|Since I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer, I have to find my own accommodation in this city. Apartment hunting in any city is a pain, but in Moscow the language, snow, and arcane city departments compound the problem.
Luckily I met with a few expats who were in the know and now I have a room in a group house here. The location is great, just of Novi Arbat in downtown Moscow, the room is amazingly large and full of joe-cool stuff, and the house is fun, but nothing like my old group house.
I live with an American who is doing an internship with a Russian marketing firm, a Russian who works at Kodak, and the landlady. We span the full language spectrum, from the only English Ameriakanka, to the only Russian landlady, with myself and Andrey falling in the middle.
Us kids, as Zhenya the landlady calls us, zip around the house when we get home from our respective jobs, trying to cook three meals at once. Sometimes we faze Zhenya so much in cooking our dinner that she eats her dinner standing in the corner watching us.
I plan on moving to a new apartment in the next two months. Rent is cheap here and all, but I want my own space, though I do want a flatmate. I think living alone, especially in this city, would be painfully lonely. Hell, I’m lonely now, and I live with three other people! Strangely enough, the tax laws here encourage renting. My rental payments for my apartment are considered tax-free allowances from my work, so I can get a bit of relief from the 35% tax rate.
I would like to live in the center of Moscow, inside the Ring Line of the metro, but within walking distance of a stop on the same line as my work. Yeah, location, location, location! I also want what is called a three room apartment here. They count all the rooms you can sleep in, unlike just the bedrooms in America. Here a three room apartment is two bedrooms and a living room. The assumption that a living room is standard does not apply to the largest country in the world, because of the persistent housing shortage in the cities. There isn’t a furniture shortage though! All apartments come fully furnished because furniture is so expensive to move, and it was so cheap in Soviet times that people never take it with them to their new apartments.
Today I looked at a beautiful furnished, two-room apartment, four trolleybus stops from my work. Unfortunately, the four stops are heading outside the city, past the Ring Line, not into the center. It would take me the same amount to time to get to work from there as it does here, and trolleybuses are not warm like the metro. The renters heartened me though. They are a Russian family who bought the apartment and are now trying to rent it out to make a buck. Rental property investments are a sign that people believe in the stability of the government and the economy.
Thursday I will look at the apartment of the guy who lived in my room before me. I wonder if he moved up from this place?