Does one compromise too much on freedom when one decides to buy or rent an apartment, wonders BINDU TOBBY

If you are living in an apartment chances are that you have been part of association or colony meetings which clearly lay down restrictions ranging from no pets allowed, ‘centre-parking' for two-wheelers and where you should hang your clothes and under-clothes due to aesthetic reasons.

Chances also are that even if you fretted and fumed in those infamous committee meetings you know majority would rule over you even if you fiercely objected. “It is my home and I can do what I want!” soon replaces itself with “after all we are part of the larger community living here and so need to comply and fit in”.

There are obviously more thoughts that plague us after that. Have we compromised too much of our freedom when we decided to buy or rent an apartment? Is the security, safety and community living in apartments really leaning towards the plus or minus side? Would we be free of these restrictions and rules if were indeed living in our own independent houses?

“If apartments can put up signs saying pets not allowed, the logic being that they are noisy and messy then I would argue that they should also expressly state that children are also banned!,” says Priya Kilpady. “Of course looking after a pet, exercising the animal are very cumbersome when you live in an apartment, but the owners are prepared and also experienced with the daily routine with pets and so shouldn't be discriminated against!”

Says Ajay Mathew, proprietor of Creator India, a construction and interiors design company, “I would never recommend apartment living for any of my friends. Besides slow appreciation of the asset as compared to a building in your own plot of land, I have seen many apartments that use poor quality of materials in construction and things like cracks and leaks are all bound to show up in a few years after one has invested!

He adds, “It's a false sense of security and even more absurd sense of community living that people have in an apartment. I know so many friends who have been staying in apartments for more than ten years and don't know even the names of their neighbours! Chances are if you are in an emergency nobody would even bother to respond to you!”

Agrees T. Zacharias, “The concept of community living in an apartment is quite superficial and forced. I must confess that I haven't attended a single community day program or any of the festival celebrations in the apartment complex where I live, even though it has been more than five years since I moved in here!”

However he adds, “Maintenance work or getting a plumber, electrician, carpenter to fix something at home or garbage disposal is easy in an apartment. I also travel a lot on work and my family is much safer in an apartment complex. The security guards do rigorous checks on every visitor.”

“Budgets also obviously play a most important part in the decision of investing in a house or an apartment”, says Seema Rajan, who has been living in an apartment for the last several years adding “Apartment living has a lot of advantages for small nuclear families like mine. We have like-minded friends here and I am not worried when my five year old is playing downstairs because I am sure of the safety within the complex. We have also developed lasting friendships with neighbours in our building – that's a big plus!”

Of course, the decision about your house – whether it is on the ground or suspended in the air, whether you hit on it by circumstance or by choice is something for you to make. And having done that, love it with the pinch (or generous sprinkling) of salt it comes with. Because, irrespective of the rules, safety, budgets or restrictions - it is after all where your heart is.