Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yet another advantage of living out here in Debrecen is the real estate prices. I have an American style two-bedroom apartment (actually, it is owned by a Hungo-American couple) in a brand new development, replacing a decrepid old mill, near the center of town. Of course, in the middle of developing the street, they ran out of money in the great economic "krizis" of 2008, which hit Hungary especially hard. So, next to my building is the ruins of a mill. If I wanted to stay in Hungary past June 1st, when my Fulbright grant runs out, I would try and open a "romkert" - a ruins beergarten, like the ones in Budapest. It is the one thing Debrecen lacks!
Although I wish I was having the 'genuine' experience of living in a pánellákas flat or the 'authentic' experience of living in a fin-de-siécle Hapsburg building apartment, my living conditions are quite, ahem, comfortable. Far more comfortable than anything I will be able to afford in the States in the next twenty years. If I were in Budapest, the same rent would get me a cubby with no hot water. I actually have a shower here! And functioning heat that I can control from within my own apartment. In Hungary, thermostat is worth its weight in gold - most communist-built cement panel houses have central heat controlled by the building master. He often turns up the heat past 80 deg F, as with bigger heat bills comes a bigger profit.Added to the fact that the Russian Gazprom controls all gas and gas prices, and it turns out most families pay more than their rent each month in gas heating. Shelter may not be expensive, but warm air is!

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