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Green living in Moscow
With its inner-city factories and car-crammed streets, Moscow is not best known for its ecological cleanliness. But for those in search of a bit of fresh air, there are several areas that provide greener living.
Most of Moscow’s green spaces are located in the proximity of the city’s 20 biggest parks, such as Kolomenskoye or Neskuchny Sad. As the city gets busier and the number of cars increases, the appeal of living in these areas, especially for families with young children, is steadily growing.
“More and more families with children who don’t have the option of moving out of the city are looking to live in greener districts, where they can take their kids to the park and breathe the clean air,” said Yelena Lashko, director of development at real estate agency Usadba. “It creates an illusion of suburban life and makes people feel a little closer to nature.”
Perhaps surprisingly, living near green spaces doesn’t always have to weigh too heavily on your wallet. Anna Levitova, managing partner at Evans Property, said that while living in a green neighborhood can raise the value of a property by 5 percent to 15 percent, it has little effect on rental prices.
Green and central
An 18th century Hercules statue in Kuskovo park, east Moscow
The most expensive central green district is the southwestern area of Khamovniki, with its embankments, parks and woodland area at Sparrow Hills. Real estate prices start at 162,000 rubles ($5,800) per square meter and reach as high as 733,000 rubles ($26,000) for luxury dwellings. Rents start at 37,000 rubles ($1300) a month for a two-room apartment.
Alla Vishnevskaya, managing partner at the Universitet office of real estate company Miel, said that while ecological conditions are important, prices are much more determined by a property’s proximity to downtown Moscow.
“An apartment in [eastern] Perovo, despite its proximity to the wonderful Kuskovo Park, would cost much less than a flat overlooking the road somewhere at the end of Leninsky Prospekt,” Vishnevskaya said.
Strogino a favorite
Losiny Ostrov national park, north-east Moscow
To really escape the pollution of the city, potential buyers and renters have to set their sights a bit further away from the Kremlin.
“When it comes to the environmental cleanliness, Strogino is the undisputed leader,” said Alexander Ziminsky, director of the elite property department at Penny Lane Realty. “It is the most ecologically clean district of Moscow. Suffice it to say that [green spaces occupy] three-quarters of its total area.”
Located some 20 kilometers west of the Kremlin on the dark blue Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line, Strogino is an upmarket region near Serebryany Bor. The lake there has a yacht club and windsurfing school. Real estate prices range from 133,000 to 171,000 rubles ($4,760 to $6,100) per square meter, while rents start at around 30,000 rubles ($1,100) a month for a two-room flat.
In the neighboring Krylatskoye district, which also has a huge park, but is a bit closer to the city center, apartments cost from 137,000 to 181,000 rubles ($4,900 to $6,500) per square meter, and rents start at 35,000 rubles ($1,200) for a two-room place.
‘Essential for families’
Picnic time in Vorontsovo Park
Other slightly less green and slightly cheaper options are also available. Izmailovo in northeast Moscow and Orekhovo-Borisovo in the south are both built around huge parks with jogging tracks, bike rental facilities and children’s playgrounds. Apartments in both neighborhoods cost about 120,000 rubles ($4,300) per square meter, while rents start at around 30,000 rubles ($1,000).
Sokolniki and Losiny Ostrov National Park in the north-east also have some leafier rents, with retail prices of 160,000 rubles ($5,800) and 120,000 rubles ($4,300) per square meter, respectively.
Natalya Zyukova, 24, a speech therapist living in southwest Moscow, said living near a park is essential for families with young children.
“We live near Troparevo Park, and it’s very important to us,” Zyukova said. “If it wasn’t for the park, we might leave Moscow. We go walking there in summer and ski and sledge there in winter. It’s a big part of our life.”