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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dacha Rentals Grow as Builders Expand Market

VedomostiA hodgepodge of dachas in different styles and materials roosting among one another in a small settlement outside Moscow.
Driving around the dacha region outside Moscow these days is like a trip through the 20th century. Where uniformity once reigned, the outskirts of Moscow are now a jumble of different periods, from recently built brick houses surrounded by high, forbidding walls to the traditional wooden dachas that have not changed for decades.

Former Soviet citizens are at an advantage when it comes to weekend housing, having inherited their dachas from the government in 1991. For those without dachas of their own, the situation is a bit more complicated. Either cozy up to friends who have summer homes or spend the money and rent.

Luckily, renting real estate in the Moscow environs is only getting easier. Andrei Patrushev, PR manager of Penny Lane Realty, said high demand for rental options has pushed developers to widen the market.

"In 2002, developers started to show more interest in building housing settlements with homes specifically marked for rent," Patrushev said.

One of Moscow's high-end rental complexes, the Moscow Country Club, expects to complete nine new homes by the beginning of next year. And for renters who have not made it off the waiting list at other establishments, new developments are rapidly going up.

Prices have kept pace with the growing rental market. Few of the large real estate companies now deal with dachas and cottages for less than $1,000 per month. The formula, for the most part, is simple: the closer to the city, the more it costs.

According to figures provided by Penny Lane, houses at nearby rental developments such as the Moscow Country Club and Rosinka, both 15 kilometers from Moscow, cost between $5,000 and $10,000 per month. Renters at the popular Serebryany Bor development, located in Moscow proper, pay similar rates.

At the same time, the options for short-term cottage rentals are few.

"Renting out for short periods isn't profitable for us," said Andrei Mazharov of Kompaniya Terra, an agency that specializes in housing in the outskirts of Moscow. "We take a commission, and when a person rents for only a short time, they don't want to pay."

Not that there isn't demand for short-term rentals. John Wood, general manager of the Moscow Country Club, said there is nothing a Moscow dweller wants more over weekends and holidays than to get out of town for a breath of fresh air.

"If I'd had a hundred dachas during the holiday weekend, I'd have sold them all," Wood said, referring to the Independence Day celebrations in June.

But with much of the housing demand coming from foreigners looking to rent on a permanent basis, real estate agents generally forgo the short-term market.

A better option for weekend vacationers, Mazharov said, is to rent a room or even a small house at a rest center or sanatorium. With the real estate market preoccupied with long-term housing, arrangements of this sort must be made through tourist agencies or directly with certain establishments.

One such rest home, better known in winter for its downhill skiing, is Volen Sports Park. Forty-six kilometers from the Moscow Ring Road on Dmitrovskoye Shosse, Volen charges between $100 and $500 per weekend for private rooms and huts. Included in the tab is access to a swimming pool and tennis courts.

Another short-term possibility is Zavidovo, 2 1/2 hours from Moscow on the Volga River. Families looking for a spacious country retreat or friends who want to pool together for a weekend trip can choose from 83 dachas ranging from around $200 to more than $500 per weekend night.

Formerly a retreat for diplomats, the sanatorium was overhauled in 1997 and now has restaurants, bars and a sports complex. Zavidovo handles its own reservations and still has openings this summer.

Then again, there is always the option of bypassing the agencies and braving the private advertisement circuit. Pick up a copy of Iz Ruk v Ruki and thumb through real estate listings for homes outside Moscow. You will find everything from cottages for $5,000 a month to cheaper gingerbread huts more than a hundred kilometers away.

While landlords are probably looking for long-term renters, they will likely take a weekend renter if time is running out.

Of course, answering private ads is much riskier than renting through a real estate agency. With little more than a telephone number to identify them, crooked advertisers have been known to pass themselves off as landlords of nonexistent properties. Real estate agents regularly caution people to confirm that the property exists before signing a contract.