Kerala’s vacant houses are high on nostalgia
Mass migration from the state, ever since the Gulf boom in the 1970s, explains the phenomenon of vacant houses to a large extent. As people moved out in search of better job opportunities to the Gulf, and other parts of India, they wanted to leave behind a piece of their lives in the hope of reclaiming it at the time of retirement. A house built on a piece of land seemed perfect to most of them to keep themselves rooted to their hometowns. But with jobs far off and families living with them, these houses remain vacant.
According to the 2011 Census data, about 11% (1.19 million) houses in Kerala lie vacant. While 10% of the houses lie vacant in rural areas, 11.3% are vacant in urban areas of the state. This is much higher than the national average of 7.45%.
Most often than not, buying a house is an emotional decision for most Indian families, including those from Kerala. But remove the emotions for a moment, and you will realize that buying a house early in one’s career, especially if you don’t intend to live in it regularly, is a poor investment decision. What may work better is investing in other avenues and buying a dream house closer to retirement. In Kerala, however, few seem to realize this, blinded by the yearning for home and flush with money earned abroad. The flow of NRI deposits in Kerala has only increased over the years. Within India, Kerala is the top destination for remittances. The southern state accounts for over 19% of inward remittances (a huge ₹1.69 trillion, as of March 2019), the highest in India.