The practice of dacha subdivision, and garden plot allotment in particular, spread widely during Soviet times, not only within the Russian Federation, but also to other Soviet Republics and even other socialist countries. While in the environs of the many-socialist cities, second homes are actively included into the real estate market and housing supply, Moscow’s suburbs demonstrate their loyalty to the established tradition of seasonal migration between the city and the countryside. This study seeks to address the question how do the shifting from socialist to market economy impact the dacha life-style of the Muscovites and to look into dynamics of the changes in the relations between the city and hinterland since the collapse of the socialist state from dachas’ point of view.
The article examines the state of what could be called the settlement system of Russia in the context of the history of Russian urbanization. Analysis shows that, in the situation of steady depopulation, the possibilities for a fresh spiral of growth of cities, which took place in Soviet times, have been exhausted. However, considering Russia's late urbanization, the "rural" character of many of its towns and the level of their saturation with infrastructure, low by the standards of developed countries, the potential for their qualitative development is still quite large. The country's depopulation and spatial contraction have not only laid bare the general insufficiency of towns for the vast expanse of Russia, but they have also sharply brought up the question of which is worse—the lack of a layer of great center cities capable of generating new standards of urban life and giving an impetus to the whole system or the gradual vanishing of small towns which form the fabric of the system of urban settlements.