[SoG] The House Hunt Decision Matrix

When you need to hunt for a new house!

Hello! I know I've been missing in action. Apologies for that. Life has been in flux and I am left with very limited time to pick up these projects. I hope things improve soon and I am back to the life that I love - a life where I am the master of my time, where I am creating, where I am talking to people that I want to, and so on and so forth.

Without further ado, here's a post for you to munch over. Originally published on my blog here.

So, this is that time of the year.

NO! Not that time when there is this festive cheer in the air and everyone is happy and smiling and cheerful and in the celebration frame of mind.

But the time when I go through the annual ritual of looking for a house that's good enough in my opinion and affordable enough in my pocket's opinion and unobtrusive in my friends' opinion and accessible enough in Mumbai traffic's opinion.

You would've guessed that the combination is as rare a find as life's purposes are.

And you would've guessed that the over-optimistic me would do whatever it takes to look for a place. Just that this time, the amount of money I want to shell out is like one-third of what I would normally do. And thus I am crunched on the decision.

And lemme vomit my thoughts on how I am thinking about this. You know, am trying to make a decision in public (without giving you the specifics).

So here are some questions that I ask myself before I start looking for a house.

A. I believe if I have to choose between saving time or money, I must do whatever it takes to save time.

Money I can earn. Time I cant. And thus, I ought to choose an option that gives me more time. This often means living close to the city center. This also means that living close to public transport nodes (even though I may not use those a lot)

B. Second, I believe that you need to live as close to an ecosystem as you can. If not bang in the middle.

This allows you to create serendipitous connections. You can meet newer people and it is meeting with people that opens doors.

Assuming you want to live in India, here are some places where you could live...

  1. You want to do a startup? Live in Bangalore, at Koramangala, or at Whitefield. Or BTM.

  2. You want to make films? Live in Andheri West. Or Malad.

  3. Want to be a politician? Delhi.

  4. Want to be an Athlete? Depending on your sport, pick a hub.

  5. Want to be happy? Live next to your family, even if they are in a village!

Before it pops in your head, no, I don't think that this entire remote work and work from home would make these hotspots redundant. Maybe SoCal would change. But most of the hotspots would not change. In fact, with time, newer hotspots may emerge, if at all the old one shift. If I had enough foresight to figure out the next hotspots, I would move there.

C. Third. It is very very important for me to feel good when I come back home. Or if I am holed up in my home for extended periods of time.

Now, for most people, this is taken care of if they live with their families - after all, its people that make a house home. For someone like me who is not capable of keeping relationships beyond a few nano-seconds, I need to rely on other things that make me feel good when I come back!

Others. These three withstanding, I made a list of other things that are important to me in a house. Here's it...

  • Large space, open layout (less clutter, less furniture), higher floor (so that I may stare at the world)

  • New-ish building (so that I don't have to worry about pests, leaky faucets, etc), less than 10-years of vintage,

  • A balcony (I love sitting out)

  • Access to a Starbucks (really - this is very important)

  • Connectivity (I love meeting people and I need to be able to commute easily)

  • Neighbors that are not nitpicky.

I kid you not, I have an excel sheet with all these variables listed on it. Lemme know if you want a copy. And all these variables have a weight allocated (depending on the importance of that variable to me. For example, a new building has the highest weight and neighbors have the lowest). And each time I make a decision, I play with the numbers to arrive at the decision.

Of course, I could have made enough money that I did not have to care about the rent and would have maxed all the variables. Like SRK, I would have had a Starbucks in the very building I lived in! But then, life's like that. You cant get everything you want and you need to juggle around to find the combination that works for you.

So, coming to the challenge at hand, the new house that I need to move into, in less than 10 days, I am trying to, well, juggle around things till I find a match that works for me. That means I have explored options in Andheri, Thane, Kandivali (and beyond), Madh Island. I am yet to explore places like Chembur and Kanjurmarg and all.

I am yet to finalize on any but the two that seem to make the cut are,
1, a smallish one-bedroom house in Andheri and
2, a little bigger than a smallish one-bedroom house in Thane.

The one in Andheri is 2X the price and about half the size of the one in Thane. And while I am tempted to take up the place in Thane (thanks to COVID and general fuckery of how I run my life, it would be a stretch to afford the place in Andheri) and pay less and get more space, I am not sure if I want to. It is VERY far from any place that I want to be at. Place. Not people.

Place - like I said earlier, I want to live near the city center and amp up my odds of serendipity. If Thane was a hub for any of the disciplines I am interested in (films, startups, marketing), Hiranandani Estate would have been ideal. But I am not sure what I'd get access to there apart from the world's best Rajma Chawal that a friend makes (she lives in Thane). Unrelated but she's lived in places like Malad and Kandivali over the years and I have traveled to those places to stuff myself with her Rajma Chawal.

People - I don't know if this is good or bad, there is no one person that I want to live close to. Neither is there a thing that I want to live close to. Most other people want to live close to their friends, offices, families, etc - I don't have any such connections, may be except Myra.

So, while the amount of money I want to pay may dictate where I end up, it would be very very unfortunate if I can not close on a place in Andheri. Or may be in Bandra. Or Goa for that matter (which I was VERY strongly considering, till I realized that there is no work for a generalist like me there - a topic from another post on another day).

For the time being, it's over and out. Wish me luck :)


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