Finding an apartment in Mumbai, whether to rent or to buy, can be a morale-crushing exercise. Ask Ajay Suryawanshi and his wife Deepa. 

They searched for a place they could call their own for almost four years. They looked at residential projects within the Greater Mumbai region, and in localities like Badlapur and Panvel, which fall within the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). 
 

But now developers are repackaging these compact flats, which range from around 190 sq ft to 325 sq ft and could cost anywhere between RS 30 lakh and Rs1 crore, in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
But now developers are repackaging these compact flats, which range from around 190 sq ft to 325 sq ft and could cost anywhere between RS 30 lakh and Rs1 crore, in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Mumbai residents are used to what is called matchbox dwellings. But even for these people, a 189 sq ft apartment would come as a shocker. Forget claustrophobia or fear of confined spaces, these dwellings might induce domatophobia, or fear of houses. 

But Ajay does not care. “Size is not important, but the location is. The flat is in (Greater) Mumbai. Also, you can’t get this size at this price here.” Ghatkopar is among the more expensive suburbs of Mumbai. 

The apartment currently sells for Rs 53 lakh, including stamp duty and goods and services tax ( GST), though the Suryawanshis got it cheaper as they bought it within two months of the launch of the project, which is being  developed by Xrbia Developers. The largest apartment in the project is 309 sq ft, which will set you back by more than Rs 1 crore. 

The 189-sq ft pad is a studio apartment that can be customised to have a bedroom. The kitchenette is behind the couch in what could be called, by stretching the definition of the term a bit, the living-room space. Near the kitchen countertop is space for a refrigerator, below which a washing machine can be accommodated. 

Between the couch and the kitchenette is a rectangular slab that can be used as a dining table by two. Adjacent to the couch is a bed, with a bathroom next to it, and the walls are lined with cabinets. That’s the whole apartment.

The model unit at the project site reminds one of the tiny digs in Hong Kong and Tokyo. MMR, with a population of 21.4 million, was the fourth largest urban agglomeration in the world in 2016, after Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai, according to the United Nations. 

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