House Hunters International: Minsk, Belarus

(We were given a $1150 budget by the Fulbright Program)

House #1: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
We started with a 3 bedroom 1 bath apartment on the edge of the city center, close to shops and a trolley stop.  The outside of the building was run down, with peeling paint, and rusty metal doors and window frames.  The courtyard was overgrown by bushes and weeds.  I was sure we were in the heart of the ghetto, but Vadim and Mila assured me that it was a very safe part of town.  We entered the building through a heavy rusty door into a dimly lit hallway.  At the end was an elevator big enough for approximately 1.3 people.  However, when we reached the apartment, I was pleasantly surprised to find a brightly lit, clean space.  Parquet floors and high ceilings gave a feeling of extra space.  Most of the doors opened off of a central entryway, including a well stocked kitchen with a full size fridge.  One side of the apartment had enclosed balconies all along it. The décor was a bit dated and mismatched, but I left feeling like it was a possibility.

House #2: Center City with View
This 3 bedroom/1.5 bath apartment was right in the middle of the city center, with gorgeous views of the river from several windows.  The exterior of the building and the elevator were both huge improvements over house #1.  The apartment opened into a spacious entryway with an Italian looking mural on the wall.  A HUUUUUGE closet came off one side, and the living room/kitchen combo off the other.  There was a nook with a dining room table that could fit our whole family.  The kitchen was nice, but the fridge was only half size.  The bedrooms were nicely decorated, with one pink room that Mikayla quickly claimed as her own!  Both sides of the apartment had balconies.  Everything about the house was beautiful…including the $2000 china set.  While the house was centrally located, it was a fairly long walk to public transit.
$1200 (discount because it was actually a sublet.  Normal rent $2000)

House #3: Close to Metro
We had a longish drive to the next apartment.  We went past the National Library of Belarus, almost to the edge of the city.  A metro stop was right in front of the apartment building, something that would make getting around the city much easier.  There was a shopping center across the road with a grocery store, Dominoes Pizza, Sbarro, Burger King, and more.  The three bedroom/1.5 bath apartment was laid out very similarly to House #2.  A large living room with a good size dining table was on the right, and a half bath and another huuuuuge closet was on the left.  The kitchen was also on the right, and three bedrooms and a full bath were in the back. Two bedrooms had nice desks ready to go.  Both sides of the apartment had balconies and one of the balconies overlooked a playground for the apartment complex.  The décor was nice, although not as fancy as House #2.

House #4: Doesn't like Americans
This apartment was a bit out of the way and not very close to public transit, two big strikes right from the start.  There were actually four bedrooms, which is even bigger than our house in Richmond!  The layout of the house was nice, with balconies on both sides again.  As I looked at the balcony, the landlord told us about the Americans who had stayed there before and tried to barbeque on the enclosed deck and let their children play football in the living room, and how he isn't sure he wants to rent to Americans again.

It came down to House #2 or #3.  In the end, we decided on house #3.  The main reasons were the proximity to the metro; the furniture was more suited to our needs (desks for homeschool and for Steve to work, nice but mostly kid friendly furniture, bigger fridge, etc); and it’s $200 cheaper.   It is wonderful to be right on the metro line and to have groceries and restaurants right across the street.  The apartment feels amazingly spacious!  Not at all like I was expecting a city apartment to feel.  Below is a picture tour 😊  I feel so blessed to be living in a place like this.  There is no way we could do this without Steve’s hard work which led to receiving the Fulbright award.

We are on the fourth floor of this building, all the way to the right:

We have a nice “mud room” entryway for the stroller, shoes, coats, etc. 

As you come in the main door, there is an inside entryway with a wardrobe, a bathroom and closet on the left and living room on the right.  I’m a little nervous about that white leather couch…

First door is the half bath.  Yes it really is that red!  And yes, that is a bidet.  No, I have not been brave enough to use it.

The next door is a huge closet that we made Johanna’s room.  I feel a little guilty sticking the baby in a closet, but really, what on earth do you do with all those shelves?!?! We got her pack-n-play at a toy store called Буслик (Boosleek).  It says both “My Farm” and “Base Ball” on the sides (in English).  Now I just need to figure out where to buy a nighlight for her.

Across from those doors is the Living/Dining room.  It is quite large!  I think the couch could fit pretty much the entire Petersheim family it's so big. 😛 Johanna has discovered the joys of opening drawers and doors, so her favorite toy at the moment is the TV stand.

The kitchen is through a door from the living room and has a door going out onto one of the balconies.  Thankfully the balconies are closed in so no one can fall!  There is a small dishwasher in one of the cabinets, as well as a microwave, stovetop, and oven.  And “coffee machine” of course.  The rooms in this place are huge, but the appliances are tiny! 

The balcony:  Great for dinner, morning coffee, home school...

The view from the balcony: (it's not as beautiful as the view from House #2, but still pretty cool!)

Across the hall from the kitchen is our bedroom with the door onto the other balcony.  Our bedroom is always the messiest room in the house.  I can't even blame the kids for that! My goal for the four months we're here is to learn to keep our room clean. lolThere are no dryers around here, so the drying rack will get a lot of use!  Or maybe I just won't do laundry 😇 The playground is below this balcony.  It is fenced and locked, just for residents of this building, so it’s never too crowded.  It's also a great way for the kids to interact with other kids, work on their Russian, and hopefully make some friends 🙌

Beside our room is the older girls’ room.  They were excited about the cheetah print blanket and cool light.  The colors in this apartment are...eclectic...

At the end of the hallway is the full bath, complete with washing machine (tiny!) and spaceship shower (huge!).  All the apartments and our hotel had heating racks for towels (that thing above the washer).  I've been using it to dry some of our clothes since there is no dryer. Side note:  I actually love the dandelion tiles.  My dad liked dandelions, and I do too.

Ethan’s room is across the hall.  This will also be our homeschool room, but I think we will sit out on the balcony too sometimes.
The kids fight over who gets to take the trash to the garbage shoot.  As you can see, it fits about a handful of trash at a time, so there is typically plenty for them all to get a turn!

This is the view from the front of our building where we take our trash.  The store with the red letters in the middle is a grocery store.  There is Domino’s Pizza on the left and Burger King on the right. 😀
I'm amazed that we are living here.  Amazed to be in a foreign country, amazed to have somewhere so big and so nice, and so glad to be right beside the metro so that we can easily explore the rest of the city.  Our couch pulls out into a bed, so come know, if you just happen to be in Eastern Europe or something.  Or if you want an excuse to travel!


  1. Thank you so much for sharing with us! Love it!

  2. Your apartment is amazing! I can't wait to show the class where Mikayla is living. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. your good humor will take you far as you navigate your new home!


Post a Comment