Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cost of Living in India : Flat Maintenance

Most of us in Tier1 (or for that matter Tier2, Tier3) cities in India live in apartment complexes or buildings.  We all share common amenities with our building/colony neighbours, and typically pay a monthly maintenance fee to help maintain the shared amenities.  The more modern complexes boast everything from swimming pools, children play areas, tennis courts, badminton courts, squash courts, fancy clubhouse, library, gym, jogging track, etc.  There is also the general upkeep of the building that needs to be considered including lifts (elevators for those of you in the US) lobby area, water pump, building exteriors etc that needs monthly spending. 
Finally there are security guards (watchman in Indian lingo), and the maids (bai in some parts of India) who take care of the general cleaning of common areas like stairs, parking lots, driveways etc.  All of these shared amenities, utilities and services need to be paid for, and that is what the monthly maintenance fee covers.  The more recent complexes that are coming up, are being planned like mini-cities with everything one would need from shopping, schools, office spaces etc integrated into the living community.  These are typically so large, that they need professional management companies to take care of the upkeep of the entire community.  This is similar to condo or home association fees that you'd have to pay in the US, and I am sure there are similar methods in place in other shared living communities.   

In the older buildings that I have seen, it is common place to have a per flat maintenance fee that you have to pay monthly.  For example in my parents building, every flat owner pays Rs5000 per 3months as maintenance fee.  In my earlier building where we used to rent a flat, we paid Rs1200 per month as maintenance fee in addition to our monthly rent.  Currently we live in a little more upscale housing society, and our monthly maintenance fee is linked to the square footage of every individual flat.  In our complex we now pay Rs1.65 per sqft for monthly maintenance.  So for example a 1000sqft flat owner will have to pay Rs1650 per month, while a 1500sqft flat owner would be paying Rs2475 per month.  This kind of arrangement is fairly common in mixed size colonies wherein different flats have different sizes ranging from 1BHK to 3BHK.  Even though I think the maintenance fee is very high in my complex, we are still in the mid-range for a Tier1 city.  I have seen several of my friends how live in more modern integrated complexes paying as much as Rs3 per sqft for monthly maintenance.  For a larger sized 3BHK flat of 2000sqft in such a complex, the monthly maintenance alone would amount to Rs6000.  This is almost the same as the total monthly rent that several of us used to pay just a couple of years ago in our city!  Villa complexes which are the rage in the housing market these days, for the single family house style living that they promise, and the integrated town-ship environment, have even steeper monthly maintenance fees.  Interestingly enough, tenants are sometimes charged a higher monthly maintenance fee than home owners, so if you are planning on renting, make sure to understand from the landlord, who will be the paying the maintenance?  Is it included in the monthly rental or do you have to pay it directly to the building association?

Let me know of the monthly maintenance fees that you are paying currently, and do mention the type of complex and city (Tier1, Tier2 etc) that you come from.  I will try to compile the information, and track how things are changing over time.


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  3. I live in Bangalore, in a newly built, modern upscale apt. Complex with all those mentioned amenities, and the rate fixed here is Rs. 3.15 per sq foot. So for a midsize flat of 1350 sq ft, I had to pay a full year maintenance of Half a lakh Rs. upfront, So I lost the interest portion too. But that's the cost of living these days. Since throughout my career so far, I saved a lot and bought this flat with zero loan, its not much of a concern. I am easily saving 22000 estm. Rs on rent Or 40000 on EMI, had I taken the loan.