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A vatara is a type of multifamily housing complex seen in some regions of India. This type of structure is usually two stories tall with rows of apartments on both stories. Vataras are used primarily as middle class housing and may accommodate a varying number of people, depending on the number of apartments built into the structure. Sometimes students, as well as families, may rent apartments in vataras.
Such structures are commonly owned by a single person. The vatara owner may live in the complex to facilitate administration. Property owners can be involved in the collection of rents, basic maintenance, and other tasks, cutting down on administration expenses by not using a staff or apartment management company. People who own multiple real estate investments may set aside an apartment in the complex for the use of an apartment manager who represents the owner when the owner is not available.
A variety of architectural styles can be used to make a vatara. The construction is often simple and unadorned as the housing is meant to be relatively low cost and accessible. Amenities available at a vatara are variable and apartments with access to extra services tend to be more expensive, reflecting the premium placed on amenities. A variety of ventilation options are available for hot weather, including fans and air conditioning in some structures.
Some Indian television shows and movies are staged in a vatara setting, featuring friends and neighbors interacting with each other, as well as having characters who rent vatara apartments. The distinctive two story design is recognizable to many fans and can also be used to indicate a regional setting, as this type of construction is not widespread across all of India, and when combined with things like regional accents and other clues, can give away the setting of a film or television show.
As an investment property, a vatara can provide a steady source of income for the owners. Tenants typically expect rents to rise periodically with the cost of living, allowing landlords to charge rents in pace with inflation. Cutting down on costs by trading an apartment for maintenance services and administration conducted by a third party can be a beneficial arrangement for landlords owning multiple properties who want to keep someone on site to address issues as they arise, keep an eye out for safety, and identify any problems requiring the attention of the landlord.
I have seen vataras several times in Indian films. I have seen them more in South Indian films, but also in a North Indian film that I watched recently.
One thing I noticed about both is that the vataras were always in the cities. A lot of people who had moved from the rural areas to the cities to work were living there. As well as single men who didn't have families in the area.
I don't know why they are more common in the South though. Are the cities in South India like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai more populated than Mumbai or Delhi in the North? Could that be why there are more vataras in the South?
I think vatara is basically meant to be a complex which can house many people and is cheap to construct. With the Indian population being the second largest worldwide and growing, I think this will become a more and more popular housing option in the future.
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