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Setting up home in Delhi | The Out-of-Towner's Guide

Rashi posted on 16 February

By Rashi Wadhera

Moving to a new place, especially if you don’t speak the language, can be quite daunting. If you’re flying solo – hats off to you! We know a fair few people who’ve moved to Delhi to work, from smaller towns and even other countries. Setting up home, no matter how temporary, is far from the glossy picture that pops up when you Google “homes in Delhi.” Actual rent and prices vary according to neighbourhood, type of construction, and perks - a room for the help, parking space, night guard, etc. While for these reasons we can't talk figures, what we can give you is a list of things you need to be aware {and wary} of, before you even consider signing on the dotted line. If you don’t have a friend here to take you around and bargain on your behalf, you need to know what to look for when you’re visiting and shortlisting properties, and after you move in.

After all, the best way to be able to call a city home, is to first settle into a space you can call home.


Gurgaon versus Delhi: Gurgaon is cheaper, and more often than not, the rent covers essential amenities. On the flip side, it is unsafe at night, and if you're looking to go into the city on a regular basis, the Delhi metro shuts at 11pm, and cabbing it into town and back can become an expensive proposition. Getting a pad in Delhi is definitely wiser – better and cheaper transport is available, and places are more accessible. Also in terms of finding maids and other help, and hooking up carpools, Delhi is a much safer bet.

Housing Communities: Try and land a pad inside a housing community and not on a main road. It’ll give you an increased sense of security, especially if you’re a woman and flying solo. These communities usually have night guards manning the entry and exit points, and patrolling the area at night.

Safety First: Places that are quite safe in Delhi include South-Green Park, Haus Khas, Panchsheel Park, Panchsheel Enclave, GK1 and 2, Masjid Moth, Safdarjung, Gulmohar Park, Sirifort, the Vasant Kunj DDA flats, Anand Lok, Uday Park, Niti bagh, Jangpura Extension, Saket, Friends Colony, Maharani Bagh, Sarita Vihar, Defence Colony, Anand Niketan and  Shanti Niketan. If you're looking for a place in Central or North Delhi, look at Rajinder Nagar, Patel Nagar and Civil Lines.


Budgets: To simplify your search, work backwards. Work out how much you'd be okay spending on rent, and which part of town you'd be looking to stay in. When shortlisting properties, keep in mind that older bungalows always have cheaper rent as opposed to the new and improved builder flats. Areas of South Delhi are definitely the priciest of the lot; Gurgaon is significantly cheaper; Noida also offers a ton of options for community housing. Always account for your commute to and from work - how you are going to travel, and what its going to cost you - before choosing an area.

Listings: JustDial, Sulekha and other such sites are just curated lists; they aren’t necessarily reliable listings. While these sites can help you with leads, unfortunately in Delhi, it is best to get a referral, so as to not get swindled. If you’re looking at or Magic Bricks, we recommend fixing up a meeting and checking out the properties. Delhi is a ‘who do you know’ kind of place, and fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t recommend trusting a listing blindly and investing money in it.

The Right People: Word of mouth is definitely the best to find a reliable broker or a person to help with you house hunting. Alternatively, there are two popular expat communities on Facebook that you could list with - Gurgaon Connect and Yuni-net. They come highly recommended by people who’ve moved to the Capital, and also help with other information you may need for the area you choose - fill you in on any other information you might need - shops, doctors, restaurants, public transport etc. Find out more about Yuni-net here. There are also flats without brokers; find their Facebook page here, and their website here.


Get it in writing: Err on the side of caution. Not to send panic waves, but go with the assumption that everyone is on the make. Although there are mixed reviews on how helpful landlords have been, we advise you ask for every term and agreement in writing. If you’re an out of towner and a young, working professional, they may try and harass you, or bully you into terms you don't necessarily agree with, since the city is home for them and you’re playing on their turf.

Don't pay for repairs: These are the landlord’s responsibility! Be thorough when you check an apartment - check every nook and cranny. Identify leaking pipes, cracks in walls, chipped furniture, broken light and loo fixtures, and address them before you sign anything. It is a landlord’s responsibility to give you a house in full functional order, unless you want to change fixtures for aesthetic reasons of course.

Invest in: Air conditioners, washing machines, and a water filter are good investments. If you’re not looking to stay for too long, don’t invest in furnishing your place too much. Scour sites for more decor guides in varying price ranges by clicking  hereIf you're looking for reasonable furniture, find options here. You could also list on the  aforementioned groups;  you never know who's moving away and getting rid of their stuff! 

Amenities: Water and electricity are areas you need to be especially mindful of. Ask the landlord to show you where the electricity meter is, and check the water rates. Check the meter yourself when a bill rolls around; tampering is not unusual.

Hired Help: Although you might correctly assume labour is available a dime a dozen, it’s hard finding someone who sticks around longer than breakfast. An insider’s tip - try and be as helpful as you can. You’ll have to try and earn their trust in whatever way you see fit. People we know have helped tutor their children, or helped out with paying for schooling. Since they’re aware their next job will be very easy to find, give them something to stay for; it makes life a lot easier if someone’s handling your cooking, cleaning and laundry. Salaries for hired help very with locality and scope of work; check with your neighbours before you settle on a salary.

Neighbours: Say hello to your new best friends! Go around your neighbourhood; introduce yourselves to your neighbours. Get a sense of approximate electricity/water bill rates and usage, the local market and hired help salaries. This is the fastest way to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood. If for no other reason, if you’re ever in trouble or find yourself locked out late at night, it’s good to have a friend next door.

Work in Pairs: Although completely an independent decision, we recommend getting a flat mate. Having a person at home splitting responsibility, bills and security concerns is comforting. It's also great to have someone to let you into house, for when you forget your keys!

Other options: If you’re only here for a few months, and would rather settle into an up and running set up, some B and B’s offer long stays. More information here.