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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prices Push Buyers Beyond MKAD

Muscovites are increasingly buying up apartments in the Moscow region, the only place left where they can realistically find an apartment for less than $100,000.

But it's not just about price. Some city dwellers appear to be moving to find more space, cleaner air and sometimes even a quicker commute.

In the past few months, the number of apartments being built in some areas of the Moscow region has grown faster than in the city as a whole.

The prices of so-called economy class apartments are being climbing 1 to 2 percentage points faster than the Moscow average in the towns of Krasnogorsk, Khimki, Korolyov and Mytischi, local real estate brokerage Vesco Realty said.

This has seen growth rates reach between 13 percent and 15 percent per month for apartments in towns within 10 kilometers of the Moscow Ring Road, which roughly marks the city limits.

Moscow city apartment prices shot up by about 10 percent in May before falling to 6.7 percent in June, according to IRN.ru, a web site that tracks the market.

"Those people with less than $100,000 are being forced to go into the Moscow region," said Taras Pazyak, who specializes in Moscow regional apartments at MIEL, a real estate agency. She said the latest surge started in the fall.

Cheaper apartments cost from $2,800 to $3,500 per square meter within the city limits, while apartments can be bought for $1,600 to $2,000 per square meter in satellite towns, said Ivan Lyasnikov, a spokesman for Vesco Realty.

While MIEL is offering a 44 square meter apartment in Kuzminki, about 10 kilometers southeast of the Kremlin, for $134,000, it is offering an apartment of the same size for $78,000 at Kotelniki, about 18 kilometers from the center of Moscow, just southeast of the city limits.

But it is not just prices that are pushing people out of the city. The clean air of the Moscow region is popular with those who don't need to commute to the center, Pazyak said.

In fact, it is quicker to get to the center of Moscow by commuter train than by bus or metro in less accessible parts of the city, he said.

Furthermore, Pazyak said, worries about a possible plunge in the value of the dollar has scared people into investing their cash in real estate. For Muscovites with less than $100,000 on hand, the Moscow region is the obvious choice.

Others are trading prestigious apartments in the center for larger ones or two smaller ones in the region.

Around 60 percent of residences in the Moscow region are used full-time, said Zhana Sherbakova, who follows elite property for MIEL. "The infrastructure is getting better," she said. "In many cases there is not much difference between living in Moscow or the Moscow region."

That does not mean that Moscow is going out of style, however.

"Everyone wants to live in Moscow, everyone wants to have easy access to work, to send their kids to Moscow schools and to recover in Moscow hospitals. But it costs a lot to live in Moscow," Lyasnikov said.