Modern Russian House
Living conditions in Russia defer greatly depending on the location. While in the cities people live in apartments, in the countryside everyone has a detached Russian house. Of course, a rich family is likely to have a big modern Russian house in a city's downtown (surprisingly enough, it is the most prestigious place to live), but majority of population would not be able to afford such a house. There are mainly 4 types of Russian housing.
Owning a private detached Russian house in a city is a very rare thing. Most people live in apartments (flats) which were built between 1953-1964 when Nikita Khrushchev was the First Secretary of the Communist Party. This Russian housing type has a specific design - it looks like such houses are made of separate blocks, and in general they are very ramshackle and old. Such a building is called a “Khrushchevka”. Khrushchevkas do not provide all dwellers with a garden of their own, however, since they are positioned in a block of four or five buildings, there is usually a playground or in some cases a kindergarten in the area between those buildings, in the central courtyard. These big buildings in Russian cities block up the sky and the sun, so it is hard to see stars or sunsets. Heating, electricity and water are provided by the government for separate fees. After the beginning of a Russian housing construction boom in the last decade, many new, modern and beautiful apartments were built and sold to people. However, the international crisis has interrupted the development of Russian housing.
A communal, or rather shared apartment is the type of an apartment where several people or even families can live together sharing the same kitchen and bathroom. Usually this is how such a shared apartment looks: there is a long hall in the middle of the apartment; one door of the hall leads to the shared kitchen, and another door leads to the shared bathroom; other doors of the shared apartment lead to the separate or adjoining rooms that can belong to one person or a whole family. Such families cluster together in one shared apartment and take turns to cook in the kitchen, to use the bathroom or to clean the shared area. Some very old apartments of this type may have no showers and baths.
This style of life led to formation of a unique Russian commune culture with commune jokes and mentality. It is cheaper to buy a shared apartment than a normal apartment in Russia, but as Russians say, in such cases, you are shopping for good co-dwellers, or neighbors, rather than for an apartment itself, because the peace and harmony of your coexistence depends on them.
Families in Russian villages, small towns and other countryside have their own houses. Russian housing in the countryside is pretty down in price compared to apartments and houses in the city. Until recently such houses had their own independent heating systems and wells. However, now the Russian government provides Russian housing in the countryside with a gas heating system and a centralized water system for a reasonable price. These houses come with a large piece of land which is enough for a Russian family to grow plants and provide themselves with food. There is also a shed, a hayloft, a crib for a cow, and several enclosures for cattle. Some country houses also have a small summer kitchen which is usually detached from the house and is used in summer. An important role in a Russian household belongs to the Russian banya – Russian sauna, where a Russian family takes steam baths and washes every Saturday. Russian countrymen have several cows, chickens, geese, ducks, sheep, pigs and sometimes a horse. A dog is a faithful guard on such a piece of property. The only problem that such property suffers from is the excessive drinking habits of its owners. Since Russian country life is void of entertainment, Vodka is sometimes the only kind of fun Russian countrymen can have.
Since owning a house with a garden is something practically impossible for Russian city dwellers, the majority of Russian population has what they call “dacha” in Russia. A dacha is a small country house with some piece of land for a kitchen garden or a tree garden – whatever the owner prefers to grow there. However, one shouldn't confuse them with normal country houses from Russian villages because a dacha is much smaller (sometimes it can be a simple cabin or a one-room house), and it is located in close proximity to the city. Dachas are usually abandoned in winter time. But as soon as spring comes, large crowds of Russian old people and families rush into the Russian countryside to their dachas to take care of their plants and property. Since buying fruit and vegetables can be rather expensive in the city, especially in winter, having a dacha where a large family can grow all kinds of provision is very helpful. People in Russia feel deep connection with the nature, and for some of them going to a dacha is not even about growing things, but about resting in the countryside, swimming in the nearby river and cooking shashlik (Russian kebab) with friends. Many teenagers and young people spend their summer holidays or vacations in dacha villages.