What is true luxury today? We have AKASH PHARANDE decoding it.
As we all know, 'luxury' is a highly over-used word in Indian real estate. There has never been one clear definition of a luxury home in India. Does price define it? Does location define luxury, or a developer's trademark? Sometimes, real luxury has all of these elements - but many times, none of them. What is true luxury today?
A mind-boggling price or a high-profile location are not good definitions for a luxury home. A small 1 BHK flat in an old building in Mumbai's Colaba or Pune's Boat Club Road can cost more than a spacious 3 BHK flat in a modern new project in the suburbs.
This does not make it a luxury home - life will be anything but luxurious in such a home.
Twenty years ago, an on-site swimming pool, clubhouse, and children's play area were considered a luxury in a project. Today, none of these features are considered luxurious and are available in most mid-range and even some affordable projects.
The factors that define luxury in a project have changed over the years, and in the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, it changed very rapidly.
Two main themes of staying safe in the pandemic have been social distancing - the need to maintain distance from crowds - and the need for clean, uncontaminated air space. Suddenly, living in crowded city areas became a threatening situation.
Today, medical authorities worldwide are warning us that the coronavirus has become endemic, which means that it will stay with us for a long time.
In a world living under such a threat, luxury has now become a safety and health concept. A Carrera marble entrance, multiple rapid elevators, Italian bathroom fittings, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool are wonderful, but they do not make us safer.
In the new context, luxury has come to mean:
- Distance from crowds, privacy, and security
- Wide-open green spaces
- Health facilities such as tennis courts, jogging tracks, and golf courses
- Quick access to healthcare, and
- An integrated lifestyle that requires minimum commuting for life's necessities
The days when living near a high-end shopping district was seen as luxury are over. Indians no longer want to live in or around such areas, usually in a city's most densely populated areas. Today, homebuyers will pay a premium to get away from crowded places and still maintain a comfortable lifestyle where nothing is left to chance.
This is the primary reason why integrated townships are now the default luxury option. In an over-populated country with over-developed cities, one of the biggest luxuries will always be space. Millions of Indians who bought homes in serene suburbs ten years ago now find the greenery gone, and their windows and balconies overlook noisy, polluted streets.
In townships developed according to a fixed plan, what you buy today is what you will have even thirty years from now. Such an assurance is worth paying for.
As we head into an uncertain future where annual vaccinations may become mandatory, what we want most is peace of mind. We want to know that our children will grow up in a safe, secure, and healthy environment.
So, perhaps, the best definition of a luxury home today is simply this - peace of mind.
About the Author
Akash Pharande is Managing Director - Pharande Spaces, a leading real estate construction and development firm famous for its township properties in West Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer of townships in West Pune