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Almost everyone in our country dreams of living in their own home. But, despite the large territories, "one-story Russia" has not appeared in our country.
"Fresh air and breakfasts on the veranda, the ability to quickly switch from working at the computer to your own flower garden, your own yard where children play, the absence of blank fences," Diana Laretskaya, an image coach from Moscow, lists the advantages of her own home.
A couple of years after the wedding, she had the question of where to move the family: to a house or an apartment. She chose a townhouse, about 300 square meters, 15 km from the Moscow Ring Road. The road to the city takes 15 minutes, and then the usual Moscow traffic jams: “I plan a week like this: I’m at home for several days, working at my computer, on the phone. A couple of days - in Moscow, I make several appointments in a row. Shopping days follow the planned route. But any unscheduled meetings during busy hours can turn into standing in traffic jams."
Roman Alekhin, an entrepreneur, also bought a house: “When I was buying a house, I thought that every evening I would sit by the fire, go to the river. But everything turned out differently."
If you ask Russians where they would like to live - in an apartment building or in a private one - almost 70 percent answer that they would like to live in a separate house. Nobody draws a dream house in the form of a high-rise building with a couple of dozen other people in the neighborhood, a common staircase and the rules for observing the "silence mode". But then why didn't “one-story Russia” emerge in our country? Less than a third of Russia's residents live in private homes. And this is despite the presence of large vacant territories and relatively inexpensive land.
When the dream doesn't fit in with reality
According to research, the idea of living in their own home is very popular among urban residents in Russia. “I would even say that this is a dream. But a house with full-fledged communications is, firstly, expensive, and secondly, it is associated with a large number of bureaucratic problems,”says Mikhail Alekseevsky, head of the Center for Urban Anthropology at Strelka KB.
Most often, the owner of the house is himself responsible for garbage disposal, mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, persecuting parasites and other maintenance of the territory, or pays for this to the management company of the cottage microdistrict. Often, ready-made houses are sold on the market, but without connection to communications and without infrastructure: the owner will have to supply gas, electricity and water to the house himself.
“We interviewed the owners of cottage houses who dreamed of their own home - and the problems they regularly face in maintenance make them curse everything in the world. They say: “Why the hell do we not live in an ordinary apartment, where for any question you can call the housing office and call the foreman”.
In 2001, Konstantin bought land and built a house in the village of Dudino near Moscow, about one and a half kilometers from the nearest metro station. Land and a house of 300 square meters cost him the price of a two-room apartment in Moscow. The gas had to be supplied independently, which cost an additional million rubles.
“There are no schools, kindergartens or sports complexes. You have to go to all the shops. In a five-minute walk there is only a country stall with a basic set: bread, pasta, beer. It would be difficult to live here without a car, especially with children. But we had the expectation that we consume all the infrastructure in the city, to which it takes 7 minutes to go,”he says, and assures that all this was taken into account in advance and they would not want to live in an apartment again.
In addition, there was already an understanding of what it means to have your own home: “Here you decide everything yourself, and we were ready, but it scares someone. This somewhat destroys the myth of a “quiet life”. For many, this is a significant psychological factor: If you have never lived in a house, you do not even know how to live there."
The argument “emotionally I'm not ready for such changes” is often heard, although the lack of funds is still the number one reason not to move to a separate house. “As a rule, these are very wealthy people - who can afford to go through this whole quest and build a dream house. Such housing has not been supplied to the stream. Not so much because of the cost of the land, but because of the costs caused by difficulties with communications,”Alekseevsky believes.
If you want a house, you will most likely have to build it yourself. The construction complex in Russia is focused exclusively on apartment buildings, and, at all levels, says Roman Popov, associate professor at the Faculty of Urban and Regional Development at the Higher School of Economics. “Traditionally, one of the indicators of the economic success of the territory was the indicator of housing commissioned. Therefore, they demand square meters from governors and mayors,”he notes.
As before, the construction complex fills the city with blocks of apartment buildings. In April 2018, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that monotonous neighborhoods make up 77% of the country's total housing stock, "with very dense buildings and not always developed urban infrastructure." The private sector, on the other hand, accounts for the luxury segment (usually outside or on the outskirts of the city) or old housing stock, where families have lived for generations.
Konstantin, who spends 50% of his time in the Netherlands, says that the rules by which this construction complex operates are key differences between Russia and Europe. “Your quality of life in the Netherlands will not change in any way whether you live in a city or in a village, in the middle of a field. You will have a normal sewerage system, enough kilowatts of light, some kind of hospital nearby and a store. City planning is designed in such a way that otherwise the developer will not be issued a building permit."
In Russia, the availability of infrastructure is not a prerequisite. Moreover, since 2018, there is no need to obtain a permit for the construction of a private house at all - it was replaced with a mandatory notification before the start of construction and after its completion. “What kind of communications you will carry out there is your own business. Our neighbors say: “We do not need electricity, we will come, turn on the generator, fry the meat and leave. And they have the right to do so. You can't do that in the Netherlands,”says Konstantin.
However, despite the dreams of a house, the "Soviet legacy" still prevails in the minds of Russians. “One of its aspects is that we still have a widespread perception of a private house as a temporary housing, something like a summer residence. Even if it's a nice, well-equipped house,”Popov says.
Housing in an apartment building is perceived as something more comfortable and therefore more prestigious. In the Soviet Union, getting an apartment, a car and a dacha was considered "an undoubted indicator of success." In Russia, building or acquiring a private house for themselves, most often people do not refuse an apartment either. “In other words, our houses are not an alternative to an apartment, but a kind of addition. Or the "old age" option. Although in the south of the country the place of private housing in the value system is higher than in the middle lane and, especially, in Moscow and St. Petersburg,”Popov notes.
Tatiana Fedortseva lives in Taganrog, in the south of Russia. A small town with a population of 255 thousand people is located on the coast of the bay. For the past 25 years, she has been living in her husband's house with six rooms and does not want to return to live in an apartment: “Nowadays, residential areas are being actively built up with apartment buildings, and before that there was a lot of private sector: we have a large old town with houses of the 18th century. Now the ratio of private and apartment buildings is about 50 to 50”.
Many of those who buy or build houses in southern Russia come from the northern regions. Lyubov Aleksandrovna moved from Yakutia to Taganrog 10 years ago. “It was a dream to move south to old age,” she says. Her family bought a two-story house, 240 square meters, for four and a half million rubles. It was without interior decoration and communications, everything had to be completed by ourselves. Nearby there is a school, a kindergarten, a shop.
“About five years ago there was a very large movement of visitors here. They just called us on the intercom and asked if we were selling the house by accident,”she says.
The peculiarity of the Russian province is its large areas with a private sector, says Popov, but worn out, not always provided with all the necessary amenities. “Such housing, despite the fact that it is separate, is perceived as second-class housing. People sleep and see how to move out of there into "normal" housing - in their opinion, this is, as a rule, an apartment in an apartment building. Both the Soviet stereotype and urban planning policy and economics work for this idea."
About 22.6% of the Russian population does not have access to centralized sewerage systems, most of them use cesspools, according to a study by Rosstat. And, according to the same Rosstat, almost 40% of Russian residential buildings are in need of repair, reconstruction and demolition.
Over time, summer houses (summer cottages) also become less in demand. The pandemic, during which many tried to isolate themselves, the demand for dachas returned again, but this is unlikely to become a long-term trend, Alekseevsky believes: “The very idea of a dacha was a very important Soviet myth of prosperity. Now these dachas have begun to turn into burdens. Constant traffic jams to get there, and the resources to keep it in good condition, lead to the fact that everyone is trying to sell such houses, and no one wants to buy them."