Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Belgrade Stan-Search Search Renewed: Avoiding Dreaded Duplex

The vast majority -- 90% or more it seems -- of apartments in Belgrade Serbia only have one or two real bedrooms. (As opposed to living rooms called bedrooms by the realtor.) On one hand it makes sense, Yugoslavia's vast building projects of the 1960s-80s created as many apartments as possible to meet overwhelming need. Smaller apartments means far more apartments per building.

On the other hand, it makes no sense because unlike people in Paris or New York, the vast majority of Serbs live with their families. People don't tend to live alone, nor do they leave home when they turn 21... or 31... or sometimes even when they get married. Families are jammed into their apartments, with most children sharing bedrooms, and permanently sleeping in the living room is perfectly normal.

The problem comes when you are an effete Amerikanka who wants to have a living room that's dedicated to being a living room, as well as separate home offices for you and your husband because your jobs do not play together nicely (his demanding quiet concentration, mine hours on the phone), and an actual bedroom just for sleeping. That adds up to what a Serb realtor would consider a 3.5 or 4 bedroom apartment.

Of which there are a very small number, and even fewer actually on sale at the moment. Or ever really.

Of these, the majority are what I call the "dreaded duplex" where the owners of a top-floor apartment broke through their ceiling to create a set of rooms in the attic. The rooms have heavily slanted ceilings, following the roof's slope, and the windows are often what they call "vertical" which means they are more like skylights set at an angle than a window you can look out of.

I truly am not a picky person. But I deeply desire a flat ceiling and a window with a view. I've also always thought the most delicious part about living in an apartment - as opposed to a house - is the lack of stairs. No running up and down looking for a pair of missing glasses, or carrying laundry, or lugging a vacuum cleaner.

So I have told my husband "NE DUPLEX". Ne, ne, ne, ne. And some more "ne" after that.

This leaves a tiny handful of four-bedroom stans available for us in Belgrade. All of which he will spend the next few weeks inspecting while I work away at my job in America. Both of us missing each other like crazy. Real estate, bah!


Anonymous said...

you are hilarious :) this is why we r building our american style home, family room + living room! beat that ;)

and 1 master bedroom, 3 bedrooms, and a study all with the built in closets everyone takes for granted back in US, and no one has here in Serbia

Rosemary Bailey Brown said...

Built-in closets -- something even I never dream of adding to our want-list for a Serbian stan because it would be *impossible* to find!

Anonymous said...

hehe yup, i know :) I've been to probably over 100 different places here and never seen built in closets, just always the massive closets they place in the room and lose valuable room space..

thank god for the ability to build your own :)))

Anonymous said...

Sounds like what you want will be very expensive, if it can even be had, in Serbia. Good luck, though!