Advantages of living in the suburbs

Many city dwellers live under the illusion than those who live a few kilometres from the capital pay less in the shops, as well as for accommodation and services. Suburbanites don’t tend to agree, although admit to certain advantages.
By Valeria Patrusheva

Olga Otto, 35, and her husband Ruslan, 36, saved for some time to buy a one-bedroomed apartment in Minsk, having been living with her mother. Olga tells us, “We wanted to buy a bigger flat but prices in Minsk were too high, so we decided to look at the suburbs. The cost was much lower and the conditions practically the same.”

Some years ago, the couple took a loan to build their apartment in Lesnoi (the administrative centre of Borovlyany’s Rural Council). “We took out a loan of nearly $20,000, for a ten year period, to buy a 79 square metre apartment, adding the remaining $60,000 from our savings,” Olga notes. “We now have a three-room apartment in a new building, with all conveniences: parking, a convenient driveway and a swing gate on the entrance to the court yard.”

Olga and Ruslan have certainly managed to save money compared with purchasing in the capital, comments Svetlana Kudelko, the Deputy Director for Second Hand Property Sales at Tvoya Stolitsa (Your Capital) Real Estate Agency. “In Minsk, a three-room apartment in a brick building with a swing gate, with fenced grounds and parking, will cost $2-2.5 thousand per square metre, depending on location and quality of finish. They would have paid about $180-200 thousand (rather than $80,000) for a 80 square metre flat in the capital.”

Furthermore, Borovlyany has all necessary infrastructure: medical clinics, pharmacies, shops, supermarkets, a fitness centre, a beauty salon and more. “We do all our shopping just by our home, where the prices are absolutely the same as in Minsk. Sometimes, there are discounts but, on average, we spend about Br700,000 a week — the same is in the capital. As regards food shopping, there are no advantages,” explains Olga.

It’s cheaper to buy in large supermarkets and discount stores, located nearby, notes Vitaly Runtso, a financial adviser with Personal Capital Consulting Group. “Due to large volumes and quick turnover, such shops can offer discounts. It’s cheaper to build them beyond city boundaries, since land is less expensive. Very often, they sell goods in small wholesale volumes, or with a discount, encouraging people to ‘bulk buy’. Of course, this increases the average sum spent, allowing the retailer to offer minimum price mark-up, of which residents of suburbs can take advantage.”

Traffic between Borovlyany and Minsk isn’t bad and both buses and a minibus taxi run. “My husband and I work near the ring-road, so it takes three changes on public transport. By car, it’s only fifteen minutes,” explains Olga.

Borovlyany borders the Prilepsky Landscape Reserve, offering plenty of scope for outdoor activities, which suits Olga. She’s now expecting a baby so is looking at preschool and other education in Borovlyany. “The only problem is finding a kindergarten, since there are no vacancies at the moment. There’s no problem in finding a school place and all are well-resourced. One new school even has a pool, with water aerobics classes organised.”

The Otto family has now lived in Borovlyany for about two years and really has little criticism to offer. They spend most of their spare money on the home. Olga tells us, “It will be so for at least the next two years, making improvements and buying furniture; we’re spending at least $600 a month on this. If there’s any spare money, we save. Living in the suburbs doesn’t really enable you to save much money but there are no extra expenses.”
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