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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Tata Building $7,800 Apartments in Mumbai 242

Posted by kdawson
from the piece-of-the-rock dept.
theodp writes "What do you do for an encore after you've shown the world it's possible to build a $2,000 car? Ratan Tata, head of India's giant Tata conglomerate, now plans to build, 30 miles outside of Mumbai, 1,200 tiny apartments that will sell for $7,800 to $13,400 each. Sure, they're small (floor plans), but keep in mind that you can pay a quarter of a million bucks for a 250-sq.-ft. studio in the East Village. Time reports that Tata has had to beef up security to handle the rush of buyers who want to plunk down their $200 deposits (yes, that's two hundred dollars!). Who would've thought you could make IKEA homes look pricey?" The Businessweek.com article says that the apartments are aimed at someone making $6,000 to $10,000 per year (Time says $5,000). In Mumbai, a call center operator with 10 to 20 years of experience barely qualifies at $6,400 annually. 70% of the country's 1.2 billion people live on 1/20 as much.
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Tata Building $7,800 Apartments in Mumbai

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  • Tata cars have proven themselves to be unsafe for driving (no protection, and the car frame is too thin)

    i wouldn't be surprised if these buildings couldn't survive 45 mph winds
    • by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:34PM (#27890103) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry, though; you should be OK in one. It's India, so you're much more likely to hit a pedestrian than another car.

      • by Ian Alexander (997430) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:17PM (#27891371)
        Dude, have you ever been to India? You're likely to hit ANYTHING in a city. Cars, people on foot, people bicycles, rickshaws (human-powered and automotive),and Shiva forbid a cow wanders into the road at the wrong moment.

        Indian traffic is a good example of anarchy in practice.
        • by sanman2 (928866) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @06:31PM (#27891975)
          Tata is NOT saving costs by compromising on materials. So how are they saving costs? They're going in for cheaper land that's farther out from the city, and they're paying below market price for it, because they're offering the landholders an amortized profit-sharing across many years. They're then organizing a large number of builders to create entire communities from scratch, including hospitals, schools, marketplaces, and a variety of amenities where there were none before. They're building entire townships, and not just some homes. This is obviously a very capital-intensive approach. Call it the Las Vegas strategy: buying land in the middle of nowhere at low cost, and then building an entire self-supporting community there.
          • Holy crap, a bunch of poor people crammed together in tiny ass apartments in a shitty locale?

            In america we call them housing projects.

            The "project" was an abject failure by all accounts.

            I'm pretty sure this will turn into a seedy ghetto in india as well. What do they call crack there, khat?

            • Not Ghetto (Score:4, Informative)

              by sanman2 (928866) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @06:51PM (#27892115)
              In India, people who earn $5000/yr are not ghetto, they're lower-income lower middle class. They're not on welfare (there is no welfare), they're employed.
              • there is no welfare

                How is that working out? It's a serious question and I ask because the libertarian streak in me thinks that it should work better than a system with welfare, but the empiricist part of me says I don't know enough about the real consequences of not having it to form a solid opinion. There's a lot of other big differences between the two countries, but getting more info certainly can't hurt.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by CAIMLAS (41445)

              You must know nothing about India if you think a place with pipes (never mind running water, we're just talking drainage), four solid walls, a roof and a floor is anything short of "middle class".

              Maybe in 40, 50 years the places would be considered slums/projects, if India continues to improve at the rate it has been. But from the looks of things, they should serve as suitable housing until they're ready for replacement. And if they leave room between the buildings/complexes, and don't make the complexes to

          • by mikael (484)

            Very much like the Victorian factories during the Industrial Revolution in the UK. The factory owners built terraced housing, schools, churches and parks to make the locations attractive to their staff. It worked perfectly until the factories closed down and their wasn't anything to replace them.

    • by jadavis (473492) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:35PM (#27890111)

      unsafe

      As safe or safer than a motorcycle or bicycle. The word "unsafe" is thrown around all the time without regard for alternatives and real-life trade-offs.

    • by slashkitty (21637) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:36PM (#27890115) Homepage
      You mean unsafe for crashing. Just like every motorbike out there.
      • by MouseR (3264) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:43PM (#27890175) Homepage

        Actually you have more chance to survice a motorcycle crash than being rolled up in a tin can.

        That aside, security standards aren't the same around the world and there are far less chance fo these tin cars to smash against a big SUV in india.

