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The ideal Siberian penthouse for a European footballer miles from home?

By The Siberian Times reporter
19 July 2012

Tomsk has plenty of wealthy people these days, but a Scottish millionaire seeking an apartment in Siberia nonetheless delights local real estate agents.

Inside seven-room flat, currently on offer in Tomsk, Western Siberia. Picture: Tsentr real estate agency, Tomsk

This week striker Garry O'Connor is flat-hunting in the city after signing a two year contract for FC Tom. 

'Will he be wearing his kilt? I'm worried what the neighbours will say', said an owner in one elite city centre block. 

In fact, the 29 year old is no stranger to Russia having previously played for Lokomotiv Moscow when he rented a grandiose apartment on wide Kutuzovsky Prospekt, not far from Leonid Brezhnev's old home.

Nor, in fact, is he completely new to Tomsk, having played in the city during his last spell in the country.

'I knew a little bit about it,' he told RIA Novosti. 'And I've done a bit of research and spoken with my family about it. It was surely the right move for me.'

He admits, though, to being surprised about one aspect of Siberia in July. 'The weather's really hot,' he said. 

He had options to move to a club in his native Scotland, and other offers from Europe, but in the wake of a few personal problems back home, he decided he had to get away from it all and that the historic city of Tomsk was the right place to be. 

'Everything's good, you know,' he explained. 'I've experienced Russia before but this is more inside Russia and I'm enjoying myself so far. The club have really took care of me and I'm happy with it.'

So, back to the flat hunting.  Having specified he's looking at renting an apartment - rather than an elite out-of-town 'kottedzh' - what can get for his money in this city?


Tomsk real estate, Siberia, Tomsk, rent a flat, rent a flat in Tomsk


flat for rent in Siberia, rent a flat in Tomsk, Tomsk real estate
Interiors of seven-room flat on offer in Tomsk, Western Siberia. Picture: Tsentr Real Estate Agency


'In Tomsk there is accommodation to suit anyone,' Vera Krestyaninova, of Tsentr Real Estate agency, made clear.

'If our client has the finances, we can find exactly what will satisfy him," she added, reassuringly.

'For Garry O'Connor, I would suggest the option of a four-level apartment in the city centre. 

'The apartment I am thinking of has a pool, Jacuzzi and a gym. There is a fireplace for cold winters and five bedrooms. 

'There is enough space for a family and also a person like him can exercise and keep fit every day. 

'The block is centrally located on Kartashev Street.  It is in a quiet area. There is a park across the street. 

'Several schools are situated on the same street and as an added benefit, it is also close to the pitch where the Tomsk team trains.'

And the cost? 'The approximate monthly rent of the apartment would be 26,000 - 30.000 roubles.'

In Scottish, like English, pounds this seems remarkably good value - £511 to £590.  So much so, in fact, it might encourage an influx of other Westerners to come and live in Tomsk too. 

As Vera Aleksandrovna explained: 'This is just one of the options that we can offer. There are also some other apartments or, if the family wants to live outside of the city, we can suggest nice houses for rent as well.

'We do our best to make sure our clients will enjoy their home and stay in Tomsk.' 

Over at Troya Real Estate, there is another tempting offer - a nine room apartment, also in the city centre, with a total area of 300 m2. 

Tomsk real estate, renting in Tomsk, rent a flat in Tomsk


flat for rent in Siberia, renting in Siberia, rent, Tomsk, renting in Tomsk
A marble staircase, connecting two of the nine-room flat levels, and a bedroom. Picture: Troya real estate agency


Here the monthly rent is 65,000 roubles - or £1278. 

The description of this place suggests that any lingering British fears that O'Connor is on a hardship posting in Siberia should be set aside.  

'It is on three levels, which comprise the fifth, sixth and seventh floors, in a newly built seven floor block of flats,' explained the agent. 

'There is a bathroom, toilet and a Jacuzzi on each floor.'

As you would expect. 

'The fifth floor boasts a huge winter garden, a fireplace, a bar, and a kitchen designed with an Italian suite. The sixth and seventh floors are connected with a marble stair case. 

'Each floor of the flat has a bedroom, from 40 to 60 square metres in size,  and there are a number of balconies overlooking the city. 

'There are also plasma TVs and huge mirrored closets in every room. 

'The furniture is all brand new from elite designers.'

Quite rightly, the agent emphasises: 'The apartment owner is looking for respectable people as tenants.'

Tomsk real estate, Siberia, Tomsk, renting a flat

GV of a block of flats, offering penthouse with its own gym and swimming pool. Picture: Tsentr Real Estate Agency


Back at Tsentr Real Estate, another agent, Viktoria Khamikoyeva, has additional helpful advice for this Scottish family as they prepare for their first Siberian winter.

'I would say to Garry O'Connor that he and his family must get ready to live through the two types of winter - the white and the green one. The green one starts in June, so it has already begun, and is finished by September.'

At home in Edinburgh he has left behind temperatures of around 16C this week, but in Tomsk, it is currently between 29C and 32C.  Viktoria Gennadievna is saying: Don't be fooled by this. Before too long it will be the same temperature, only with a minus in front of it. 

'Normally I'm putting my mink coat on in early November, and I never take it off before the end of March. 

'It wont be like in Scotland for sure, where the trees are blooming in February. 

'Here in Tomsk you can still be wearing your boots in May. '

In other words, Garry, enjoy the outdoor cafes while you can. 

Her advice on the housing front is this: 'Why doesn't he buy instead of rent?' 

Then he could sell for a profit when he moves on.  She has the perfect place in mind, as you would expect 

'I've got a good offer for him, a seven room flat with a sauna and Jacuzzi - it would suit very well for the during the winters.

'There are two bathrooms in the flat, one decorated gold, the other silver.

'It has a beautiful bedroom designed for a child. 

'The total area of the flat of 360 m2. There is a very nicely fitted kitchen and dining room, large sitting room - all at the cost of 36 million roubles or £708,000.

'The owner would like to sell it, but perhaps a long term rent would suit him, too.'

All of these homes,  and many more, in Tomsk will no doubt provide the Scot with all the sumptuous comforts desired by every wealthy modern footballer. 

Tomsk, real estate, renting in Tomsk, looking for a flat in Tomsk


Tomsk, real estate, renting in Tomsk, looking for a flat in Tomsk

Tomsk wooden houses, picture: The Siberian Times


Yet looking around Tomsk, as our pictures show, he will also see a different kind of home, some in prime condition, some rundown, and many where the plumbing is, well, without the marble fittings.

Made of timber, often painted bright colours, they date from the tsarist era, a living and magnificient reminder of Russian history. Here, they are better preserved than in many other places. 

Their value? Simply priceless. 

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