Moving to city of dreams? The financial capital of India? Of course you are excited about it. They say, once a Mumbaikar- always a Mumbaikar. In fact, Mumbai is so famous that people from Thane (22.7km) , Kalyan(42.5km), Dombivali (40km) also consider themselves as Mumbaikars. Especially the ones who come from outside (like me). However, Mumbai is known to suck you dry with it’s exorbitant rents. So, I found solace in Thane. A not so far destination which has a perfect balance of Mumbai life and not insanely high rentals. So was it better than Mumbai? Or does travelling take away the last ounce of energy left in my body? Let’s understand what is the how is it and cost of living in Thane.
I will start by addressing the elephant in the room. But before I jump into the rental aspect of the city, I want to set some expectations straight. I wish someone told me that the concept of builder floors in Mumbai and nearby regions doesn’t exist. There are only societies (complex they call it here). For some it may be completely normal, however, for someone who spent 20 years of his life in a two story building we call Kothi, this was quite strange. I have stayed in Noida and Gurgaon in the past, but those regions have a mixed bag. There are builder floors and societies both.
Moving on, the rentals in Thane are slightly on the higher side if you compare it with any of the other metros (more on this ahead), however if you compare it with Mumbai, it is pretty decent. For some perspective, a 1BHK flat near my office (Worli) would cost about 30-35k. And that 1BHK flat would be some 300-400 odd square feet only. This problem is across MMR. Between 2014-2018, the average size of flats in Mumbai has actually dropped by 27%.
Fun fact: Our Gully Boy, Ranveer Singh reportedly had once rented out a 4BHK flat in Worli for Rs. 7.5L per month.
1.1 Rent Vs Living Area:
I live in a 2BHK flat which is 770 Square feet of carpet area. My monthly rental is Rs. 30,000. This may look somewhat comparable to other metro cities but please note that I lived in a similar flat in Gurgaon. The flat size was 1200 Square Feet and it costed me Rs. 24,000 to live there. Also, I lived in Gurgaon Sector 71, which may be a little far from city center, but was still in Gurgaon. However, in this case, I am not even in Mumbai.
You will find ample of options in the heart of Thane City which are available at a rent of 28k-34k. These will be gated societies with all amenities like gym, swimming pool, indoor theatre, spa etc. If you are willing to pass on these facilities, you may get a 2BHK from 23-27k.
Similarly, if you are planning to live in a 1 BHK flat in Thane, you can expect the same between Rs. 12k-18k.
1.2 Security Deposit:
Security deposit is another area of concern when it comes to cost of living in Thane and Mumbai. I paid Rs. 50,000 in Gurugram which is equivalent to a 2 month security. However, in Thane, I have paid Rs. 1,50,000 which is a 5 month rent. This is often negotiable but you should expect 3-5 month security before planning a house in a decent society.
This city has only two weathers: Monsoon and Summers. People here try to declare winters from December to mid January. However, if you are a from North India, you’ll probably not even realize that. And since you are living in a coastal area, expect humidity throughout the year.
With that being said, there would be requirement of AC for about 10 months an year. The electricity prices vary here as per the slab. Basically, government tries to incentivize a low consumption behavior. You can calculate the exact consumption from the government’s website here. For me, the average is about Rs. 2500/month.
Gone are the days when Roti, Kapda, Makaan was all a man needed to survive. Today, it’s Roti, Kapda, Makaan, Internet and Smartphone. And I have some really good news here. Since this is the city of our Mota Bhai, Mukesh Ambani, Jio would be readily available in most parts. But you can opt for other major players like Airtel etc. as well. On an average, a high speed connection would not cost more than Rs. 1200 for unlimited plan.
How could I end this post without discussing food. Food is another silver lining in this seemingly expensive city. While groceries are slightly expensive (about 8-10% higher) than other metros, eating out is at par. In some cases it may be cheaper as well here. Street food scene in Thane is lit in Panchpakdi, Pokharan Road and Naupada area. Apart from this, you would most definitely find a Vada Pav, Samosa Pav vendor near your locality (No matter where you live). Vada Pav single handedly can replace a meal in under Rs. 25. Also, people here love cheese (so do I btw). If you order a sandwich from any outlet, expect cheese to be in it, on it and around it.
If you plan to go to some fine dining restaurants, there are a lot of options in Korum Mall and Viviana. An average dinner for two without liquor would be about Rs.1500- 2,000 in these restaurants.
And did I mention liquor is super expensive here (most expensive in the country)? For your reference, I’ll discuss one of my favorite IMFLs. A bottle of Dewar’s would cost Rs. 1400 in Gurugram, however in Thane it is about Rs. 2500.
How can I forget our beloved Swiggy and Zomato? Once again, tons of options are available for ordering food. Back in the day, Swiggy showed ‘Number of serving restaurants’ in your area. I once checked and there were a staggering 452 restaurants open. So technically, if I ordered everyday, it would’ve taken me over an year to try em’ all out. Crazy right? The prices are once again at par with something you’d expect in other metros. All in all, food cost is unlikely to impact your cost of living in Thane much.
Welcome to the biggest pain of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. I always use Google Maps to travel. However, you can’t even trust Google here when it comes to accurate ETA prediction. Traffic is just too worse. If you don’t respect time here, you can literally stay on roads for hours. From Worli to my house in Thane, it takes me 1 hour 30 mins in the morning (ONLY if I leave at 7:30) and 2 hours to come back (again applicable if I leave by 5).
Diesel and Petrol prices are highest in Mumbai and nearby regions and if you are someone who works in Mumbai and stays in Thane, be ready to travel for about 50kms on a daily basis. I did my initial month of travel using my car and had to shell out Rs. 4000 for diesel in that month.
5.2 Aamchi Local:
And of course I had to switch to the lifeline- Local, after that. There is no point in spending more money and TIME- both to travel to work. Locals here are super hectic and Pre-Covid, you would be stacked in a bogie like those hens which are being taken to the slaughterhouse. However, it only costed me Rs. 800 for a monthly local pass and took me just 30 minutes from Worli to Thane.
5.3 Ae Rickshaw!
For last mile transport, there is an abudance of auto-rickshaws here. And unlike Delhi, there is no need to bargain (mandwali they say). All you have to do is sit down and tell him the address, meters govern the pricing strictly thereafter. So keep aside an additional Rs. 1000 a month if you are not living near a railway station. For Thane, I didn’t find any decent houses near the station area.
A noteworthy discussion here would be the travelling to Mumbai. I am not saying that Thane is not a hap place, but if you plan to enjoy the real South Bombay vibe and expect to see some Bollywood stars as well, you need to travel at least 30kms a side. So if you plan on doing it every week, add it to your expenses.
Oh, and did I mention that going to and fro from Thane to Mumbai would cost you an additional Rs. 80 per trip on Mulund EEH (Eastern Express Highway) Toll? 3w and 2w are however exempted.
6. Domestic Help:
Domestic help or Bai as they say here are readily available. However the prices are comparatively higher as compared to Delhi and Bangalore. A typical maid would have a fixed rate card which would be governed by the society guidelines. They tend to break down each task into sub tasks and hence end up earning more. For example, cleaning would not be a general bucket. There is a per room price, if you want your bathroom floors wiped, there is an additional cost. If you want to get your kitchen slabs cleaned, pay a little more. You get the idea.
In general, maid would cost about Rs. 2500 a month for utensils, sweeping and floor cleaning (including bathrooms) for a 2BHK house. Our maid told us that she would take Rs. 2500 for cooking 1 meal a day that should not exceed 12 Rotis and 1 Subzi. Needless to say, we are good without that ‘hyper-calculated’ service. If you wish to avail cooking services thrice a day, it would cost about Rs. 7,000.
Mumbai and Thane are full of concrete. Skyscrapers everywhere. So if you wish to take a break and enjoy some greenery, there are tons of options available. You can go to Lonavala, Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Daman, Matheran, Alibaug to name a few.
I have visited Lonavala, Daman and Adoshi till date and prices are in line with any tier-2 cities. In fact, being a UT, liquor is super cheap in Daman. Yay! An average weekend would cost you 10-15k (fuel included) in a decent luxury hotel.
I often hear a lot of noise around Mumbai and Thane being super expensive. While I don’t disagree, I feel every penny is worth it. There is this 24×7 vibe in this hectic city that you’ll fall in love with. Chaos is the new order here. I do realize why do they call it city of dreams. Its probably because people outside Mumbai may never know how rich one can be. You see these hoardings shamelessly quoting 1.5crore ONLY for 2BHK and you think, may be one day!
In toto, if you want a decent lifestyle that involves a good home, a couple of outings, a movie night and an occasional trip to Mumbai, cost of living in Thane is about Rs. 50,000 to stay afloat. This city doesn’t have any upper limits if you plan to go all out.
What are your thoughts on this? Did I miss any aspect of expenses?
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Until next time..