What you must have for safety and comfort in your Moscow apartment.
When you rent an apartment in Moscow you will have your own checklist of items and conditions to suite your family needs. Make sure to have below items on your checklist, as they will make your stay in Moscow more comfortable and free of hassles you perhaps have never dealt with in a place you relocate from.
Air conditioner. Summer in Moscow is hot with temperatures getting to +30 and higher. Apartment buildings made of concrete and bricks accumulate heat easily and you boil inside. Keeping windows open might not be an option because of street noise and air pollution. Outside air may be just too uncomfortably hot and opening window simply does not help. Especially if your apartment windows facing West, and sunset goes directly into your windows, your apartment will feel like burning furnace in summer. Air conditioner does the job of making you feel comfortable in your apartment. Another use of air conditioner is between seasons. This is a time when it is cold outside, but central heating is not on. Heating function on your air conditioner becomes real handy to make you feel warm.
Water boiler. Unlike many other countries, in Russia hot water and heating supplied centrally. Large electric/heat plants produce and pump hot water to all apartments in town. This requires complex infrastructure like heating plant equipment, pumps, many kilometers of pipes with valves and so on. All this infrastructure requires regular maintenance and renewal and it happens in summer. Every year in summer hot water is shut off for 1-2 weeks for maintenance. This means no hot shower, washing hands and doing dishes in the cold water. Boiler eliminates the problem.
Mosquito nets. Spring through autumn Moscow is full of flies and mosquitos. Not having nets on your apartment windows means you will have mosquito bites every night and insect guests throughout the day. Location of the apartment building does not matter, so if apartment owner tells you there are no mosquitos in the area it’s a lie. Mosquito nets prevent unwanted insects from visiting your apartment.
Another function of the mosquito net is preventing cigarette butts and small trash from accidentally flying into your windows. Neighbors living upstairs from you can be not very mindful about this and throwing things out their window. Sometimes it’s not just small pieces of garbage, but larger cans and bottles thrown out the window. Yes, this happens.
Blackout drapes. In spring and summer Moscow day starts at 4 o’clock in the morning. The sun goes down around 10 in the evening. This makes night time, when it’s dark, real short in Moscow, you get like 5-6 hours of dark in June, at best. Many locals feel just fine sleeping when it’s not dark outside. If you are from the area where there is more balance between day light and night darkness you might have sleep issues. Sleep issue is something you absolutely do not want to have as good sleep is a primary mechanism for coping with stresses of living in a new place. Blackout drapes become handy to solve this problem. Blackout drapes are made of special multi-layered cloth that blocks out sunlight completely. If you close blackout draped in the middle of a sunny day, your room will become completely dark. Having blackout drapes closed at night stops early morning daylight from waking you up at 4 in the morning. As a positive side effect, blackout drapes provide extra soundproofing and this benefits good night sleep as well. Blackout drapes can be made by order (pricey), or purchased in household stores, for example, Ikea stocks them.
Humidifier. In winter intense central heating and not so humid outside air produce very dry air in Moscow apartments. Windows are closed in winter because of cold, no enough of humid outside air gets inside. If no humidifier is used, humidity inside an ordinary Moscow apartment in winter is somewhere around 15%. This is not Sahara, but it has detrimental effect on skin and hair, increases dust in the air and creates certain difficulties breathing. If you rent an apartment and it does not come with a humidifier, buy one, it’s a very inexpensive piece of equipment, sold in most electronic stores.