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Real Estate

Making the Move Outside the MKAD
John Bonar

Giving up central Moscow amenities such as 24/7 access to clubs, restaurants and drinking dens, not to mention 24-hour supermarkets and corner shops to restock mid-cycle during prolonged parties can be a big wrench. For an increasing number of expats and Russians alike, the onset of stable married life and the expansion of family to include children and pets makes quality of life, greater privacy, cleaner air and water well worth the move.

If you have a job that requires you keeping office hours in Moscow, then the route to and from work is of paramount importance. To the North West of Moscow, better the eight lane highway of Novorizhskoye Shosse, the M-9 motorway, than the meandering country road of the Rublevskoye Shosse which could easily double your drive time to Moscow.

Of course thats immaterial if your office is on the Eastern edges of the city and you have to trek round the MKAD.

One European businessman, who had his company complex just south of the city, built a home north of Moscow. He tried every combination of transport, from having a driver at each end to drop him off and pick him up from the metro, to driving through and around Moscow for three hours, before he admitted defeat and moved back to the city. I had no life. I was getting up at four in the morning and getting home at ten at night, he lamented.

One of our most pleasant sojourns was the 14 months spent in a three story, 300 sq m concrete faced breeze-block house in a small village off the perpetually jammed Nosovikhinskoe Shosse, due East from Moscow. Here we enjoyed great country walks, a nearby lake and vast vistas of neglected farmland. Our dog roamed freely over the 20 Sotka of fenced territory, our neighbour sold us milk, tvorog, smetana and fresh eggs, water came from our own well and the efficient, if ungainly central heating ran from our own gas boiler.

The landlord wanted to sell it. We did not want to buy, because architecturally it was an eyesore, the interior design was idiosyncratic and the spaghetti wiring was dangerous with sockets blowing and so on. Eventually, someone willing to thoroughly renovate bought it and we had to move.

If you are moving to an independent dacha, brick cottage or traditional single story wooden izba then these are some of the things you have to consider, apart from transport: Power -one splendid house suffered power outages of up to 16 hours a day and regularly for four hours, five days a week.

Telecommunications - telephone service is sometimes unobtainable over fixed line and you have to use cellular. Even so, you may get fast radio Internet service from certain providers who advertise their services with notices nailed to trees in the areas where they operate.

Rubbish disposal if there is no municipal service you may have to cart it to the local dump yourself.

Security with more and more break-ins in country houses (as well as city apartments) you need to check your perimeter security and whether a security company provides a response service for your location.

Heating if you are planning to stay year-round, have the heating system checked. One pitfall is badly protected chimney tops which let the winter wind blow the fire in your boiler out. Another pitfall can be badly finished windows allowing icy air in, particularly with plastic windows set in log walls.

Snow clearing how hard will it be to keep the path from your front door to the front gate cleared in heavy
...our neighbour sold us milk, tvorog, smetana and fresh eggs...
snowfall? What about the street? Will the Municipality clear the snow or will you and your neighbours have to hire a plough? Will the snow plough (often a blade on the front of a tractor) eradicate your hard work and pile snow back up on your just-cleared routes from gates to street? Which way do the gates open? If they swing outwards, and you get a snow drift against them, how are you going to get them open?

Inna Alekseeva, PR Director for Real Estate Agency DOKI, says most people today are not like me, and prefer houses in residential complexes, not staying somewhere alone.

They expect the developer will solve all the problems concerning electricity, water, rubbish removal, heating, car parking and communications, including Internet service, she says.

Now, more so than in the past, they pay attention to the materials from which the houses are built. They prefer first of all brick-built homes, followed by wood

Landscape is a big influence. People like a river nearby, or access to natural forest. They are ready to pay more to live in natures lap, she told me.

The one big benefit of moving outside the MKAD is price, whether buying or renting.

If you are renting for year-round living a good rule of thumb is expect to get twice the space for the same quality house with furniture plus a garden for the same money you would rent an apartment in Moscow. Two of the 300 sq metre country houses I rented in the last four years averaged around USD 1,000 a month over the year.

If you want to buy, then metre for metre you will pay the same price as for an apartment in a dormitory tower block. You will enjoy clean air, fresh air, no noise pollution and usually a generous piece of private land.

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