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While choosing an accommodation variant for a long term rent it is highly recommended to be aware of such characteristics as: building type, building entrances and stairwell.
Building type. There are four basic building types in St. Petersburg: pre-revolutionary, Stalin era, residential area buildings (sixties and seventies) and newly constructed.
Pre-revolutionary buildings are the true embodiment of the spirit of St. Petersburg. Some of them date as far back as the mid-eighteenth century. The majority of buildings in the city center are of pre-revolutionary extraction. They usually have an attractive fa?ade, main entrance from the front, and a servants’ entrance from the rear. The apartment ceilings vary from 3 to 4.5 meters and often have charming plaster work. The floor may still be composed of the original parquet. The front entrance is usually quite grand and sometimes sports a marble staircase. Apartments in these buildings may have antique porcelain stoves or fireplaces. Such buildings tend have undergone the so-called “capital renovation” which means that at some point over the past 30 years the city upgraded or replaced the building’s plumbing and electrical wiring and most likely reinforced or reconstructed the beams and other building support structures.
Stalin era buildings. These constitute entire regions of St. Petersburg outside the historic center. The sturdy-looking buildings date from the late 1930s to late 1950s. The ceilings are usually around three meters high. They have parquet floor, large and airy rooms, decent stairwells, and elevators.
Residential buildings. Residential buildings are the mass constructed blocks of flats that dominate the areas outside the center. They are composed of large, concrete slabs. The interior utilities tend to be in better condition than in most places in the center that have not undergone major renovation.
Newly constructed buildings. These buildings are mushrooming throughout the city at present. They usually have extra features such as modern elevators, western-style finishing, attractive entrances, and lobbies with security and doormen. The internal utilities are top quality as well. These, of course, also come with higher price tags.
Building entrances and stairwell. There are two basic types of building entrances: the main entrance and the entrance through the courtyard (“dvor” in Russian). Generally, the main entrances from the street are much more popular and fetch a premium in terms of rental price. They are usually the old, pre-Revolutionary main entrances that consist of a small foyer and the beginning of a relatively wide stone or marble staircase. In St. Petersburg the majority of entrances are still relatively dirty, dimly lit and require cosmetic renovation. There are still not many buildings with concierges or security. Be prepared to pay more for a good entrance.
The courtyard or” dvor”. Buildings in St. Petersburg consist of the main part of the building facing the street with an arch that allows cars and people to make their way to the back of the building and into the courtyard. There may be just one courtyard or there may be another arch leading to a second or sometimes third courtyard. Courtyards fall into three different categories: European renovated, which have undergone reconstruction and are paved with cobblestones or bricks; secondly, large, green court yards which consist of a large interior with perhaps a small garden area in the middle; and thirdly, small, dimly lit courtyards. In Russian there is a special word for this last type – the “well”. They are always dark. Most entrances from the courtyards or back entrances are quite narrow and have no foyer. As with the main entrances, depending on the neighbors, they can be either quite clean or quite dilapidated. The locks on the doors are also either coded or electric, intercom locks. Apartments can still be very nice if they have their windows facing the courtyard, provided it is of European style renovation or has a canopy of green.