As per request, I am starting this thread about growing up in Soviet Russia and post-Soviet Russia. The majority of my childhood was in Soviet Russia since I moved to America in the mid 90’s for grad school and decided to stay. Anyone else who would like to share their experiences with moving to America, or growing up in another country I would love to hear your tales. Also, any questions anybody may have, feel free to ask. This is a large topic, so I will do so in several posts starting with growing up in the Soviet Union, going to university (I started university before the fall of the Soviet Union and finished after.), and life in Russia post-Soviet Union.
I come from a family of 5: Mom, Dad, older brother, me, younger sister. My parents are both highly educated, or “Intelligentsia” Dad is an engineer and Mom is a mathematician and chess grandmaster. This does not hold the same significance that it does in America. Intelligence and education were not highly valued in the Soviet Union, the emphasis was on the workers. In America, my parents would have been in the top tier of income and social status. In the CCCP, the combined monthly income for our family was about 350 rubles a month (the average was between 400-450 and the highest earners got about 600-650). We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment that was no more than 50 square meters (appx. 540 sq ft) if that. My parents had their own bedroom and bed and me, my brother and sister slept in the other room. Before my sister was born, my brother and I shared the bed. After my sister was born, she slept in the bed and my brother and I slept on the floor.
Now, housing in the Soviet Union didn’t work the same as it does in America. Even if my parents had the money to buy a bigger place, the waiting list for an apartment (unless you were a high ranking party member or friend of one, you could forget about a house) was usually decades. Since we were intelligentsia, it would have been decades. Most people lived with their parents until their 30’s or 40’s just because of the waiting list for apartments. In many cases, it actually was faster to wait for a parent to die and inherit their apartment. It was also not uncommon for parents to “trade down,” which is where, say, a couple has a 3 bedroom apartment. They could trade that for two one bedroom apartments and gift one to their child. This usually happened when children of “wealthy” parents got married.
My next post will deal with food.