        As for the apartments, they beat the slums by a long shot.

        • Actually you have more chance to survice a motorcycle crash than being rolled up in a tin can.

          That aside, security standards aren't the same around the world and there are far less chance fo these tin cars to smash against a big SUV in india.

          As for the apartments, they beat the slums by a long shot.

          Eh? Have you driven in India? Forget the SUVs, its the trucks and buses you need to worry about...
          I'd stick with the car any day.

          You're right about the appartments, tho.

        • I have never read such nonsense. Sure if you're wearing racing leathers and you don't hit anything when you slide you'll be "better off", but the chances of this are 0 in India. Hell, people don't even wear helmets, let alone leathers.

          I can't believe someone would post such a stupid strawman. Let me guess, you ride a bike, so you like to talk bullshit about how they are "safe"? I ride a bike, I don't bullshit about how "safe" they are.

          There's a reason doctors at hospitals call bike riders either "temporary

        • by timeOday (582209)

          Actually you have more chance to survice a motorcycle crash than being rolled up in a tin can.

          The word "actually" just screams for a cite. Good luck!

    • by sethstorm (512897) *

      Tata cars have proven themselves to be unsafe for driving (no protection, and the car frame is too thin)

      i wouldn't be surprised if these buildings couldn't survive 45 mph winds

      Never mind the call center workers who also provide the same abysmally low service.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:40PM (#27890583)

      safe is the biggest marketing scam in western society. SUVs were born to market safe vehicles for hockey moms, desire for safety got Bush re-elected.

    • by omeomi (675045)
      And Mumbai just proved itself a less desirable place to live than the East Village. No big surprise there...
  • We don't want another Cortlandt Homes incident.

  • by scubamage (727538) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#27890171)
    For a second I read that as Dubai and was trying to fish out my credit card. Mumbai I could care less about.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:45PM (#27890201)

    The median price of a house in Detroit is $7500 [walletpop.com]. Floorplans vary, but they are larger than these apartments. Home prices are relative.

    I'm sure people are happy to buy a nice place in Mumbai, so the market supports higher prices. No one wants to live in a corrupt one-party third-world conflict zone like Detroit.

    • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:54PM (#27890253)

      if the houses there all look like the one in the picture then i'd rather take a tata flat.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      I sometimes wonder if it would be cheaper to buy a house in Detroit and just have it moved to somewhere else. I know doing that is crazy expensive, but come on, a house for 7500$?

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        ... just not the crap house shown in the page you linked to.

        Bleh!

        • by Kohath (38547)

          It's the median price. That means half of the houses are cheaper than $7500 and the other half are more expensive. There will be plenty of variety.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Unordained (262962)

      The median price of a home sold in Detroit in December [2008] was $7,500, according to Realcomp, a listing service.

      Their site doesn't make data public (some spreadsheets are available to registered agents,) so I can't tell if that was a really odd month (very few sales?) Checking Century 21 listings under $25k for Detroit shows very few entries for under $10k, making the likelihood of a median of $7500 rather low, even under their less-than-stellar market conditions. Maybe the county records can clarify, but I'm done fact-checking. I'll agree their housing is cheap though; and I'm in Oklahoma, so that's saying somethin

    • by oldhack (1037484) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:18PM (#27890411)
      We'll throw in the crackhouse on the left ABSOLUTELY FREE!
    • I'm sure people are happy to buy a nice place in Mumbai, so the market supports higher prices. No one wants to live in a corrupt one-party third-world conflict zone like Detroit.

      Perhaps the corruption favors them over there, and it favors you over where you are.

      Mumbai by comparison, makes Detroit look clean.

      Outside of Detroit, things are more in tune with reality with respect to prices.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Yeah but how long would you actually survive in Detroit? I think I'd rather take my chances in Mumbai. At least there frozen corpses [detnews.com] aren't left for weeks. Hell, Detroit would have to do some serious urban renewal to make it up to hellhole!
      • by sethstorm (512897) *

        That's a relative exception compared to Mumbai.

        If given a choice to live in either city, I'd take Detroit over that Third World city any day.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      I'm wondering if this isn't more about real estate / land prices than the cost of building.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      The median price of a house in Detroit is $7500. Floorplans vary, but they are larger than these apartments.

      Floor plan? Those shells of homes in Detroit are tear-downs; they detract from the value of the land they're on. Even the copper wiring has been ripped from the walls. Comparing that to a new home or apartment you could actually live in is not fair.

