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By Karishma Patel • January 18, 2016

Selling chawl to buy a flat ? Is it a right decision?

The housing type Chawls has been a very significant part of Mumbai’s history.  Many chawls were built during the nineteenth century and twentieth century. They were built by government or private landlords to accommodate the migrants coming from villages due to the rising employment opportunities in early Mumbai. Chawls are buildings with one room or two room units of not more than two hundred square feet attached by a common corridor with shared toilets on each floor.

Many of these chawls in Mumbai built during the British Raj are over seventy to eighty years old and many of them are dilapidated. Many reports mentions how currently many of these dilapidated buildings are collapsing or getting redeveloped by builders.

Selling chawl to buy a flat

Inspite of it, why do people don't want to leave the chawl? 

The building form of the chawls contributes substantially to the close-knit social life that the residents lead. The combination of all common areas like courtyards, corridors, staircases and so on provide ample scope for social interaction in these cohesive chawl communities. This social network is the support system of the residents and needs to be maintained. This dense social network is one of the main reasons why the residents have not moved out of the chawls. This building form provides an example of successful affordable community housing in urban areas of Mumbai for the middle class. The chawls also offer the residents with affordable housing to the middle class residents and this is another important reason for the residents to not move out. 

 Selling chawl to buy a flat

So is selling chawl to buy a flat still the right decision ?

Even tough the chawls contributes to the lifestyles and cultures of the residents, there are other things critical for a person's growth. It might be a difficult transition, but it is also called 'the good life'. The new apartment assures all the things that lacked in a chawl, attached bathroom, separate kitchen, privacy and respect.

It's the case with almost all the families who are giving up their old dwellings in chawls and slums to builders who assure them fantastic lifestyle leaps. While the change from their routine to something that they have only seen on TV seems daunting, there is a strong urge among these people to improve their lives. They yield to the builders and watch their old homes being demolished because they don't want their children to suffer.Families move from a chawl to a 2 BHK, just so that their children go to good schools and are respected.


Though people loved the natural rustic warmth of their chawls and slums, they know that Mumbai and the times have changed. They know that the warmth of the chawls is the warmth of failure. And they also feel, in the present day boom, their children have the opportunity to escape from the poverty that each of their forefathers suffered. If moving into a flat can make an LIC agent paint his scooter, it can also make children believe they have a brighter future. 

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