Home News Dream homes turned gas-guzzlers, Hungary’s ‘Kadar cubes’ losing allure

Dream homes turned gas-guzzlers, Hungary’s ‘Kadar cubes’ losing allure

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By Gergely Szakacs

APC, Hungary (Reuters) – Faced with rising heating costs, Andrea Varga is desperate to sell his communist-era house, but as Hungary’s economy slows, many of people faced the same predicament, there was little interest.

The single mother moved with her late partner three years ago into a house roughly squared off with the so-called Kadar Cube, built under the rule of communist leader Janos Kadar. The property is a ubiquitous feature of the Hungarian countryside, dotted with hundreds of thousands.

However, many are now on the market as the war in Ukraine has led to skyrocketing energy prices and Western sanctions against Russia have imposed exorbitant heating costs on their owners.

Only a tenth of the houses in villages like Apc, 72 km (45 miles) northeast of Budapest, according to a study conducted in 2021 by the Hungarian division of the roofing company BMI Group. Modernized.

“No one has called since we put the house up for sale,” she said.

Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s moves to cut annual household utility bills have exacerbated a cost of living crisis in a central European country that still relies heavily on Russia for energy. .

Hungary’s inflation hit 21.1% in October, the highest in Central Europe, gas prices more than doubled and firewood prices nearly 60% higher than a year ago, thanks to utility reforms and soaring food prices Did. Food prices have risen by 40%.

“I used to buy firewood before the price went up, so now I use it,” says Varga. “I don’t know what will happen after that. Either eat something or look at the sky.”

Hungary and Slovakia are the most dependent on imported energy in Central Europe, and Hungary’s gas dependency is the highest in the region, according to a study by S&P Global Ratings.

the harshest winter

Dozens of small towns and villages across Hungary have seen a dramatic increase in the listings of second-hand homes for sale in recent months, according to data from real estate portal ingatlan.com.

However, demand is declining as the economy heads into a technological recession and double-digit borrowing costs are weighing on lending. Real estate agent Duna House said outdated, energy-hungry homes are becoming increasingly difficult to sell.

Terez Toth, 84, who has lived in a square house in the village of Hered for decades, said she has been living since Orban took power in a landslide in 2010 pledging to eradicate unemployment and raise living standards. I expect it to be the toughest winter for us.

“We’re anxious. I do the math every day. I don’t know how many sheets of paper I’ve filled with calculations of how I could do better or how I could save more,” he said indoors on the court. Put on and turn the heating down on milder days.

After working in a textile mill for 35 years, she spends her retirement counting up the cubic meters and kilowatt-hours of energy used to stay within subsidized households.

“I spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking about what’s next,” she said.

($1 = 392.04 forints)

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, Editing by Mike Harrison)

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