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The Sky isn't the Limit for the Wealthy

Money alone does not decide luxury. It's also not only about location

Published: May 2, 2014 06:02:09 AM IST
Updated: Apr 30, 2014 04:22:26 PM IST

Outside business, the home is usually the biggest investment one makes in one’s life. This is true for most people, the rich or the not-so-rich. The key difference between the two is this: For the truly wealthy, where you live is a statement—a statement about what you are, who you are. It matters whether your address says Altamount Road or Dharavi in Mumbai, Amrita Shergill Marg or Dwarka in Delhi, Vittal Mallya Road or BTM Layout in Bangalore. 

The Sky isn't the Limit for the Wealthy
This issue of Forbes India explores the idea of what really constitutes a great neighbourhood where the wealthy would want to congregate, where your abode says something about you rather than just your bank balance. To figure this out, Forbes India held a round-table with Pranay Vakil, real estate consultant and founder of Knight Frank India moderating an expert discussion on luxury property. You can read edited excerpts from the discussion in this issue. Then, our writers and editors reached out to builders of luxury homes, architects and designers, realtors, and consultants in India’s major metros and other cities to find out what makes for a tony neighbourhood, what makes for a luxury statement. For good measure, we also spoke to the people who populate such neighbourhoods. You can see one of them on our cover.  

Money alone does not decide luxury. Of course, if you want to know too much about how much it costs to buy a luxury home, count yourself out of the select group of India’s super wealthy who populate tony neighbourhoods. It’s also not only about location— though that’s important. South Mumbai, which hosts nearly half of India’s rich list and a big chunk of the country’s GDP, is as much home to the wealthy as the ultra-poor. There are slums in south Mumbai just as there are super-luxury abodes. It is also not purely about infrastructure—schools or hospitals and such-like appendages for good neighbourhoods, are not defining features.  

A better way to define a great neighbourhood may be by looking at the who rather than the what. A luxury home or an exclusive locality would not be considered one if everybody found a home there. The defining feature could thus be difference— and even a degree of decadence. If you do not have wasted space or something truly unaffordable or unneeded in the normal course of living, you probably aren’t in a tony place.  But there is old luxury and new luxury. Thanks to the vertical rise in incomes and wealth in the fi rst decade of the 21st century, the old neighbourhoods have been complemented by tonier neighbourhoods peopled by the new rich—glitzier, zanier, more opulent. Class is important for those who have it all.

R Jagannathan
Editor-in-Chief, Forbes India
Twitter id: @TheJaggi  

(This story appears in the 16 May, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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