Tiny Homes – can they thrive in Nigeria?

Tiny houses, sometimes called micro homes, seem to be gaining popularity worldwide.

This minimalist concept embraces the idea that humans can make do and even thrive within limited living quarters, thus creating an efficient, eco friendly, and sustainable environment in the process.

In South Africa, as reported by TinyHouseTalk, this phenomenon has taken hold and we see some cool modern examples of these cute tiny homes on display.

Modern Tiny House in South Africa
Compact and Efficient Interior

This too is happening in Nigeria and could be a helpful tactic to combat Nigeria’s serious and gaping housing deficit.

There can be a stigma associated with small living accomodations, because people usually associate small with poor, and big with rich – which is not always the case.

In fact – most Nigerians already live in tiny houses. The average house size in Nigeria is around 22 sq meters (236 sq ft). While in the West the average house is around 220 sq meters (2368 sq ft).  

Container House in Nigeria

There is opportunity for the Nigerian tiny house to be developed in a way in which they are detached and not so crowded and cramped like in many shanty towns we see around the country.

Would you live in a tiny house? Do you already? What about a container house like the one above, could you live in one?

Conversation with a local resident

Tunde Olurin is a labourer working in the construction trade, his work comes in sporadic spurts, so he takes on many odd jobs to make ends meet.

We spoke with him in his home in Surulere.

He and his wife reside in a one room ground level flat that is nestled in the middle of a sprawling housing compound in Surulere, they are expecting their first child in a few months.

The room is dim and dusty, with a reddish coloured curtain covering the entryway and one over the single window in the tiny flat.
There is a small mattress on one side of the room, a table in the corner holds a kerosene lantern and a blue plastic basin, a small wedding photo hangs on the peeling wall.

The steady hum of generators – in the distance – fill the night, along with the idle chatter of neighbors close by.

This is a typical evening in this area, and a common living situation.
large numbers of people crammed into tiny rooms, that are made into homes. They eat, play, argue and do all the typical things that families do.
Homes in Surulere, Lagos.

People here seem to get adjusted to the living accommodations and make the best out of an otherwise dicey situation.

There is essentially no running water, or electricity, unless you have a generator or a connection to one, the latrines are located away from the flats, and the conditions inside the pit toilets are less than desirable – you can smell them before you see them.

Tunde and his wife moved into this room about 4 months ago, previously they were living with Tunde’s elder brother and his family for over a year. That living arrangement was tough, as there were 4 adults and 3 children sharing two small rooms.

When Tunde’s wife became pregnant, they knew they had to begin to look for alternate accommodations. Through word of mouth, they heard of a room for let and they borrowed money to pay the necessary rents.

Tunde and his wife are happy that they have their own place now and they will be able to start fresh in their new location.

Tunde often worries about being able to pay back the money he borrowed along with making more to cover next years rents. “By the Grace of God , we will sustain” – he said.

Asked whether he would like to live in a bigger house, he replies, ”this is okay for us now, if we get betta jobs we then may look for something else, but for now we are happy…”

This is life for millions of Nigerians – daily. This is normal.

Roman Kingsley

Journalist based in the United States and Nigeria, focusing on Real Estate Development and the stories emerging in and around the built environment.

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