What is communal living? It’s the sharing of an apartment or home by more than one family unit. Certain rules and schedules are generally worked out by the residents to make life more manageable.
It is not uncommon to have a relative or know someone who lives in communal apartments. Each room (bedroom) is pricey in large cities such as Moscow and for some is difficult to afford more than a bedroom or two. We have a closely related family who have two bedrooms of a 3 room apartment for 3 adults and 3 children. Admittedly having a grandmother living under one’s roof is a blessing for child care, but things get crowded at times since another family lives in the 3rd bedroom and shares the kitchen and bath.
The kitchen is scheduled and posted. Often each family has set times to use the kitchen. The entry has a coatrack and shoe cabinet for each family in which they hang coats and place shoes only in the space provided for their family. Even the shelves in the refrigerator are designated per family.
Bathing times are scheduled and there is “free” time also. Each family has their own toilet seat which are separated by colour and hung on the wall until needed.
Cleaning of the common areas such as the kitchen, toilet and entryway is done by weekly rotation. There must be common agreement on the playing of music and loudness of television volumes. Laundry (done in the bathroom) is also scheduled.
The history of communal living goes back much further than Soviet times. As far back as serfdom, Russians were used to communal living situations. Slowly but surely, communal living is disappearing but still very common for young families living with parents and seniors who share expenses.