Ten years ago when Inna and Dmitri Korotkevitch were moving here from Russia with their toddler, Nikita, there wasn't a lot of time to think about which house to buy.
It was the height of the housing boom and every house they passed on would be quickly sold, only to be replaced on the market by another even more expensive home.
So, they bought a home in Wesley Chapel. At 1,500 square feet, it wasn't their dream home, but they knew what was. They had seen it. It was a 3,400-square-foot builder's model.
Korotkevitch, a computer programmer who had moved to the United States for his job, and his pianist wife couldn't afford it then, but they knew they would be able to someday.
That day came six months ago. The couple had been watching the market because they wanted to move before their son entered middle school — and good schools were the most important criteria.
They said they did a lot of research and decided they wanted him to go to Pine View Middle School and Land O'Lakes High School, two A-rated schools.
So, they held onto their home in Wesley Chapel — renting instead of selling to avoid taking a hit on the underwater home — and bought their dream home in Wilderness Lake Preserve.
They were lucky, said their Re/Max ACR Elite Group real estate agent, Linda Nowicke.
"Inventory is down, and in the most popular communities (like Wilderness Lake), inventory is really down," she said.
So, they bought the house and moved in during January.
They love the tall ceilings and the balconies across the front and back of the house.
How much would a house like this have cost in their native Novosibirsk, Russia?
"It's impossible to compare," Inna Korotkevitch said. "In Russia, there is a different kind of living. Cities and towns are compact with distance between them."
Her mother is visiting for a month from Russia. ("This is a nice place to visit, but she wouldn't want to live here," her son-in-law translated as she spoke to him in Russian.)
She lives in a typical Russian house, a condo, with shared utilities. She pays about $100 a month for electric, water and homeowner association fees.
Even though the utilities are a bargain in Russia, the Korotkevitches said they would never go back. They're Americans now — especially Nikita, who speaks very little Russian.
"The first two years were hard," they said. They knew no other Russian families when they got here.
"People weren't unfriendly," Korotkevitch said. They just didn't really understand how to help, which was okay, they said, because that just forced them to adapt more quickly.
They had to figure things out because there was no one to help them.
Nowicke said she was not surprised that worked out in their favor.
"I've helped three Russian families find houses," she said. "I find them extremely bright and informed. They've done their research. They know what they want. I just help them get it."