The pandemic has given rise to a new concept in 2020: work from anywhere. As the restrictions of the lockdown were gradually relaxed, some people returned to their hometowns, while others resumed attending office. And then there are some who flocked to nearby vacation hotspots with salubrious and green surroundings. After working from home for a few months, they have decided to lease a house or a room amid the hills, or near a beach, river or village setting. The idea is simple: beat the pandemic blues safely, enjoy nature and continue working.
“More than ever, homestays have become the first choice for many as they give a sense of security and safety amid the prevailing social distancing norms, and many owners have changed gears to suit the new requirements. Several vacation hotspots also offered a perfect environment to beat the COVID-19 blues through workations,” says Santhosh Kumar, Vice Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants.
The pandemic also left a deeper impression on urban homeowners, who are now reconsidering their housing options. “Therefore, even post the vaccination, we may see demand for second homes. This is because for both the affluent and middle-class denizens whose jobs were not affected beyond a pay cut, second homes are now a tantalising vision of shelter in the time of storm. They wish to own a second home within salubrious, green surroundings. And interestingly, more than considering rental income, their focus is on leveraging lower property prices in such locations to get bigger homes in greener, safer surroundings,” he told Moneycontrol.
“The pandemic has definitely triggered a shift among luxury homebuyers; 2020 has made safety, security and health paramount for everyone and those who have the buying heft are choosing to move to sprawling, green, beautiful countryside locations, hill stations and beach-side locations. Demand for independent large homes in Goa, Dehradun, Rishikesh and Alibaug, to name a few, has been unusually high and we’ve concluded very quick deals in these markets with our HNI and UHNI clientele,” says Amit Goyal, CEO, India, Sotheby's International Realty.
For the uninitiated, the staycation concept started in Sweden much before the pandemic. The Swedish word for a staycation is hemster, which combines home (hem) and holiday (semester). In current times, people have decided to stay put and work amid natural surroundings for as long as their workplace allows.
According to Anarock Property Consultants, prominent hotspots for a 2 BHK house of around 1,000 sq. ft. include Goa, with an average monthly rent of around Rs 23,000; Ooty: Rs 14,000; Shimla: Rs 15,000; Munnar: 12,000; Mussoorie: Rs 18,000; Lonavala: Rs 16,000, Puducherry: Rs 13,000 and Kodaikanal: Rs 12,000.
Since work is involved, seamless Internet connectivity is key for a staycation. Often, homestays are located in remote areas in these vacation destinations, where connectivity (both phone and Internet) can be a major issue. It’s always best to check with homeowners/agents to ascertain which network works best in the area.
Secondly, to get a more professional feel, the house must have a designated area/space as office along with a proper table and chair. Besides regular facilities usually available in a home, one can also ask for facilities such as easy availability of coffee/tea, or a tiffin system comprising lunch and dinner.
Those looking to work for an extended period (2-3 months or even more), can easily bargain with the owners on monthly rentals. The owners, too, would be willing to offer a good deal, explains Kumar.
Here’s a look at some options:
There are quite a few homestays in Dalhousie, most of them properties built by the British. Some options include Mid Conifer Resort and Cottages, which can put you back by around Rs 2,200 a night. Another cottage called the Birdwood cottage will cost around Rs 6,000 per night and so will Sunny View Cottage. What takes the cake is a property called Elgin Hall, built in 1857; it is a British homestay with a beautiful library and seven rooms. The room rent is around Rs 10,000 per night in case you intend staying for a month.
A popular option for staycations in Dharamshala is a luxury resort called Adivaha, which is housed in a heritage building that is almost 300 years old. Spread over 10 acres, this property is surrounded by tea gardens. A staycation for a month here can put you back by Rs 7,000 per night, including breakfast.
Kodagu, formerly Coorg, also has several staycation options, including Porcupine Castle. This 250-acre property is located atop a coffee plantation and is surrounded by valleys and hills. A 10-day staycation with a mountain view costs Rs 3,500 per night, while the plantation view costs Rs 2,500 per night. Valley view rooms for a month cost Rs 4,500 per night and charges for a tree house accommodation are between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,500 per night.
Goa has quite a few options available for those wanting to work near the beach or a riverfront. These range from simple studios, 1BHK and 2BHK to modern and Portuguese villas. There are also some ready-to-move-in purchase options.
Teranova Belmont Kadamba, Old Goa
Located just 5 km upstream from Panaji and 5 minutes’ drive from Old Goa, this is a fully furnished luxurious riverfront villa facing the Mandovi River and island of Diwar. Designed by a renowned interior designer, it has four bedrooms and a built-up area of 8,000 sq. ft. Salim Ali bird sanctuary is in close proximity and the price of the property is Rs 12.25 crore.
Teranova Belmont, Kadamba, Old Goa.
Candolim villa, Goa
This villa, designed in the modernist style, is spread across an area of 10,000 sq.ft. and has six luxurious bedrooms, a swimming pool on the terrace and even a private jetty on the river. Candolim beach is less than 5 minutes’ drive away. The value of the property is Rs 11 crore.
Britona Riverfront Villa, Goa
This property, called Casa Britona, is a fully furnished heritage Portuguese Goan home located in a typical fishing village near Panaji. It has been restored by a leading restoration architect of Goa. Spread over 3,000 sq. ft., it has three rooms. According to Sotheby’s this property can set you back by Rs 6 crore.
Riverfront Villa in Candlim, Goa.
A historic staycation in Kerala
This beach villa front located in Shastrinukku, Kerala, covers 2,500 sq. ft. and traces its history to 1829. Records indicate that in 1829, upon his ascension to the ivory throne, His Highness Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Maharaja of Travancore, ordered the construction of this nalukettu at Kollengode. It was painstakingly disassembled from Kanyakumari and transported in its entirety to this piece of property at Mararikulam on Marari Beach, its present-day location, and resurrected in 2013. For those wanting to work from this three room, 2,500 sq. ft. living witness to history, the price of the property is Rs 7.50 crore.
Rishikesh, for the spiritually inclined employee
A work-from-home option, Homage Villa in Rishikesh is a luxury villa surrounded by the glacial waters of the Ganga. The property is located at Neergarh Village, 3 km from Rishikesh. It has three rooms and the property is spread across 3,500 sq. ft. The property, according to Sotheby’s is worth around Rs 9 crore.
Farmhouse in Mahabaleshwar
This luxurious farmhouse, located on the Panchgani Road in Mahabaleshwar, is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Krishna River Valley.
Scenic farmhouse, Panchgani Road, Mahabaleshwar.
The property, spread over 2.5 acres, has a 6100 sq. ft. built-up area with six bedroom suites, ensuite bathrooms and a garden house. It overlooks the Kamalgad Fort. The property, according to Sotheby’s, is worth Rs 21 crore.