Introduction Picture this situation. You are a very young Deputy Manager of HR and you have just got a son. You are just 28 years old. Your wife is a banker and you are now asked to move towards the city of Bangalore for a position in their Regional Office. The transfer comes with the company undertaking the responsibility of paying the rental advance. In just six months after her maternal leave is totally exhausted, you will need an accommodation where your wife and son will be happy. You have two choices. A compact two bedroom house in the famous HSR layout is available for Rs18000 per month. The area is somewhat green, there is no water problem as such as you have just two more families living in the building. It is not polluted. For the next 36 months, it is so essential that your child is hale and healthy and lives in a good environment. There is enough scope for air circulation. In another area, where the accommodation costs Rs 10,000 per month, there is some water problem. Your wife would rather go the extra kilometres distance to office, but prefers the HSR layout accommodation. What would you do?
It is always wise to take care of infants so well. You could travel in a shared car and use your car sparingly. Your wife is also happy about an unpolluted environment. This is the best under a given set of circumstances. So, we need to understand the Five common-sense approaches to a happy life in metros and big cities. These are a) Choose an accommodation that makes for healthy living b) For education up to fifth standard choose only play schools c) Go for the best schools after standard eight d) Go in for three year leases for rented accommodation e) Never show off and save money.
Choose an accommodation that makes for healthy living The example described above happened in the case of my friend. He was intelligent enough to understand that HSR layout was the best bet. It had superb parks all around and his parents chipped in when it mattered most. They took care of the child and he and his wife were able to regularly go for the early morning walks. Life was very simple and highly enjoyable. The son grow up to be a very intelligent child. He is now in a very good school and his grandparents are still around to take care and shower all love and affection on him. His parents would take him out to many places in their spare time. In Chennai, the upper middle classes now prefer the gated communities of the OMR in South Chennai. This is the famous Old Mahabalipuram Road. The localities are quite neat and the houses are very well ventilated. The sea is very near and the breeze is too good. This is exactly why the IT crowd prefers to live here. It is also home to hundreds of business families who have shifted lock stock and barrel, particularly from Mumbai. It helps that Chennai is home for some of the best CBSE schools in India. At least three of best ten colleges for commerce in India are in Chennai.
For education up to fifth standard choose only play schools Research indicates that the most creative children with the best left brains are those who are basically blessed with upbringing in an environment, where the learning is only through play, observation and questioning. The play schools do exactly this. They foster the "free child" to a very large extent. These are the best schools for your child up to standard five. After this stage, the transition to a regular school is never so difficult. The child would have learned a number of nuances about reasoning and would go far beyond rote learning. And ensure that your child simply walks to the school or travels up to only two kilometres. Once this is ensured, the child can dabble in football or cricket or whatever. This becomes even more important in today's condition. If your son is naturally talented and you spot some cricketing talent in him, check for a cricket academy where the best batsmen and bowlers are being trained. Many cricketers set up such academies. Stick to the same for your child. We really do not know when the opportunity will knock at our door. We rather get prepared to give our sons these exact opportunities. You could even pursue a career in another city but your wife and child should be put under the care of good friends and relatives and you could jolly well take off to the new city for your career advancement. Please do note that play schools actually help the child to have far better personalities when they grow up.
Go for the best schools after standard eight This is another important thing. You just cannot worry about the additional cost. The happiest parents are those who spend money on the best of education of their children. This is extremely common in the metros. Your children need the best of motivating environments where they will rub shoulders with really intelligent children. Do not bother if the children belong to very rich families. This can always happen. All that you need to ensure is that your child does not go overboard and fall into any bad company. When your child is into the ninth standard ensure that he or she is fully knowledgeable about all careers. On every weekend, try to widen your circle of contacts and get your son or daughter to interact with those in particular fields. Of course, you should yourself be very knowledgeable to under the hundreds of career options now available. One such career option that suits your child's natural instincts and latent talent will be the best for your child. For instance, if your daughter is a natural extrovert and has won so many prizes in school debates and various essay competitions and she too good in spoken English, the prestigious BSc (Visual Communication) course at the world-famous Loyola College, Chennai will do her a world of good. This is vital. She should do only what naturally interests her. Never force your child into any course.
Go in for three year leases for rented accommodationThis is another very important point. In Southern India, it is somewhat common to find houseowners who would rather happily let out their house to good individuals with a good salary. Grab such opportunities. Many house-owners would not raise rents arbitrarily and may even allow two renewals with minimum increase in rent. Find out localities where you will be comfortable. There are localities where a huge majority of residents are pure vegetarians. If you are particular that you would like to live in such environs, so be it. Search for locations that have both train and bus access. With the metro train services becoming more common in so many cities, this is a big possibility. Stay put in one place where your growing children are comfortable. Safety of your girl child is even more important and this is one factor that you should consider too. It matters little if the child is two or twenty years old. The dangers are the same everywhere.
Never show off and save money If you want your life to be happy in a metro city or a big city, it is very essential that you should not show off. For example, those who migrate to Vice President positions in cities like Coimbatore, Kochi and Vizag, deliberately take off to spend maximum times with their families. They do not show off. The relatively lesser cost of living and fabulous connectivity through road and rail to each of these cities makes their life far more comfortable and enjoyable. This author knows three different people who manages to happily take up Vice President jobs in each city with top notch companies. This was even more great since their salaries were very good and their children were at the higher education level in different cities. At age 45 or so, since commutation headaches are very less, the families enjoyed their life so much. There are so many hill stations and picnic spots near the cities and they went to each one of them. Their wives are bankers in two cases and one is a chartered accountant. She is on her own anyway. This is exactly what you could do as well. At senior levels life in such cities is very good and the cost of living is also far less. The savings is also very good when compared to Mumbai or New Delhi. You should always do this and save good amounts of money through Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) of good mutual funds.
Conclusion There is no escape from city life for anyone. At some stage of your life, you would have to take up a job in a metro city. However, when you reach very senior levels, migrating to the relatively big but growing cities like Coimbatore will help you have the best of both worlds. You will really do well to just take the simple steps to make your city life a very happy experience.
A useful read for many newly married couples and young families who dream big of making it successfully in the metros.
A school wherein learning is based on play, observation and questioning may not be always possible for all of us. At such times, we can consider the Montessori type of schools. The best school enrolment I feel should start from 6th onwards because the level of education and the standards have changed a lot. If we wait until the 8th to change to a good school, it would be too late and the child may suffer and lag behind in terms of performance during the 10th standard.
Getting a lease for three years is all based on our luck in being able to find a good landlord.
As a nuclear family, it's better not to broadcast our earnings and status in the interest of the safety of our families and ourselves. A flashy car, too much of jewellery, high flying lifestyle etc always attract the attention of the wrong people. In every major metro we now and then hear about the father or a child kidnapped for ransom by gangs who have studied the wealth and social status beforehand.