One of the most noteworthy aspects of everyday Soviet life was the nature of their homes. While Westerners normally lived in single family houses and apartments, only about a third of Soviet families lived in single family homes. Just over half of the Soviet population lived in apartments, and about half of that portion lived in communal apartments, or kommunalki, in which several families shared a kitchen and bathroom.
Having a private apartment for each family had been a Soviet policy objective for decades, and Khrushchev took on housing reform as one of his primary goals. In order to rapidly increase the amount of single family housing, the Soviet government began to build easily-assembled, five-story concrete apartment buildings made out of prefabricated blocks. The result was a boom of low-quality neighborhoods of apartment buildings, nicknamed Khrushcheby, which rhymes with the Russian word for slums (trushchoby).
Khruscheby are significant because they represent the over-efficiency of the Soviet government. While Khrushchev’s rejection of Stalinism brought a lot of positive changes to the Soviet Union, he made Soviet housing less appealing compared to Western housing by enforcing such strict rules to get rid of everything “uneconomical.” Not only were the new apartments plain and uniform, but they were significantly smaller than the average Soviet living pace. The size of new kitchens and foyers were reduced by 35 percent, and ceiling heights were lowered by 2.5 meters.
Khrushchev underestimated the importance of some “uneconomical” things in everyday life, such as having visually appealing architecture or creating different styles of buildings. Soviet families didn’t need that extra 35 percent space in their kitchen or 2.5 meters to their ceiling, but by reducing the people’s living conditions, Khrushchev was promoting the idea that the Soviet people are constantly fighting to overcome some hardship. The Khrushcheby gave the Soviet people the impression that the USSR was surviving, not thriving. That without a doubt had an effect on Soviet morale.