Is There a Toilet? -- Flat Hunting in Prague

So, I have to move this summer. My current landlords--a very nice couple in their 70s--have a son who is 50 and just got divorced. Currently, he is living with them in their small flat, and...well, that's unsustainable. So, my little flat will go to him, and I will go...somewhere else.

Flat hunting in Prague is a unique adventure. The market is usually very competitive, so if you think you might want a flat, it's best to take your deposit money with you--in cash--when you go for the tour. Some landlords, especially those who cater to expats and students, can be rather unscrupulous, and with leases having to be written in Czech by law, it's easy to sign something you don't understand that might cost you later. Others will declare directly in the posting that they won't rent to "foreigners."

Moreover, the apartments themselves are...interesting. During the Communist Era, if you wanted repairs or rennovations done, you would make a request to the central authority. And you would probably be told, "Sure, we might be able to get to you in 6 months. Or a year. Maybe." As a result, a lot of Czechs just did things for themselves, and still do, leading to a lot of weird, irrational, and downright bizarre living conditions.

For example...

Notice anything?

Here we have a pretty common layour for a Czech studio--a 1+kk, meaning there is one room, plus a "kuchyňský kout"--a kitchen corner or kitchenette. And, of course, the free stnading shower right as you walk in. Wait...what?

Also, I am pretty sure that's mold under the counter...

Yeah, there's no bathroom. So, instead, the shower was plopped in the corner, just to the right of the electric burners. This, obviously, raises the questions--where's the toilet? The answer is, honestly, I don't know. It's not in any of the 4 photographs posted of the flat. My *guess* is that the toilet is to the immediate right as you walk in.


There seems to be a curtain or something there, and it would make sense given the water pipes in the corner. Now, obviously, this space wasn't intended to be a flat--while it's on groud level, the only window is the one directly above the front door, for example, and no sane person *plans* not to have a bathroom. But someone had the space--which is in a great location--and decided to spend a few weekends turning what was clearly meant to be a vestibule into a studio apartment. Whether this was motivated by the lack of resources of the communist era or the greed of the capitalist era that followed is anyone's guess.

Not as egregious--perhaps--is this place.

"Hledam byt" means "looking for a flat"

It's a perfectly fine kitchenette--not bad at all, by Prague standards--but does the layout feel a little strange to you?

That big door in the center back is the main door--you can tell by the locks.

What about now? How many doors are there off this kitchen...which is in a one bedroom flat? Well, that's because *your* kitchen is someone else's hallway! Yes, The rest of the flat is yours--totally--but the kitchen was actually placed in the hallway of the house, and the landlord--who has their own kitchen, don't worry--will come and go as they please as you make dinner or wash dishes. There is definitely a proper bathroom in this one, however, the door to it is not off the bedroom, but is rather one of the doors off the kitchen! Can't imagine that leading to any awkward chance meetings with the landlord! Nope.

But those aren't the only weirdnesses. Almost any flat that hasn't been newly built or recently rennovated has something that must have made sense to someone at some

A bathroom sink and the kitchen. Which already has a sink.

Or a sink that's in the shower? Or maybe just is the shower?

Mixed in with all of these legacies of the past are dozens of flats that were clearly designed to be AirBnBs or residence hotels, with extensive furnishings but that lack practical necessities.

Not a very functional dress dummy, for example...

For example, there's this place, fully furnished, luxurious bathroom--all for just a bit more than the place with the shower in the kitchen. However, since this is a residence hotel, there is one kitchen in the building, on the ground floor, and all of the reisdents share it. Almost makes you wish they'd swap out some of the Rococo footrests for a mini-fridge.

All in all, I think the best description for the experience of looking for a flat in Prague comes, fittingly enough, from a flat description. The flat in question was above a restaurant, and while the other flats in the building had their own bathrooms, etc., this one didn't. Instead, the toilet and bathroom were shared with the restaurant staff. The write-up, almost as if it had read my mind, closed with "It isn't for complainers."

Become a Patron!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts