ISTANBUL - Increasing housing prices and the search for more affordable and nature-friendly dwellings in the great outdoors amid the Covid-19 pandemic have boosted demand for small, prefabricated, and mobile "tiny houses" in Turkey.
Tiny homes, some of which are on wheels and can be towed around anywhere, provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional houses and are becoming increasingly popular among the Turkish people.
According to official data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute, around 1.5 million tiny houses were sold in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent.
For the first time, a "tiny house fair" was organised in Istanbul, Turkey's economic capital, in early February and attracted large numbers of consumers as construction companies showcased their newest products and designs.
"After the pandemic, people started looking for accommodation alternatives. This led to a boom in sales by 100 to 150 percent," Galip Olmez, CEO of Yako Groups, Turkey's biggest company producing tiny houses, told Xinhua.
"If you already have a plot or if you are willing to buy one, it is a great option. Locating a tiny house on these plots has become a new ecological life trend in Turkey," he said.
Yako Groups produces approximately 500 tiny houses a year, exporting some of them in ready-to-be-built kits for European and Middle Eastern clients. Prices vary between $15 000 and $30 00 (between R229 292 and R458 620), depending on a size of 15 to 40 square meters.
While in Istanbul, the country's most populous city with 16 million residents, two-bedroom traditional houses in a decent neighbourhood go for around $55 550; a tiny house is a much cheaper option.
Over the past year, the cost of land in Turkey has increased by an average of 20 percent. Land plots with direct access to the sea have almost doubled in price in coastal cities like Izmir and Antalya.
In addition, the cost of building materials has increased by one and a half times, caused mainly by rampant inflation of nearly 50 percent, according to official data published in early February.
Low costs are not the only attraction for tiny house lovers. To be close to nature and easy to tow is also a convincing reason.
"We used to own a caravan, but we opted for a more spacious and modern tiny house, with solar panels for energy, and so we could be independent," Seref Bozkir, owner of a 30-square-meter house, told Xinhua.
As the world is seeing rising energy prices, Turkish households are faced with astronomical electricity bills, said Bozkir, adding a tiny house is very affordable.
However, Bozkir said that high inflation has also increased the prices of tiny houses.
Social media have reported cases of young families and retired people downsizing from three- or four-bedroom apartments in big cities to tiny houses in rural areas to get closer to nature.
Tiny houses are also gaining popularity in the tourism industry. "Buying 10 tiny houses costs an investor one-tenth of the cost of building a boutique hotel of 10 rooms," Olmez noted.