A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

A virtual tour of my apartment

I apologize for the long delay. Finally, I can welcome you into my Dnepropetrovsk home! First, I have to let you into the building itself.

Like most residential buildings in this city, there are 10 buttons in the outside door, and only residents supposedly know the combination (which two to hit at the same time).

This is a kind of pointless security measure, however, since most people leave the door open when they leave or since you can see which two buttons have been hit more than the others, as they are a different color. In any event, walk through my rather dilapidated lobby…

…and up two flights of stairs.

Mine is the door on the right.

After I open this door with one of my three keys, you can step into the hall that I and my next door neighbor share. Mine is apartment number 20, straight ahead.

There are two locks for this door, although one of them broke on me last week (I couldn’t get out of the apartment, actually! I was about to leave to go to pilates with Lena, and I couldn’t open the door. I called Amir, who called one of the drivers, who are also our fix-it-all handymen, and Gena came over and nearly broke the door down after 10 minutes of pushing and pulling. Finally, he got it open, and we figured out that the top lock doesn’t work. Amir will have to get it fixed he says, although honestly, I only use one lock anyway). Well, come on in!

Please take your shoes off. I’m sorry I don’t have slippers for you, like most Ukrainian homes would. You see that reddish mat on the floor on the right, just past the first closet (this is the closet where I keep all my cleaning supplies)? That’s where you came in from, the front door (the only door). Please place your shoes there. If you’ll make a right, I’ll hang up your coat in my coat closet.

Directly behind you is my bedroom. Let’s take a peek inside.

This is my enormous closet. It’s actually three closets, two for hanging clothes and one for linens and blankets. Open one of them, if you’d like.

My bed is to your right.

Properly decorated, of course!

And here’s a view of my bureau, vanity, night table, and on the right, the closets again.

Oh my goodness! I’m so rude, I forgot to ask: do you need to use the bathroom? Come, let me take you there. It’s right across from the front door where you came in. (On the left, that’s a washing machine, quite a luxury to have my own. No drier, of course, that would be almost absurd! You can vaguely see the white drying rack above the pink towel where I hang my delicates. The rest of my clothes hang on the line on the balcony.)

When you’re done, meet me back in the hall and we’ll continue the tour.

Straight ahead is the kitchen. It’s a little small, but it’s got everything I need: fridge, microwave, (please ignore the broken drawer; it was like that when I arrived, and I just don’t care enough to get it fixed) sink, drying rack, water heater, stove, oven…

…and a lovely little sitting area! It only comfortably fits two, but I never have more than one other person over to eat, anyway, so it’s not a problem.

To your right, as you face the kitchen, is the living room, the room where I spend the majority of my time.

Everything you see here was provided by JDC when I arrived! I didn’t realize beforehand that they would give me a PC with high speed internet, as well as a CD sound system (although the CD player doesn’t work, but I only use it for radio anyway, as I have my laptop for American music), a TV, and a DVD player (although look closely– you’ll see I haven’t installed it yet. I only have US films, which I play on the laptop. When I understand enough Russian to make it worthwhile, I’ll start buying pirated DVDs on the street– they sell them everywhere– and I’ll hook up the DVD player to watch them).

Isn’t this bureau beautiful? It’s full of little chatchkas and some Judaica pieces, random JDC paperwork in Russian, and more linens. You can see my small book collection on the bottom left, mostly Russian dictionaries and verb tables.

This is my balcony. Not much of a view, and not really for sitting or anything, but it’s perfect for hanging clothes, and it allows me to check out the temperature in the morning, since it’s always freezing in the apartment, even if it’s +20 C outside.

Here’s my couch. It’s really comfy, and there are warm down blankets in the linen closet in my bedroom. I’ll quite often curl up here for a nap or to pass out for the night, when I don’t feel like sleeping in my enormous bed with only Hobbes for company.

I really love this room. It’s well lit and beautifully decorated, very comfortable and yet classy.

Well, that’s the end of our tour. Incredible place, no? It’s great by any standards, but compared to many people here in Dnepropetrovsk, I’m living like a queen. I have my own hot water, two electric heaters in addition to the radiators which emit the city-controlled heat, in addition to my cell phone I have a Ukrainian land line and will have a local NY 917 number as soon as the IP connection gets fixed, and not only is there a computer, but there’s also high speed internet. These are luxuries that few here can boast. I’m very lucky, indeed.



  Alexander wrote @

The apartment you live in belongs to very rich (in Ukraine) people. It’s, as we Ukrainians, call it, eurostandard apartment. Thanks for showing your apartment. It’s very nice. I’d like to visit your apartment once because it looks very cosy. The only thing that I can’t agree with you is your saying “Like most residential buildings in this city, there are 10 buttons in the outside door…”. The door with this ancient code lock forces a smile even on my face. And it makes me think that you never visit other districts in our city, so called residential areas, like Topol, Pobeda, Levoberezhny, where residents long time ago installed special front doors with electromagnetic locks and every resident of a particular house has a key.
Anyway, greedy people happen to live even in the outskirts of Dnepropetrovsk. For example, they buy first class cars and live in third apatments – Ukrainian paradox.
I hope you like this little essay. I could have told you more about Dnerpopetrovsk in person.
Enjoy our city! 🙂

  chanteuse428 wrote @

Thanks, Alexander, for pointing out an important piece of information the applies to the whole blog. My experience in Dnepropetrovsk is almost entirely limited to the center of the city. When I said “Like most residential buildings in this city…” I really should have said, “Like most residential buildings IN THE CENTER of the city…” Readers should please keep this in mind in reading this and any blog post when trying to imagine a complete picture of life in Dnepropetrovsk.

  sdc wrote @

Lovely to give those outside UKraine a view as to the essence of an appartment in Dnepropetrovsk ( I can vouch that the lnterior layout and furniture is how mos Ukrainians make their home ).

I have a couple of questions which would be helpful to me right now
!) How low have the teperatures been and has it been sustained ?
2) What is your take on the cost of living over the last few months ?

  chanteuse428 wrote @

1) I am told that after New Year’s, it was as cold as -20 C for a week, but I was thankfully in Israel during that time, so I missed it. I returned to the usual -5 C or so that it’s been for the past few months, pretty much without any break or respite.
2) Honestly, I can’t say. My housing is provided for by JDC, so I’m not in the business of investigating rents and other housing options. I can tell you that, in general, it is pretty expensive to live in the center of the city, rather comparable to many American cities (not the major metropolises), but I don’t know how the tanking economy has affected the housing market. I do know that, whereas before the crisis, Ukraine and especially Dnepropetrovsk were investing heavily in construction, there is now a freeze on many of these projects. Additionally, what with the large number of layoffs in eastern Ukraine of late, homelessness is on the rise. For more specific information, I invite you to subscribe to Business Ukraine (a notoriously pro-Ukraine magazine) and read their real estate section.

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