10. Know Your Budget
Understanding your budget for rent should include utilities. Expenses such as internet service, electricity, gas; and in some cases water and parking will dramatically increase your overall monthly living expense.
Many apartments for rent in Kiev do not include internet, electricity, gas, water and parking in the monthly rent cost. Therefore, it would be wise to ask your agent for specific details. Figure out exactly which utilities you require, see if these utilities are or are not included with the monthly rent; and then calculate the total cost.
Note: Many property descriptions will lead you into thinking various utilities are included in the rent – but often times require additional payment.
9. Heating /Cooling
The winters in Kiev are harsh. Actually, it is VERY harsh/COLD! Regardless if a property description states heating is available, make sure you get clear details. Most buildings have ‘Central Heating.’ This heating system utilizes water and heats the entire building. Central Heating works from October 15 to April 15. Sometimes it can be still cold before October 15 or after April 15, so if you plan to stay before or after these dates, check to see if other forms of heating is available – e.g. electric, fire place etc.
Many apartments do not have individual air conditioning units as the warm months in Kiev are quite moderate. However, Western influences in renovation and construction have instilled the value of having units fixed with individual air conditioning units. Make sure you ask your agent or the home owner (in detail) if the apartment has proper heating and cooling systems.
Unless you plan on purchasing a car in Kiev or having one shipped over, you will most likely get around using public transportation or taxi. The public transportation infrastructure in Kiev and throughout Ukraine is well structured. Metros (underground subway), trains, trolley-buses, buses, shuttle-buses (“marshrutkas”), taxis are all forms of Kiev’s public transportation. When deciding on an apartment to rent, find out where the closest Metro station is located as this will be your main means for transportation (especially for those who commute to work daily). Remember, the winters are harsh in Kiev and the last thing you want to do is walk long distances to and from Metro stations.
If you plan to own a car while residing in Kiev, having your own private parking spot would be convenient. Having a parking spot located underground is even more convenient (especially during winter months). Therefore, ask your agent or the home owner to give you information on parking for the apartment. If a private spot is not available, make sure adequate street parking is available. Having to spend time looking for a spot to park after a long day at work can be frustrating, time consuming, often times require long walks and may pose a security threat.
Most apartments come furnished. Get a complete detail of the type of furniture, appliances and see if anything you may specifically need is furnished. If you are looking for an unfurnished apartment, most agents will be able to negotiate with the home owner to remove some if not all the furniture.
If an apartment comes unfurnished but looking for one that is furnished, ask your agent if the owner will accommodate furniture for the apartment.
5. District (location)
As with most large cities in the world, Kiev is broken into various neighborhoods (“districts”). Spend some time and research the various districts of Kiev and look for an apartment that is within your budget as well as its distance to your work place/school, shopping locations, and places you may want to frequently visit during your downtime – parks, museums, churches etc.
4. Bedrooms / Bathrooms
Most agents will describe a property’s bedroom/bathrooms with a simple ‘rooms.’ If a property states it has 4 rooms, this may be 2 bedrooms and 2 bathroom; 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom; or any other combination. With that said, ask your agent to give you specific detail of the property’s number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Plan ahead. A minimum of one month notice should be given to your agent; so that he or she will find exactly what you are looking for (often times saving you money as well). Also, there are major festivities such as UEFA Euro Soccer and long holiday seasons that often times will limit you and your agent to find what you are looking for – poor planning/timing may also result paying premium prices for an apartment as many apartment owners will increase the price during specific festivities when apartments for rent are in high demand.
2. Contract/Lease Agreement
Most agreements are drafted in Russian and English (together) and notarized. Expect to sign a 12 month agreement as this is the norm. If there is a possibility that you may not need to reside in the apartment for a full term/agreement, ensure you ask the agent to put a clause in the contract/lease agreement that states the tenant(s) have the right to break the lease with no penalties should an agreed amount of time/notice is given.
1. Use a Real Estate Agency
Although the least inexpensive way to find an apartment for rent is dealing strictly with the owner, finding this information is close to impossible for foreigners. Usually property owners list their properties with local real estate agencies. A private real estate agent will give you invaluable advice, make all necessary negotiations with the landlord, draft contracts tailored to your needs, and most importantly, an agent will find exactly what you are looking.