Four families in one kitchen: how people really lived in U.S.S.R's "free" apartments

Anna OnishchenkoLife
"Free" Soviet housing

Fans of the U.S.S.R. often use the argument of free housing, which the state gave to its citizens for nothing in favor of the Soviet system. However, the reality was not as carefree as it is sometimes recalled.

Blogger Maxim Mirovich spoke about the realities of miserable Soviet housing, showing photos of how Soviet citizens actually lived.

People lived in free apartments without any rights and received ownership of the apartments only after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This housing could not be sold or exchanged. In addition, people could be evicted at any time.

The famous "Stalinist" apartments are often mentioned as a good example of free housing in the U.S.S.R., but it is usually not emphasized that only one room was designed for an entire family. That is, 2-4 families could live in a communal apartment, with a total of 5 to 25 people per apartment.

Kitchen in a Stalinist apartment

Only the Soviet nomenklatura, military, and other "service apparatus" could get the whole "Stalinka".

When Khrushchev came to power, he tried to solve the housing problem and said that each family would live in a separate apartment. However, the U.S.S.R. was a poor country, so it was impossible to build high-quality and comfortable housing for everyone.

Construction of the Khrushchev apartment blocks

Gray, miserable, cheap boxes began to appear in the union en masse. The corridors in the apartments were completely removed, the ceilings were lowered from 3 to 2.5 or 2.3 meters, and the bathrooms were combined. The kitchens were more like storage rooms in size. The only thing left was the minimum width of the stairs so that the coffin could be carried out without any problems.

Soviet kitchen

The same large families lived in these small rooms. Parents, several children, and grandparents could live in an area of 40-45 square meters with an incredibly small bathroom and kitchen.

A typical Soviet ''living room'' in a Khrushchev apartment building
Receiving guests in ''free'' cramped Khrushchev apartaments

What was called a "one-room apartment" in the U.S.S.R. was considered a studio for poor students in developed countries, and in the union, families of at least 3-4 people lived in such apartments.

Mother, father and three children in a small Khrushchev apartment building

A typical Soviet living room in a Khrushchev apartment is a narrow pencil case room, a polished wall that takes up a third of the room, a sofa, a TV, and about 5-6 square meters to accommodate a whole large family. Even if you imagine that there are at least two more rooms in the apartment, it is incredibly cramped.

Khrushchev apartment
Life in microscopic Khrushchev apartament

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