Communal apartments of St. Petersburg – a unique phenomenon or an outdated way of life

Communal apartments of St. Petersburg – a unique phenomenon or an outdated way of life

The municipal system of St. Petersburg is a peculiar phenomenon, on the one hand, reflecting the rich history and culture of the city, and on the other – emphasizing some outdated aspects of everyday life. 

Why is St. Petersburg the capital of communal apartments? We tell you in the article.

The birth of a joint life

Communal apartments are strongly associated with the Soviet period, but they appeared in St. Petersburg even before the revolution.

The first communal apartments appeared in the 18th century, when people realized the benefits of such housing. Several families lived on the spacious living space, which significantly saved on rent.

In St. Petersburg, communal apartments could be found in apartment buildings. Rich citizens bought expensive land in the city center and built it up tightly in order to rent rooms in the future.

The Soviet housing issue

The active growth of communal apartments occurred after the revolution. The Soviet government nationalized all the rich houses, mansions of nobles and forcibly settled ordinary hard workers there. And if you think that one person lived in the same room with stucco, fireplace and expensive carpets, then this is not so.

One room was occupied by one or even several families. The rich decoration was removed, the stucco was sealed with boards and paint. One or two rooms were turned into a common space, where there was a kitchen and a bathroom. 

During the Khrushchev period, factory workers, teachers and doctors were given apartments in new and more modern houses for free. However, this did not prevent communal apartments from existing to the present day.

Communal apartments today

Communal apartments in modern St. Petersburg can be divided into three types:

- outdated and gloomy apartments that are not being modernized in any way by either the local authorities or the residents of these apartments. People in them continue to exist in uncomfortable conditions and are waiting for them to be relocated to separate housing;

- renovated and cozy “former communal apartments”, which were completely bought by one person and turned into spacious apartments;

- communal apartments, which were also bought by one person, renovated and turned into modern hotels, hostels or kolivings.

Why do people continue to live or voluntarily rent rooms in communal apartments? It's cheap compared to renting a studio apartment. Most communal apartments are located in the historical part of the city, in former apartment buildings or mansions of the nobility with luxurious exterior facades.

Communal apartments remain a unique phenomenon of St. Petersburg, and half a million people continue to live in them. Many travel companies conduct tours of them, telling about all the positive and negative aspects of living together. 

We also recommend that you visit one of these excursions to get to know St. Petersburg communal apartments better. However, to stay in the city, choose the Express Sadovaya Hotel with comfortable rooms and first-class service. You can book a room on the official website of Express Sadovaya Hotel.