IntroductionIn today's life, for many, owning an individual home remains a distant dream as they can't transform their dreams into reality. The exorbitant cost of land, the herculean task of constructing a home without support are the major hurdles that prevent one from buying or building a home. The next best option is buying an apartment. With the changing trends in employment, ability of people to move and an increase in nuclear families, apartment rentals are also on the rise.
Whether you own an apartment or just rent one, it is your home and you should be well updated to get the best out of an apartment life.
Choose the location wiselyThe city skylines are often dotted with numerous apartments and people are spoilt for choices. The key factors to look for are accessibility, affordability, presence of hospitals close by, shopping areas and places of faith near by. The other important factor for many is the number of good schools and colleges in the vicinity. It is difficult to find a complex away from congested areas but you can get lucky if look around closely. In cities with metro train services, choosing an apartment within walkable distance is very useful. Some people don't mind traveling 15-20 kms but want solitude and green surroundings, such families choose a gated community or a complex near the outskirts.
Choose the right brandIt would be difficult for most of us to assess the quality of construction as every apartment looks more or less the same in terms of quality. Choose a reputed brand, get the documents verified by a lawyer. Most people take a home loan as there would be one more additional round of verification. Check for the basic amenities and most importantly some green space in the common areas where kids can play and you can have an evening walk.
Moving inThe first few residents who move in, face many teething issues that would take a few months to be ironed out. If possible, time your interior work and furnish so that by the time you move in, the complex would be around 25-30% occupied. Please check about supply of drinking water, electricity, toilets is working order before you move in. Plan well for the home move as it can stressful at times.
Settling in the new homeIt would take a few days for you to get into the rhythm of daily life, children getting used to the new surroundings. A week before you move in please find the people who supply milk, daily papers, clothes ironing service, cable and internet connections. Store all their contact details and you can call them the previous day to activate all the services. In the next couple of days familiarize with the roads and the surrounding areas looking for grocery shops, mini markets, temples, parks etc.
Pay attention to documentsRegistration of the apartment, transfer of gas delivery, change of address, paying the property tax, getting the deeds (katha), getting the electric meter (name) transferred, bank loan documents, loan insurance and the car parking space allotment letters are some of the important documents that take time but needs to be kept in order as early as possible. Usually, there would be a group of few residents who are familiar with this process and it's better to do it in groups
Owner's associationEvery apartment complex will have an owner's association who would be in charge of the running and maintenance the entire complex. Register with the group and follow-up important updates and announcements made from time to time.
Key contact informationOnce you move in and everything is settled, life is good until the odd problems start. In apartments, one man's roof is other man's floor literally. There would be some leaks in the pipes, flushes leak or get clogged, damping (water soakage) of the walls due to leaks, power tripping etc. You need to have the contact numbers of the maintenance team, plumbers, electricians, cleaning staff and security contact information. The value of these numbers would be known only if you are in a spot of trouble and you don't know whom to contact. If you are a tenant, then keep the contact details owner or a relative who is in the same city as you would be surprised to know many a times, the owner would be living somewhere in India or even an NRI and contacting them in an emergency can be challenging.
Know your neighborsAlthough simple to say, getting to know the neighbors in the same floor and having a circle of good friends is difficult some times. Also try to meet people who are doctors, teachers, tax consultants if they live in the same complex. An informal meeting with these people could help you solve some issues easily and have help at hand when needed. Some people smoke, have loud parties, behave inappropriately in common areas after a few drinks whether it's allowed or not. If it disturbs you, then be assertive is expressing your views and be clear of the their limits.
Pests and PetsMany complexes have rats, some times stray dogs get into the compound and if there are trees around please don't be surprised to see monkeys suddenly dropping into the kitchen balcony. Apartments are haven for pigeons and although they look cute and innocent, they can make a mess of the balconies. Many residents install simple but effective pigeon nets to prevent them coming in or messing the place when you are out of station for a few days. Some tenants would have dogs or cats as pets, if the rule permits then you have to abide by it. Most owners of pets are sensible but some behave irresponsibly with regards to letting them loose or allowing them to mess the common passages. Such events needs to be highlighted to security and resolved before it becomes a regular nuisance. Keep a strict 'No entry rule' to marketing people and people who come asking for donations as this is a common way criminals sneak into the complexes.
