What made you buy into the Nilgiris?
There is a relative of ours who had bought here about three or four years before us and he recommended it. He lives in Jaipur and intends to retire here at some point, he loves it. He was recommending it and kept sending us photographs of properties and so on .
I think I came here around early March, 2018 and I spent a fortnight here between Kotagiri and Coonoor. I did not have a doubt that this is where I would like to retire. It was very much like what he had described. Climatically and just in terms of natural beauty it appealed to my idea of a place to retire in. That part of the decision was pretty much taken, I had come alone on the trip and my wife was not with me.
I had considered Goa for a bit, was not very keen on it. Once I was clear that it was the Nilgiris I started looking for properties. Towards the end of my stay I came and saw this place and started a conversation with Kailash. He was very accommodating in allowing time to procure funds, we had to dispose two flats in Pune. He made it so easy for me to make the transition. It was really seamless for me the whole process.
We moved here on the first of July. We drove down from Gurgaon, and we've been here since.
You were saying you had looked at properties in Kotagiri and Coonoor. What made you choose Coonoor over Kotagiri?
I like Kotagiri as well. Its a transition. We'd been moving around a fair amount because of my work and as I said we had been living in Gurgaon for the past 3 and a half years. Now moving from a city and coming to Coonoor, its a transition. I had to look at it not only from my eyes but from the eyes of my wife as well. And you have to look at practicality. I think Coonoor offers you everything that you could get in a city and yet you have the beauty of Nature undisturbed. No noise, no pollution, peace and quite, beautiful long walks in the tea estate. But at the same time we get our amazon delivery here, you can get a pizza delivered here. We had no problem at all getting domestic help. Any aspect of the practicalities of life - banks or whatever it may be, its been absolutely hassle free.
I did not feel that Kotagiri was quite there just yet, maybe it will be in years to come. I personally think, although there's no point in predicting the future that it will be very difficult for Kotagiri to ever be able to match Coonoor in terms of certain facilities.
Also I think our town planning in the older days was a lot more systematic than what is being planned now and that is where Kotagiri will have a challenge. Even now for Coonoor to grow the way its growing is a challenge, in all Indian cities it is a challenge. But you've got a certain infrastructure that may be insufficient in years to come, as of today its alright. But at least today you've got it. When you visit Kotagiri you can see the difference.
Now if you want rural living, Kotagiri has got some lovely places to offer. So I'm talking of the practicalities, that is what weighed for us in that point of time.
What made you pick the Nilgiris over other hill stations? And which ones were you considering ?
For one thing I must admit that I never really thought that I wanted to retire in a hill station, that was not a pre-decided factor. The hill stations that I am familiar with are the ones in North India because that is where I went as a kid. Those were the hill stations that we visited in my summer vacations and so on. There's not a single one of them that I would consider really as a retirement place today. I can't think of one. Maybe I'm missing something but I'm not aware of one.
To be honest I did not go very deep into comparisons. It's just that this place really fitted the bill for me when I thought of it, I had researched it before I came here.
There are these websites that give you ease of living index and things like that. Security, water and pollution. That sort of thing. And proximity to an airport is important, that is what I had a look at.
I suppose in North India you do have certain hill stations that are fairly close to Chandighar like the one near Sanawar, where the Lawrence School Sanawar is. That's where the closest one is. (Cut this out, Maybe ?)
How is living in a gated community like ours different from the ones you've seen else where - in cities and in other places ?
One basic difference, its a little different now because due to COVID a lot of people have chosen to come and stay here. But for the first two years that we were here, we were one of three residents in this entire gated community. Just three families here. The others would come and go. During this time of the year, in the summer of course a lot of people come. That was one major difference, you had the place to yourself. But obviously one knew that that is not going to be forever, but we enjoyed it while that was like that.
Coming to the kind of people that are in this community, we could not ask for more. You could not ask for better neighbours. You could not ask for a better type of people. It's a very relaxed atmosphere. There is no discrimination or social pecking order. Everyone is like family.
