This one had to be the first one. Before I write about anything else I have to tell you that I absolutely love my home. Of course, there are few things I don’t like about it but this is my happy place and if is pretty close to my dream home – will go there eventually, won’t I?
Let me start from the apartment hunting game and then we will gradually move to the living culture here.
Finding a house was not a very difficult task for us. We looked for some communities around bae’s workplace, contacted them online, signed the lease and we had accommodation ready even before we landed in the US. But that is Austin. I have my family and friends in the other parts of the country where finding a house is a task – both mentally and financially exhausting!
The very first thing you will notice when you start looking for accommodation is that your vocabulary has suddenly taken a giant leap – only to get confused. Back home, I knew about apartments, studios and villas and penthouse in societies or as independent houses. But I kid you not, there are more than 30 different types of houses here.
Of course, they existed in the dictionary before I knew about them – but you can not use them loosely or just for the sake of using them – like I used to do in India. Maybe I was being naive – or was I?
Let me give you an example.
Single-family houses are the most sought after houses here. They are detached from the entire world but you will find them everywhere. More than 70% of the US lives in single-family houses – they are the pretty one-storeyed houses with a backyard. Didn’t we call them bungalows? No. Bungalows are a smaller set up than single-houses with a front porch. Then there are further sophisticated versions like ranch, mansion, villa and chateau. Well, that is too much information. You think so? Wait.
A condo or condominium is a group of buildings in a single plot of land with different units owned by different people. They are different from apartments where the whole group of building is owned by one single owner. Now, we never had a clear demarcation between the apartments and condo or the flats back home. Then you have a co-op which is same as a condo but there are legal and financial arrangements which are way beyond my understanding. But you can not use them interchangeably. Well, you CAN and also, you are entitled to sound dumb. Then there are townhomes – very similar to the condo but here every owner has a responsibility of maintaining both the exteriors and interiors, which is not the there in condos.
Okay, that is it. I could have just been happy with knowing that I live in an apartment and that, in the future, I might move to a single-family house. But no. You have to know them in order to not sound dumb and be able to talk to your agents and friends.
One good thing you will find here is renter’s insurance. I had a vague idea about it before moving here but it’s the real deal! It mostly protects you again thefts and accidental damages to your personal belonging in the house. Not just that, if you accidentally damage your neighbour’s property – it covers that too! Now, that is very cool and one thing I love about accommodation here.
Okay, so I mentioned about living in an apartment in a community. Now, a community is just like society but it is backed by the Government in terms of loans and everything. Also, societies in India are more about independent living. You can kiss that idea goodbye once you start living in a community.
The leasing office – the front desk of the community – checks everything. And they are pretty strict about the security. Not just that, they take charge of almost everything – your packages, your rents, utility bills, your life. Yeah, so pretty much everything.
Having said that, renting apartments is a wiser choice in terms of the facilities you get to enjoy. In fact, maintenance is also completely taken care of by the property manager – including your apartment lights.
Things are pretty complicated here but it grows on to you – eventually.
Fun fact: You have to pay extra rent if you have a pet. Americans usually have pets at home. The rent is usually $50-$70 per pet per month. That is fancy! Not yet. You also have to produce your pet’s identification at the time of leasing a house – mostly the paw print.