The secret to the good life? Just go out and rent it

AFP
Renting is one of a growing number of Indian millennials bucking traditional norms and instead opting to rent everything from furniture to iPhones.
AFP

At 29, Spandan Sharma doesn’t own a flat, a car, or even a chair — one of a growing number of Indian millennials bucking traditional norms and instead opting to rent everything from furniture to iPhones.

“Millennials in my age bracket want freedom and earlier what was seen as stability is now seen as a sign of being tied down,” Sharma said.

“My parents don’t understand the concept of renting furniture at all. They have never been completely onboard with the idea.

“They said it would be much better to buy rather than rent furniture in the long term.”

For 4,247 rupees (US$60) a month, the Mumbai-based executive furnished his entire home, sourcing furniture for his bedroom, living room and dining area as well as a refrigerator and microwave.

Sharma isn’t alone. Tens of thousands of young Indians are switching from buying to renting so they can live life with few strings attached.

Even businesses are renting their office furnishings, said budding entrepreneur Vandita Morarka.

The secret to the good life? Just go out and rent it
AFP

Vandita Morarka, 25, interacts with her colleagues as they sit around rented furnitures, in Mumbai in India on October 26, 2019. 

When Morarka set up her feminist non-profit One Future Collective in 2017, she rented nearly everything she needed and funneled the savings from not having a one-off outlay into paying salaries to her staff of 25.

“From study tables and chairs to even a laptop, I have rented them all as the prices are reasonable,” said the 25-year-old.

“This system allows me to take more risks ... And in case things go south, we can wrap up without losing a large tranche of investments and begin elsewhere.”

Sharing means saving

From ride-hailing apps to communal office spaces, the sharing economy is a global phenomenon that is expected to generate annual revenues of US$335 billion by 2025, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. In the US, websites such as Rent the Runway and Nuuly offer fashion-conscious customers the option to try rather than buy clothing, while in China, consumers can rent BMWs via a tap on their smartphone.

In India, the boom has fueled the rise of new furniture and appliance-renting businesses such as Furlenco, RentoMojo and GrabOnRent — and even jewelry rental apps.

The sector is a bright spot amid a severe slowdown as weakening consumer demand has led to tumbling sales including in the bellwether auto sector.

The country’s furniture rental market alone is expected to be worth US$1.89 billion by 2025, according to consulting firm Research Nester.

“We expect to grow by a million orders in under 30 months,” said RentoMojo founder Geetansh Bamania.

The Bangalore-based firm rents furniture as well as appliances, gym equipment, iPhones and smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.

“Renting smartphones works out well for the youngsters as they can keep upgrading to the latest launch at a cheaper price without burning through their finances,” said Bamania.

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