About three-quarters of Russians live in cities, mostly in large apartment blocks. The apartments are usually very small, often with just a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom for a family of four. The living room may be used as a bedroom. In the country, people live in wooden and brick houses, some of which have outdoor toilets. At present, there is a shortage of housing in Russia. As a result, many newly married couples have to live with their parents for several years until they can find a home of their own.
Russian grandmothers (babushkas) play an important role in the family. It is said that babushkas hold Russian society together. Because of the housing shortage, babushkas often live with their children. A babushka can be a great help to a Russian family because she cooks, cleans the house, does the laundry, takes care of her grandchildren, and does the shopping. Shopping often includes time standing in lines waiting to be served. When both parents work outside the house, the babushka’s help is invaluable.
 Did you know?
Russians tell fairy tales or skazky to children. A famous character is the witch Baba Yaga, who has iron teeth, eats children and lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs.

If there is no babushka to help, mothers who work outside the home are also expected to carry out household duties. Although women and men have equal rights in Russia, women are generally expected to take responsibility for shopping, cooking, house cleaning and taking care of children. There is a growing women’s movement in Russia, and many women have begun to demand more support from Russian men.

Most Russian couples have only one child, so children are treasured. Childhood is seen to be a very special time. Families who do not have a grandmother living with them send their children to nursery and then play school.

Few Russian families own a car, so most people use buses, trams and trolley buses to get to work, school and the shops. There are underground trains in some of the major cities. In the countryside, people use bicycles and motorbikes for short journeys, and buses for trips to town. In parts of Siberia, helicopters or planes are used for travel because there are no roads or railways. The government provides subsidies to keep ticket prices low.
 Did you know?
The way of life of the Nganasan people of northern Siberia is similar to that of the Canadian Inuit. Traditionally they lived as nomadic hunters, reindeer herders and fishermen. During the Soviet period many were forced to settle on collective farms.