Renting a place to live and buying appliances for your house is a question that many people ponder over before coming to study in Qum. Where will I stay, what is the amount of rent I should be looking to pay per month, how much do the appliances cost and ultimately, how much should I save up before coming to accommodate all these expenses.
Given the recent sanctions against the country, prices for most things have changed (increased) a lot. The information in this post is as of November and December and does not include price ranges in regards to what the future holds. The exchange rate for the Dollar has also shot up (so you do subsequently get a lot more Tomans for a Dollar), which can make things appear cheaper for someone carrying Dollar bills – however relatively speaking, things have gone up nevertheless. As of December the 4th, the exchange rate for 1 Canadian Dollar was 2700 Tomans. Any numbers you see in this post in Tomans can be divided by 2700 and you will get the Canadian Dollar value [the US Dollar is a bit more, around 2800 I believe – not sure about the British Pound]. Once again, the last 4 weeks I have been here the exchange rate goes up and down a lot. It was around 3000 and has been fluctuating up and down since then.
Furthermore, not everyone will rent a place. If you are planning to come here single, then you will most probably be living at the Madrassah dorm itself and therefore do not have any monthly rent to pay or any need to purchase heavy appliances or furniture. Even if you are married, you may only need to rent for a brief amount of time and if you apply for housing given by the hawzah for married people, you may be able to get into that within a year (typically 6 to 10 months I have heard is the average). Once you are there, then you do not have to pay any monthly rent, except for the trivial electricity, gas and water bills.
As far as renting a place (most commonly an apartment) is concerned, just like anywhere else, monthly rent depends on the location of your house, the size of the house and of course the landlord him/herself. This is how the concept usually works here. Typically when renting a place, you sign a 1 year contract (I have not heard of anyone being able to get a contract for a shorter period than that – I tried to get a 10 month contract and the landlord didn’t even budge on that). With the contract, you pay a down-payment (you get this back at the end of your contract) which will typically determine your monthly rent. Some landlords will ask for a fixed down-payment and fixed monthly rent and will not entertain the idea of you being able to pay a higher down-payment in order to lower your monthly rent. Therefore it is hard to suggest what one could be paying per month as it really depends. If you are looking to rent near the harram the prices will generally be a bit higher as the area is close to many conveniences. For a flat with 1 bedroom, 1 living room, kitchen, bathroom and a humble entrance I would assume you are looking at around anywhere between 250,000 Tomans to 350,000 Tomans per month. This would be with a down payment of about 2.5 Million Tomans and higher. I know individuals who are renting for cheaper in other locations, but have paid a higher down payment. In any case, it is hard to generalize how much rent you will be paying since it is all variable to the type of house you are looking for.
What is easy to generalize are the appliance prices. Houses in Iran are not furnished – at all. No carpets, no fridge, no oven, no washing machines, not even a heater. So you literally have to buy everything – I would suggest you give yourself a comfortable budget of at least 3 Million Tomans to be able to buy decent appliances. There are various different places to buy these appliances, some areas are expensive while some areas are known for good quality, but a bit cheaper. I was gone appliance hunting for about 2-3 days and got a decent idea of the prices of as December 2012.
Fridges: The cheapest I saw was 700,000 Tomans and they go up to 2.5 Million Tomans (the higher end one I saw was a good Toshiba fridge). Naturally if you are going to buy branded foreign appliances, they will be more expensive – but they have a better reputation in terms of lasting longer.
Ovens: Anywhere between 200,000 Tomans to 1.5 Million Tomans (and higher).
Bukhari (this is a heater): Anywhere between 100,000 Tomans to 300,000 Tomans (depends on the size you are going to get).
Mattress (King Size): I saw a few between the range of 280,000 Tomans all the way up to 900,000 Tomans. Since a mattress is important, I suggest you spend a bit on it in order to get a good night’s sleep. Look around paying between 350,000 to 450,000 Tomans for a King Size mattress. The decent pillows I saw were between 18,000 Tomans (each) to 25,000 Tomans. I don’t know how much bed-frames cost yet.
Washing Machines: Anywhere between 160,000 Tomans to 2 Million Tomans (and higher).
You can always get access to second hand appliances which will obviously cost a lot cheaper. However then there is the risk of them not working after a while and you’ll have to pay to get it fixed or it may just be totally damaged and you’ll have to buy a new one. So that’s an investment decision one will have to make. There is an area here called Kevanfar (it is like Orfus Road in Toronto – but for appliances), which I was recommended to go to as you can get to see a wide variety there and a whole different range of prices.
Note: Just for the record, you can get most of these things for essentially free from the madrassah as well since you can apply for them. The only downside is that you will have to wait a few months before you get them. However what you can do, is buy the appliances and once you get the ones from the madrassah you can check it out and if you think you like it, you can consider selling yours and taking the madrassah one. As far as I know, the madrassah appliances are Iranian made which seem like they do tend to break down from time to time. Also, from the list of items above you can get a one-piece standard size carpet (called a muket – a very thin type of carpet) and a table-top oven for free right away. The table top oven is just that, a table top oven and doesn’t come with a full oven & grill at the bottom. If you can wait a few months for a proper oven, then you can utilize the table top one for the time being. I am not sure how much the muket costs, but then again even that will depend on the dimensions of your room and how many rooms you have. I am assuming it isn’t that expensive though (below 300,000 Tomans).
From the list of appliances above, if you take the decent (mid-range) price on each of the items the sum will add up to around 2.5 to 3 Million Tomans (you can also factor in around 10,000 Tomans for the delivery of each of these items – unless you buy multiple items from the same store). Of course you can always spend less or more if that is what your budget is, but then again you will get what you pay for.
There are other things that you may want to eventually purchase as well; such as a microwave, vacuum cleaner, electric kettle, ironing machine and whatever else you feel you need. All these will obviously be additional cost and something to keep in mind. In regards to cutlery and utensils, I haven’t bought any yet so not sure what they are like and what is their quality. In any case those items are not a source of heavy expenditure, especially if you are going to be buying a humble amount of items and not going all-out.