Apartment safetyPresence of security at the gates reassures us that 'all is well' but it is not fool proof. Many people move in and out regularly, maids, delivery boys, postman, visitors etc. So, it is impossible to verify everyone at all times. You have to be alert at all times regarding strangers, including security personnel especially at odd hours and if you are living alone. Never leave to door unlocked, insist on a system of a 'call first policy', if a visitor or relative or any service boy has to come up to your flat. This should be followed by all as a rule with focus on safety. Many balconies have fancy glass, designer grills etc, these may not be high with gaps through which children can put there legs or heads out. Youngsters lean on the balcony railings during parties and after a few drinks can slip over the railings by accident. Please ensure that these railings are safe for children and adults.
Other ServicesIf the apartment complex is relatively new, then along with the owners group, you can encourage to start services of tuition teachers, dance teachers, tennis, swimming coaches, self defense classes etc. Once these come in, then it is a blessing in disguise as these are important activities for children and we cannot waste time by looking for classes elsewhere at least at the basic levels. Many owners group arrange for vegetable vendors or organic food dealers to come regularly and supply at attractive prices. Once the residents move in, then you can start celebrating national festivals and major events in the spirit of community friendship and to promote harmony. Make judicious use of the amenities like club house, gym or swimming pool to keep yourself healthy and you are paying for it too.
SummaryApartment culture has rapidly grown in the metro cities and some even have twin apartments of joint families. Paying attention to details that revolve around apartment life pays well. Our daily activities and life in general can be made more pleasant and productive if we ensure that the above key points are addressed to from the time we start looking for an apartment until we settle down well in our homes.
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Apartments are the answer for the middle-class people who can't afford an independent house especially in metros and other cities. So these days many people are opting for apartments. One advantage of the apartment is that the life will be like a combined family. When you go out of the station by locking your apartment, you will be in peace unlike in independent houses. If you have known people in the other apartments we will become more friendly and have a lot of interaction and good rapport. These days we observe common celebrations in the complex with all the inmates during festivals like Vinayaka Chavithi, Vijaya Dashami, Holi and Sivaratri. They will do that with more zeal and happiness.
While selecting the apartment we should keep in mind two or three factors in addition to the points described. We should see that the traveling time will be minimum for the children to attend schools and for the employees to attend their office. This will give the good saving of time by avoiding long travels. The breeze and ventilation should also be good so that we will have a good time in the apartment.
In urban areas, there is no other go but to accept the apartment life as it comes. Selecting the apartment is the main problem here. The workplace is different and the compulsion of living with our religious community area is different. For example for Tamil Brahmins like me, the preferred area to live in Hyderabad is already well designated like Anandbagh, Malkajgiri, AS Rao Nagar etc. That means if we live in this place there are a good number of Tamilians present and the going on would be smooth in life. But again the working place would be Hitech city which is very far off from these places. So we have to decide first as to what is important. The community place or the convenience of having apartment nearer to the workplace. Again the cost of the apartment also matters. In Hitech city area the cost of apartments is more than 60 to 80 lakhs which is too much whereas in the areas mentioned above the cost would be between 30 to 40 lakhs. So it all depends on our budget to select and live in such places which are affordable to our pocket.
Dr.Rao, many builders plan the apartments so that there is connectivity with good schools, colleges, hospital and public transport. Many families I know, including ourselves, have left our independent homes to be in apartments as it is more centrally located especially in the city limits where one has to spend long hours in travel every morning and evening. Regarding ventilation and breeze, this is possible in premium places that are very spacious but even at such places new apartment crop up in a span of 2-4 years compromising on the views and cross ventilation.
Mohan sir, for many nuclear families and people whose jobs involve transfer, apartments are a matter of convenience and practically good choice. I agree with you regarding the cost factor but if one chooses wisely in projects that have started and running and are by good builders, then the price too can be very attractive.
Living in separate house and living in a flat are two different experiences. In a separate house you have complete privacy and freedom but in an apartment you are confined to a limited space and around you there are so many flats and you may feel your privacy and freedom choked to some extent.
One has to learn ways to live in apartment in a harmonious way and in a community life observing the common festivals together.
Apartment life is now very common in big cities and due to the scarcity of land, it is picking up in small towns also.
One must be prepared to live in a closed gated community if one is moving from separate house culture to this confined society living.
In fact, this has many advantages than separate living as it gives people a close bond and an opportunity to help each other in any function or incident.