal but on further examination you find out that it is on the fourth floor in a building without an elevator and has no car parking facilities. This clearly justifies the difference in the pricing. Now an apartment like this might not be good for a family of four with children. On the other hand it is ideal for 2 working bachelors, who would rather save that 30% by climbing up 4 floors.

3. Finding a Real Estate Broker

It is extremely important to find a reputed and experienced real estate broker, especially if you are a new to the city. I would hope that you would decide on R.K. Mumbai Realtors. (In any case that’s not the reason why I am writing this blog article) An experienced broker knows about most of the locations that he/she works in. In most cases they have either grown up or have been working in that location for years.

For example, I have grown up and lived most of my life in the Western suburbs of Andheri, Juhu and Bandra with my office located centrally in Santacruz. I am pretty well versed with most locations within this entire patch of land. I am aware of the good pockets and bad pockets within the area that I grew up in and have seen it transform over the years. Similarly, a reputed and experienced broker is in a great position to inform you about the locality, your neighboring areas, the good parts and the dangerous parts of the neighboring localities, along with various necessities like train stations, hospitals, schools, traffic conditions that affect your commute times, etc. A good broker is a great guide for people moving into the area.

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