‘Micro homes’ as small as 180 sq ft are on offer in Mumbai, as the city borrows from a global trend to make the most of its scarce available space. It’s largely young professionals and students living in these spaces, for want of affordable options in prime areas of the city.
“Micro homes have been a solution to lack of housing and congestion in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Britain and Spain, where the demand forhomes is higher and space comes at a premium,” says Neeraj Sharma, director of realty advisory Grant Thornton. “India took time to accept the concept, but there is now a growing realisation that owning a micro home is better than not owning a home at all, even if the micro home is only the size of a larger master bedroom in a traditional Indian house.”
Accordingly, micro flats from 180 to 250 sq ft in area are being sold as studio apartments, bachelor pads and ‘affordable luxury’ homes.
Chembur Central by Xrbia, Mayfair Hillcrest in Vikhroli, Haware Paradise by Haware in Kalyan, AddressOne by Peninsula Land in in Gahunje along the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and Sheltrex Nano Housing by Sheltrex Developers in Karjat are among the projects on offer in the section. Most of these projects come with all the modern amenities including a club house and 24X7 security system. Haware Paradise in Kalyan is a sports-themed township with sports grounds and courts; AddressOne comes with community halls, indoor games room and a school inside the township.
The amenities are similar to those that come with standard affordable luxury projects, including landscaped gardens, community halls, security systems and play areas. “We achieve this by ensuring no space wastage. We do not have long corridors in the home, for instance,” says Nandan Piramal, director of sales and marketing at Peninsula Land. “These homes also help conserve energy and other resources.”
Some come semi-furnished with modular space-saving cabinets. “At Haware Paradise in Kalyan, amenities include a sports ground, a clubhouse, a swimming pool, a children’s play area and 24-hour security systems,” says Amit Haware, CEO and joint managing director of Haware Properties.
It was when rehabilitated slumdwellers began to lease their flats to young professionals that builders realised there was a market for homes of 200 sq ft.
“Many slumdwellers could not afford the maintenance costs and other expenses, so they rented them out, and since some of these were in prime areas such as Kandivli and Ghatkopar, there were many takers,” says Gulam Zia, executive director of advisory, retail and hospitality at Knight Frank India.
What is it like living in a 200-sq-ft house? “You have to make every inch of the space count,” says Niharika Saluja, 29, a software engineer who moved from Bihar into a 200 sq-ft ‘affordable luxury’ home in Ghatkopar two months ago, with her husband and two-year-old daughter.
The project offers amenities such as CCTV surveillance, clubhouse, jogging track and gym. “The real perks are that I don’t need to take a crowded train to my workplace in Vikhroli, plus I live in a plush neighbourhood — and hey, own a house in Mumbai.” The couple bought the flat for around Rs 60 lakh. You have to adopt a minimalist lifestyle to live in a micro home, Saluja adds. “No more than four pairs of shoes per person; and only one shelf and one platform in the kitchen,” she says.
Sharma of Grant Thornton says the ideal resident is the young floating population “looking for a bedroom, a kitchen and space where they can stream Netflix”.
At Chembur Central, the one-bedroom micro homes have an area of 189 sq ft. “The biggest advantage is the location. You live about 5 kilometres from Bandra-Kurla Complex and close to the Central Railway stations of Kurla, Chembur and Ghatkopar,” says Rahul Nahar, founder of Xrbia. “The flats come with kitchen and bathroom fittings and cost about Rs 60 lakh.”