| 22 June 2021, Tuesday | النسخة العربية

A Russian village prospers thanks to the pandemic

People from Moscow and from other cities have viewed the cost of their land as double as a refuge from the COVID-9 in which they can work at a remote location, in a picturesque Russian village.

A beautiful five street village, Krasnaya Polyana (Red Meadow) is located on the mountains by the Black Sea. It has good quality tap water, fresh air and big blue skies flanked by mountains, which in Moscow are difficult to find.

The village has a population of 5,000, a type of Russian village. What is unusual is the 20 cafés, restaurants, a pub, a bar and fast Wifi access.

Some of the restaurants existed before the pandemic to cater for skiers who use nearby resorts built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. But the locals decided to open year-round once they got over fears that visitors from Moscow would bring COVID-19.

Demand for second homes has fuelled a housing boom.

Russian land prices are assessed in 100 square meter units, or sotki. The price of one sotka in Krasnaya Polyana has risen to 5 million roubles ($68,000) from 2 million before the pandemic, Nikolai Rogachev, a local sales agent, told Reuters.

It is likely to hit 7 million by the end of 2021, he said, due to strong demand when overseas travel options are limited.

“We call it the zombie apocalypse,” another real estate agent said, referring to demand from city dwellers for any kind of property in the village and the quality of their social skills after months spent in their small urban flats.

Prices for cottages in the village vary from 40 million to 900 million roubles, according to the CIAN real estate database.

Demand comes mainly from wealthy businessmen from big cities as prices are beyond ordinary Russians.

Rents have also risen, driven by demand from people who work remotely and see Krasnaya Polyana as an escape from the city. The airport is a 40-minute drive and hiking trails start directly from the village.

“I enjoy hiking the mountain trails and being able to find pleasant company in local places in the evenings,” said Kirill Ryzhonkov, a data analyst from Moscow.

A co-working space opened in October, primarily for IT and start-up specialists.

Its owners expect Krasnaya Polyana to become a Russian Silicon Valley regardless of how the pandemic develops.

“People have already noticed the advantages: the same time zone as Moscow, a 2-hour flight to Moscow, skiing in the winter, the sea in summer and cool infrastructure left behind by the Olympics,” said Ilya Kreimer, manager of the co-working space.