February 18, 2007

Arriving in Bangalore - House Hunting

One of the things we've been doing this week is looking for a permanent place to live. We have a real estate agent hired by Google, and filled out a big check list of what we're interested in and what's important. What we're interested in is a place that's walking distance to work, and costs less than Rs 50,000/month. We'd like 3 bedrooms but we'll be happy with 2 - but we have to have at least 2 because we want to have guests. We want furnished because I don't want to deal with having to buy a bunch of stuff only to sell it again in a year - though we may go that route by buying a houseful of stuff from someone else in the corresponding situation who's now leaving.

Anyway, when I first filled out the questionnaire I thought we'd be working first at the one Google location at Embassy Icon and then at Prestige Sigma so I wanted a place that was walking distance to both. The realtor started by showing us a bunch of places in Richmond Town (all of which amazingly enough were going for exactly Rs 50,000!) and all of which were unfurnished. He seemed a little grumpy when we said we wanted places that were walking distance from Embassy Icon (he tried to tell us Richmond Town was "close") and that were furnished, and preferably were somewhat cheaper.

The next day he did better, showing us places mostly along Infantry Road, and a few on Ali Asker Road. Two of them were actually furnished, and he admitted that while the prices were still all amazingly exactly Rs 50,000 per month that some were "negotiable." He showed us one place that was one lakh (100,000) Rs per month and we were frankly unimpressed. For over US$2000 per month I'd expect something totally fabulous - and this wasn't.

We did five or more places each day, and after two days he tried to tell us that this was all there was that was close to Embassy Icon and if we wanted anything else we'd have to look further out. Debbie had been talking to another couple staying at the guest house and they had six real estate agents, and they were talking to three of them each day with at least five places each and there were plenty more places in the nearby neighborhood still in our price range. So if he tries to play hardball, I'm prepared to discuss it with him - but we did like one of the places.

It's a furnished place, decorated by an interior designer. It was immediately obvious when we walked in that the place had been decorated by someone with a sense of taste and had a coherent esthetic. What's more it was an esthetic that not only could we live with, but that our pieces would fit with nicely. I'm optimistic. We "negotiated" a little on price, so we'll see what happens.

I decided to hedge our bets and see how much it would cost to furnish a place. It looks like you can get a decent bed set for on the order of Rs 16,000 and a dining room set for on the same order. I didn't check sofas and chairs, but it looks like you could probably furnish a place for on the order of a month's rent plus or minus. So we might consider furnishing a place if it comes to that.
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