World Cup: I sublet my Moscow apartment to football fans

Deutsche Welle
7 Min Read

Around 2 million foreign fans have come to the Russian capital for the World Cup. DW correspondent Yulia Vishnevetskaya shares her experience of renting out her central Moscow apartment.The soccer World Cup 2018 has already brought to Moscow around 2 million foreign visitors, and all of them need a place to stay. In one of my previous articlesI wrote about how I got the idea to advertise my apartment.

It took some doing, but eventually, my apartment was booked out for almost the entire World Cup. With my family away in the countryside and having moved myself moving into a friend’s place, I thought it was now time to relax and enjoy my success. But it all took a bit more effort than expected.

Moscow with no Red Square

Clean the apartment, change the bedsheets, welcome new visitors, share my Wi-Fi password, show them the way to the nearest supermarket. This became a ritual that lasted several hours and had to be repeated every two to three days. I could of course delegate these tasks to someone else, however,finding an English-speaking cleaner in Moscow is no easy task, not to mention expensive.

My first guests arrived from Colombia – a mother, a father and their two teenagers. They came to Moscow after winning World Cup tickets. At first, I worried they wouldn’t like the apartment – “Have you ever used a gas cooker?” “No, and we never will.” – but they reassured me everything was “just perfect!”

The family came to Moscow for just one day before heading to Saransk to watch Colombia play against Japan. They wanted to visit the Red Square but it was closed to visitors during the first week of the World Cup.

“We could only see the Red Square from afar. It was disappointing but totally understandable – this is the World Cup after all, so security measures should be in place. This is just fine,” they said.

Soon after they left, the money hit my account. I had made €549 ($640). That’s more than half of my rent. But then again, I had spent quite a lot getting ready for their arrival: seven sets of bedding, one copy of my key, plus paying an electrician to fix the wiring. Altogether, it cost me about 10,000 rubles, or around €136.

The giant fan zone

My next guests were tourists from Portugal, five unshaven men in love with Cristiano Ronaldo. Already on their first night out, I found them singing and dancing with local girls on the street. “For us, the World Cup is just areason to spend a good time together,” Joao, a father of three who left the wife and kids back home, told me. “All the cities hosting the World Cup have a special crazy atmosphere that we like so much.”

Indeed, Moscow has turned into a giant fan zone. Football fans from all over the world meet and hug each other on the street and take pictures together. And it’s not just the Portuguese who are obsessed with Ronaldo: everyone here is in love with him. As soon as my guests put on their Ronaldo jerseys, they’re immediately surrounded by fans from Russia, China and Australia.

After Ronaldo scored against Morocco in the fourth minute of the match, Joao screamed so loud that he lost his voice and can’t be interviewed anymore.

The Ronaldo supporters have now left the Russian capital for St. Petersburg to enjoy the famous White Nights. Four of them plan to then fly back to Lisbon, while one will stay. He hasn’t bought a plane ticket yet and hopes to find other Portuguese fans to share a flat with.

Profit and loss

This time, I made €528 for a three-night stay. As it turns out, this was a steal for my guests. A friend of mine is also renting out her apartment, but she made the mistake of renting too soon for too little. Her visitors had booked in November, long before prices reached their peak.

Nevertheless, she’s had an overall positive experience with her guests, too – despite a few mishaps.

“After Australians broke the shower, we bought them a new one and they paid for it straight away,” she says. There was one upsetting incident, though. “I expected only two tourists from New York but three arrived instead. They did not know how to transform the sofa bed and broke it.”

I’ve had some mishaps as well. My most recent guests don’t speak a word of English, making us reliant on Google Translate. The way they behaved was also a bit upsetting: they arrived at 9 a.m. and filled up all the space with their suitcases and gadgets, even though I hadn’t finished cleaning. Then they complained their beds were too hard, dropped something on the floor, took their shirts off and burst into laughter.

I had to buy an extra folding bed to accommodate everyone. But I don’t mind – they paid me €848 for a five-night stay and want to come back in July. But, like with other guests, their plans will depend on the performance of their team – lately, luck has not been on every team’s side.

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