  • by n00btastic (1489741) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:47PM (#27890213)
    This is one the the wisest investments Tata has ever made, and will fill an important niche in Indian urban living.

    The economic difference between the rich and the poor is so vast, that if you are making 10k+ a year you are very rich by a normal villager's perspective...the problem is unless you are living in a rural area, there are not many places for you to live unless you want to live other than the slums or in a wealthy neighborhood.

    Of course this is just a generalization, but if you ever go to India, and truly experience it outside of the MNC bubble, you will see why something like this is needed.

    -n00b
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:46PM (#27890617) Journal

      The funny thing is, it seems like there's not really a comparable alternative in some Western countries.

      Tata is pitching their homes at about 1.5 times their target market's annual income. Relatively speaking, it looks like that would place these at about £35,000 in the UK. In comparison, the Ikea homes were placed at a minimum of three times the income of the target market, and more like 5 or 6 times in many cases.

    • . . . Ratan Tata will soon be known as the William Levitt of India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Levitt [wikipedia.org]. Maybe he thought up that idea during his Harvard days.

      He is making money for himself, but he seems to be doing a lot of good for people, as well.

      The world could do with a couple more of him.

      I looked at the floor plans, and thought that it would be a great place to buy for vacations.

      But, alas, the 3-D animation was slashdotted. So other Slashdotters seem to be thinking the same thing. And I

  • if it's for purchase with no monthly rent (excluding HOA fees), then it's a condo.

    but yea, considering the various disasters that have happened in India in regards to shotty construction and buildings collapsing... I'm afraid that those would live in them might as well as say "Ta ta" to life.

  • by calc (1463) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:54PM (#27890251)

    These apartments are extremely tiny at only 283 - 465 sq ft and for $7,800 - $13,400 that isn't really that cheap as it is around $28-29 per sq ft. The condo I own in Houston only cost me $43 per sq ft and they are now going for much cheaper than that after the economy meltdown.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @02:55PM (#27890271)

    70% of the country's 1.2 billion people live on 1/20 as much.

    True, but not relevant.

    This is aimed at the middle class in India, which numbers 50 - 100 million now and is expected to grow rapidly [4hoteliers.com] :

    India's middle class is expected to swell almost 12-fold from its size of 50 million people to over 583 million - some 41% of the population.

    Let's see, 10 million homes for $ 10K each is $ 100 billion USD - a market worth going after.

  • ever been to india? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by panthroman (1415081) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:04PM (#27890327) Homepage

    Sorry to sound snooty, but that's my gut reaction to the "this is unsafe!" comments. Unsafe by American/European standards, probably. Unsafe compared to Indian options? Ha.

    Some photos of life in Delhi (a bit less "European" than Mumbai), including the inside of a couple homes, here [blogspot.com]. (Disclosure: that's a link to my old travel blog.)

    We should praise improvement, not demand perfection.

    • by uglyduckling (103926) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:12PM (#27890361) Homepage
      Two friends of mine spent their first year of marriage in a student apartment in London. This apartment was even smaller - the dining area was raised by about 60cm, and the double bed was stored underneath the dining area on rollers. The end of the bed stuck out into the living area and formed a sofa. In the evening you pulled on the 'sofa' and the whole bed, linen and pillows etc., rolled out into the living area to sleep in.
    • re:ever been to India? (Score:-1, Flamebait)

      If you dont mind the building being built entirely of "safety shortcuts" and existing two steps from collapse, fine.

      Not if said "improvement" comes at the cost of the developed world, with no thought of transition.

      Nothing bad there. Building codes exist for a reason, and that the Third World is hardly a place you'll find them.

  • Hey, I can still mount my 62-inch LCD TV on the ceiling above the bed, right? Turn it off and it doubles as a mirror, eh?

  • by maillemaker (924053) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @03:14PM (#27890375)

    I'm confused by the terminology. Around here (southern USA) an apartment is something you rent. A Condominium is like an apartment in that it is on managed grounds but you can "buy" them. I say "buy" in quotes because the concept of buying half of a building attached to someone else's half does not sound like anything I would want to buy.

    Anyway, what are they talking about?

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      I'm not disagreeing with you, and only skimmed the article so far.. but just as another example, duplexes are another example of something you buy that's attached to another home. That is, actual houses, that have a shared wall. That's definitely different from a condo.

