This week’s blog is a continuation of the blog I did earlier on moving to Russia that focuses more on the practical issues that we are continuing to discover after having lived in Russia for three months. After the blog I did on why move to Russia I have received several more inquiries from folks considering a move to Russia or at least interested in more of the details on life here. Apparently there are more people interested in that topic than I thought. I apologize for the repetition of some thoughts I began in the earlier blog.
This week was very difficult because we moved. Our first apartment was only available for three months, so we knew we would have to move by September 1. Our “new” apartment is a bit smaller, but we like it much better. Our present landlords, who have been very helpful, remodelled it in a more open floor plan and lighter colors. We really like it. As I have mentioned before, one of the most difficult aspects of moving from America to Russia is that living quarters are, in general, significantly smaller. The fact that we had gotten tired of the “clutter” that just seems to be a part of American life helped us let go of things we realized we did not need. If you are a horder or just like to keep a lot of old things for memory (or whatever) living here would be very difficult. You do not have room in Russian apartments to store unnecessary stuff. I have noticed Russians are very creative in maximizing shelving space, however! And you are not limited completely to what you can store in your apartment because there are storage units (garages) you can buy.
We moved most of our things ourselves from one apartment to the other, but we did hire three men to move the really heavy stuff. It was literally the Russian version of “three men and a truck.” We packed ten suitcases as full as possible with clothes and other items for them to move. We also had them move some of the heavier boxes and two or three items of small furniture. We moved from one fifth floor apartment to another fifth floor apartment. Those three guys really had to work hard! They charged us a total of $41.50. I should have hired them to move everything! It is not difficult to find “day laborers” for the heavy lifting (literally) you need done at very cheap rates like that.
Right now the economy is doing fairly well (contrary to what you read in the press) and more people are wanting to buy homes and apartments. Therefore, the apartments on the lower levels are being bought. Those, like us, who just want to rent right now end up taking the inconvenient upper levels. They are often cheaper, however, so there is a good side. If we had been able to sell our home in America before we moved, we probably would have bought an apartment. Each family has to make that decision based on their financial resources. As I have said, we have enough room for our family of five, and we pay about two hundred dollars a month for rent.
I continue to be amazed at the low prices of most things here in Russia. This week I had to go to an Ear/Nose/Throat specialist for an ear condition that is chronic, but not serious. He cleaned and checked my ears in a very thorough manner. He charged me 500 rubles, which is about $8.35! The same procedure in America at my GP’s office cost me $180.00. The facility here was much nicer than when I had had to go the doctor before when I was in Russia. It was very clean and modern. It is a “polyclinic,” which is not a hospital, but has more doctors and specialists than a regular “doctor’s office” in the States. The one we go to is privately owned, as opposed to the ones run by the government. We continue to be pleased with our medical care here and certainly with the cost of the care and medicines we need.
Also we needed to buy all new furniture since this apartment is not furnished. The apartment does have a refridgerator and washing machine. We had to buy furniture for two bedrooms and one large den and some kitchen items, e.g, table, toaster oven, dishes, as well as all those “little things” which are necessary for getting a new place ready to live in. Not all the furniture we wanted was available immediately. One store, a chain called “Expert,” has good merchandise at good prices, but does not keep a lot of inventory. One can view their furniture (and most anything else) on their website and either they build it or have it built, and then deliver in one to two weeks. On the other hand, I was surprised that most stores, especially appliance stores, have such large inventories. I wrote of the difficulties we had with shipping a pallet earlier. After buying furniture and appliances here I would recommend not shipping unless absolutely necessary and buy what you need after you get here. To give folks an idea of costs, I would say we spent no more than $1,500 for all the furniture and appliances we needed . . .
Read the full article here: Settling In to Our Life in Russia