When I began my search for an apartment in Kyiv, I threw all of my expectations out the window. Why? Because that was the only way I was going to be able to find a place.
Versatility is Key
Welcome to Ukraine, the land where any piece of house furniture is considered a “bed”. Or, the land where any room is considered a bedroom. Let’s play a game: what do you call a room with a table and chairs, a piano, and a china cabinet? If you guessed “dining room” you’re wrong. That, my friends, is a bedroom. I know this because that is the exact room I rented in a Kyiv Airbnb whilst I began my search for long-term accommodation.
On the Move
Two weeks later I left my Airbnb behind and checked into one of Kyiv’s many pristine hostels. I faced my fears as I was greeted with: “Sorry – no hot water. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not.” I had a flashback to stories of my parents’ visit to Ukraine in 1991; could there really be 28 years between our experiences? After one week of cold water and listening to my one-legged roommate yelling Russian curse words in the middle of the night, it was time to get serious. So I did what any expat would do: I called a Ukrainian friend for help.
Soon I was walking into an old apartment building to have a look at a room that was listed online. Let’s have another round of our game, shall we? What do you call a room with a desk, piano, couch, and two armchairs? Whatever you’ve guessed is wrong. This, of course, is a bedroom. And no, the piano hasn’t been in tune since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Rental options within my budget were slim, and I was growing more desperate by the hour, the picture of my one-legged hostel roommate seared into my memory. It became very apparent to me that sacrifices were going to have to be made (in my case, a washing machine).
My friend assured me that there would always be a price to pay… Great location but no washing machine; washing machine but no glass on the bedroom window; glass on the bedroom window but power outages when the vacuum and washing machine are running at the same time. How much was I willing to sacrifice for a washing machine? I reached deep into my soul and decided I was a strong independent woman and did not need a washing machine.
Focusing on the Bigger Picture
If there’s one thing that traveling and living in Ukraine have taught me, it’s that the necessities of life are very simple. Sometimes a questionably comfortable couch-bed and out-of-tune piano are all you need.