    • by mattack2 (1165421) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @04:19PM (#27890831)

      Should have put this in my first reply. I know that I have seen 'apartment' used as something you buy in NY-based sitcoms (e.g. "Seinfeld").

      Also, the first paragraph on Wikipedia's entry says that it can be either (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartment):
      An apartment is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building. Apartments may be owned (by an owner/occupier) or rented (by tenants).

    • by doktor-hladnjak (650513) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @04:43PM (#27891051)
      From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      A condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate (usually of an apartment house) is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece. Colloquially, the term is often used to refer to the unit itself in place of the word "apartment". A condominium may be simply defined as an "apartment" that the tenant "owns" as opposed to rents.

      The difference between a condominium and an apartment is purely legal: there is no way to know a condo from an apartment simply by looking at or visiting the building. What defines a condominium is the form of ownership. The same building developed as a condominium (and sold as individual units to different owners) could actually be built someplace else as an apartment building (the developers would retain onwnership and rent individual units to different tenants).

      "Condo" really refers to the legal arrangement, although it has taken on a meaning of "apartment that you own" in recent years. Condominium laws didn't even come into effect in the US until the 60s really. In cities with older dense urban housing stock, older apartment buildings are still often owned through a cooperative [wikipedia.org] instead.

    • I say "buy" in quotes because the concept of buying half of a building attached to someone else's half does not sound like anything I would want to buy.

      No. Really...
      I'm not trying to troll or even make fun of, but your post above is truly funny to someone who has lived most of his life in a flat (or apartment as Americans call it).
      Particularly considering the housing market crisis and its influence on the global financial crisis.
      I mean... understanding that you can buy/own one set of rooms for your stuff but not the other...

      I'm also a bit stumped with such a logical barrier.
      Perfectly understanding owning a building and living in it, renting a part of a bui

      • I think there's a kind of a sliding scale of ownership: a rented apartment is less than an owned trailer home in rented lot, is less than a condo, is less than a house+lot. Actually I suppose there's a still greater level of ownership: house in town (with home owner's association) is less than a house in town (no Jr. Fascists) is less than a farm/ranch. With the lowest level if you're unlucky you could be barely half a step above a condo. With the highest...it's your land. No, I take that back. It's
  • It's symptomatic of the growing pains in an economy like India. Everyone flocks there and Indian companies do well from their cheap labour, but in order to maintain that labour the standard of living, and the cost, needs to rise.
    • by dr_dank (472072)

      As the standard of living rises and takes labor costs with it, India will start losing jobs to the next contestant in the race to the bottom.

  • Wow, only a little smaller than a shipping container, and just 6 times the price!

    Seriously, at $30 a square foot, while these apartments might be a good deal, they're hardly newsworthy.

  • Tiny? (Score:4, Funny)

    by lixee (863589) on Saturday May 09, 2009 @05:10PM (#27891301)
    Tiny? They're bigger than my place, you insensitive clod! Ah...the joys of grad school...
    • by story645 (1278106)

      Bigger than mine too, and they cost less than a years rent, and I share with a roommate. Ah ... the joys of a Manhattan studio a block from school ...

  • In North Providence, RI was about the size of the RK 1. Not terribly small for one person or even a couple. Now I'm in a 900sqft place. Two rooms that we really don't use much but full kitchen, dining and living rooms.
  • Notice however, that these apartments do not come equipped with western style toilets. Instead they have "long drops" (ie: squatting holes).

    I guess you get what you pay for...

  • Tata's goal is quite laudable, especially because housing should be affordable. Unfortunately, Americans have lost sight of this. The Indians are showing how it is not necessary to have these large, lavish, and expensive homes. Nor is it necessary to charge huge sums of money for a home. I remember seeing a special on TV once about someone taking disused shipping containers and turning them into really beautiful, small homes. Americans certainly have the resources to do this and potentially lead the wo
  • One of my cult favorites is the movie The Fifth Element [imdb.com]. There are several great scenes in the tiny, but ingeniously-design "maximized space" apartment that the hero Corbin Dallas lives in.

    The fridge descended into the floor and revealed a shower stall. The bed worked as a previous poster noted in a English flat, half-way out==couc, all-the-way-out==bed. Everything was stored in wall spaces.

The most delightful day after the one on which you buy a cottage in the country is the one on which you resell it. -- J. Brecheux

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