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Finding top-quality yet affordable accommodation in Delhi is not always simple. The high demand for housing and rapidly expanding population have sent prices through the roof.
That said, the National Capital Region (NCR) has experienced lower increases in rental prices compared to other major cities, so expats in Delhi may be able to save some money on their rent.
Lucky newcomers may receive support from their employer to look for a home in Delhi, but those who do not should ideally hire a real-estate agent to assist with their search. To start, it's helpful to get an overview of the property market, and tips on finding accommodation and dealing with rental contracts.
Types of accommodation in Delhi
An individual's choice of accommodation in Delhi will depend on their lifestyle and the neighbourhood they wish to reside in. Most of the housing in and around Delhi's city centre consists of modern high-rise apartment complexes, independent floors, and condos. In some suburbs, expats might find villas and old colonial properties available as well.
Independent floors, also known as builder floors are one of the most popular types of property in Delhi. Independent floors can typically be found in low-rise buildings where tenants can rent an entire floor rather than just a section or unit of it. While tenants staying on an independent floor arguably have more privacy than in an apartment, extra amenities are not always available, such as gyms and swimming pools, unless the buildings are located in high-end gated complexes.
Apartments are also commonly available, while independent houses and villas are in shorter supply and tend to be more difficult to find. While prices vary drastically across property types, villas and free-standing houses are usually expensive.
The BHK acronym, meaning bedroom, hall and kitchen, is frequently used in India. Single expats may settle on a one-BHK property (meaning a one-bedroom apartment with hall and kitchen), while families may search for two or three (and so on) BHK.
Finding accommodation in Delhi
Many expats who relocate to Delhi for work purposes will find that their employer is willing to assist in the accommodation search. In many cases the employer will, in fact, have accommodation already secured for their employees. Although this limits the expat's choice to some degree, it saves them a lot of hassle. Usually, the accommodation provided by employers is comfortable and located close to the expat's workplace.
Alternatively, it is possible to do some research online before arriving in India. Expats can make use of property portals and expat groups to become more familiar with the options available. This ensures that expats have some basic knowledge about Delhi's property market.
Once in India, internet and newspaper listings are a good source of property information, but the best option for an expat is to enlist the help of an estate agent. Real-estate professionals do charge a fee, but they have intimate knowledge of the property market and understand the process of securing a rental property in Delhi.
Renting accommodation in Delhi
Rental prices vary according to the neighbourhood and often depend on the age of the house. New buildings can be up to double the rent of older buildings. There is no ‘rule of thumb’ for price calculation of the rental of a property, as in many Western countries. Landlords generally ask whatever they want – the agent should then be able to tell the tenant if the proposed amount is in line with the rental costs of comparable properties in the surrounding area.
It’s critical to understand all stipulations in the lease. A lease of 11 months is common in Delhi. Longer-term rental agreements are available and these must be registered with the relevant housing authorities, including registration costs and stamp-duty charges.
In the past, landlords often demanded hefty deposits to the tune of six to 11 months' worth of rent. This has been made illegal, as legislation now stipulates that deposits are limited to a maximum of two months' rent.
Expat tenants should expect to cover the costs for utilities, including electricity, water and any maintenance charges.
Tenants and landlords must give and be given notice at least three months ahead of time if either party wishes to terminate the lease early.
►Learn more about the Areas and Suburbs in Delhi
►Considering hiring household staff? See Domestic Help in Delhi
"There are a lot of great accommodation options and a wide range of alternatives to choose from." For more on an expat's rating of the standard of accommodation in Delhi, see our interview with Daniel Kiteski.
"Finding a flat (houses are very rare in Delhi) can be difficult. If you can find a flat owned by an expat, you will be fine, they understand the level of living you are accustomed to. There will always be something wrong with a flat..." Read our interview with Gabriel for an expat's perspective on housing.
Are you an expat living in Delhi?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Delhi. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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