Still Figuring It Out: Why Buy When You Can Rent?
I am one of those people who haven’t yet calculated an EMI and who is still living in a ‘rented’ house. A few of my friends do express a show of concern and urge me to invest while my earning capability is still going strong.
I try to explain to them that my perfect home is the one I live in. To shift to a two bhk (with dining attached), far from the centre of things, seems like I am giving up on all the temptations Mumbai has to offer.
Today, boutique restaurants, plays, music concerts, random culture-vulture gatherings are just a hop, skip and jump away. Why not buy a place here my friends ask with genuine enthusiasm. Well, to be able to afford property in this area I love, I would have to be adopted by Salman Khan.
For me moving to the distant suburbs involve a lot of horrid choices. Yes, I will have more room for my toaster but I won’t get any gourmet bread to toast. Yes, I will save money especially since there are no places to spend the dough.
For me moving to the distant suburbs involve a lot of horrid choices. Yes, I will have more room for my toaster but I won’t get any gourmet bread to toast. Yes, I will save money especially since there are no places to spend the dough. Yes, the city will always be a train ride away but will I have the energy to make that one hour commute after a hard day’s work?
The other day an acquaintance of ours dropped into the flat. She ran an expert eye over our space and demanded to know how much rent we pay. There is nothing rude about this question. We in Mumbai discuss property like how Bengalureans talk about the weather. When I told her, she shook her head in disapproval, ‘Put in another 20 grand and you can own your own place in Xgaon.’
She proceeded to tell us the exact area of her flat (Gasp! It was in four figures) and how much it would be worth in four years time (Double gasp or should it be gag?) The next morning, my middle class insecurity about ‘how long will we keep paying rent’ rose to its full glory and I spent the rest of the week searching for a flat to buy.
It was horrendous. The houses were small, the square foot rate was large. The construction was cheap, the woodwork was shoddy. The flooring was imperfect and the ugly windows looked out at uglier windows, which looked back at you. Did I mention most places had a swimming pool, a state-of-the-art gym and a separate lift for ‘help’?
I crawled back to my fifty-year-old one bedroom flat with no lift. It is a three-floor walk-up but the risers are perfectly spaced. Our walls are at least six inches thick and the floor is a beautiful speckled mosaic. I collapsed on my sofa and gazed at the tree outside my large window. A branch swayed in the breeze glinting a golden green in the evening summer sun. On cue, a kite landed, majestic and aloof.
I calculated how much this flat will cost to rent or buy in ten years time. A sigh escaped me and floated up to our high, white ceiling. Before it settled there forever, the inevitable optimism of hope rushed in. Perhaps, Salman will adopt me. After all, we are neighbours.
Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on newsable.com. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at https://twitter.com/unopenedbottle. The views expressed here are her own.