Since the mid-1990s, when the Indian economy threw open its doors to liberalization, developers in India have been focusing their energies on building gleaming high-rises, luxury condos, villas and state-of-the-art golf courses.
And in the real estate boom that followed, the one sector that was overlooked was the low-cost housing market. Tata, the Indian car company that gave the world its most inexpensive car—the $2,000 Nano—is all set to capture that segment.
The company plans to build 1,000 nano-sized apartments (no pun intended) in Boisar—an industrial zone 30 miles north of Mumbai. Spread over a parcel of 67-acres, the smallest of these homes would be about 227 square feet—too small even by Manhattan standards—while the largest would be 372 square feet. They’ll cost anywhere between $7,800 and $13,400 each.
These units are targeted at those who make $6,000 to $10,000 annually. But to the vast majority of India’s teeming lower middle class, they will be out of reach. For instance, a government chauffeur in New Delhi with five years of service makes roughly $1,000 a year. An auto-rickshaw driver makes, even less, at $600.