We've got security, we've got maintenance staff and its hassle free really. I would not be able to compare it a lot to other gated communities because I've not lived in a gated community myself prior to this.
You really can't fault it in terms of facilities that you require from a gated community.
What ticked the boxes for you in a house like Jannat? Was it the location, the view or just the town?
Several things, location definitely was one of the things. To be honest, my retirement concept was to retire on 2-3 acres of land and to have a larger estate. Dogs are an important part of our life. Presently we've got just one.
I could not find something in the Nilgiris that was ready and met my requirements, if that was my requirement. And I wanted something ready because I did not want to rent. We've been moving so much over the last three to four years that we wanted to be located at one place for many years to come.
Also proximity to town was more of an issue for me then than what it is for me today. Coming to a new place everything is strange, you dont know a lot. Today having been here there are a lot of things that one has found out. I would be a lot more adventurous today than I was three years ago. I'd be quite happy to be another 20-25 minutes away. At that point this felt just right, you're not in town yet you are less than 15 minutes from Bedford (Upper Coonoor's commercial hub) . All the facilities that I mentioned in terms of all your conveniences, your home deliveries and amazon deliveries came into to play. So locationally at that point in time it was just right.
In terms of the house we wanted three bedrooms, it has got three bedrooms. More or less it met our requirement. Being from the plains I did not want something which is very steep. Whatever amount of land one had round the house, I did want to be able to use it. To walk on your land rather than be climbing around steps. And the way they've done this, you've got different levels but they're all relatively flat. You can use all of it. I'm at one part of the garden during sunset and at another in the morning, I can wonder around here. That was a big factor for me.
We went and met other people in the community before I committed myself and I asked them what their feedback was. It was positive feedback from everyone. There were a few people that when I asked around I found connections and I went and met them. Nobody had a bad word to say.
- Is there anything you wished you knew about before you moved here ? Anything you wish someone had told you about?*
You mean have I got any unpleasant surprises after coming here? I cant think of one to be honest, but maybe the fog. Coonoor gets rain from the South-West monsoon and the North-East monsoon. It can get very foggy sometimes.
I got a lot of pleasant surprises actually. More than anything else the type of people in the Nilgiris surprised me. It's been like a breath of fresh air. Whether its our domestic help or our neighbours. Even as I go for walks here, I've become friends with the supervisors of the tea estate and some of the pluckers. It's just pleasant. The people are just so pleasant, I dont know what the reason is. But its so stark when you come from a place like Gurgaon for instance, where there is a lot of aggression and there's a lot of stress. That's totally missing here.
Are there any tips you've got for people that are moving here?
Obviously do your research. I did that in detail. Including visiting Nankem hospital and KMF in Kotagiri. I've got elderly parents that are in Gurgaon so I've got to think of a lot of things. I researched a lot of things in detail. In fact, my relative that was taking me around here was a little surprised at the degree of detail that I was getting into. He was asking me why I wanted to go to the hospital, I did not have a medical problem but I did it all.
- What was your experience of working with us at Vitrag like ?*
Very seamless, no hassles at all. My first point of interaction at Vitrag was with Sachin. I found him very professional and I was researching. The first part of my research was about Nilgiris - What's Nilgiris like as a place? The second part was real estate - What are the options available? I was doing it all over the internet sitting in Gurgaon.
Sachin was the most professional person that I encountered in the Nilgiris. He was very much on my list of people to meet when I come here, and he stayed in touch. It was several months between the time I made contact with him and I actually came. We stayed in touch and he was very professional. After showing me the property he then handed me over to Kailash. With Kailash it was more of discussing commercials and negotiations. Like I said earlier, he was very accommodating and I just found him a very easy person to deal with. It was stress free and what else can you ask for. I have no complaints at all.
Would you recommend working with us and moving to the Nilgiris with us to any of your friends and family?
Certainly, I have already done so. Generally people who come visit us here have had the though of having a second home here occur to them. Having dealt with them myself and having had such a good experience with them, I have obviously recommended them to everyone who has asked for recommendations. And I will continue to do so.